Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Gra on the trup of megillat Esther

Summary: The contrast between Esther's trup and the trup of the other betulot reveals a marked difference between them, according to the Vilna Gaon. I analyze. Part of a series focusing on Gra's interpretation of trup.

Post: When each of the of naarot are brought to king Achashverosh to sleep with him {Esther 2:12}, the trup over naarah venaarah is a kadma veAzla. But when Esther is brought {Esther 2:15}, the rather distinguished and unique trup is a long run of munachs. And this distinguished feature, it makes sense that one would make a derasha of it.

In Divrei Eliyahu, taken from the Gra's Beur,

"And when the turn of each and every maiden was to come," the trup on the words naarah venaarah are kadma veAzla. And in verse 15, "and when the turn of Esther bat Avichail was reached, etc.", it is with the trup of munach munach, which hints to us the righteousness of Esther. For every maiden would prepare / advance {מקדמת} herself with urgent desire and great wanting. But when the turn of Esther came, she sought out different excuses to evade him however she could -- that she made herself ill and lay down on her bed as on her sickbed {see Tehillim 41:3} always. And because of this, the doubled trup of munach munach indicates that she would lay down {munechet} and lay prostrate until she was taken {nilkecha} against her will, as it is stated {in the next pasuk, Esther 2:16} "and Esther was taken," from the passive construct, which informs that she was taken against her will via the actions of others.

I am not absolutely certain whether he means the four munachs or the two munachs. And these munachs can be explained in the typical mechanistic way, and it is in fact not that all uncommon. As William Wickes writes in A treatise on the accentuation of the twenty-one so-called prose books of the Old Testament, page 116, Geresh, Pazer, and Telisha Gedolah:

This case is precisely parallel to the Esther verse with all the munachs and the one pasek, all preceding the Pazer on the word "Mordechai". Even so, it is a nice construction, with the rather odd run of munachs, the contrast in trup to another pasuk, and the derivation of the names of each set of trup symbols.

And yet, if all this were so, consider for a moment the phrase vatilakach Esther, from pasuk 16, which is to demonstrate conclusively that Esther was taken against her will. What is the very last bit of trup you would expect to see on those words?

Yes, that is the kadma ve`azla, which is purportedly to show willingness and great desire!


Jeremy said...

Maybe the willingness and great desire were on the part of the ones taking her, as they (though not mentioned in the verse) are the subject.

joshwaxman said...

i see what you are saying. but still, syntactically, the subject is Esther. (to have it as the subject it would be "vayikach/vayikchu et Esther".) and while a nice teretz, i still regard it as a teretz, which at least partly undermines the force of the drash.


Jeremy said...

Okay - how about this:

Esther was only reticent to go because she thought she wouldn't get the job. Once Tevet came along, and her prospects improved (rashi), she then jumped at the chance to go.

yaak said...

I like Jeremy's first answer to your question.
Once they saw her beauty, they jumped at the opportunity to take her.
True, Esther is the subject, but that's irrelavent when using a passive verb.


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