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Parashat Vayigash 5762

Who will die?

ve'azav et aviv vamet (Gen. 44:22) ('and if he leaves his father he will die') Who will die, the father (Ya'akov) or the son (Binyamin)? In 'Neve Shalom' (R' Amram Korach, Yemen, late 19th early 20th century, published in 'Keter HaTorah, HaTaj HaGadol' ed R' Yosef Kapah, Jerusalem, 1959) it comments that both Onkelos (Aramaic) and R' Sa'adya Gaon (Arabic) understand it to mean 'the son.' Rashi follows them and writes 'If he leaves his father we are concerned that he may die, for his (Binyamin's) mother died while traveling.' Rashbam seems to be the first to take the second view writing "His father will die.' R' A. ibn Ezra writes, 'Why is this not listed with the five verses which cannot be determined?' (Yoma 52a-b) It seems to me that this is a rhetorical question and, as he frequently does, R' A. ibn Ezra is disagreeing with Rashi. It then follows that Ramban understood R' A. ibn Ezra's question as being rhetorical and wrote, 'R' A. ibn Ezra explained that the father will die' (Ramban proceeds to disagree with R' A. ibn Ezra and supports Rashi). R' Yosef Bechor Shor and Ralbag, both agree with R' A. ibn Ezra.

R' Asher Weiser, editor of R' A. ibn Ezra's commentary, and R' C. D. Chavel, editor of Ramban's commentary (both in Torat Haim. Mossad HaRav Kook), write that Ramban had a different version of R' A. ibn Ezra's commentary and this stated explicitly 'the father will die'! They provide no documentary evidence for this 'version' and postulate it because they read R' A. ibn Ezra's question as a genuine inquiry. However if Ramban understood R' A. ibn Ezra's question as implying rather than stating 'the father will die' there is no need to suggest another version. However, it should be noted that contrary to my interpretation, Sophnath Pan`eah (R' Josef Bonfils (Tov Elem) a 14th century major super-commentary on R' A. ibn Ezra; critical edition, D. Herzog, Krakow, 1911), accepts R' A. ibn Ezra's question as a genuine inquiry. Furthermore, though the editor Herzog is aware of corruption in the text, contrary to R' Asher Weiser and R' C. D. Chavel, he makes no mention of a different version of this text.

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Dikduk for Shepherds

ro'eiy tzon (Gen 46:32); ro'eih tzon (Gen 46:34); ro'eih tzon (Gen 47:3); ro'eiy (Gen 46:32) Resh, Ayin, Yud is the plural of 'shepherd' in the construct state i.e. 'shepherds of' and so we find in the accurate version of Onkelos (ed R' Y. Kapah), ro'eih (Gen 46:34) Resh, Ayin, Heh is the singular of 'shepherd' in the construct state i.e. 'shepherd of' and so we find in Onkelos (ed R' Y. Kapah), however ro'eih (Gen 47:3) Resh, Ayin, Heh is irregular. Though it has a Heh it is the plural of 'shepherd' in the construct state i.e. 'shepherds of' and so we find in Onkelos (ed R' Y. Kapah). The Mesorah (ancient notes on accuracy of the text) notes that there is a Heh even though the term is plural and this is expanded in Minchat Shai (a grammatical commentary on the Tenach). It should be noted that some versions of Onkelos are inaccurate on this confusing issue.

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Reading the Tetragrammaton

Adoshem Elokim (Ezekial 36:22): When the Tetragrammaton [the ineffable four letter name] follows the Adnut name the second name is read as the name Elokim. The appropriate vowel marks indicate this reading. Elsewhere the Tetragrammaton is read as the Adnut name, and in those cases too, the vowel marks indicate this reading. The one small difference is that the Adnut name has a Chataf-Patach under the first letter, while the Tetragrammaton has a Sheva under the first letter. This is due to the first letter of Adnut being Alef, a guttural letter; there is a rule that guttural letters have a Chataf-Patach where other letters receive a Sheva. R' Shabetai Sofer deals with this matter at length in the Hakdama Kelalit (end of Ch. 3) in his*Siddur. He claims that Maharam admitted to him that his responsa on this matter (published posthumously as no. 83) was mistaken.

*note: Siddur Mahar Shabetai Sofer of Premyshla is the most detailed grammatical study of the prayers, and is authoritative for Nusach Ashkenaz (it also has references to Nusach Sefarad), in that it carries approbations of the most famous rabbis of that generation in their capacity as the rabbis of the Council of the Three Lands, 1617-1618. The rabbis decreed that every community should acquire one copy. It has been republished (Vol. 1 Introductions and Haggada Shel Pesach, ed R' Yitzchak Satz, Ner Israel, Baltimore USA, 1987; Vol 11 Haskamot and Prayers to end of Musaf for Shabbat, eds R' Yitzchak Satz, R' Dovid Yitzchaki, Ner Israel, Baltimore USA, 1994).

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
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