Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Once again, how is Vayeitzei setumah?

I peeked at the sefer Torah this past Shabbos when they were just about finished with kriat haTorah, and spotted the gap preceding Vayeitzei. And so once again, to discuss this topic!

I was reading through Minchas Shai the other day, and in trying to harmonize and balance reports of / midrashim upon Vayeitzei being setuma, he cites Or Torah that for Vaychi it means that there is no break before it, while for Vayeitzei it means that there are no petuchot or setumot within the parsha. This may well be a good answer, and resolve many difficulties. But I have my reasons for regarding it as suspect.

First, let us see what we have in three codices. In the Lisbon Codex, there most certainly appears to be a gap present. Which is fine, and is the standard nowadays.

In the Leningrad Codex as well, there appears to be a gap. Thus, having a gap is quite well established.

But in Codex Hilleli, the position is that there is no gap, although allowance is granted for other traditions that there is a gap.

Thus, we see no gap there, on the left margin, a note that the parsha begins here, and on the right margin, a statement that "there is not between these two parshiot a gap, to inform you what was between the two leavings. And there are those which say that there is a gap."

This Codex Hilleli was written in 1241 in Toledo, Spain. But it was checked against the Codex of Rabbi Hillel ben Moshe ben Hillel, who worked about 600 CE. If so, this might reflect an extremely early tradition.

With this as background, on to the Minchas Shai. He writes:

ש(י) ויצא • בספר תגי ויצא יעקב סדור ולא פתוח ולא סתום
תרתין פרשייתא אית באורייתא דלית להון פסיקא
לא פתוח ולא סתום• ויצא יעקב ויחי יעקב ע"כ• וכתוב
בהגהה מיימונית פ״מ מהלכות ספר תורה מה שכותבים מקצת
נקדנים ב׳ פרשיו' בתורה דלית פיסקה ברישייהו • ויצא • ויחי •
לא כוונו כי בתחילת ויצא יש פ' סתומה כדאיתא בב"ר בויחי
יעקב מפני מה פרשה זו סתומה מכל פרשיות שבתורה וכו׳ ואילו
בויצא לא תזכירו מזה כלום * וכן בדקתי בספרי אספמייא אשר
יצא להם שם במעלותם ואין לפקפק בהם עכ״ל וכן כתב
הרב מזרחי ריש פרשת ויחי והאמת הוא כי מה שכתבו על
פרשת ויצא אין בה פיסקא ר"ל בגווה ופרשת ויחי ר"ל ברישא
וכתב אור תורה שכן מצא בכל ס"ס ומצריים והללי׳ ועיין
מה שאכתוב בריש פרשת ויהי מקץ
I agree that the statement in Bereishit Rabba does seem to imply that it is solitary. Though one could kvetch it to mean that it is different from the general case. (And mi in mikol can mean "out of" or "more than".) Hagahot Maimoniyot was written in 13th century Germany by a R' Meir ben Yekutiel Hakohen, a student of Maharam mi-Rutenberg. And he opposes the interpretation by some nakdanim that there is no gap at the start. And further notes that this is not the case in the sefarim of Spain {Aspamya}, where these manuscripts are particularly good. And he cites Mizrachi that what is meant is that it is setuma throughout, without having gaps throughout the entire parsha. This interpretation for Vayeitzei, but the classic interpretation of no leading gap for parshat Vaychi.

Finally, while Minchas Shai apparently does not have access to all the good manuscripts, he cites Or Torah that several good manuscripts have it just like this, with a gap. The "problem" is that one of these is the Codex Hilleli, which we saw above. And that mentions a lack of gap, but that others say that there is a gap.

(Unless he had some access to the original Codex Hilleli, or some tradition of what was in it, as it was cited by earlier masoretes.)

Or Torah indeed says this. And also explains how the error arose:
ואני אימר לך מאין יצא זה השיבוש אם אמר אדם ויצא אין בה פיסקא אמת;
אמר אך צריך שיובן אין בה אין בתוכה ואם אמר אדם ויחי אין בה פיסקא אמת אמר אך צריך שיובן אין
בה אין בראשה והנה טעה מי שטעה וחשב שאין בה פיסקא האמור בויצא כאין בה פיסקא האמור בויחי
ומיהו בספר הישן אין בי פיסקא אך אין לחוש לו
Thus, both statements that "there is no piska" were correct, but had different meanings, and someone confused them. And he discards the one sefer hayashan which did not in fact have a piska at the start of Vayeitzei.

Here is why I don't entirely agree with Minchas Shai, Or Torah, and earlier than than, Hagahot Maimoniyot. Firstly, it seems like Codex Hilleli (about the time, perhaps a bit earlier than Hagahot Maimoniyot) indeed does put forth the lack of gap as the primary masorah. And states that there is no hefresh between these two parshiyot, meaning that it certainly understood it as no gap in the beginning. And this was written by a masorete (a nakdan?) Do we trust the masoretes in matters such as this, or those who work primarily in halacha and bring an argument from sevara and an interpretation of a statement in Midrash Rabba (which might have reflected a contrary tradition)? In an earlier post, I noted an Or Torah (IIRC) that argued for the former over the latter? I also don't like the harmonization in which the same statement means different things in different contexts.

I also would note that initially, parsha meant something different from sidra. And so it refers to section, or else the laining done in Eretz Yisrael, with its triennial cycle. If the former is intended, then it cannot mean throughout the entire sidra, but perhaps must connote the absence of an initial gap. And if the latter, it would indeed work out, though over a smaller area without internal gaps.

Also, it was not just that lone old manuscript which Or Torah dismissed which had this. If Codex Hilleli got the tradition of lack of gap (the primary of the two choices presented) from the original, then this reading might go back as far as 600 CE.

More than that; this is not the sole attestation to this reading. I saw the following in Ibn Caspi the other day:

ש(י) אנשי כ נ ס ת הגדולה שחלקו התורה לסדרים לשבועות
השנה, לא ראו מקום ראוי לעשות בו התחלת סדר כמו זה המקום
לסבות רבות, אין צריך פירוש, עם שמרם שיעור הסדרים שלא
יהיה האחד ארוך מאד והאחד קצר מאד , כי לא מחכמה
יהיה זה. אמנם היות זאת הפרשה סתומה, היה בעבור שהיה קשה
בעיניהם לעשות בזה פרשה והפסקה, להיותו ביאור אל וילך פדנה
ארם שקדם זכרו, עם היותו הכרחי לעשות בזה פרשה. לכן אחזו בזה
וגם מזה לא הניחו ידיהם, ומזגו הדבר מחובר שני הפכים ר"ל פרשה
וסתומה , ובכלל כי כל ענין התורה הוא הקוי מציאות
השם בטבעי העולם :

Thus, Ibn Caspi maintains that the Anshei Knesset Hagedolah established both the petuchot and setumot as well as the sidrot. And for conflicting reasons, they put two opposites. They began a parsha here for many reasons, such as that it begins Yaakov's travels and adventures, and because a parsha (sidra) needs to be of a certain length; and they did not put a gap because this is an elaboration of his going to Padan Aram mentioned earlier.

Thus, according to Ibn Caspi, what we are dealing with here is the lack of a gap in the beginning of parshat Vayeitzei. Now, Ibn Caspi lived in Provencal, in France, and from 1279 until 1340. And he presumably looked in his local sefer Torah to discover the metziut of the gap before commenting on it. Of course, this could be the work of nakdanim who misunderstood.

As I noted in a post about a year ago, Chizkuni also understands setuma as missing a gap in beginning. For he separately addresses the feature of it being setuma, on the one hand, and the feature of it lacking gaps throughout, on the other. Chizkuni was also a French exegete, writing about 1240. And so this is another witness to the textual tradition of actually not having a gap. (Although again, this might have come about via the misunderstanding Minchas Shai mentions.)

And I also discussed what the Karaite scholar Aharon ben Yosef said about it. What he writes is actually interpretable in either way, as either lack of initial gap or lack in internal gap, although his supercommentator assumes he means lack of initial gap (although not seeing any manuscripts that actually have this). It makes sense that he is speaking of initial gap, since he links it together with the parsha setuma in Vaychi. He lived in Constantinople from 1260 to 1320, so this is an additional testimony to the existence of this tradition.

In sum, Minchas Shai and Or Torah's suggestion makes sense. But I am not sure it is the only, or the most, compelling way to resolve this. And we appear to have several attestations to the existence of the lack of initial gap, from the old manuscript mentioned by Or Torah, to Codex Hilleli from 13th century Spain (if not earlier), to Ibn Caspi and Chizkuni in 13th century France, to Aharon ben Yosef in 13th century Constantinople. And so this might be a geniune masoretic dispute, rather than a mere misunderstanding.


shimonmatisyahu said...

"Ibn Caspi maintains that the Anshei Knesset Hagedolah established both the petuchot and setumot"

I am not sure if this is what I understand from the Ibn Caspi in the Hebrew. From what I learned last, these petuchot & setumot throughout the Torah is based on Moshe Rabbeinu needing time to reflect between one section and another - hence, the spaces inbetween indicate this. It seems that for some sections - Moshe Rabbeinu needed more time to comprehend the particular section - and hence, the petucha which is the larger space is indicated as such.

In any case, Yishar Koach for your most informative blogspot. And for observations on the Parsha via Gematriot, you can tune to www.gematriot.blogspot.com.

joshwaxman said...

an interesting idea. i think that ibn caspi in particular, though, is of the opinion that the anshei knesset hagedolah established both the sidra and the gaps. the sidra, because he says אנשי כנסת הגדולה שחלקו התורה לסדרים לשבועות השנה; and the gaps, because he says שהיה קשה בעיניהם לעשות בזה פרשה והפסקה, which implies that they would be the ones establishing the gap.

thanks again, and kt,


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