Friday, December 31, 2010

The Kew Gardens Hills Eruv is up

It was a question earlier, but I just called the Eruv Hotline at (718) 263-3921 and the recording said that it was up.


Posts so far for parshat Vaera

December 2010

  1. When did the Bnei Yisrael say חֲדַל מִמֶּנּוּ? It makes sense, chronologically, that it would fall somewhere in Va'era. I explore some approaches which are open and closed canon to varying degrees.
  2. Va'era sources -- further expanded. For example, many more meforshei Rashi.
  3. Moshe makes a kal vachomer -- Considering the ten kal vachomers in the Torah (really, Tanach).
  4. Did Levi outlive EphraimThis is unlikely. Rashi's mention of shevatim who died is perhaps imprecise -- he means Yosef's brothers, which would not include Ephraim and Menashe.
  5. Yocheved His Aunt, and the Length of the Servitude -- If Yocheved was literally Amram's aunt, it is difficult to make the servitude 210 years, and even more, 400 years. Relax this and you have more leeway. Rav Saadia Gaon and the Targum Hashiv'im give us this leeway.

January 2010
  1. Is the derivation of Putiel's name knowableCan we know the derivation of the name Putiel? A four-way machlokes between Rashi, Ibn Ezra, Ibn Caspi, and Shadal reveals something about their methodology, and their approach to peshat..
  2. Vaera sources - links to over 100 meforshim on the parsha and haftara.
  3. Was Pharaoh's heart hard, or did it become hardEvaluating Rashi's emendation of Onkelos, from an itpa'el verb to an adjective, on the basis of the dikduk of the Hebrew word being translated.
  4. Getting Pharaoh to play ball -- What was Pharaoh doing at the bank of the Nile? Ibn Caspi visits Egypt, and emerges with some realia with which to understand the Biblical narrative. Also, a difference between peshat and derash..
  5. Dodato as female first cousin -- An alternative way of translating dodato, from Rav Saadia Gaon and in the Septuagint, which eliminates a strong chronological difficulty in Yocheved and Moshe's birth.
  6. Spontaneous generation of frogs and lice -- Ibn Caspi, a Rishon, explains the workings of two of the plagues based on the scientific workings of spontaneous generation. This should be taken as additional evidence that Rishonim can be wrong in matters of science.
  7. How do we count the 430 yearsAssuming we take the 430 years in Egypt literally how do we reckon it? Also, how the Samaritan Torah differs, and whether this is persuasive.
  8. Egyptian magic and barley seeds -- A short response to a DovBear post on Chumash, alas in error.
  9. Was Pinchas descended from Yisro or Yosef?  Or both? Should we indeed follow the gemara's harmonization? A study in Rashi, and in approaches to midrash aggada.

  1. Vaera sources -- links by aliyah and perek to a mikraos gedolos, and a whole slew of links to meforshim on the parashah and haftarah.
  2. 430 years or 210 years? -- and how Shadal feels compelled to say it was 430 years, and explains how the generations of Levi, Kehat, and Amram, span that time.
  3. Did the Egyptians dig, or did they dig for water? A minor difference which may manifest itself at the level of trup.
  1. Executing judgments against the gods of Egypt, or making use of the gods of Egypt in executing judgment.
  2. Were the ten plagues natural? An explanation of Shadal's take on the matter, which I decided to present in partial response to a complaint about a 2007 post about how the Egyptian magicians created frogs.
  3. How did one frog become many? An exploration of the themes in the midrashim.

  • Did The Avot Not Know Shem Hashem?
    • Yet many times through Bereishit the Shem YKVK is mentioned. There are all sorts of possible answers -- Moshe changed it after the fact, editorially, the Documentary Hypothesis solution, grammatical distrinctions, nodati vs. hodati, etc. In this post, I focus on names not just being names, but carrying very specific implications -- something we get a sense of from the text itself (and which Rashi mentions as well).
      Finally, two of my favorite dealings with this issue, from Tg Yonatan and Rashbam, in how they manage to reparse the pasuk. (And I always like reparsings.)
    • Spitting blood and whistling frogs: the tzadi - quf switchoff (2005)
      • Two midrashim which I argue stem from a linguistic tzaddi -- quf switchoff. Thus, yishretzu becomes yishrequ, whistled, and thus the frog whisted in the process of yishretzu. Second, eretz mitzrayim becomes roq mitzrayim, and thus even their spittle turns to blood. More details in the post.
    • Pharaoh's multivalent dreams (2005)
      • Another way of interpreting Pharaoh's dreams -- as a fall from power, which finds fulfillment in this week's parsha.
    • Why couldn't the magicians create lice? (2005)
      • Daat Zekenim has an amusing answer. Just as we know by the story with Shimon ben Shetach and the witches, witchcarft draws power from the earth, but the plague had turned all the earth to lice!
    • Ganymedes Copies Military Tactic From Hashem (2005)
      • Depriving the Egyptians of their water supply. And Caesar responds the same way the Egyptians of old did, according to one way of reading the pesukim, and that they managed to circumvent the makkat dam.
    • All's Well That Ends Well (2004)
      • Were the Egyptians successful in their attempt to get water by digging around the river? Or did these wells also produce blood? Targum Yonatan's textual insertion. Ibn Ezra's take, against Chazal, that they were indeed successful, and the ever-frum Avi Ezer's reaction to this (that it was a mistaken student, and not, chas veshalom, Ibn Ezra who wrote this). Plus, a connection to Yitzchak's wells, a homiletic lesson we may draw, and a joke.
    • Why was Pharoah in de Nile? (2004)
      • The textual source for Pharoah using the Nile as his bathroom. And a new reason -- to do magic on it. And how this fits in with the narrative. Both from Tg Yonatan.
    to be continued...

    Thursday, December 30, 2010

    Yocheved His Aunt, and the Length of the Servitude

    However you want to interpret the pasuk, it
    does NOT mean that Amram had a dodo bird
    named Yocheved whom he married. It might
    have been pre-matan Torah, but such would
    be assur even according to the seven Noachide
    laws. Furthermore, our masorah tells us that
    no species can ever become extinct, and so
    dodo birds are the invention of naturalists,
    who are kofrim, in an attempt to spoil
    our emunah.
    Summary: If Yocheved was literally Amram's aunt, it is difficult to make the servitude 210 years, and even more, 400 years. Relax this and you have more leeway. Rav Saadia Gaon and the Targum Hashiv'im give us this leeway.

    Post: The servitude in Egypt was 210 years, or else 400 years. But if Yocheved's lifespan and Moshe's lifespan extend throughout the entire shibud, then there is a difficulty. Assume 210 years. Then, Moshe redeemed Israel at age 80. Now, 210-80=130. If Yocheved was born as Yaakov and his sons entered the gates of Egypt, then she must have been 130 when she gave birth to Moshe.

    This is Rashi's calculation. Ibn Ezra (and Ralbag) dislikes it because it seems like a greater miracle than Sarah giving birth at age 90, and so we should have expected explicit Scriptural mention. He would place Yocheved's birth later, such that Yocheved need not be so, so old. Ramban notes that there is a tug on either side. If you make Yocheved born too late, then you will need a similar miracle for Levi, to have fathered a daughter at such an old age.

    And, of course, if you wanted to stretch this to 400 years, then Yocheved would need to have been even impossibly older.

    This is more or less an account of the traditional understanding, which based upon assumptions. Those assumptions are based, in turn, upon three pesukim. The first pasuk is found in parashat Shemot, in Shemot 2:

    1. A man of the house of Levi went and married a daughter of Levi.א. וַיֵּלֶךְ אִישׁ מִבֵּית לֵוִי וַיִּקַּח אֶת בַּת לֵוִי:

    "Bat Levi" could mean a woman from the house of Levi, that is, a Levite woman. In favor of this is ish mibeit levi in the same pasuk, and the general theme of describing them in this way to have them anonymous until their identities are revealed. Alternatively, it could be read very closely to mean the literal daughter of Levi. If so, there are only three generations in play to span the Egyptian servitude -- Levi, Yocheved, and then Moshe. While both are plausible, when we consider this verse by itself, I would prefer the former reading as a matter of peshat.

    The second pasuk is found in our present parasha, Va'era, in Shemot 16:

    20. Amram took Jochebed, his aunt, as his wife, and she bore him Aaron and Moses, and the years of Amram's life were one hundred thirty seven years.כ. וַיִּקַּח עַמְרָם אֶת יוֹכֶבֶד דֹּדָתוֹ לוֹ לְאִשָּׁה וַתֵּלֶד לוֹ אֶת אַהֲרֹן וְאֶת מֹשֶׁה וּשְׁנֵי חַיֵּי עַמְרָם שֶׁבַע וּשְׁלֹשִׁים וּמְאַת שָׁנָה:
    The word dodaso could mean aunt. If so, it confirms one of the two possible explanations given above, that Yocheved was Levi's literal daughter. Indeed, I would possibly take this as a sort of interpretation of the pasuk in Shemot. And, as such, would say the local best peshat in Va'era is indeed that Yocheved was the daughter, while the local best peshat in Shemot is that she is not.

    But dodato could mean other things. For example, as I assert in this parshablog post, the midrash takes dodaso as "his beloved", such that Amram is remarrying the wife he divorced earlier. If we take this as its only meaning, then Yocheved could be any random woman from the tribe of Levi.

    Also, as I discussed in this other parshablog post, as put forth in the Targum Hashiv'im as well as by Rav Saadia Gaon (though not in the Tafsir), dodaso could mean the daughter of his uncle. Thus,

    20 And Ambram took to wife Jochabed the daughter of his father's brother, and she bore to him both Aaron and Moses, and Mariam their sister: and the years of the life of Ambram were a hundred and thirty-two years.

    If so, Yocheved's birth does not designate the beginning of the shibud at all.

    Livyat Chen objects to this, noting the third pasuk, in parshat Pinchas, in Bemidbar 26:

    59. The name of Amram's wife was Jochebed the daughter of Levi, whom [her mother] had borne to Levi in Egypt. She bore to Amram, Aaron, Moses, and their sister Miriam.נט. וְשֵׁם אֵשֶׁת עַמְרָם יוֹכֶבֶד בַּת לֵוִי אֲשֶׁר יָלְדָה אֹתָהּ לְלֵוִי בְּמִצְרָיִם וַתֵּלֶד לְעַמְרָם אֶת אַהֲרֹן וְאֶת מֹשֶׁה וְאֵת מִרְיָם אֲחֹתָם:

    He suggests that what this could mean, according to the Septuagint and Rav Saadia Gaon, is that she was the daughter of Gershon, Amram's uncle, and so was a granddaughter of Levi. And bnei vanim harei heim ke'vanim.

    Perhaps. But the Torah appears to be very specific, that she is listed as bat Levi, and then goes back and explains that this means that she had been born to Levi. Once again, just as in the pasuk in Va'era, it seems to be hearkening back to the bat Levi in parashat Shemot, and giving interpretation. And that interpretation, lefi peshuto, would be just as Livyat Chen would understand it. I suppose that one could interpret it as Livyat Chen suggests on their behalf. Or, we could understand Levi as the tribe of Levi, such that bat Levi means, once again, that she had been borne to the shevet Levi in Egypt. This is only slightly forced, and reintroduces the ambiguity present in parashat Shemot.

    At the end of the day, I don't feel like coming to any conclusions. It is enough to point out the assumptions, and how various meforshim try, perhaps successfully, to relax those assumptions.

    YU Torah on parashat Vaera

    Audio Shiurim on Va'era
    Rabbi Yonason Sacks: Kidush Hashem and Yahareg ve'al ya'avor
    Rabbi Hershel Reichman: Understanding the Will of God
    Rabbi Zevulun Charlop: The Names That Weren't Given
    Rabbi Baruch Simon: "Hu Moshe vi'Ahron": A Lesson for the Times
    Ms. Adina Luber: From Reluctant Leader to Impassioned Advocate: Moshe Rabbeinu
    Rabbi Aryeh LebowitzMakos - A Lesson in Humility
    Rabbi Avishai David: The Ten Makkot
    Rabbi Ally Ehrman: Soldiers In G-d's Army
    Rabbi Chaim BrovenderThe Sorcerer's Lice 
    Rabbi Michael TaubesUnderstanding Kri and Ksiv
    Mrs. Shira SmilesExistential Exodus Experience
    Rabbi Yisroel KaminetskyLearning From The Frogs
    Rabbi Aaron SegalMy name Hashem not known
    Rabbi Ezra SchwartzMoshe Rabbeinu, Infectious Diseases and Kidney Donations
    Rabbi Reuven SpolterSeeing the Hand of God 
    Rabbi Joel Finkelstein: The Impossible Dream 
    Rabbi Avi Schneider: Listen to Your Heart 
    Rabbi Dani RappPhysician Assisted Suicide
    Dr. Rebecca Press SchwartzWhat Was the Purpose of the Plagues? Three Perspectives on the Makkot
    Rabbi Dovid GottliebEntering a Church 
    Rabbi Chaim EisensteinAnger - A lesson from the frogs
    Rabbi Beinish GinsburgYou're judged by the efforts 
    Rabbi Eric GoldmanBechira 
    Mrs Ilana SaksThe Rule of Bending
    Rabbi Aaron FeigenbaumHashem Responds
    Rabbi Jesse HornCompetition
    Rabbi Hanan BalkThe Staff, the Snake, and the Creation of An Eved Hashem
    Rabbi Josh BlassYahareg V'al Yaavor
    Rabbi Daniel Z. Feldman4 Cups and 4 Redemptions
    Rabbi Moshe TaraginFaithful Hearts

    Rabbi Zvi RommHaftarat Vaera - The Prophesy of Exile

    Articles on Va'era
    Dr. Harvey Babich:Blood or Not, Does it Really Matter?
    Rabbi Nosson SlifkinBehold the Predator 
    Rabbi David HorwitzThe Antinomy of Free Will and God’s Predestination
    Rabbi Meir OrlianWhoever Feared the Word of Hashem 
    Rabbi Avraham Gordimer: 
    Pharaoh's Recognition of God
    Judy AlkobyBiblical Plagues in Modern Times 
    Rabbi Ozer GlickmanWords of the Prophets on Virtual Walls
    Rabbi Meir GoldwichtThe Pattern of the Makkot 
    Rabbi Etan BermanPharoah and the First Blackberry 
    Rabbi Maury GrebenauJewish Legacy 
    Rabbis Stanley M Wagner and Israel DrazinDoes Every Letter Count in the Torah? 

    Rabbi Jeremy WiederLaining for Parshat Va'era

    Interesting Posts and Articles #295

    1. DovBear on why it is so important to donate to Kupat Hair (actually, Vaad Harabbonim) -- to give the rabbonim a break! Or perhaps, so they should daven for you...
    2. On mezonos rolls. Whatever the halachic justification for it, another interesting aspect of it is why people would want mezonot rolls. The answer might be that, over the years, more and more was added to the liturgy and halachic requirements. It is already the case, in the time of Chazal, to wash for bread, eating chullin al taharat hakodesh, even if one didn't do this for other foods. Thus, one must seek after water to wash, have a valid washing cup, etc. And the bracha after it is longer than it is for mezonot -- it is birkat hamazon rather than a simple al hamichya. And while Biblical birkat hamazon was three blessings, a fourth was added at the end Rabbinically. But that was not enough, because we add more to that birchas hamazon with all the harachamans and all that follows. And we grow up singing it, which is a great aid to memory, but which lengthens the time it takes to say it. Eventually, it becomes an aggravation which people seek to avoid. (Similarly, compare the present length of Shacharit with what it used to be.)
    3. Rafi G. at Life In Israel has a picture of a tznius poster. And CosmicX has a related one.
    4. And Life in Israel has an interesting pesak by Rav Shteinman:
      Rav Amnon Yitzchak has been waging a campaign against what he has determined to be music and musicians that is prohibited in Judaism. He has targeted some specific musicians.

      A group of avreichim in Bnei Braq went to Rav Steinman saying that the siren in their area has been playing Shabbos songs by singers who do not listen to the gedolim. They asked if that is ok.

      Rav Steinman responded that the sirens should not play music by singers who act in opposition to the directions of the gedolim. Music has a special power of influence and Shabbos should be "brought in" with holy music and not songs that are against the spirit of the Torah.
      Maybe he really believes this, but a log hinges on how the question was asked. Did they identify the singers to Rav Shteinman by name? For example, Shweky follows his own poskim (such as Rav Ovadia Yosef) in deciding how to conduct himself. And Bnei Berak is not Yerushalayim. Did Rav Shteinman hear this music to be able to decide that this is unholy music, against the spirit of the Torah?
    5. Daat Torah translates for us the Radvaz, about whether an accidental heretic is a heretic.
    6. A Muslim student files suit against a teacher for talking about ham, in an innocuous manner, in a lesson.
    7. Newly discovered ancient humans who bred with us.
    8. How kids feel about having to trade in their toy guns.
    9. Haredi women going for plastic surgery before marriage.
    10. At Rationalist Judaism, comparing a story about Rav Shamshon Refael Hirsch ('Did you see my Alps?') with one about Rav Yehuda Zev Segal, and considering reasons for the divergence.
    11. Here on parshablog, Moshe Rabbenu makes a kal vachomer. And whether Ephraim outlived Levi.

    Wednesday, December 29, 2010

    Did Levi outlive Ephraim?

    Summary: This is unlikely. Rashi's mention of shevatim who died is perhaps imprecise -- he means Yosef's brothers, which would not include Ephraim and Menashe.

    Post: In parashat Vaera, a pasuk and Rashi, in Shemot 6:16:
    16. And these are the names of Levi's sons after their generations: Gershon, Kehath, and Merari, and the years of Levi's life were one hundred thirty seven years.טז. וְאֵלֶּה שְׁמוֹת בְּנֵי לֵוִי לְתֹלְדֹתָם גֵּרְשׁוֹן וּקְהָת וּמְרָרִי וּשְׁנֵי חַיֵּי לֵוִי שֶׁבַע וּשְׁלֹשִׁים וּמְאַת שָׁנָה:
    ושני חיי לוי וגו': למה נמנו שנותיו של לוי, להודיע כמה ימי השעבוד, שכל זמן שאחד מן השבטים קיים לא היה שעבוד, שנאמר (שמות א ו) וימת יוסף וכל אחיו, ואחר כך (שם ח) ויקם מלך חדש, ולוי האריך ימים על כולם:

    In English: Why were the years of Levi enumerated? To inform how many years were the servitude, for so long as one of the shevatim were alive, there was no servitude, for it is written (Shemot 1:6) 'and Yosef died, and all his brothers {and all that generation}' and after that (Shemot 1:8) 'and a new king arose', and Levi lived longer than all of them.'

    Now, despite the use of the word shevatim, which might indicate all the people who eventually were the heads of the tribe, I don't believe that Rashi intended by this Ephraim and Menashe. My basis for this is that Rashi's prooftext is from Shemot 1:6, that all of Yosef's brothers died. And even if you continue reading 6:1 to include the part Rashi doesn't cite, וְכֹל הַדּוֹר הַהוּא, Ephraim and Menashe are not part of that generation. Furthermore, he makes the point that Levi lived longer than all of them, which would be relevant for people who were born more or less the same time, as Yaakov's direct children were. But there is a difference of perhaps 40 or 50 years to Ephraim and Menashe! So, while Yaakov's blessing to Yosef's two lads makes them into shevatim, don't read Rashi so deliberately, and so cause Rashi to say something he never intended.

    Therefore, I feel I must differ with the Taz, who considers Rashi to be saying just that, and therefore harmonizes this statement a midrash that has Ephraim mourning his sons when they try leaving Egypt just 30 years prematurely. It must be that Ephraim is looking into the future prophetically, and this is why he cannot be consoled at the loss of his sons -- when he is mourning, they are still alive, and one cannot be consoled for someone who is still alive. (One would think that having had this prophecy, he would have given them warning and averted this disaster.) Often, I feel that the correct way of dealing with questions on Rashi, gemaras, etc., is to question the assumptions which led to the question in the first place.

    Here is the Taz:
    "And the years of Levi's life, etc." -- 'that so long as one of the shevatim were alive there was no servitude.' There is a supremely difficult question by force of this, for behold, we say in a midrash in parashat Beshalach that the sons of Ephraim attempted to hasten the end time to leave from Egypt by thirty years, and because of this they were killed by the men of Gath, who were the Philistines, and so is explained in the piyut of the seventh day of Pesach {in the Chazarat HaSha"tz of Shacharit, in the first piyut, Eimat Nore'otecha}, {that Hashem turned the path of the Bnei Yisrael leaving Egypt in order} 'to prevent them from seeing the {Philistine} troops and the bones of Zavad and Shutelach'. which are the sons of Ephraim as is explained in I Divrei Hayamim 7, 'and the sons of Ephraim, Shutelach his son, etc., and the men of Gath slew them for they descended to take their cattle, and Ephraim their father mourned for many days, and his brethren came to comfort him'. The implication is that Ephraim and his brethren were living at the time of the killing of Zavad and Shutelach, and this is impossible! For behold all of the shevatim died before the beginning of the servitude, as is mentioned here, and so how can it be said that Zavad and Shutelach were killed close to the exodus from Egypt?! And it seems fitting to answer that after we further analyze this pasuk closely there, we note that it states that 'Ephraim mourned many days' and so, did not accept comfort from his brothers, more than the customary measure. Why was this? Rather, the matter is as follows -- that 
    the sons of Ephraim were not killed in his lifetime. Rather, he saw prophetically that in the future they would be killed. And the intent of the Scriptures by 'and they killed' was that afterwards they would be killed, just as in {Bereishit 20:11, regarding Avraham and Sarah} 'and they would kill me {veharaguni} on the matter of my wife', that the explanation is about the future. And regarding that which it states 'ki yardu lakachat mikneihem', the yud {in yardu} has a kamatz, which makes it past tense, which would mean that at the time of the killing, this event had already occurred, of descending to take the cattle. And therefore he was mourning for them, and it was for many days, for in truth they were still alive, and we don't {emotionally} accept comfort upon someone who is still alive, as we say regarding Yaakov in parashat Vayeshev, 'and he mourned for his son for many days' for this reason {that Yosef was not really dead}. And so it was, absolutely, by Ephraim, that his sons were still alive within his lifetime. (So appears to me correct, and true, with the aid of Heaven.)

    If I agreed with the question, my first inclination would be to declare these conflicting midrashim, rather than to drastically rewrite the meaning of one of the midrashim. And maybe Rashi here is not endorsing that midrash. After all, in Beshalach, here is how he explains the pasuk:

    17. It came to pass when Pharaoh let the people go, that God did not lead them [by] way of the land of the Philistines for it was near, because God said, Lest the people reconsider when they see war and return to Egyptיז. וַיְהִי בְּשַׁלַּח פַּרְעֹה אֶת הָעָם וְלֹא נָחָם אֱ־לֹהִים דֶּרֶךְ אֶרֶץ פְּלִשְׁתִּים כִּי קָרוֹב הוּא כִּי אָמַר אֱ־לֹהִים פֶּן יִנָּחֵם הָעָם בִּרְאֹתָם מִלְחָמָה וְשָׁבוּ מִצְרָיְמָה:
    ויהי בשלח פרעה וגו' ולא נחם: ולא נהגם, כמו (שמות לב לד) לך נחה את העם, (משלי ו כב) בהתהלכך תנחה אותך:
    כי קרוב הוא: ונוח לשוב באותו הדרך למצרים. ומדרשי אגדה יש הרבה:
    בראתם מלחמה: כגון מלחמת (במדבר יד מה) וירד העמלקי והכנעני וגו'. אם הלכו דרך ישר היו חוזרים, ומה אם כשהקיפם דרך מעוקם אמרו (במדבר יד ד) נתנה ראש ונשובה מצרימה, אם הוליכם בפשוטה על אחת כמה וכמה:
    פן ינחם: יחשבו מחשבה על שיצאו ויתנו לב לשוב:

    No mention is made of seeing the effects of the war the Bnei Ephraim waged with the Pelishtim.

    But I would first question the key assumption, that shevatim includes Ephraim and Menashe. With that. the entire difficulty falls away, and we could learn simple peshat in the midrash.

    As to this midrash about Bnei Ephraim leaving early, see here and then here.

    Note that in terms of peshat in Divrei Hayamim, I don't think that it accords with the midrash. The pesukim in Divrei Hayamim read:

    כ  וּבְנֵי אֶפְרַיִם, שׁוּתָלַח; וּבֶרֶד בְּנוֹ וְתַחַת בְּנוֹ, וְאֶלְעָדָה בְנוֹ וְתַחַת בְּנוֹ.20 And the sons of Ephraim: Shuthelah--and Bered was his son, and Tahath his son, and Eleadah his son, and Tahath his son,
    כא  וְזָבָד בְּנוֹ וְשׁוּתֶלַח בְּנוֹ, וְעֵזֶר וְאֶלְעָד; וַהֲרָגוּם, אַנְשֵׁי-גַת הַנּוֹלָדִים בָּאָרֶץ, כִּי יָרְדוּ, לָקַחַת אֶת-מִקְנֵיהֶם.21 and Zabad his son, and Shuthelah his son--and Ezer, and Elead, whom the men of Gath that were born in the land slew, because they came down to take away their cattle.
    כב  וַיִּתְאַבֵּל אֶפְרַיִם אֲבִיהֶם, יָמִים רַבִּים; וַיָּבֹאוּ אֶחָיו, לְנַחֲמוֹ.22 And Ephraim their father mourned many days, and his brethren came to comfort him.
    כג  וַיָּבֹא, אֶל-אִשְׁתּוֹ, וַתַּהַר, וַתֵּלֶד בֵּן; וַיִּקְרָא אֶת-שְׁמוֹ בְּרִיעָה, כִּי בְרָעָה הָיְתָה בְּבֵיתוֹ.23 And he went in to his wife, and she conceived, and bore a son, and he called his name Beriah, because it went evil with his house.
    כד  וּבִתּוֹ שֶׁאֱרָה, וַתִּבֶן אֶת-בֵּית-חוֹרוֹן הַתַּחְתּוֹן וְאֶת-הָעֶלְיוֹן, וְאֵת, אֻזֵּן שֶׁאֱרָה.24 And his daughter was Sheerah, who built Beth-horon the nether and the upper, and Uzzen-sheerah.
    כה  וְרֶפַח בְּנוֹ, וְרֶשֶׁף וְתֶלַח בְּנוֹ--וְתַחַן בְּנוֹ.25 And Rephah was his son, and Resheph, and Telah his son, and Tahan his son;
    כו  לַעְדָּן בְּנוֹ עַמִּיהוּד בְּנוֹ, אֱלִישָׁמָע בְּנוֹ.26 Ladan his son, Ammihud his son, Elishama his son;
    כז  נוֹן בְּנוֹ, יְהוֹשֻׁעַ בְּנוֹ.27 Nun his son, Joshua his son.

    Note how it ends Nun beno, Yehoshua beno. The simple implication is that this form introduces son after son, not two parallel brothers. Nun and Yehoshua were father and son, not brothers of someone preceding. If so (despite the connective vav), in pasuk 21, Zavad and Shutelach were not brothers to each other and direct sons of Ephraim. They were father and son to each other, and descendants along the line from Ephraim. This Shutelach was presumably a descendant of the Shutelach in pasuk 20, named after his ancestor. The midrash, in a closed-canon approach, equates the two, in which case perhaps everyone in pasuk 21 are brothers who were killed, but on a peshat level, this is not necessarily the case.

    Meanwhile, in pasuk 21, Ezer and Elead are presumably actually direct sons of Ephraim, and brothers to the Shutelach mentioned in pasuk 20. Thus, Ephraim at this point had three sons, Shutelach, Ezer, and Elead. Ezer and Elead (and perhaps Shutelach) were killed by Philistines and Ephraim mourned them. This was well before yetziat Mitzrayim.

    The midrash analyzes these pesukim in a different manner. Once it does, there still is peshat in the midrash, and the Taz's harmonization deviates from this peshat to such an extent that it is an entirely different midrash.

    Moshe makes a kal vachomer

    Summary: Considering the ten kal vachomers in the Torah (really, Tanach).

    Post: In parashat Vaera, the people of Israel do not listen to Moshe:

    9. Moses spoke thus to the children of Israel, but they did not hearken to Moses because of [their] shortness of breath and because of [their] hard labor.ט. וַיְדַבֵּר מֹשֶׁה כֵּן אֶל בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְלֹא שָׁמְעוּ אֶל מֹשֶׁה מִקֹּצֶר רוּחַ וּמֵעֲבֹדָה קָשָׁה:
    And so, when Hashem tells Moshe to speak to Pharaoh, he says,

    12. But Moses spoke before the Lord, saying, "Behold, the children of Israel did not hearken to me. How then will Pharaoh hearken to me, seeing that I am of closed lips?"יב. וַיְדַבֵּר מֹשֶׁה לִפְנֵי ה לֵאמֹר הֵן בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל לֹא שָׁמְעוּ אֵלַי וְאֵיךְ יִשְׁמָעֵנִי פַרְעֹה וַאֲנִי עֲרַל שְׂפָתָיִם:

    Rashi writes, regarding this,
    ואיך ישמעני פרעה: זה אחד מעשרה קל וחומר שבתורה:

    that this is one of ten kal vachomers in the Torah. "Torah" in this instance is being used in its broader sense, of Tanach. Rashi's midrashic basis for this is a Bereishit Rabba, 92:7:
    הן כסף וגו'תני, רבי ישמעאל:זה אחד מעשרה קלים וחמורין, שכתובים בתורה. הן כסף וגו' השיבנו אליך,
    קל וחומר ואיך נגנב!

    ת(שמות ו) הן בני ישראל לא שמעו אלי,
    וקל וחומר ואיך ישמעני פרעה!

    ת(במדבר יב) ויאמר ה' אל משה ואביה ירוק ירק בפניה, קל וחומר לשכינה י"ד יום!

    ת(דברים לא) הן בעודני חי עמכם היום ממרים הייתם, קל וחומר ואף כי אחרי מותי!

    ת(ירמיה יב) כי את רגלים רצתה וילאוך,
    קל וחומר ואיך תתחרה את הסוסים!

    ת(שם) ובארץ שלום אתה בוטח, וקל וחומר ואיך תעשה בגאון הירדן!

    ת(שמואל א כג) הנה אנחנו פה ביהודה יראים,
    וקל וחומר ואף כי נלך קעילה!

    ת(משלי יא) הן צדיק בארץ ישולם,
    קל וחומר ואף כי רשע וחוטא!

    ת(אסתר ט) ויאמר המלך לאסתר המלכה בשושן הבירה וגו', וקל וחומר בשאר מדינות המלך מה עשו!

    ת(יחזקאל טו) הנה בהיותו תמים לא יעשה למלאכה, קל וחומר אף כי אש אכלתהו ויחר!

    Let us briefly consider each of these in turn before any deeper analysis of the local one in parashat Vaera. The first is in parashat Miketz:

    8. Behold, the money we found in the mouth of our sacks we returned to you from the land of Canaan; so how could we steal from your master's house silver or gold?ח. הֵן כֶּסֶף אֲשֶׁר מָצָאנוּ בְּפִי אַמְתְּחֹתֵינוּ הֱשִׁיבֹנוּ אֵלֶיךָ מֵאֶרֶץ כְּנָעַן וְאֵיךְ נִגְנֹב מִבֵּית אֲדֹנֶיךָ כֶּסֶף אוֹ זָהָב:
    הן כסף אשר מצאנו: זה אחד מעשרה קל וחומר האמורים בתורה. וכולן מנויין בבראשית רבה (צב ז):

    The second one was listed above, in parashat Vaera.

    The third, in Behaalotecha, in Bemidbar 12, regarding Miriam:

    14. The Lord replied to Moses, "If her father were to spit in her face, would she not be humiliated for seven days? She shall be confined for seven days outside the camp, and afterwards she may enter.יד. וַיֹּאמֶר יְ־הֹוָ־ה אֶל מֹשֶׁה וְאָבִיהָ יָרֹק יָרַק בְּפָנֶיהָ הֲלֹא תִכָּלֵם שִׁבְעַת יָמִים תִּסָּגֵר שִׁבְעַת יָמִים מִחוּץ לַמַּחֲנֶה וְאַחַר תֵּאָסֵף:
    ואביה ירק ירק בפניה: ואם אביה הראה לה פנים זועפות הלא תכלם שבעת ימים, קל וחומר לשכינה י"ד יום, אלא דיו לבא מן הדין להיות כנדון, לפיכך אף בנזיפתי תסגר שבעת ימים:

    where, as per Rashi, really she should have been there twice as long, 14 days, but one does not derive more from the kal vachomer than the source.

    Next, in parashat Vayelech, in Devarim 32:

    27. For I know your rebellious spirit and your stubbornness. Even while I am alive with you today you are rebelling against the Lord, and surely after my death!כז. כִּי אָנֹכִי יָדַעְתִּי אֶת מֶרְיְךָ וְאֶת עָרְפְּךָ הַקָּשֶׁה הֵן בְּעוֹדֶנִּי חַי עִמָּכֶם הַיּוֹם מַמְרִים הֱיִתֶם עִם יְ־הֹוָ־ה וְאַף כִּי אַחֲרֵי מוֹתִי:

    (I could imagine reading this not as a kal vachomer, but it surely works as one.)

    Next, in Yirmeyahu 12, there are two:

    ה  כִּי אֶת-רַגְלִים רַצְתָּה וַיַּלְאוּךָ, וְאֵיךְ תְּתַחֲרֶה אֶת-הַסּוּסִים; וּבְאֶרֶץ שָׁלוֹם אַתָּה בוֹטֵחַ, וְאֵיךְ תַּעֲשֶׂה בִּגְאוֹן הַיַּרְדֵּן.5 'If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses? And though in a land of peace thou art secure, yet how wilt thou do in the thickets of the Jordan?

    Next, in I Shmuel 23:

    ג  וַיֹּאמְרוּ אַנְשֵׁי דָוִד, אֵלָיו, הִנֵּה אֲנַחְנוּ פֹה בִּיהוּדָה, יְרֵאִים; וְאַף כִּי-נֵלֵךְ קְעִלָה, אֶל-מַעַרְכוֹת פְּלִשְׁתִּים.  {ס}3 And David's men said unto him: 'Behold, we are afraid here in Judah; how much more then if we go to Keilah against the armies of the Philistines?' {S}

    Next, in Mishlei 11:

    לא  הֵן צַדִּיק, בָּאָרֶץ יְשֻׁלָּם;    אַף, כִּי-רָשָׁע וְחוֹטֵא.31 Behold, the righteous shall be requited in the earth; how much more the wicked and the sinner!

    Next, in Esther 9:

    יב  וַיֹּאמֶר הַמֶּלֶךְ לְאֶסְתֵּר הַמַּלְכָּה, בְּשׁוּשַׁן הַבִּירָה הָרְגוּ הַיְּהוּדִים וְאַבֵּד חֲמֵשׁ מֵאוֹת אִישׁ וְאֵת עֲשֶׂרֶת בְּנֵי-הָמָן--בִּשְׁאָר מְדִינוֹת הַמֶּלֶךְ, מֶה עָשׂוּ; וּמַה-שְּׁאֵלָתֵךְ וְיִנָּתֵן לָךְ, וּמַה-בַּקָּשָׁתֵךְ עוֹד וְתֵעָשׂ.12 And the king said unto Esther the queen: 'The Jews have slain and destroyed five hundred men in Shushan the castle, and the ten sons of Haman; what then have they done in the rest of the king's provinces! Now whatever thy petition, it shall be granted thee; and whatever thy request further, it shall be done.'

    Finally, in Yechezkel 15:

    ה  הִנֵּה בִּהְיוֹתוֹ תָמִים, לֹא יֵעָשֶׂה לִמְלָאכָה:  אַף כִּי-אֵשׁ אֲכָלַתְהוּ וַיֵּחָר, וְנַעֲשָׂה עוֹד לִמְלָאכָה.  {ס}5 Behold, when it was whole, it was meet for no work; how much less, when the fire hath devoured it, and it is singed, shall it yet be meet for any work? {S}

    The order of this instances strikes me as strange. Within Torah, it follows the order of the text. But what order is being followed in terms of the subsequent Biblical books?

    At any rate, these were the ten. My guess is that these don't have to be strictly correct kal vachomers. It could be a kal vachomer which has a pircha. Indeed, with the one put forth by David's men in sefer Shmuel, it was followed by Hashem's command to attack. Rashi on Behaalotecha applying דיו לבא מן הדין להיות כנדון notwithstanding, I think the point is to take a method of midrash halacha put to great use by Chazal and demonstrate that this logical argument has a basis in the text of Tanach itself.

    Regarding the kal vachomer local to parashat Vaera, the Taz writes in Divrei Dovid:

    "And how will Pharaoh heed me?" {Rashi}: "This is one of ten kal vachomers in the Torah" -- {Taz}: It appears that this is necessary. For in truth, there is a rebuttal {pircha}, for Israel had this kotzer ruach, shortness of spirit {as we see in 6:9, above -- וְלֹא שָׁמְעוּ אֶל מֹשֶׁה מִקֹּצֶר רוּחַ וּמֵעֲבֹדָה קָשָׁה}. Meanwhile, one must say that there is a different reason that Pharaoh would not listen to him, from the aspect that he was of uncircumcised lips -- {וְאֵיךְ יִשְׁמָעֵנִי פַרְעֹה וַאֲנִי עֲרַל שְׂפָתָיִם} -- and this is not honor to the kingship. And if you want to say that they are equal, this one from the kotzer ruach and this one from the honor due to kingship, if so, there is no kal vachomer here. Perforce one must say that the Torah informs us that there is greater {rather than equal} reason for not heeding him, by virtue of the honor of kingship, more than shortness of spirit, and therefore the Torah uses here the language of kal vachomer {with הֵן...וְאֵיךְ }. And so too there is to explain as well in parashat Vayigash [sic; it is really the end of Miketz], upon the pasuk הֵן כֶּסֶף אֲשֶׁר מָצָאנוּ בְּפִי אַמְתְּחֹתֵינוּ הֱשִׁיבֹנוּ אֵלֶיךָ מֵאֶרֶץ כְּנָעַן וְאֵיךְ נִגְנֹב מִבֵּית אֲדֹנֶיךָ כֶּסֶף אוֹ זָהָב, "Behold, the money we found in the mouth of our sacks we returned to you from the land of Canaan; so how could we steal from your master's house silver or gold?", as I mentioned there. And it was with this intent that Rashi notes that this is one of the ten kal vachomers in the Torah. And in this is answered why the pasuk states 'and I am of uncircumcised lips', before {?} 'and how shall Pharaoh listen to me', to teach the fix to the rebuttal of the kal vachomer. And according to this, Rashi does not hold like the Ramban who wrote upon 'and I am of uncircumcised lips' that its meaning is 'and furthermore, I am of uncircumcised lips', but rather that this matter is itself the essence of the kal vachomer. For just as Israel does not hearken to me from the shortness of spirit, all the more so for Pharaoh by virtue of my being of uncircumcised lips, for this is a greater reason to not listen, and the Torah testifies to this."

    As I stated above, I don't think that the kla vachomer needs to work out precisely -- it can have a pircha, so long as it initially made sense as a kal vachomer to the speaker. Thus, I am not troubled by what troubles the Taz. On the other hand, what motivates Chazal might well not be the same thing that motivates Rashi. Chazal -- that is, Rabbi Yishmael -- might have been motivated with finding Scriptural support for this common hermeneutical principle, just as elsewhere there is a basis for gematria from Eliezer being the same gematria as 318. But what is Rashi's motivation?

    What is bothering Rashi? After all, he does not note that it is a kal vachomer in all ten places mentioned by the midrash. And Rashi does not bring every midrash or maamar Chazal. I would thus agree with the Taz in trying to assess what is bothering Rashi.

    I would guess that in each instance, it is possible to claim that there is no kal vachomer going on at all, which prompts Rashi to guide us in the way Chazal treated the pasuk, as an instance of kal vachomer.

    Local to Vaera, I would suggest that it is NOT the possible rebuttal. Rather, it is the phrase וַאֲנִי עֲרַל שְׂפָתָיִם. This might have been taken as the cause, with Moshe merely being dispirited. That he is making a kal vachomer becomes non-obvious, so Rashi lets us know. I don't think that Rashi then has to argue with Ramban, as that phrase could either be the basis of the kal vachomer or an additional reason.

    In Miketz, this need not be a kal vachomer. It might just be a way of establishing that they are honest people, so why should they now suspect them of the same, in an instance which the brothers could not have planned beforehand. The language of the pasuk can be taken to indicate kal vachomer, and so Rashi clarifies this for us, establishing peshat in accordance with the midrash.

    In Behaalotecha, it could be merely comparison / allegory, and not an attempt to say "all the more so" regarding the Shechina. Rashi would therefore be prompted to note that this is indeed an instance of kal vachomer.


    Blog Widget by LinkWithin