Sunday, March 13, 2011

What is meant by leimor in Vayikra 1:1? Zehu midrasho

Summary: Further, does Rashi intend this as peshat or derash?

Post: The first pasuk of sefer Vayikra reads:

1. And He called to Moses, and the Lord spoke to him from the Tent of Meeting, saying,א. וַיִּקְרָא אֶל מֹשֶׁה וַיְדַבֵּר ה אֵלָיו מֵאֹהֶל מוֹעֵד לֵאמֹר:

On the last word of this pasuk, Rashi writes:

Saying -- Go and tell them sobering words: It is for your sake that He speaks to me, for we find that all thirty-eight years that Israel was in the desert, as people who are excommunicated, from [the time] of the spies onward, the prophetic Word had not come to Moshe, as is stated: "When all the men of war ceased to die, G-d spoke to me, saying."--- "To me" was the speaking. Another interpretation: "Go and tell them My words and answer Me [as to] whether they will accept them, as is stated, "Moshe reported the words of the people.לאמר: צא ואמור להם דברי כבושים, בשבילכם הוא נדבר עמי, שכן מצינו שכל שלשים ושמונה שנה שהיו ישראל במדבר כמנודים, מן המרגלים ואילך, לא נתייחד הדבור עם משה, שנאמר (דברים ב טז) ויהי כאשר תמו כל אנשי המלחמה למות וידבר ה' אלי לאמר, אלי היה הדיבור. דבר אחר צא ואמור להם דברי והשיבני אם יקבלום, כמו שנאמר (שמות יט ח) וישב משה את דברי העם וגו':

(Gur Aryeh has an elaborate explanation why this, in particular, is darshened, while all other leimors are not. See inside. I am not sure that such is necessary.)

Both of these seem rather midrashic; indeed, they are drawn from the Sifra. There is an obvious pashut peshat in this pasuk that Hashem is simply calling Moshe to tell him something, namely, what follows, the laws of the korbanot. Yet Rashi does not even mention this obvious peshat explanation. According to those who say Rashi always is saying peshat, is he indeed saying that this is peshat here, to the exclusion of the straightforward? Perhaps as an additional meaning, over the obvious, but yet on the peshat level.

I found the following in a Ktav Yad (Munich, 1233) of Rashi:

This is our Rashi, but it ends with the words:

זה הוא מדרשו, ופשוטו ויקרא אל משה כדי לאמר לו פרשת הקרבנות

"This is its midrash, while its peshat is: He called to Moshe in order to say to him the parasha of the korbanot."

As with many variants in Rashi text, one has to wonder whether this is really Rashi writing it, or whether the sofer suddenly decided to chime in. Looking at the next bolded vezehu midrasho, though it is vezehu midrasha shel Abba Yosa ben Chanan:

We indeed find this in our Rashi:
16. And he shall remove its crop along with its entrails, and cast it next to the altar on the east side, to the place of the ashes.טז. וְהֵסִיר אֶת מֻרְאָתוֹ בְּנֹצָתָהּ וְהִשְׁלִיךְ אֹתָהּ אֵצֶל הַמִּזְבֵּחַ קֵדְמָה אֶל מְקוֹם הַדָּשֶׁן:
מראתו: מקום הראי וזה הזפק:
בנצתה: עם בני מעיה. ונוצה לשון דבר המאוס, כמו כי נצו גם נעו (איכה ד טו) וזה שתרגם אנקלוס באוכליה. וזהו מדרשו של אבא יוסי בן חנן, שאמר נוטל את הקורקבן עמה. ורז"ל אמרו קודר סביב הזפק בסכין כעין ארובה ונוטלו עם הנוצה שעל העור. בעולת בהמה, שאינה אוכלת אלא באבוס בעליה, נאמר (פסוק יג) והקרב והכרעים ירחץ במים והקטיר, ובעוף, שנזון מן הגזל, נאמר והשליך, את המעים, שאכל מן הגזל:

However, looking to parashat Tzav, we see a similar situation. The Rashi we have is short:
2. Command Aaron and his sons, saying, This is the law of the burnt offering: That is the burnt offering which burns on the altar all night until morning, and the fire of the altar shall burn with it.ב. צַו אֶת אַהֲרֹן וְאֶת בָּנָיו לֵאמֹר זֹאת תּוֹרַת הָעֹלָה הִוא הָעֹלָה עַל מוֹקְדָה עַל הַמִּזְבֵּחַ כָּל הַלַּיְלָה עַד הַבֹּקֶר וְאֵשׁ הַמִּזְבֵּחַ תּוּקַד בּוֹ:
צו את אהרן: אין צו אלא לשון זרוז מיד ולדורות. אמר ר' שמעון ביותר צריך הכתוב לזרז במקום שיש בו חסרון כיס:
זאת תורת העלה וגו': הרי הענין הזה בא ללמד על הקטר חלבים ואיברים שיהא כשר כל הלילה, וללמד על הפסולין איזה אם עלה ירד, ואיזה אם עלה לא ירד, שכל תורה לרבות הוא בא, לומר תורה אחת לכל העולים, ואפילו פסולין, שאם עלו לא ירדו:
הוא העלה: למעט את הרובע ואת הנרבע וכיוצא בהן, שלא היה פסולן בקדש, שנפסלו קודם שבאו לעזרה:

But on that second comment of Rashi, d"h זאת תורת העלה, this manuscript is much more expansive:

The beginning of parashat Tzav I marked with a horizontal red line. Immediately below, by the red vertical line, we find the end of our Rashi text and the introduction of a large amount of midrashic material, from Toras Kohanim, etc. The preceding section is marked off with the words (I think) וה"ז עיקר פתרונו, "and this is its primary explanation." In the second column, I did not show all the text. The column is actually much higher, and all of that is what seems to be inserted material. Finally, we end with zehu midrasho, ufshuto .... The next column resumes with the next Rashi, on הוא העלה. Such a lengthy extra text indicates to me that it is a digression and a collection from other sources.

My rather strong inclination is that this is, then, a sofer or other commentator adding large swaths of text into Rashi, and indicating that he considers Rashi's explanation to be midrashic, rather than peshat. This is not a heretical position, by the way. To quote Rashbam on Vayeshev, Bereishit 37:2:
וגם רבנו שלמה אבי אמי מאיר עיני גולה שפירש תורה נביאים וכתובים, נתן לב לפרש פשוטו של מקרא, ואף אני שמואל ב"ר מאיר חותנו זצ"ל נתווכחתי עמו לפניו, והודה לי שאילו היה לו פנאי היה צריך לעשות פירושים אחרים לפי הפשטות המתחדשים בכל יום.
ועתה יראו המשכילים מה שפירשו הראשונים

Rashi admitted that had he had the time, he would have made other explanations according to the peshat which is innovated every day.

Apparently, whoever wrote this manuscript saw fit to add commentaries, both drawing from other midrashim and offering more peshat-oriented (at least in his opinion) explanations. And I, when looking at this manuscript, took this to be the original words of Rashi. Only now do I strongly suspect differently, and that this trend would continue throughout this particular manuscript of Rashi, at least.

This is an important point in correctly understanding Rashi. For this is certainly not the only time we find this pattern in Rashi. I'll cite a post, and a comment from the Rationalist Judaism blog, from January of this year, just by way of example. Rabbi Slifkin was discussing how Rashi gave two explanations for the singular tzfardea which covered Egypt, from the following Rashi:

2. And Aaron stretched forth his hand over the waters of Egypt, and the frogs came up and covered the land of Egypt.ב. וַיֵּט אַהֲרֹן אֶת יָדוֹ עַל מֵימֵי מִצְרָיִם וַתַּעַל הַצְּפַרְדֵּעַ וַתְּכַס אֶת אֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם:
ותעל הצפרדע: צפרדע אחת היתה והיו מכין אותה והיא מתזת נחילים נחילים זהו מדרשו. ופשוטו יש לומר שרוץ הצפרדעים קורא לשון יחידות. וכן (להלן יד) ותהי הכנם, הרחישה דוילייר"א בלעז [רחישת כנים] ואף ותעל הצפרדע גרינוילייר"א בלעז [רחישת צפרדעים]:

There was also the following in the comment section:
Chizki said...
There are a good number of Rashis with the structure seen in this particular comment: that of "X, zehu midrasho, u'pshuto Y," or vice versa. Frankly, I've always been (and still am) a bit mystified by what Rashi's intent is when he uses this lashon.

In this particular case, though, Rashi precedes his explanation of the pshat with "yesh lomar," which to me indicates that Rashi doesn't find the pashut pshat (i.e. the pshat uninformed by midrash) to be fully satisfying...
I do think that a good many of the times Rashi gives both peshat and derash and labels it as such, Rashi is indeed the author. And meforshim of Rashi often offer explanations of why offer both, and sometimes I agree with such explanations. But now we might have another tool in our arsenal. Perhaps Rashi is only saying one of them, and it is another author labeling his words peshat or derash, prior to adding other explanations. We should at the least consult the manuscript evidence when we encounter such language.

It turns out there is a bit of weirdness by this particular Rashi in Va'era, though I don't know what to make of it:

The marginal note is difficult to make out, but we can certainly make out מתזת נחילים, and the last line reads שירוץ הצפרדעים. It is difficult to make it out from this black-and-white scan. Perhaps it is better in the original. Was it the original sofer who inserted this marginal comment? The handwriting looks different. Regardless, this is inserting the missing text.

However, since צפרדע אחת היתה is a quote from the midrash and Rabbi Akiva's language, I do think that this is still the likely original version of Rashi, with both explanations.

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