Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Is יְעוֹפֵף a command, or an adjective?

Summary: Two girsaot in Onkelos, reflecting a machlokes Chazal. Plus, the trup appears to indicate one way over another.

Post: In the first perek of Bereishit, we turn to consider the following pasuk and Targum:

א,כ וַיֹּאמֶר אֱלֹהִים--יִשְׁרְצוּ הַמַּיִם, שֶׁרֶץ נֶפֶשׁ חַיָּה; וְעוֹף יְעוֹפֵף עַל-הָאָרֶץ, עַל-פְּנֵי רְקִיעַ הַשָּׁמָיִם.וַאֲמַר יְיָ--יִרְחֲשׁוּן מַיָּא, רְחֵישׁ נַפְשָׁא חַיְתָא; וְעוֹפָא יְפָרַח עַל אַרְעָא, עַל אַפֵּי רְקִיעַ שְׁמַיָּא.

A straightforward rendition of יְעוֹפֵף  would indeed be יְפָרַח. However, switch the leading yud for a daled and you have what appears in certain other texts of Onkelos. In Ohev Ger, Shadal writes:

"וְעוֹף יְעוֹפֵף עַל-הָאָרֶץ as וְעוֹפָא יְפָרַח, with a yud (so a bunch of Onkelos texts). And so does Mendelsohnn translate it as future tense {imperfect}, and so seems the opinion of the author of the trup (see Netivot HaShalom = Mendelsohnn). But in Gimel Targumim and Chumash Gadol, דפרח with a daled. And so does Ramban explain שיעופף {'that fly', rather than 'should fly'}. And our Sages argued about this in the Talmud, and the former seems to me to be primary."

It seems that we should turn to Nesivos HaShalom, to get a better picture of this and to see what this has to do with trup. Here is what Nesivos HaShalom writes. Realize that this pasuk appears at the very start of the fifth day of Creation:

"Our Rabbis dispute this. Some say that birds were created from the water, and therefore their creation was mentioned on the fifth, since on this day is the statement of creation with water. And Rabbi Eliezer HaGadol, in his perakim, says that on the fifth was השריץ {crept, swarmed} from the water all winged birds, and afterwards, in his opinion, it explains ועוף יעופף על הארץ, drawn out as if it said ישרצו המים with נפש חיה as well as the עוף שיעופף, such that the word שרץ also falls upon the winged birds. And the pasuk {in perek 2 pasuk 19, when Adam is in the Garden and Hashem brings him various animals} which states ויצר ה אלקים מן האדמה כל חית השדה ואת כל עוף השמים is as if it said 'and Hashem Elokim created all the beasts of the field from the ground, and all the birds of heaven', and there are many like it. But in the gemara, they argue about it, and some say that the birds were created from both of them {water and earth}, that is to say it was created from the mud. And if so, since the mud is in the earth of the sea, and from them was their generation, because of this the statement appeared on the fifth day.

And the author of the trup, it seems that he agrees with this position. Therefore, he placed the word חיה with the trup of etnachta, and the intent is as if he placed two separate statements -- the water should swam with the sheretz nefesh chaya, and the of should yeofef upon the earth. and if the words ישרצו המים applied as well to the עוף יעופף, he would have needed to establish upon the word המים a disjunctive, separating trup, greater than that of the word חיה."

Here is the pasuk in question, with its trup:

Thus, the first statement is up to the word חיה, and עוף יעופף means that birds should be יעופף, as a verb, rather that יעופף being an adjective.

Tzarich iyun, perhaps. For some reason, I have reservations about this trup insight. Look, we need to place the etnachta someplace. Where should we pace it? On המים, separating the first item on the list from the verb? Could we place it later? That seems difficult. We are faced with a list of items (as per the second, דפריש interpretation). And we see in Wickes that there are sometimes exceptions to the purely logical division within certain lists. I could not fit this example into his categories, but I still wonder if one could, such that this is not the most compelling proof.

If it is indeed the case that the trup is in accordance with one parse, then what shall we make of Ramban deciding the other way (assuming of course that he realized this)? And how could it be a machlokes in the Chazal, if we wanted to say that the trup is halacha leMoshe miSinai? Which way does the trup indicate? Unless you say (suddenly) that there was a machlokes in the trup as well.


Avraham said...

I didn't quite understand how this fits into the machlokes chazal. From what I saw, the point was that if ye'ofef is an "adjective," then the ofos were made completely out of water, but if it's a verb, then there's room for interpretation, being that since they were created on the fifth day, they must have been created from the sea, hence "sea-dirt." I would have said the other way: if it's an adjective, then one pasuk says water, and the other says dirt, so it must have been both. If it's a verb, then "piresh bemakom acher," and they were made totally out of adamah (which is not an opinion in chazal-making it completely talui on the second pasuk, whether vayitzer means create or gather). On the other hand, this would imply that half of the ofos' briah came from the adamah and half from the water, but there are many midrashim that discuss how the fifth day constitutes the toldos of the yamim, so maybe indeed the first tzad is right. (Of course, even then they're still mostly from the yamim even if some is from the adamah.) You didn't really weigh in on this. Thoughts?

joshwaxman said...

Unfortunately, I don't have the presence of mind right now to really have any deep insights into it. And I wrote this a week or so ago, though I only posted it now, so I am even a bit out of it.

I'll give my analysis without looking at either what they or you say, and compare with what you said. (Just finished. It is the same, so I agree with you.)

The fifth day command, as an adjective:
"And God said: 'Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and with the fowl that fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.'"

In this manner, the creation of birds must have happened at least **in part** from water, because that is what 'swarm' means. If another pasuk elsewhere indicates that they were created, along with beasts, from earth, then we harmonize and end up with mud.

If a verb, then:
"And God said: 'Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let fowl fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.'"

No one said anything about creation of these birds, just that they should fly. If so, they could be created just from the earth.

And now I look, and this is what you are saying. Good point. Though as you note, that is not an opinion of Chazal. So I agree with your question. More later, bli neder.

joshwaxman said...

From the words in the post, what it seems is that:

if adjective, then JUST the fifth day, and just water since that was the day that Hashem said ישרצו about the birds. And we will discard the pasuk from perek 2 in the way they describe.

if verb, then both. why? because the creation was not via ישרצו of the water. it just mentions that the birds should fly (on day five), but not their means of creation. If so, the pasuk in perek 2 fills a vacuum as to the method of creation for birds. And the method of creation mentioned in perek 2 does not contradict any method of creation in perek 1. Therefore, perek 2 says they were created from earth, and only from earth. Great. From what earth? The answer is from the earth at the bottom of the sea. And that is why birds are mentioned as being introduced (even though their method of creation was not mentioned) on day 5. And mud at the bottom of the sea = rekak.

I think that that is what they are saying. I still agree that your explanation is possible. But they are trying to fit these two parsings into the machlokes of Chazal, and are able to manage it in this manner.

Anonymous said...

I was wondering if you could get to some of these or if you ever formerly addressed any of these questions?

joshwaxman said...


I dropped a couple of answers to some of them, though I don't know they will be satisfying...

Anonymous said...

Thank You


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