Monday, August 01, 2011

Two places named Chatzeros

Summary: Rav Chaim Kanievsky considers whether there were two places named Chatzeros, such that the one at the start of Devarim, in Ever Hayarden, is not the same as the one in the masaot, which is the one mentioned in Behaaloscha, where Miriam was punished with leprosy. I consider his words, and use it as a jumping off point. Plus, the Sifrei darshens a Samaritan text!

Post: In this post, I jump off from something on Devarim I saw in Rav Chaim Kanievsky's work on Tanach, Taama de-Kra. Just what is this sefer? As he writes on the title page,

והם חידושים וביאורים על התורה ועל נביאים וכתובים רובם בדרך
 פשוטו של מקרא ע״פ מאמרי חז"ל המפוזרים בש"ס ומדרשים וכמו
 שאחז״ל הובא בתוס׳ כריתות (דף י״ד) ד״ת עניים במקומם ועשירים
 במקום אחר. וקצתם ע"פ דרוש ורמז

"And they are novellae and explanations of the Torah, on Neviim and on Ketuvim, most of them operating on the level of peshat, based on the statements of Chazal which are scattered through Shas and midrashim. And as Chazal say, as brought in Tosafot in Krisus daf 14a, words of Torah are paupers in their place and wealthy in another place. And some of them on the level of drush and remez."

Thus, in general, this is a peshat commentary, based on statements of Chazal, often drawn from places other than midrashim directly located on the pasuk. We can see how this is so in the devar Torah that follows.

Parshas Dvarim begins:

1. These are the words which Moses spoke to all Israel on that side of the Jordan in the desert, in the plain opposite the Red Sea, between Paran and Tofel and Lavan and Hazeroth and Di Zahav.א. אֵלֶּה הַדְּבָרִים אֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר מֹשֶׁה אֶל כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּעֵבֶר הַיַּרְדֵּן בַּמִּדְבָּר בָּעֲרָבָה מוֹל סוּף בֵּין פָּארָן וּבֵין תֹּפֶל וְלָבָן וַחֲצֵרֹת וְדִי זָהָב:
In Taama deKra, Rav Chaim Kanievsky writes:

"And Lavan and Chatzeros and Di Zahav: Chazal darshen this, see Rashi. But the peshat of the verse is that these were places that were called this. And so does Rabbi Yosi ben Dormaskis maintain in the Sifrei, that all of them are places.

And it is difficult, for here it is implied that Chatzeros is close to Ever haYarden, where Moshe was reviewing the Torah. Yet above in parashat Masei, Chatzeros is listed as close to the wilderness of Sinai. And so in parashas Behaaloscha, there is the Chatzeros in the incident with Miriam, and this was before the incident with the scouts. And if so, one is forced to say that there are two places called Chatzeros.

And there is to consider, for in parshas Behaaloscha, it is written {last pasuk of Bemidbar 11 or last pasuk of Bemidbar 12} 'and afterwards, the nation traveled from Chatzeros, and they were in Chatzeros.' And it is stated in the Sifrei, 'and were there two Chatzeroses, such that they traveled from this one and encamped in that one? Rather, they returned back to the way they came', see inside.

(The Gra is gores this here, and in the Sifrei, this is printed at the end of the parasha.) 

And it is difficult, for certainly there were two Chatzeroses, as mentioned above. And one is forced to say that the intent of 'and were there two Chatzeroses' is were there two close together to each other, such that they traveled from this one and encamped in that one? Meanwhile, there were many travelings between them. And this is obvious."

It is noteworthy that despite Rashi presenting this as the only explanation of the place names, that they were encoded references to sins, Rav Kanievsky still maintains that the unmentioned-by-Rashi simple explanation exists, that these are names of actual places.

This explanation is somewhat akin to that offered by Ibn Ezra:
בין פארן ובין תופל ולבן וחצרות ודי זהב -מקומות לא נזכרו בפרשה אלה מסעי, או נזכרו בשמות אחרים, כי הנה שניר יש לו ג' שמות ורבים כן.
"These are places not mentioned in parashat Eileh Masei, or else they are mentioned by other names, for Snir has three names, and there are many such."

Though here Rav Kanievsky seems to be saying that all these are more or less one place, in Ever Hayarden, rather than separate Masaot.

I have discussed this position of Rabbi Yossi ben Dormaskis in the past. (See here.) A quote of this position includes, in part:
"R Yosi ben Dormaskit said to him, 'Yehuda BeRabbi, why do you pervert to us the Scriptures? I call Heaven and Earth upon me as my witnesses that I reviewed all the places (original girsa: in the Torah and there is no place that is called - but this is placed in parentheses, and instead we have in brackets what makes more sense in context) and all of them are (actual) places, but rather they are called that because of actual happenstance (they recieved their place names because of some occurance there).
See my discussion there. It seems rather clear that this is machlokes, where Rabbi Yossi ben Dormaskis denies the validity of the derash entirely, because these are actual places. And presumably, Yehuda beRabbi would deny the 'peshat' of Rabbi Yossi ben Dormaskis, since the derasha is predicated on it not being a real place. To cite my translation of the Sifrei, and Yehuda beRabbi, again:
"We reviewed all of Scriptures and we found not a place whose name was Tofel and Lavan; rather, he (Moshe) rebuked them on the fact that they complained (tiflu) about the Manna that was white (lavan), as they said..."
In other words, only because we reviewed all of Scriptures and found no such place are we free to make such a derasha. Now, while Chazal may have only established this as a machlokes, later generations, with a different developed sense of Pardes and multiple planes of interpretation can establish them as true in parallel.

What could we say in answer to Rav Kanievsky's objection that this is in Ever Hayarden, while the other was clearly elsewhere? The answer Rav Kanievsky gives, that there were two places named Chatzeros, strikes me as quite plausible as peshat. But one could answer in another way. Namely, consider what Ibn Ezra wrote here:
יש אומרים:
כי טעם אחד עשר יום מחורב דרך הר שעיר, והנה הם הלכו במדבר ארבעים שנה, וזה פירוש ויהי בארבעים שנה. ואלה טעו, כי עד קדש ברנע באו בשנה השנית, רק ויהי בארבעים שנה דבק עם דבר משה.

והישר בעיני שפירושו אלה הדברים שהם דברי המצות הכתובים בפרשת ראה אנכי ושופטים וכי תצא והיה כי תבא, כבר אמר אותם כאשר היו במדבר, ויהיה דבר משה מושך עצמו ואחר עמו. וכן הוא: דבר משה במדבר בערבה מול סוף מיום שנסעו מסיני.

In other words, according to others, this entire speech was said at the end of the forty years, and that is the intent of the verse. But according to Ibn Ezra, the pasuk is describing an ongoing speech, beginning from the time they traveled from Sinai, and is not discussing the big speech, but the various mitzvos commanded through the Torah, as found in parashat Re'eh, Shofeftim, Ki Seitzei, and Ki Savo. If so, Chatzeros, as one of the previously known encampments, can be the place that some of those mitzvos were said. And if so, one need not say that there were two places in the Midbar called Chatzeiros.

(Still, I would side more with the idea that all these places are describing a single place near Ever HaYarden, and we are triangulating by saying all the places it was near.)

Perhaps one could also reorder the incident with Miriam, and say that chronologically it happened later? I doubt it, given the order Chatzeros is placed in Masei, which is fairly early. Perhaps one could design a more circuitous route through the midbar, in which they eventually return to Chatzeros? This would require greater investigation.

In terms of the pasuk Rav Kanievsky cites from Behaalosecha, it is pretty compelling evidence that there were two places called Chatzeros:
וְאַחַר נָסְעוּ הָעָם מֵחֲצֵרוֹת וַיִּהְיוּ בַּחֲצֵרוֹת
"Then the people departed from Hazeroth, and they were in Hazeroth."

The Sifrei, then, grapples with a compelling peshat question. And the resolution could be that indeed there were two adjoining places called Chatzeiros. Or, it could be that they just turned around. Given the unlikelihood of two adjoining places with the same name, this Sifrei sounds like peshat.

The only problem is that this pasuk does not actually exist. It is a hybrid, created of two separate pesukim in Behaaloscha. The first is the very last pasuk of perek 12:
16. Then the people departed from Hazeroth, and they camped in the desert of Paran.טז. וְאַחַר נָסְעוּ הָעָם מֵחֲצֵרוֹת וַיַּחֲנוּ בְּמִדְבַּר פָּארָן:
and the second is the very last pasuk of perek 11:

35. From Kivroth Hata'avah the people traveled to Hazeroth, and they stayed in Hazeroth.לה. מִקִּבְרוֹת הַתַּאֲוָה נָסְעוּ הָעָם חֲצֵרוֹת וַיִּהְיוּ בַּחֲצֵרוֹת:
One can see how the merged pasuk was formed. But if I had to guess which authentic pasuk in Behaaloscha the Sifrei is operating on, I would say that it has to be 11:35. After all, 12:16 has no arrival in Chatzeros. But 11:36 has and נָסְעוּ הָעָם חֲצֵרוֹת separate from that וַיִּהְיוּ בַּחֲצֵרוֹת.

This is certainly not Rav Kanievsky's fault. He did not invent this pasuk. Rather, he is citing it as it appears in the Sifrei. (Though presumably he did not look it up to confirm the midrash's quote was correct.)

We see that there are girsological issues with this midrash. As Rav Kanievsky noted, the Gra is gores the midrash 'here', meaning at the end of perek 11, while the printers put it at the end of the parsha, which is the end of perek 12. This corresponds precisely with the divergent makeup of the hybrid non-pasuk. Who is right? I will try to demonstrate that the Gra is right in placement, though there is something deeper that he missses.

As it appears at the end of the parsha, the Sifrei reads:

This is a direct quote of the last pasuk of perek 12. But the question, "and are there two Chatzeroses, that they traveled from this and encamped in this?" does not work, because the pasuk continues, 'and they encamped in the wilderness of Paran'. They can get away with this by simply not quoting the end of the pasuk. But it is clearly all wrong. And thus the parentheses, to indicate that this is not the proper place for the midrash. And the Vilna Gaon tells us that this midrash does not belong here.

As it appears earlier -- don't read this, but just note the placement of note zayin:

Note zayin brings us to the Hahahos HaGra:

This is pasuk 11:35, נָסְעוּ הָעָם חֲצֵרוֹת וַיִּהְיוּ בַּחֲצֵרוֹת. However, as he cites the midrash citing the pasuk, there is a mem, making it מֵחֲצֵרוֹת rather than חֲצֵרוֹת. Note also the lack of the word וְאַחַר, as it appears once the midrash was moved.

What now? We know the true place of the midrash, and the true pasuk of the midrash. But does the midrash work? The pasuk, again, is:

35. From Kivroth Hata'avah the people traveled to Hazeroth, and they stayed in Hazeroth.לה. מִקִּבְרוֹת הַתַּאֲוָה נָסְעוּ הָעָם חֲצֵרוֹת וַיִּהְיוּ בַּחֲצֵרוֹת:

It is clear, on a peshat level, that they went to Chatzeros, not from ChatzerosWhat, then, is the basis of the question about two places called Chatzeros?

Well, we might have expected a leading le or el, or a terminal ah to indicate that Chatzeros was the destination. Further, if נָסְעוּ הָעָם חֲצֵרוֹת means they arrived in Chatzeros, isn't וַיִּהְיוּ בַּחֲצֵרוֹת obvious and duplicative? I can come up with answers on a peshat level. 

(For instance, taking my cue from Ramban on "ואחות לוטן תמנע" and assert that we should draw the pasuk division two words earlier, and place וַיִּהְיוּ בַּחֲצֵרוֹת as the beginning of the next pasuk, וַתְּדַבֵּר מִרְיָם וְאַהֲרֹן בְּמֹשֶׁה עַל אֹדוֹת הָאִשָּׁה הַכֻּשִׁית אֲשֶׁר לָקָח כִּי אִשָּׁה כֻשִׁית לָקָח: Indeed, I would even suggest that that might be the import of the midrash above in Sifrei, juxtaposed to the midrash under discussion, which apparently the Gra removes as well: נסעו העם חצרות (הרי  זו היתה בשעה שנצטרעה מרים..)ש . This would seem rather obvious, given the juxtaposition. But this midrash could be giving the alternative explanation of , even without redrawing the pasuk boundaries.)

But it gets much better. If we look at the Samaritan Torah in Vetus Testamentum, we see a difference from our Masoretic Text:

The text on the left represents the Samaritan change from the Masoretic text on the right. So they add the leading heh, perhaps to grapple with the missing lamed or closing heh which would indicate explicitly that Chatzeros is the destination. (Alternatively, some scribe was confusing by the full patach under the bet in baChatzeros, not realizing that it was a bleed from the chataf patach under the ches. Indeed, we see in the variant texts be-ha-Chatzeros, indicating that that is how some viewed it.) But that is not the only Samaritan variant on this word חֲצֵרוֹת. In the notes indicating variant Samaritan texts, they have:

I will take pains to stress the significance of this discovery. There is a Samaritan Torah text that directly matches the text of the pasuk as interpreted in the Sifrei. If there is a leading mem to Chatzeros, then we have

נָסְעוּ הָעָם מֵחֲצֵרוֹת וַיִּהְיוּ בַּחֲצֵרוֹת

And it is this text that causes problems for the midrashic author, and what he strives to resolve. (With this text, we can still place the incident with Miriam getting leprosy here, in accordance with the other midrash and the simple peshat, by saying that  וַיִּהְיוּ בַּחֲצֵרוֹת means that it was while they were still in Chatzeros.)

This is not the only time we see Chazal darshening a non-Masoretic text, as found in Samaritan texts. I've covered quite a few examples of this in the past. For one instance, see here. This does not mean that the non-Masoretic text is correct. It could readily be the case that some vulgar text was in the sefer Torah of these particular member of Chazal, and they did not check to confirm it against the corrected sifrei Torah of, e.g., Rabbi Meir. So determining the correct masoretic text is beside the point of this post. (For reasons I won't get into, our Masoretic text on this pasuk is clearly preferable.)

Returning back to Rav Kanievsky's discussion of the Sifrei, I agree that another place named Chatzeros was not their concern. Not that one is forced to say that there was another place called Chatzeros, which was far away, but that if one says that, this does not impact the midrash, which is clearly concerned with two Chatzeroses which are rather close together.


Jr said...

If there is a mem before chatzeiros, like in this version of the samaritan text, what does the beginning of the verse ( מקברות התאוה) mean? From which place did they leave?

Also, without getting up to check, I think it's snir, not shnir.

joshwaxman said...

thanks. i corrected to Snir.

in terms of מקברות התאוה, absolutely so. our Masoretic text at least makes sense, even though we have a slight (though one should stress, entirely acceptable) irregularity in the grammar.

for the Samaritans, or whichever scribe came up with this first, the best explanation would be some sort of error, due to paying closer attention to close context, plus the parallel in perek 12. perhaps a letter duplication from the mem closing the preceding word.maybe one can translate it as '[after leaving] from Kivrot Hataavah, they traveled on from Chatzeros...', where we can get it to work in a real pinch. But I am not sure that we really need to get the pasuk to work; just to establish it as an existing text, which could be faithfully carried over by Soferim, until it arrived before the baal hamidrash.

On a midrashic level, it could simply work on the level of significance maximalism / omnisignificance, where we just ignore the earlier context.


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