Sunday, September 14, 2014

A dead man's shoes

In Taama De'kra on parashat Ki Tavo, Rav Chaim Kanievsky writes:

That is, towards the end of Ki Tavo, Devarim 29, the pasuk states:

ד  וָאוֹלֵךְ אֶתְכֶם אַרְבָּעִים שָׁנָה, בַּמִּדְבָּר; לֹא-בָלוּ שַׂלְמֹתֵיכֶם מֵעֲלֵיכֶם, וְנַעַלְךָ לֹא-בָלְתָה מֵעַל רַגְלֶךָ.4 And I have led you forty years in the wilderness; your clothes are not waxen old upon you, and thy shoe is not waxen old upon thy foot.

"לֹא-בָלוּ שַׂלְמֹתֵיכֶם מֵעֲלֵיכֶם, וְנַעַלְךָ לֹא-בָלְתָה מֵעַל רַגְלֶךָ -- Regarding clothing it is written in plural and by shoe it written in singular. And there is to say that here it hints to the Sefer Chassidim, siman 454, that one should not wear the shoes of a dead person (and see Berachot 57b). And therefore, the clothing, when one person dies, another could wear his clothing, so it is written in plural, but shoes, only one person can where them. And there is nothing which is not alluded to in the Torah."
We can see the referred to item in Sefer Chassidim here:

"One who owes others should not give a lot of charity, until he has repaid his debt. And a person should not give something dangerous as charity. If someone was given shoes of a deceased [מנעלים של מת] and wishes to give them to a pauper, they tell him "And you shall love your fellow as yourself!" Rather, sell them to a gentile so that no Jewish person comes to danger, and then give the money to the pauper."
There are many explanations and rationalizations given to this statement in Sefer Chassidim. It can be connected to Berachot 57b, as Rav Kanievsky did above:
Our Rabbis taught: [If one dreams of] a corpse in the house, it is a sign of peace in the house; if that he was eating and drinking in the house, it is a good sign for the house; if that he took articles from the house, it is a bad sign for the house. R. Papa explained it to refer to a shoe or sandal. Anything that the dead person [is seen in the dream] to take away is a good sign except a shoe and a sandal; anything that it puts down is a good sign except dust and mustard.
Perhaps we can say that the fact that Rav Papa, or the brayta, see a negative omen in a dreaming that dead man took shoes from a house indicates that this was regarded (legitimately, superstitiously, culturally) as a danger. If so, then perhaps this could in turn serve as a basis for idea presented by Rabbi Yehuda HaChassid.

Though I don't think we need to try too hard to legitimize it. There are many strange things in Sefer Chassidim, which don't have a basis in the halacha or hashkafa of Chazal, nor were accepted as binding by the general Jewish community. Nor do we need to find an allusion to it in a pasuk.

There are various explanations floating around as to the meaning, and basis, of this position. (See Nit'ei Gavriel for a discussion.). For instance, some say this refers to shoes made from leather from a deceased (and therefore sick) animal. Some say it does refer to the shoes of a deceased person, but the problem is sweat from the deceased. Some say (Koret HaBrit) that the concern is that wearing such shoes will cause one to think about this during the day, and that those thoughts will cause one to dream about it at night, and we saw that this is a negative omen, and from this the sakana.

My problem with the last explanation is this. The idea that daytime thoughts cause the contents of nighttime dreams comes from the same approximate sugya in Berachot, about dreams, on 55b-56a:
R. Samuel b. Nahmani said in the name of R. Jonathan: A man is shown in a dream only what is suggested by his own thoughts, as it says, As for thee, Oh King, thy thoughts came into thy mind upon thy bed.37  Or if you like, I can derive it from here: That thou mayest know the thoughts of the heart.38  Raba said: This is proved by the fact that a man is never shown in a dream a date palm of gold, or an elephant going through the eye of a needle.39
The Emperor [of Rome]1  said to R. Joshua b. R. Hananyah: You [Jews] profess to be very clever. Tell me what I shall see in my dream. He said to him: You will see the Persians2  making you do forced labour, and despoiling you and making you feed unclean animals with a golden crook. He thought about it all day, and in the night he saw it in his dream.3  King Shapor [I] once said to Samuel: You [Jews] profess to be very clever. Tell me what I shall see in my dream. He said to him: You will see the Romans coming and taking you captive and making you grind date-stones in a golden mill. He thought about it the whole day and in the night saw it in a dream. 
I would suggest that Chazal were not monolithic in their attitude towards dreams. Instead, there are at least two strains. A gross simplification would be to call one Rationalist and the other Mystical (or non-Rationalist), but it is a convenient gross simplification. The Rationalist position understood dreams as the synapses in the brain continuing to fire at night, such that we keep thinking about what we were thinking about during the day. The Mystical position took dreams as a form of prophecy, as messages from on high.

(Complicating this is that dream interpretation was regarded as a science, And these is the well-developed idea of reality following whatever interpretation is offered, which seems to contrast with definitive explanations given for specific symbolism. And that certain types of dreams, over others, were understood to be prophetic, for instance, those which are repeated and occur towards the end of night, I think there are more than two positions to be had, and one member of Chazal might hold a nuanced position that cannot be neatly placed into Rationalist and non-Rationalist,)

Once we say that a particular dream is caused by daytime thoughts, I would argue that this strips it of its meaning, and its danger. Neither the Emperor of Rome nor King Shapur were put in danger by their dreams. If one wears the shoes of a deceased person and therefore dreams that dream mentioned by the gemara, there is no negative omen, and no danger in it. We should not conflate these two incompatible conceptions of dreams in order to create a prohibition, or an explanation for a prohibition.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Minchas Shai on parshat Ki Tavo, pt i

Minchas Shai on parashat Ki Tavo begins as follows:

1) He writes that the sidra of Ki Tavo begins with a petucha gap.

2) He writes that אשר has a pashta. As opposed to what? Since this is often a response to Bomberg's Mikraos Gedolos, correcting the multiple errors, we should examine it, just to be sure that there is not something else there. Looking at Bomberg's first Mikraos Gedolos (pg 252), it has a pashta:

So too in Bomberg's second Mikraos Gedolos (pg 441), the word אשר has a pashta:

Presumably, then, the reason to note that אשר in the first pasuk has a pashta is that one might have made a mistake. That mistake would be to confuse it with a kadma. In the second pasuk of Ki Tavo, there are two instances of אשר, and each is marked with a kadma. The pashta and kadma look alike, but the pashta always appears on the very last letter of the word, while the kadma appears over the letter starting the stressed syllable. So, for a kadma, the symbol appears on the ש while for a pashta the symbol appears on the ר.

3) He also notes that in the phrase וְיָשַׁ֥בְתָּ בָּֽהּ, there is a dagesh in the bet. This too appears in Bomberg's Mikraos Gedolos correctly.

The purpose of pointing the dagesh out is that we might have erroneously thought that the dagesh should not appear there. After all, the previous word ended in a vowel (thus, an open syllable) and the trup symbol on that previous word, a mercha, was a joining, conjunctive, trup. While in the general case, the letters בגת כפת receive a dagesh kal  at the beginning of a word or after a sheva nach, the exception is where the previous word ended in an open syllable (usually the letters אהוי, but a kamatz under a ת also works) and there in a conjunctive trup. So we would expect no dagesh here.

An example of this from Ki Tavo is in this perek, pasuk 11:

וְשָֽׂמַחְתָּ֣ בְכָל־הַטּ֗וֹב

There is no dagesh in the ב because of the kametz under the ת, and because the trup symbol on that previous word is a munach, a conjunctive trup.

So why is there a dagesh placed in the ב in the first pasuk? The critical difference is that in וְשָֽׂמַחְתָּ֣ בְכָל־הַטּ֗וֹב, the trup symbol and thus the stress is on the very last syllable. However, in the וְיָשַׁ֥בְתָּ בָּֽהּ the trup symbol and thus the stress is on the penultimate (second to last) syllable.

That is, in וְיָשַׁ֥בְתָּ בָּֽהּ, the trup symbol and stress was moved from its normal place on the last syllable so as to prevent two stressed syllables in a row (veyashavTA BAH). That is called nasog achor. In such a case, the rule of dechik is that the first letter of that following word gets a dagesh chazak, which geminates (doubles) it.

So that means that the dagesh in the ב is a dagesh chazak, which both geminates it and renders it a plosive (bet) rather than fricative (vet), rather than being merely a dagesh kal, which would have also rendered it a plosive.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

The Semag's strange girsa of וְכִי תָבֹא בְּקָמַת רֵעֶךָ

(Cross-posted to Girsology.)

In the middle of parshat Ki Teitzei [Devarim 23:25-26], we read:

כה  כִּי תָבֹא בְּכֶרֶם רֵעֶךָ, וְאָכַלְתָּ עֲנָבִים כְּנַפְשְׁךָ שָׂבְעֶךָ; וְאֶל-כֶּלְיְךָ, לֹא תִתֵּן.  {ס}25 When thou comest into thy neighbour's vineyard, then thou mayest eat grapes until thou have enough at thine own pleasure; but thou shalt not put any in thy vessel. {S}
כו  כִּי תָבֹא בְּקָמַת רֵעֶךָ, וְקָטַפְתָּ מְלִילֹת בְּיָדֶךָ; וְחֶרְמֵשׁ לֹא תָנִיף, עַל קָמַת רֵעֶךָ.  {ס}26 When thou comest into thy neighbour's standing corn, then thou mayest pluck ears with thy hand; but thou shalt not move a sickle unto thy neighbour's standing corn. {S}

Minchas Shai writes regarding this: 
כִּי תָבֹא בְּקָמַת רֵעֶךָ -- in Sema'g [Sefer Mitzvot Gedolot] the volume on Lavin, siman 183, the following language is written:
It is written in parashat Ki Teitzei, כִּי תָבֹא בְּקָמַת רֵעֶךָ etc., and [תניא] we learn in a brayta, בְּיָדֶךָ and not with a sickle or a scythe. And just as it warned the worker not to grab the standing grain and eat eat, except by hand, so did it warn by a vineyard not to harvest for his [own] eating with something with which one usually harvests, for behold, they are juxtaposed one to the other, and this is even according to Rabbi Yehuda that we don't darshen semuchin [juxtapositions], in Mishneh Torah [meaning sefer Devarim], he does darshen semuchin. And furthermore, since it is written [in pasuk 25] כִּי תָבֹא בְּכֶרֶם רֵעֶךָ, and it is written וְכִי תָבֹא בְּקָמַת רֵעֶךָ, the vav [of וְכִי] adds on the first matter, and we learn one from the other." However, in Sefardic sefarim, there is no vav present.
End quote [of Semag].

And I am wondrously astonished at this, for I have not seen nor heard in my days that there is a dispute in this matter, neither in the Bavli nor Yerushalmi. And if someone should whisper to you that we don't know the facts of the matter clearly [such that this introduces uncertainty], tell him that from the Masoret we know that it is written without a vav, and the Gadol HaDor has said it -- and who is this? Rama  [Rabbi Meir Abulafia] who wrote this in his Masorot, that within the entire sefer Devarim, the beginning of each pasuk is כִּי except for eight instances in which the beginning of the pasuk is וְכִי. And the sign is ... [then he lists the eight pesukim. Those eight pesukim are, in the same order:

דברים פרק יד
  • פסוק כ"ד: וְכִי-יִרְבֶּה מִמְּךָ הַדֶּרֶךְ, כִּי לֹא תוּכַל שְׂאֵתוֹ--כִּי-יִרְחַק מִמְּךָ הַמָּקוֹם, אֲשֶׁר יִבְחַר יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ לָשׂוּם שְׁמוֹ שָׁם:  כִּי יְבָרֶכְךָ, יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ. 
דברים פרק טו
  • פסוק י"ג: וְכִי-תְשַׁלְּחֶנּוּ חָפְשִׁי, מֵעִמָּךְ--לֹא תְשַׁלְּחֶנּוּ, רֵיקָם. 
  • פסוק כ"א: וְכִי-יִהְיֶה בוֹ מוּם, פִּסֵּחַ אוֹ עִוֵּר, כֹּל, מוּם רָע--לֹא תִזְבָּחֶנּוּ, לַיהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ. 
דברים פרק יח
  • פסוק ו: וְכִי-יָבֹא הַלֵּוִי מֵאַחַד שְׁעָרֶיךָ, מִכָּל-יִשְׂרָאֵל, אֲשֶׁר-הוּא, גָּר שָׁם; וּבָא בְּכָל-אַוַּת נַפְשׁוֹ, אֶל-הַמָּקוֹם אֲשֶׁר-יִבְחַר יְהוָה. 
  • פסוק כ"א: וְכִי תֹאמַר, בִּלְבָבֶךָ:  אֵיכָה נֵדַע אֶת-הַדָּבָר, אֲשֶׁר לֹא-דִבְּרוֹ יְהוָה. 
דברים פרק יט
  • פסוק י"א: וְכִי-יִהְיֶה אִישׁ, שֹׂנֵא לְרֵעֵהוּ, וְאָרַב לוֹ וְקָם עָלָיו, וְהִכָּהוּ נֶפֶשׁ וָמֵת; וְנָס, אֶל-אַחַת הֶעָרִים הָאֵל. 
דברים פרק כא
  • פסוק כ"ב: וְכִי-יִהְיֶה בְאִישׁ, חֵטְא מִשְׁפַּט-מָוֶת--וְהוּמָת:  וְתָלִיתָ אֹתוֹ, עַל-עֵץ. 
דברים פרק כג
  • פסוק כ"ג: וְכִי תֶחְדַּל, לִנְדֹּר--לֹא-יִהְיֶה בְךָ, חֵטְא. 

End quote of Minchas Shai.

We can see the Semag in full here, in the second paragraph (183) on the right hand side:

The author of Sefer Mitzvos Gedolos, namely Rabbi Moshe ben Yaakov of Coucy, was a French Tosafist in the first half of the 13th century.

Here is the Likutei HaMasoret from the Rama, Rabbi Meir Abulafia, just as Minchas Shai recorded it. However, since the Rama lived and operated in Spain and so would naturally describe the state of Sefardic precise texts, and the Semag explicitly says that the Sefardic texts don't have this, this might be of limited utility. Obviously Minchas Shai maintains that it is an effective Masoret. At any rate, at the end of Masoret Seyag Lechachma, here is what we find:

Looking to Vetus Testamentum to see if there is any text with וכי in this pasuk, there is nothing. Namely, he lists Cod 300, but that is Minchas Shai!

When we look up at the end of Vetus Testamentum to see what this text is, we see that #300 is a printed text, and more specifically, is Minchas Shai's commentary. As the author explains here:

Cod. 300, Biblia impressa, merito celibratissima, Minchath Shai; de quo jam fusius egi, $62. Addam tantum, Notas hic effe signitas 300; Textum vero, 300 T.
I don't speak Latin, so here is my best guess (with a little help from Google Translate.)
Bible, printed, deservedly celebrated, Minchath Shai; of which I have done already in more detail, $ 62. I will show his comments as 300; The text, itself, as 300 T.
Here is the printed TaNaCh with Minchas Shai, with text כי and comment from Minchas Shai about the Semag and וכי:


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