Wednesday, August 10, 2011

See | I teach you: Can this be a literal 'see'?

Summary: There is a pesik (actually a munach legarmeih) after the word re'eh. This is taken by Birkas Avraham as cause to interpret it literally, as something one could actually look at.

Post: I am always on the lookout for divrei Torah based on trup. Sometimes from modern authors, who have different views of the import of trup than I have. Sometimes from Rishonim, and sometimes from meforshim about the time of Shadal.

Here is a nice one on parashat vaEtchanan from Birkas Avraham, who often darshens trup in this manner. He writes:
The pasuk in Devarim 4:5 reads:

5. Behold, I have taught you statutes and ordinances, as the Lord, my God, commanded me, to do so in the midst of the land to which you are coming to possess.ה. רְאֵה לִמַּדְתִּי אֶתְכֶם חֻקִּים וּמִשְׁפָּטִים כַּאֲשֶׁר צִוַּנִי ה אֱלֹהָי לַעֲשׂוֹת כֵּן בְּקֶרֶב הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר אַתֶּם בָּאִים שָׁמָּה לְרִשְׁתָּהּ:

"The terminology ראה written here, the Lekach Tov explains that ראה only means "understand", and that so does it state in Kohelet 1:16:

טז  דִּבַּרְתִּי אֲנִי עִם-לִבִּי, לֵאמֹר--אֲנִי הִנֵּה הִגְדַּלְתִּי וְהוֹסַפְתִּי חָכְמָה, עַל כָּל-אֲשֶׁר-הָיָה לְפָנַי עַל-יְרוּשָׁלִָם; וְלִבִּי רָאָה הַרְבֵּה, חָכְמָה וָדָעַת.16 I spoke with my own heart, saying: 'Lo, I have gotten great wisdom, more also than all that were before me over Jerusalem'; yea, my heart hath had great experience of wisdom and knowledge.

And behold, there is a trup symbol of pesik (a vertical bar) after the word re'eh:

And if so, it is possible to explain it in accordance with its peshat {=literal level of interpretation}, as a terminology of seeing with the eyes, that Moshe Rabbenu showed them that in the form of the letters, in the crowns of the letters, in the trup symbols, and more, were hinted the halachot that he was informing them of baal peh."

As I've discussed many times in the past, I differ with Birkas Avraham in labeling this a psik rather than a munach revii. Read this post for an example of that. But even if we treat this as a pesik, I just don't get what this grants us? Couldn't we read it literally even without the pesik? What is the pesik adding, precisely?

I suppose more of a stress. "Look at this. I have taught you..." But without the pesik, couldn't we read it as "See this evidence, for I I have taught you." I can see what he is saying, that the extra pause (were it there) helps.

I don't know that I would call a hyper-literal reading of re'eh "peshat". And the trup symbols, as well, it is possible that Moshe Rabbenu would not have shown them, since they were only invented post-Talmudically.

Still, at the end of the day, a cute derash to take note of.

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