Friday, May 21, 2010

Impure to the Bone, or just Impure?

Summary: Rashi explains Onkelos, who deviates from his usual manner and explains tamei lenefesh as tamei to the bones of a dead person. This sort of expansion is quite irregular. But maybe Rashi isn't really saying this. And even if Rashi says this, this may not be what Onkelos says, or what Onkelos means, as Shadal explains.

Post: In the fifth perek of Bemidbar, in parashat Naso:

1. The Lord spoke to Moses saying:א. וַיְדַבֵּר ה אֶל מֹשֶׁה לֵּאמֹר:
2. Command the children of Israel to banish from the camp all those afflicted with tzara'ath or with a male discharge, and all those unclean through [contact with] the dead.ב. צַו אֶת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וִישַׁלְּחוּ מִן הַמַּחֲנֶה כָּל צָרוּעַ וְכָל זָב וְכֹל טָמֵא לָנָפֶשׁ:

Onkelos explains (this is the girsa from the Teimanim, at mechon-mamre):

ה,א וַיְדַבֵּר ה', אֶל-מֹשֶׁה לֵּאמֹר.וּמַלֵּיל יְיָ, עִם מֹשֶׁה לְמֵימַר.
ה,ב צַו, אֶת-בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, וִישַׁלְּחוּ מִן-הַמַּחֲנֶה, כָּל-צָרוּעַ וְכָל-זָב; וְכֹל, טָמֵא לָנָפֶשׁ.פַּקֵּיד, יָת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, וִישַׁלְּחוּן מִן מַשְׁרִיתָא, כָּל דִּסְגִיר וְכָל דְּדָאִיב; וְכֹל, דִּמְסָאַב לִטְמֵי נַפְשָׁא.

In our Mikraos Gedolos, we have the same, but with the extra word דאנשא. In either case, whether it is just לטמי or also דאנשא, it appears to be an expansion on the text, which is out of character for Targum Onkelos.

Rashi explains:

o are unclean through [contact with] the dead: Targum [Onkelos renders:] דִמְסָאָב לִטְמֵי נַפְשָׁא דֶאנָשָׁא I believe that it [the word טְמֵי] is Aramaic for human bones. There are many such examples in Gen. Rabbah (78:1; see 10:3, 28:3), such as:“Hadrian, שְׁחִיק טַמְיָא,” [meaning] may his bones be ground [to dust]. [Since only one reference reads שְׁחִיק טַמְיָא, while the others שְׁחִיק עֲצָמוֹת, I believe that Rashi means that there are many places in Gen. Rabbah where these two expressions, both referring to Hadrian, are interchangeable.]טמא לנפש: דמסאב לטמי נפשא דאנשא. אומר אני שהוא לשון עצמות אדם בלשון ארמי, והרבה יש בב"ר אדריינוס שחיק טמיא, שחיק עצמות:

Now, I should interject at this point a general discovered principle, which is likely true in this case as well. Whenever you see omer aniאומר אני, it is a good indication that it is NOT Rashi who is saying it. For of course Rashi is saying what he says -- it is his commentary! Why add "and I say"? Well, perhaps when it is his chiddush, over and above that which it states in his (usually midrashic) sources. But Rashi does not consistently do this. And indeed, studies have shown that the omer ani comments, in many instances, are absent in some early manuscripts, and were inserted later by one of his students. (IIRC, Rabbi Binyamin.) And that is the meaning of omer ani, that this student is taking pains to indicate what it his own insertions, so that we should not err and think that Rashi himself made this comment. Perhaps, then, Rashi merely cited the Targum of Onkelos and the student put in his own interpretation.

Perhaps it should not matter, for the idea should stand on its own, whoever made the comment. But indeed, it does matter somewhat. We often grant credence to scholars based on their demonstrated mastery of the material, but if this is a talmid, perhaps the student made an error.

This Rashi is discussed by many of Rashi's supercommentators. For now, I will skip their discussions, and leap right to Shadal. In Ohev Ger, his commentary on Targum Onkelos, he takes on this interpretation of Rashi. He writes:

כל צרוע וכל זב וכל טמא לנפש, גרסת רש"י ואחריו ש"ח ג"ת ות"ג
וכל דמסאב לטטי נפשא דאנשא , אבל בס׳ מא"ד יא"ר לסבונא יוני
ש== קוסטינא סביוניטה ואנירשא אין בהם מלת דאנשא , ונראה
שהמעתיקים הוסיפוה בעבור שמצאוה בפ' בהעלותך , ששם כתוב
לנפש אדם.

That is, he notes a bunch of manuscripts which lack this word דאנשא, and a bunch which follow Rashi in having this word, and assumes that the copyists mistakenly added the word on the basis of the similar phrase and Targum in parashat Behaalotecha, where the phrase appears but ending with לנפש אדם. Shadal continues:

 עוד תדע כי רש"י  מפרש מלת לטמי לשון עצמות , ועם
כל זה בקצת דפוסים קדומים ובקע"א כתב לטמא באליף , מלבד כי
דעתו ז״ל רחוקה ודחוקה מאד בזה, כי לא מצאנו לאנקלוס
שיתרגם עצם בלשון טימי , אלא גרמא בכל מקום , מלבד כי למה לו
לאנקלוס ליחד העצמות מכל שאר חלקי הגוף? והנכון שאין המלה
זזה מענין טומאה , והשתמש בה אנקלוס (אע"פ שאינה לשון ארמית )ר
להיותה מלה שגורה ומובנת להמון , אולי היתה מליצת טמא נפשא
מובנת לעם בענין טומאת מת . = לטמי,

That is, we should know further that Rashi interprets לטמי as a language of bones, and with all this, in a few early printings, and in קע"א {=Codex 1411, a manuscript} it is written לטמא with an aleph. Besides this, his {=Rashi's} position is distant and difficult in this, for we never find that Onkelos translates bone as טימי but rather, in every place, גרמא. Besides which, why should Onkelos single out the bones from all other parts of the body. And in truth, the word does not move from the matter of ritual impurity {tum'ah}, and Onkelos makes use of it (even though it is not the Aramaic language) so for it to be a common word, understandable to the general populace. Perhaps this was a melitza {common expression} of tamei nafsha understandable to the nation as impurity from a corpse.

In other words, he understands לטמי נפשא as an expression in and of itself, as a translation just of the word נפש, and in its entirety, it means one who becomes impure due to the impurity from a corpse.

It appears that Jastrow agrees with this assessment of this Targum Onkelos, for on page 539, second column, he translates Onkelos in this way, as referring to ritual impurity, rather than to a bone. And refers to a different example in Targum Yonatan where טמא is used as ritual impurity. See there.

My take on this: I think Shadal is correct in this, but would add the above, that I am not so sure that it is Rashi saying it. Meanwhile, check out Rashi's various supercommentators, who consider Rashi's statement in this.

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