Thursday, July 26, 2012

How does the trup parse אֲנָשִׁים חֲכָמִים וּנְבֹנִים וִידֻעִים לְשִׁבְטֵיכֶם?

Summary: Against Rashi, it seems, such that חֲכָמִים וּנְבֹנִים וִידֻעִים are a unit. But that is acceptable.

Post: Towards the start of parshas Devarim, we encounter this pasuk:

13. Prepare for yourselves wise and understanding men, known among your tribes, and I will make them heads over you.יג. הָבוּ לָכֶם אֲנָשִׁים חֲכָמִים וּנְבֹנִים וִידֻעִים לְשִׁבְטֵיכֶם וַאֲשִׂימֵם בְּרָאשֵׁיכֶם:

Note that Judaica Press translates it in accordance to Rashi, taking וִידֻעִים לְשִׁבְטֵיכֶם as a unit, meaning "known among your tribes".

Here is how Rashi, channeling the Sifrei, puts it:

well-known among your tribes: Men whom you recognize, for if one were to come before me wrapped in his tallith, I would not know who he is and of what tribe he is, and whether he is suitable. But you know him, for you have raised him. Therefore, it says,“well-known among your tribes.” (Sifrei)וידועים לשבטיכם: שהם ניכרים לכם, שאם בא לפני מעוטף בטליתו איני יודע מי הוא ומאיזה שבט הוא ואם הגון הוא, אבל אתם מכירין בו, שאתם גידלתם אותו, לכך נאמר וידועים לשבטיכם:

Compare with JPS which makes it a measure of their knowledge:

יג  הָבוּ לָכֶם אֲנָשִׁים חֲכָמִים וּנְבֹנִים, וִידֻעִים--לְשִׁבְטֵיכֶם; וַאֲשִׂימֵם, בְּרָאשֵׁיכֶם.13 Get you, from each one of your tribes, wise men, and understanding, and full of knowledge, and I will make them heads over you.'

Ibn Ezra does not explicitly treat viyduim lishivteichem as unit, as Rashi does, but he does interpret viduim in like manner:

וידועים -שהם היו ידועים שיכירום הכל.

That they are known, that all recognize them.

(After all, it is the passive verb.) The Ramban writes:
יג): וידעים לשבטיכם - 
שהיו ניכרים לכם, שאם בא לפני מעוטף בטליתו איני יודע מי הוא ומאי זה שבט הוא, אבל אתם מכירים אותו שגדלתם אותו, לשון רש"י מספרי (דברים יג). ג
ואם כן, יהיה "לשבטיכם" קשור עם "וידועים" י

אבל על דרך הפשט טעמו, הבו לכם לשבטיכם אנשים חכמים. 
ועל דעתי, טעם "וידועים" שהם ידועים לשופטים, כלומר שמעלתם ידועה ונכרת למנותם בה שופטים. וכלל מעלות השופטים במלת "וידועים", כי השופטים צריכין להיות אנשי חיל יראי אלוהים אנשי אמת שונאי בצע כאשר אמר יתרו, ואלה היו ידועים לשופטים מתחלה כי היו הכל אומרים ראוי זה להיות שופט:
That is, he first cites Rashi and states that if so, the word לְשִׁבְטֵיכֶם is connected with וִידֻעִים. He continues:
"However, on a peshat level, its import is {via reordering the words} 'Get yourselves, for your tribes, wise men.' {J: and so 'your tribes' is not associated with yeduim at all.}
 And in my opinion, the meaning of yeduim is that they are known to be judges, that is to say, their greatness is known and recognized, to appoint them judges for it. And it encompasses the various positive traits of judges in the word וִידֻעִים, for the judges need to be אַנְשֵׁי-חַיִל יִרְאֵי אֱלֹהִים, אַנְשֵׁי אֱמֶת--שֹׂנְאֵי בָצַעת, as Yisro said {J: such that there is harmonization between Devarim and parashat Yitro in sefer Shemot}. And these were known to be 'judges' from the beginning, since all would say that this one is fit to be a judge.
In this way, I'll stress once more,  לְשִׁבְטֵיכֶם is not connected with וִידֻעִים on a peshat level according to the Ramban.

Vilna Gaon
The Vilna Gaon writes, in Aderes Eliyahu:
לְשִׁבְטֵיכֶם. לא קאי ידֻעִים בלבד אלא על כל הד׳ דברים שיהא מכל שבט ושבט

"'to your tribes' -- it does not apply only to וִידֻעִים, but rather to each of the four [sic; three; unless anashim counts, as righteous men, as in the Sifrei, in which case ignore three later in Gra, as well as his supercommentator in the link] things, that they should be from each and every tribe."

haKsav vehaKabbalah
Rabbi Yaakov Tzvi Mechlenburg, in his sefer Haksav veHakabbalah, discusses how trup fits into this picture. He cites the Gra, and then writes:

כי לפי נגינת הטעם מלת וִידֻעִים מתחברת עם חֲכָמִים וּנְבֹנִים

"For according to the trup, the word וִידֻעִים  is connected to חֲכָמִים וּנְבֹנִים." 

This is precisely correct. Let us examine the trup on the pasuk:

The one trup symbol appearing which subdivides an etnachta is the tipcha on וִידֻעִים, such that it is the first item knocked off. All the other trup symbols divide the clause ending in the tipcha. Thus, it is:

הָבוּ לָכֶם אֲנָשִׁים חֲכָמִים וּנְבֹנִים וִידֻעִים

Can Rashi (and Ibn Ezra perhaps) give an interpretation against the trup? Yes. But even without that, we already have Ramban aligning peshat vs. the non-peshat (so I suppose derash) in Rashi based on different parsings. Noting that the trup is like the peshat parsing does not necessarily do away with the derash, even if we took trup as dispositive.


SPACE said...

josh, can you help me with ibn-Ezra commentary on Genesis 14-5, why he calls Rephaim deadman, ghosts, because they have no resurrection?

sorry if posted in wrong place, your blog is so big, I get lost.

joshwaxman said...

sure, check out my latest post.

all the best,


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