Thursday, June 16, 2011

Understanding the derasha of כִּי חָזָק הוּא מִמֶּנּוּ as stronger than God

Summary: Rashi based on a gemara understands ממנו as the spies implying a lack of ability of the Almighty. But how shall we understand the derasha, based on not reading ממנו but ממנו, when they are pronounced the same? One can emend the gemara, as Rashi does, or one can find differences in pronunciation, based on analyses by Ibn Ezra.

Post: In Parashat Shelach, a pasuk and Rashi:

31. But the men who went up with him said, "We are unable to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we.לא. וְהָאֲנָשִׁים אֲשֶׁר עָלוּ עִמּוֹ אָמְרוּ לֹא נוּכַל לַעֲלוֹת אֶל הָעָם כִּי חָזָק הוּא מִמֶּנּוּ:
 as if they said it against the One One Highחזק הוא ממנו: כביכול כלפי מעלה אמרו:

This, based on the ambiguity of ממנו, which could mean 'than us' or could mean 'than him'. See Mekorei Rashi, footnote 29, for a list of sources. One such source is Sotah 35a:
אמר רבי חנינא בר פפא דבר גדול דברו מרגלים באותה שעה כי חזק הוא ממנו אל תקרי ממנו אלא ממנו כביכול אפילו בעל הבית אינו יכול להוציא כליו משם
Or, in English:
R. Hanina b. Papa said: A grievous statement did they make at that moment, viz. For they are stronger than we — read not than we but than He;12  as it were even the master of the house cannot remove his furniture from there.13
אל תקרי usually implies a change in pronunciation, but what is the change in pronunciation between ממנו and ממנו? A footnote in Soncino gives away the game, where we will eventually get:
 [ [ממנו] instead of [ממנו] a difference of pronounciation in the Babylonian Masora, in order to distinguish between the 1st. masc. plur and 3rd. sing, (v. Ges. K. 1910 para. m, n. 1), and cf. Ibn Ezra on Ex. I, 9.]
(One having the dagesh and the other not.)

But Rashi on the daf changes the girsa, because it does not make sense to him:

ממנו - מן הקב"ה:
אל תקרי - לא גרס שאין הפרש קרייה בין ממנו הנאמר על יחיד שנדברים עליו לממנו של רבים שאומרים על עצמן:
אינו יכול להוציא כליו - אם הפקידם שם:
אל תקרי -- don't be gores this, for there is no distinction in reading between ממנו stated on a third person individual ("him") and ממנו stated on a first person plural ("us").

Meanwhile, in a parallel sugya in Arachin 15b, Tosafot writes:
לעיל) אל תקרי ממנו אלא ממנו פירוש אל תקרי ממנו רפי אלא ממנו דגש ואינו כן שכל ממנו שבתורה דגושין ואינו מחליף כלל זה בזה וכן מצינו בסיפרי ולא נס ליחה אין כתיב כאן אלא ולא נס ליחה:

Minchas Shai notes this:
"כי חזק הוא ממנו -- Sotah, perek Elu Neemarim... [and he cites the gemara, as above.] And in the Aruch [from R' Natan ben Yechiel,1030-1106] , entry בעל, he has the gemara as כי חזק הוא ממנו, that מנו is not written but rather ממנו, as if even the homeowner cannot extract his furniture from there. To explain, מנו implies of our own {="us"} while ממנו with a dagesh implies that it talking about Hashem, as if so, since it is not possible to speak such about the Shechina. End quote [of the Aruch].

And in the sefer Maarich [another dictionary], which the scholar Lunzano [also the author of Or Torah, which Minchas Shai heavily relies upon; available at as well] composed, he wrote upon it in the entry בעל that if the author of the Aruch had such a girsa in his gemara, then he merely encountered a corrupted nusach; and if they are his own words, his honor rests in its place, for there is no difference between ממנו whose meaning is ממנהו {=third person singular} such as in לא תאכל ממנו and between ממנו whose meaning is ממננו {=first person plural}, such as in כי עצמת ממנו. Both of them are marked with a dagesh {in the mem} to indicate the dropped letter. And so writes Rashi in Sotah, and this is what he says ... [and here, he quotes Rashi, as above].

And that which I see in this maamar (assuming we are gores it), you need to know what scholars say, and one of them is Ibn Ezra, at the beginning of Sefer Shemot, that there is a variation in reading between the men of the east and the men of the west, in the word ממנו. For men of the east, each plural ממנו has a weak nun {meaning with no dagesh}, while all singular ממנו has a dagesh. And to the men of the west, there is no distinction, for all of them have dagesh. And it is known that the men of the east are the residents of Bavel [who composed Talmud Bavli], and this is what it means to say: 'Don't read ממנו as plural with no dagesh in the nun, but ממנו as singular with a dagesh in the nun. As if, etc.' And it seems to me that this is the explanation of this maamar in its proper place. Praise to the Living God."

You can read this Ibn Ezra on Shemot 1:9 inside here:
ממנו -כל ממנו בספרי אנשי מזרח סימן לרבים הנו"ן רפה. כמשפט להפריש בינו ובין ממנו פנה. שהוא סימן לשון יחיד שאיננו נמצא בפני המדבר, שהוא דגוש כמשפט. וכל ספרי מערב שניהן דגושים בין שהוא סימן לשון יחיד ובין שהוא סימן לשון רבים. והיה כן כי ממנו לשון יחיד דגוש הפך המנהג, כי מלת אני רפה. וכן מלת נחני ה'. והנה מלת מן כפולה. ונדגש הנו"ן ממני לחסרון הנו"ן האחרת כאלו היה ממנני. כי הנו"ן הראשון תבא עם אות המ"ם, כאילו הוא מן נו"ן ני לסימן המדבר. 
אם כן יהיה איש ממנו.
 שהוא לשון רבים, כאילו הוא ממננו. וטעם נו"ן ממנו דגוש להתבלע הה"א בחסרון. כי יאמר מן ישמור ישמרו. אשר יקראו. אויב ירדפו והוא המעט. כי הרב ישמרהו. רק ישמרו דרך קצרה. כמו: והנהו עושה מלאכה שהוא כמו והנה הוא. והנו נצב. ופעמים יוסיפו הנו"ן ישחרונני ואל ימצאונני. תברכני נפשך. כמו תברכנני. זובח תודה יכבדנני. יסובבנהו יבוננהו יצרנהו. ופעמים יבלעו הה"א בנו"ן ולא ישמרנו בעליו:

Now, in this Chumash with the commentary of Tikkun Soferim, from R' Shlomo Dubno, printed in 1783, he records precisely the words of Minchas Shai, and adds nothing to it:

HaMaamar writes on this subject:
"And see in Tikkun Soferim that he establishes with good discernment and knowlege, based on Ibn Ezra, the nusach of the gemara in Sotah 35 and Arachin 16. And like his words precisely, I have found in an old sefer called Mera Dachya, published in Dardi, in the year 1734."

He apparently did not realize that this answer was not the innovation of R' Shlomo Dubno, writing in 1783, such that Mera Dachya beat him to it, but rather from Minchas Shai, R' Yedidya Shlomo ben Avraham Norzi, who completed this work in 1626. So he should really be giving Minchas Shai credit, and noting that Mera Dachya says something along the same lines, but later.

Mera Dachya says even more, though. He brings down sefer Tzachos, which was attributed to Ibn Ezra. And in the end rejects this and instead posits that it should be ממנו with a cholam rather than a shuruk. If I read it correctly, part of this would be because Ibn Ezra himself says it is an error -- והם טועים כמו שאפרש באות נון. The bnei Mizrach would presumably then not be inclusive the the Amoraim in Bavel, but later, erring, contemporaries of Ibn Ezra. If so, it should not be the true explanation of the gemara.

To bring down the very book, in the very printing Hamaamar mentioned:

All of this operates under an assumption that אל תקרי must imply a different pronunciation. I am not so convinced that this is a requirement. While in general this is the case, perhaps enough instances set up a melitza that can be applied loosely. It is certainly applied rather loosely, in a different manner, in Zevachim: וְנִקְדַּשׁ בִּכְבֹדִי (שמ' כט:מג), אל תקרי בכבודי אלא במכובדיי

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