vayipol al tzaverei binyamin achiv vayevk (Gen . 45:14) ('and he fell on the neck of [he embraced] his brother Binyamin and he wept') The Yud at the end of tzavere indicates plural and Rashi comments that he cried for the two temples which were to be built in the territory of Binyamin and destined to be destroyed. The verse continues uvinyamin bacha al tzavarav ('and Binyamin embraced him and wept'). Again the Yud in tzavarav indicates plural but Rashi comments that Binyamin wept for the Tabernacle of Shilo [only] which would be in Yosef's territory and was destined to be destroyed. This raises a grammatical problem. What did Rashi see in tzaverei to refer us to the destruction of two Temples whereas when writing on tzavarav he referred only to the destruction of the one Tabernacle at Shilo?
It is well-known that R' A. ibn Ezra saw Rashi's commentary and frequently disagreed with it. However here he is supporting Rashi. He writes that tzaverei can be found both as plural and singular. This explains the possibility of the word being either singular or plural but does not explain why Rashi chose to interpret the first as plural and the second as singular. It may be that R' A. ibn Ezra regarded this as a sufficient explanation of Rashi, with the subsequent history justifying Rashi's choice as to whether the word should be perceived as having a singular or plural hint in it.
R' E. Mizrachi (15th - 16th cent.) quotes a Midrash where this verse appears without a Yud so that it may be read as singular, thereby arguing that in semichut ('the construct state') the plural with singular meaning does not normally occur giving as an example uvaal hashor naki (Exod. 21:28) ('and the owner of the ox is clear') [the same owner is in the following verse referred to as be'alav - plural]. He points out that with the possessive suffix there are a number of instances where the plural form is used with a singular meaning e.g. elav alav edav. He brings as a further example be'alav ein immo (Exod. 22:13) ('his owner is not with him') and therefore, in the opinion of R' Mizrachi, the switch in the usage justifies a special interpretation.
Maharal of Prague (R' Loew ben Bezalel, 16th cent.) in his commentary Gur Arye also quoted the Midrash and asks what is the difference between tzaverei Binyamin which Rashi treats as plural and tzavarav of Yosef which Rashi treats as singular. To explain this he quots Radak (R' D. Kimche, 13th cent.) who says that tzavar occurs in the plural because the throat has two sides. Maharal also gives his own answer, which is that below the neck all the limbs come in pairs. He also refers to R' E. Mizrachi's discussion and says that in our books tzavarav is written with a Yud. Furthermore he questions the R' E. Mizrachi's distinction between possessive endings which can be plural with a singular meaning, and semichut which cannot be plural with singular meaning.
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: email@example.com
This article is provided as part of Shema Yisrael Torah Network
For information on subscriptions, archives, and