Friday, December 31, 2010

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...

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