Friday, November 18, 2011

Darshening the pesik in ויהי | כראות

Summary: Should we? I don't think so, because it is not a pesik.

Post: We have the following pasuk in parashat Chayei Sarah:

Birkas Avraham analyzes the underlined pesik as well as the word vayhi.

בפסוק (בראשית כד ל, ) ויהי כראות את
הנזם וגו' ויבא אל האיש והנה עומד על
הגמלים על העין. יש להבין לשון ויהי שהוא
מורה על צער שהיה שם, וגם להבין מה שיש
טעם פסיק [ קו ] אחר תיבת ויהי .
ויתבאר כל זה עם ה'מדרש אבכיר' שהביא
הילקוט שמעוני, וכעין זה איתא ב'מדרש
אגדה' ובתור"ש עיין שם, שאחר שראה לבן
את הנזם וכו' רצה להורגו , כי חשד בו, והכיר
אליעזר שמרוצתו לרעה, והזכיר שֵם והעמיד
הגמלים על העין באויר, והוא עומד על
הגמלים באויר. ומזה הכיר לבן שהוא צדיק,
ואף היה סבור שהוא אברהם אבינו, שהיה
קלסתר פניו דומה לו עיי"ש , ובהמשך דברינו

"In the verse [the one just cited], there is to understand the language of ויהי, which informs on pain that he was there. And there is also to understand why there is a trup symbol of pesik (a vertical bar | ) after the word ויהי.

And all this is explained with the Midrash Avkir which the Yalkut Shimoni brings, and like this there is in the Midrash Aggadah and the Torah Shleima, see there: that after Lavan saw the ring, he wished to kill him [=Eliezer], for he suspected him [of molesting Rivkah], and Elirzer recognized that his running was for evil, and so he mentioned the Divine Name and levitated the camels in the air. And from this Lavan recognized that he was a righteous person, and he even thought that he [=Eliezer] has Avraham Avinu, for the visage of his face was similar to him, see inside. And as we continue in the next piece."

I recall seeing a variant of this midrash in Bereishit Rabbati, [probably] from Bereishit Rabbati, that Lavan grabbed his sword to kill Eliezer, for the same reason mentioned, but he saw him using his own strength to lift up the camels, and so knew he could not prevail in direct conflict. Which is why Lavan sought to poison Eliezer.

The problem with darshening a pesik like this, as I've discussed many many times in the past -- see here for an example -- is that it is not a pesik. This vertical bar is part of the munach of the preceding word, manking it into the disjunctive munach legarmeih rather than the regular conjunctive munach.

And, in terms of vayhi, the gemara modifies that statement, such that only vayhi biymei will consistently denote pain. But there are plenty of examples, acknowledges the gemara, where a solitary vayhi does not connote pain.

So, neither textual cue really exists to spark this derasha or require explanation.


anon1 said...

I know you've written about this before and I understand the distinction you are making but clearly there is some aspect of hafsaka to it, even if it is not a formal psik (e.g. the kaf is degusha because this non-psik psik is viewed as a taam mafsik). Is that worthy of a drasha, one can argue but there is clearly some hefsek.

joshwaxman said...

right. absolutely. it is probably an even stronger hefsek than a pesik. the munach legarmeih is a disjunctive accent.

but my disagreement is along the lines you suggested. just as he wouldn't darshen every single tevir or tipcha, he shouldn't seek to darshen every single munach legarmeih.

The reason that the psik is often darshened by Baal HaTurim is that it operates almost above the level of the standard division provided by trup, and often for very clear semantic (rather than syntactic) purposes, such as dividing off a Shem Hashem or to provide emphasis.

anon2 said...

I agree with anon1. We get your point; it's not a true pasek. The constant posting about the same issue just comes across as argumentative and nit picky.

Without the "line" there, this symbol is just a lowly munach. Thus the "line" converts a mesharet into a mafsiq, a new taam called legarmeh. In fact, that's precisely why that specific orthography was chosen, because we find that "line" in other places employed as a pasek to create a mafsiq-like pause after a mesharet. You will never find a paseq after a taam mafsiq; it's not necessary. So this line, called a "pasek" elsewhere where it is used to create a mafsiq-situation, creates a mafsiq- situation here. Surely, another mafsiq could have been chosen, and that's precisely the point of these drashot. This could have had a gershayim, which would have provided the same pausal value, (we find geresh and its forms interchangeable with legarmeh all the time) but instead a legarmeh, with the pasek-like symbol is there. That allows room for the drasha. In the realm of drashot, this is perfectly reasonable.

joshwaxman said...

i'm sorry if it comes across as argumentative and picky. in general, i try to note each time Birkas Avraham (and others) analyzes trup in one way or another, where I notice it, because I like comprehensive lists of where people darshen trup. (thus, for instance, this post from the same week.) there are two munach-legarmeihs of this sort in next week's parasha (Toledot), so maybe I'll just put that one into a single post.

sure, anything goes for drash, if one wants to force it. i don't think Birchas Avraham would necessarily agree, though -- my guess is that he would prefer to only darshen true psiks, following in the path of Baal HaTurim. (although I found one instance in which Baal HaTurim does the same, so perhaps this is a good counterpoint.)

you are right that gershayim/geresh is of the same pausal value. Wickes discusses when each appears. This would appear to be the instance in which "when there are only three words in the clause, L'garmeh may take the place of Geresh, thus affording a variety in the melody."

Anonymous said...

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