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Parasha Pinechas 5763

What does otam mean here?

vay'daber moshe ve'elazar hakohen otam (Num. 26:3) ('and Moshe and Elazar the priest spoke otam'): Onkelos translates otam as 'them' and in order to make the language flow, adds 'they said to count.' According to Onkelos the phrase means, 'and Moshe and Elazar the priest spoke, they said to count them.' In the Arabic translation of R' Sa'adya Gaon (according to Neveh Shalom) it says 'he commanded them, to count them' which is close to Onkelos. Onkelos and R' Sa'adya Gaon understand that the word 'to count' is implied by the previous verses. Rashi comments 'they spoke with them that they should count them.' Rashi takes otam to mean itam 'with them' and adds the implication about counting at the end of the phrase.

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One root - What is the basic meaning?

veha'avarta (Num. 27:7) ('and you shall pass over'): The root is Ayin, Bet, Resh. Rashi gives two explanations. Both conform to the root and both have a source in the Gemara. 1) An expression of wrath against anyone who does not leave a son to inherit him. This is based on "the Holy One Blessed Be He is full of wrath against him" (Bava Batra 116a). 2) Because the daughter makes the heritage pass from tribe to tribe. The source for this is "only the daughter makes the heritage pass from tribe to tribe as her son and her husband inherit her" (Bava Batra, 147a). In connection with the many meanings carried by words derived from the root Ayin, Bet, Resh ibn Barun writes: avarti (Gen. 32:11) 'I crossed the river All derivatives of this root do not deviate from this meaning' and produces similarities in Arabic. (Wechter, Pinchas trans. and ed. Ibn Barun's Arabic works on Hebrew grammar and lexicography Dropsie College, Philadelphia, 1964, p. 108. Ibn Barun was highly respected by his contemporaries R' Moshe ibn Ezra and R' Yehudah HaLevy.) Perhaps Rashi's first explanation can be made to fit ibn Barun's view by saying that someone who is angry with another has 'crossed over' from the normal position which is being with the other. Rashi's second explanation fits well.

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A dispute between Hillel and the Targum

lachmi bemo'ado (Num. 28:2) ('my lechem in its time'): Rashi explains lachmi as emurin ('the parts of the sacrificial animal which were placed on the altar'). Rashi goes on to provide us with proof that this explanation is correct by quoting Leviticus (3:16) where lechem indubitably means emurin. When Rashi provides proof for an explanation it usually means that he is disagreeing with the view of someone else.

On the last word in the verse bemo'ado Rashi comments 'every day is the appropriate "time" of the regular sacrifice.' Here he offers no proof and is in fact following a d'rasha of Hillel 'it says bemo'ado with reference to the Pesach sacrifice, and it says bemo'ado with reference to the regular sacrifice' (Pesachim 66a), indicating that Hillel understands this verse, like the rest of the passage, to be concerned with the daily sacrifice.

However R' N. Adler (1802-1890, Chief Rabbi of the British Empire, born shortly after the death of his namesake, his grandfather's cousin) in Netina la-Ger, his commentary on Onkelos, points out

the translation of Onkelos, lechem sidur, means 'ready for sacrifice,' and in Targum Yonatan ben Uzi'el it says lechem sidur petore ('lechem sidur of the table'). Thus it seems that both [Onkelos and Yonatan] understand it as the shew-bread. Even though in Hebrew the word lechem can apply to any sacrifice, as in lechem elokehem, lechem elokecha, and they translate it in these places as 'sacrifice' nevertheless lechem sidur is not found other than with regard to shew-bread. erech lechem (Exod. 40:23) is translated by Onkelos sidur delachma (Netina la-Ger).

According to Hillel's d'rasha lachmi here means emurin. According to Onkelos and Yonatan lachmi means shew-bread. Rashi follows Hillel but because of his high respect for Onkelos feels obliged to render proof for his interpretation.

I will be pleased to have comments on these notes on the Parasha.
Good Shabbos, Meshullam Klarberg, 35/4 Meshech Chochma, Kiryat Sefer, Israel 71919
E-mail address: fredit@zahav.net.il

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