Sunday, December 11, 2011

The trup on עָלוֹת עָלָי in Vayishlach

Summary: The trup in Bereishit 33:13 is against the typical commentaries. Shadal Rasahad gives a suggestion of how to read it in accordance with trup, which Haksav vehaKabbalah rejects. But, he endorses an explanation by Wolf Heidenheim. Finally, I consider whether all of this is even necessary.

My, that sounds dry! How about this, instead. There is weird trup on עלות, within the text of וַיֹּאמֶר אֵלָיו  אֲדֹנִי יֹדֵעַ כִּי-הַיְלָדִים רַכִּים וְהַצֹּאן וְהַבָּקָר עָלוֹת עָלָי. The typical understanding of the pasuk is "And he said unto him: 'My lord knoweth that the children are tender, and that the flocks and herds giving suck are a care to me; and if they overdrive them one day, all the flocks will die." Thus, alay means "upon me", even as עָלוֹת means "raising".  But Shadal says that this does not work out with the trup. One could also imagine עָלוֹת means "they ascend", as in "they ascend upon me as a burden". I think that is what Shadal (purportedly) suggests, and what I personally find compelling. But HaKsav veHakkaballah finds this problematic, and suggests a different explanation, in accordance with Wolf Heidenheim. But then, I try to debunk the question.

Post: A pasuk in Vayishlach (33:13) reads:

Haksav vehaKabbalah comments:
"Rashad {=presumably Rabbi Shmuel David Luzatto, though I don't find this in either Mishtadel or his longer commentary} {=Rabbi Shlomo Dubno} remarks that the author of the trup is against all the explanations in this, for he placed a tipcha in the word והבקר, to separate it from עלות. Therefore he explains that עלות עלי is like עולות עלי. That is to say, that the burden of the sheep and cattle and their weight are עולים, that is, that they are cast, upon me. End quote.
And it is not correct, for the meaning of עלות is not like עולות, and there is no meaning to the word עלי, and the primary portion of it is missing.
Therefore, it seems to be as what רוו"ה {=Rabbi Wolf Heidenheim} wrote, that the word עלי is not from the pattern of על, which is an article {a grammatical term; I would have said 'preposition'}, but rather from the pattern of עלות which is like עלים whose meaning is עוללים {infants, sucklings}. And do not wonder at the yud [ending of עלי] for it has many fellows in Scripture, such as ... [and here he gives examples; check them out]... such that עלי can be like them here, like עלים.
And Radak already said that the nursing animals were called עלית because of their children who were עולים, and so does Onkelos translate {the preceding word in the pasuk} עָלוֹת as מֵינְקָתָא {though leaving עָלָי as עֲלָי}. And so does the Syriac translate it {in the Peshitta}, and also Yonatan translates (in I Shmuel I) שתי פרות עליות as מניקא. And if so, the explanation of the pasuk here is the הילדים רכים and also the sheep and cattle are like them, רכים by a different aspect, for they are עלות עלי, that is to say, "nursing sucklings", or "raising their עוללs". And now, there is no deficiency in Scriptures, and it is in consonance with the author of the trup."
A fascinating reinterpretation of the pasuk by Heidenheim. With all due respect to Shadal R' Shlomo Dubno, I am not convinced that there is a problem in the first place, such that we need to reinterpret the trup in this way. Consider the pasuk again:

There is an etnachta on עלי, breaking the pasuk in half, so let us consider just that. The zakef on רכים is the major dichotomy, and the tipcha on והבקר and revii on אליו mark the minor dichotomies. Thus, we have:

וַיֹּאמֶר אֵלָיו | אֲדֹנִי יֹדֵעַ כִּי-הַיְלָדִים רַכִּים || וְהַצֹּאן וְהַבָּקָר | עָלוֹת עָלָי

And Shadal Rashadis concerned for what, precisely? That the tipcha should appear one word later (such that we would have tevir mercha tipcha etnachta), so that the two nouns וְהַצֹּאן וְהַבָּקָר would be more closely joined to the verb עָלוֹת and severed from the preposition עָלָי?

I don't see it, because when we consider the clause וְהַצֹּאן וְהַבָּקָר עָלוֹת עָלָי, we see that it leads with a noun, that is, with its subject. And here is what William Wickes has to say about subdivision of such clauses:

What is the subject, in our case? It is וְהַצֹּאן וְהַבָּקָר! If so, it is correct and proper to sever it from the verb which follows.

Maybe I am missing something here, or maybe not.


דרך הנשר said...

I saw a reference to the same question in the נתינה לגר over Shabbat:

ומה שק׳ מבעל הטעמים כי הפריד „הבקר“ מן „עלות“ ע׳ בנתה״ש

I'm guessing that רש"ד is Rav Shlomo Dubno, who wrote most of the commentary on ספר בראשית in נתיבות השלום, but I can't find a copy online (it used to be on the jnul site at but there seems to be a problem with the site today)

My own reaction was exactly the same as yours -- how is there more of a separation than you would expect? What am I missing?

I also wondered about the expression "בעל הטעמים". Am I reading too much into it, or does it imply that the טעמים are not from Sinai?

Anonymous said...

Is it true that the Rashi statement that
צדיקים מבקשים לישב בשלוה אומר הקב"ה לא דיין לצדיקים מה שמתוקן להם לעולם הבא, אלא שמבקשים לישב בשלוה בעולם הזה:

Really it said the Satan and not Haashem and it was a printing mistake and when the Came to the Osrstovser he told them they cant Change it back even thought they had found manuscripts to prove it?

דרך הנשר said...

I finally managed to download the נתיבות השלום. Here's what he says:

ויש לפרש כי עלות הוא נשוא
ויהיה יחוס ב׳ המאמרים שוים בנושא נשוא
כי הילדים הם רכים
והצאן והבקר הן עלות
וכולם מוטלים עלי
אבל בעל הטעמים יתנגד לכל אלו הפרושים בעבור ששם מונח בעלות
ויראה שהוא מפרש עלות עלי שטרחת הצאן והבקר ומשאם עולים עלי ור״ל מוטלים עלי

joshwaxman said...

Derech HaNesher:

Thanks! (And sorry for the delay in replying; I've been somewhat preoccupied...)


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