Thursday, November 28, 2013

posts so far for parashat Miketz


1. The Documentary Hypothesis and the Doublet of Pharoah's Dream -- The doublet of Pharaoh's dreams, and the inconsistencies (ok, mainly with midrashic sensitivities turned on) between the dream and Pharaoh's retelling. Why don't they say multiple authors here? And have the redactor be the one claiming that the two dreams are really one dream? Ok, I can give arguments why not, but there is a nice point to be made about deliberate use of the doublet for literary effect.

2. YUTorah on parashat Miketz.


1. Miketz: At the end of two years from whenAnd, did Yosef do right to ask the butler for help? I believe these two questions are related, and it is no accident that the midrash which has it as two years from his asking considers his request wrong. Plus, how to understand it as Yosef acting properly.

2. YUTorah on parashat Miketz.


  1. Does Onkelos translate וַיִּקַּח as וּדְבַר or ונסב?  The answer is that it is the former, despite R' Meir Wolf's variant nusach. Shadal and Lechem Abirim explain.
  2. Miketz sources.
  3. YU Torah on parashat Mikeitz.
  4. Kedushat Levi: how the סריס Potifar could have been informed בשעת תשמיש --  Harmonizing two contradictory Rashi's, that Hashem transformed Potifar into asaris when he bought Yosef for משכב זכר purposes, and that Potifar's wife falsely accused Yosef when she was בשעת תשמיש with her husband.

  1. Miketz sources -- expanded. For instance, many more meforshei Rashi.
  2. Dreams caused by the four humours -- An example of how Abarbanel is a Torah UMaddah-nik, paying heed to the (unfortunately incorrect) science of his time. If not for it being incorrect, though, we might not know that he is doing this.
  3. The meaning of Tzofnas Paneach --  Can we know the meaning or, due to our sins, did we lose this Hebraic knowledge? If the latter, can this serve as an excuse to confidently advance the traditional explanation, "Revealer of Hidden Things?"
  4. In answer to a ponderous parasha point.

  1. Mikeitz Sources -- more than 100 meforshim on parashas Miketz and its haftorah, as well as links by aliyah and perek to an online Mikraos Gedolos.
  2. Why in the world did Yosef compel the Egyptians to circumcise themselves? Explaining Rashi's intent in the midrash -- that he regards it as a conversion of sorts.
  3. Ibn Caspi, and the overwhelming authority of nikkud, pt i -- I saw two interesting comments in Ibn Caspi on Mikeitz which reference how nikkud determines meaning, such that of course one cannot argue on nikkud. Because this was encoded by the Anshei Knesset HaGedolah based on the received tradition from Moshe Rabbenu. Compare with the approach of other meforshim, as discussed by Shadal in his Vikuach. Here, I analyze one of the two comments. I wonder at the particular applications he gives, for his nikkud appears different from ournikkud. Then, I turn to consider his parallel case in Kohelet, where he is certainly right as to the meaning of the nikkud, even as it truly seems that the meaning of the pasuk should be otherwise.
  4. Ibn Caspi and nikkud, pt ii -- In a previous post on Miketz, I discussed Ibn Caspi on nikkud, and how he felt that a particularkamatz on a word indicated the position of the Anshei Knesset HaGedolah. Though we do not have that particular kamatz, this is an important assertion, especially when combined with what we have in this post, that the Anshei Knesset HaGedolah got this meaning from Moshe. And combine that with what we saw in an earlier comment regarding trup, that since it reflects original intent, it makes no sense to argue with it.
    Here, we consider Ibn Caspi's comment about the kamatz in hanimtza, whether it is dispositive, and whether it really means to preclude the first person plural verb.

  5. My remarks at the recent bris, which pertain to Miketz, and the common of circumcision vs. the special meaning of bris milah.
  6. Junior on Miketz and Chanukkah -- regarding Miketz, that when the Torah relates that Yosef gathered up all the food, it couldn't have been literally all the food, for otherwise the Egyptians would have nothing to eat. Ibn Ezra makes the same point.

  1. In the course of Vikuach al Chochmat haKabbalahShadal claims that Ibn Ezra and Rashbam go against the trup in explaining a pasuk in parshat Miketz, about all the countries coming to Egypt, to Yosef, to buy grain. Perhaps another post is in order exploring just how this goes against the trup.
  2. Miketz sources -- all osrts of sources for studying this week's Torah portion. Including mikraos gedolos and many meforshim you might not otherwise have access to.
  3. Parsha points on Miketz -- all in one paragraph; the daled-resh switchoff; the matching text to biladay; and at length, parallels with the Haftara, of Shlomo Hamelech's dream.
  4. The Miketz - Daniel parallel -- first Daniel borrowing theme and language from Miketz, and then Chazal borrowing material from Daniel to supplement the midrashic narrative of Miketz.

  1. What Is Bothering Joshy? רְדוּ-שָׁמָּה -- How the "What is Bothering Rashi?" approach can go wrong. How focusing on the textual cues as what is quote unquote bothering Rashi can be misleading. And how a better question is "What is Motivating Rashi?"  Indeed, in the particular devar I take apart, there are a few assertions, based on this approach, which turn out simply not to be so.

    1. The Goblet and the Terafim -- Thematic parallels between the story of Binyamin and the goblet, and Rachel and the terafim. And how Binyamin is perhaps involved in each case.
    2. Why Whole YearsSimply put, so that it will be Pharaoh's birthday once again.
    3. Put In A Prison, Taken From A Pit -- Even though Yosef is put into prison, he is taken from a bor, a pit. Just as at the start he is placed in a pit by his brothers. I suggest here that is deliberate. Each time he is removed from the pit, he is moved by a hidden Divine hand toward the position of royal vizier. We can collapse the middle section, and it is almost as if the events in Potifar's house didn't happen. This hidden Divine hand is made explicit in parshat Vayechi. Also, the role of dreams in advancing the narrative is a mark of the hidden Divine hand. This happens as well in Megillat Esther, as I write elsewhere.
    4. Bemidbar: Lift Up The Heads (2005) And the dual meaning. And Bemidbar has a third use of the term.
      1. Yosef the Democrat Does he take a fifth? Or does he organize?
      2. Some Pure Speculation (on chronology) (2003) -- and then rejection of the speculation
      3. Vayigash: Are Reuven's Children Tribbles? (2004) How do Reuven's children double in number. A suggestion about the timing of the census.
      4. Ki Teitzei: Eshet Yefat To`ar As Progressive Feminist Legislation (2003) -- in which I note the parallels between the way Yosef is treated when taken out of prison and the way the Yefat To`ar is treated. The relevant excerpt:

        First, they removed him from the pit, equivalent to taking the woman out of the captives quarters and into the man's house. Then, he shaved. I would say not shaved exactly, but sheared. He cut his hair and became hygenic. Similarly, the beautiful captive gets to cut her hair which surely became unkempt during captivity. Finally, he changed from his prison clother. Similarly, the female captive gets to change into fresh garments, which, being a captive she probably did not get much opportunity to do.

      Wednesday, November 27, 2013

      YUTorah on parashat Miketz

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      Monday, November 25, 2013

      The Documentary Hypothesis and the Doublet of Pharoah's Dream

      An interesting thought occurred to me while reading over Ibn Caspi on Miketz, and, baruch shekivanti, I see that others have raised something similar before me.

      Pharoah's dreams are related twice -- once by the narrator and once in Pharaoh's retelling. (And a third time, within Yosef's interpretation.) This is thus a "doublet". And there are slight "inconsistencies" between the two, in terms of descriptions, and details in one and not in the other. Does the Documentary Hypothesis divide these into different documents? And if not, why not? Why do they make a big deal of some doublets and not others, and why some inconsistencies (which are, upon close examination, making a mountain out of a molehill) and not others?

      To cite Ibn Caspi about the inconsistencies:

      "And Pharaoh said to Yosef, in my dream...: I have already written in the sefer Tiras Kesef the reason of the repetition and the change in words which appear."

      Here is what Ibn Caspi says on that page (124) of Tiras Kesef:

      The changes in the dream are minor, and might simply be natural variation, or else the true elaboration that emerges as one naturally tells over a dream. But a midrash picks up on these changes, and that Yosef changed them back in the interpretation, to proffer that Pharaoh deliberately changed the dream as a test, and Yosef passed the test by telling Pharaoh his true dreams.

      Examples of the sorts of variations one might spot:
      When Pharaoh repeated his dream to Joseph, he changed it a bit, either purposely to see if Joseph really knew, or unintentionally, as we often don't remember exact details. For example, Pharaoh started off on the shore of the river (taking a sun tan!) while the original dream said "On the river," stressing the Nile as the sustenance of Egypt. Pharaoh stressed the aesthetic aspect of the cows: "I never saw such poor cows in all of Egypt" (Genesis 41:19), instead of the fact that they were skinny and fat.
      Or, as voiced by Tanchuma Miketz, siman 3:
      ויוסף ענו בכבל רגלו ברזל באה נפשו (תהלים קה) 
      ונתרומם, שנאמר: ויוסף הוא השליט על הארץ.
      אמר ליה פרעה: חלום חלמתי. אמר יוסף: בלעדי אלהים יענה וגו', תלה הגדולה בבעליה. 
      אמר הקב"ה: אתה לא רצית להתגדל בעצמך, חייך, שעל ידי כך תעלה לגדולה ולמלוכה.
      אמר פרעה: חלום חלמתי, כשבא לומר לו את החלום בקש לבודקו, והיה מהפך לו את החלום. אמר ליה: והנה מן היאור עולות שבע פרות. 
      אמר ליה יוסף: לא כך ראית, אלא יפות מראה ובריאות בשר. 
      אמר ליה: הנה שבע פרות דלות ורעות. 
      א"ל: לא כך ראית, אלא רעות מראה ודקות בשר. 
      א"ל: הנה שבע שבלים מלאות וטובות. 
      א"ל: לא כך ראית, אלא בריאות וטובות. 
      א"ל: והנה שבע שבלים צנומות דקות. 
      א"ל: לא כך ראית, אלא דקות שדופות קדים. 
      התחיל פרעה תמה בעצמו. 
      א"ל: אחרי היית כשחלמתי, שנאמר: אחרי הודיע אלהים אותך את כל זאת, הוא שאביו מברכו: בן פורת יוסף (בראשית מט), אל תקרא בן פורת אלא בן הפרות יוסף. 
      השיב פרעה: אתה תהיה על ביתי. 
      These are, perhaps, weak sorts of variations. (But then, I consider Yishmaelim / Medanim / Medanim as the ones who bought Yosef from the brothers to also be a somewhat weak variation.)

      Yet, all these are assigned to E.

      I looked into it a bit (meaning a few minutes of Googling), and I saw that a similar (but not precisely identical point) was made by Whybray in The Making of the Pentateuch: A Methodological Study, pg 78:

      Thus, the doublets he points out are the fact that Yosef has two dreams with the same message; Pharaoh has two dreams with the same message. (Similarly, I would point out, the butler and baker have similar dreams with slight contrasts which lead to opposite messages.) And these are assigned to the same author, J and E, respectively, and it is understood that parallelism from doublets are used by both authors as a technique.

      Thursday, November 21, 2013

      Interesting Posts and Articles #389

      1) First, that Agudah video about poverty in the holy land:

      Blogs discussing it, not in the way anticipated: Hirhurim (The Sad Collapse), Rationalist Judaism (The Charedi Tragedy of Ignoring Chazal) and Emes VeEmunah. See also Cross-Currents. It was originally on Vimeo, but then that was password protected. It then was reposted on YouTube, it seems by the same party. Which seems to mean that it was not pulled because of backlash.

      2) Hirhurim also has a post on Yosef's sale and Biblical critics:
      However, beginning approximately 50 years ago, critics started objecting to this proposal. They argued that these doublets do not indicate separate sources. Indeed, the text reads better when a single source is assumed.
      Last year, I had a series of posts (onetwothreefour) discussing Yosef's sale.  I think the switch-off of descriptive language (Medanites, Midianites, Ishmaelites) might well come from multiple sources, but these are each taking turns telling what is a complex, single story. And that the brothers pull up Yosef and sell him to the Ishmaelites, who are the Medanites and Midianites. And they do so on Yehuda's suggestion, while Reuven was away. Thus, they foiled Reuven's own plan for saving Yosef.

      3) At the Seforim blog, Lawrence Kaplan's review of The Genius.
      Eliyahu Stern's recent book on the Vilna Gaon has generated a lot of discussion. The Seforim Blog is happy to present Lawrence Kaplan's review of the work which will be followed up by a three-part post by Marc Shapiro
      4) The Maccabeats with a new song for Chanukkah.

      5) It has been a while since I've done one of these roundups. Here is the most recent one from Life in Israel and the most recent one from Yeranen Yaakov.

      Wednesday, November 20, 2013

      YUTorah on parashat Vayeshev

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