Friday, April 22, 2011

Some thoughts on Vanitz'ak

The Haggadah continues, darshening the next pasuk in Arami Oved Avi:

ז  וַנִּצְעַק, אֶל-יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵי אֲבֹתֵינוּ; וַיִּשְׁמַע יְהוָה אֶת-קֹלֵנוּ, וַיַּרְא אֶת-עָנְיֵנוּ וְאֶת-עֲמָלֵנוּ וְאֶת-לַחֲצֵנוּ.7 And we cried unto the LORD, the God of our fathers, and the LORD heard our voice, and saw our affliction, and our toil, and our oppression.

This text is actually a bit askew, in this particular Haggadah. It should have led off with the full text citation of vanitz'ak. Instead, it leads with the derasha on vanitz'ak, and only remembers and cites the full pasuk at the end.

וַנִּצְעַק, אֶל-ה' אֱלֹהֵי אֲבֹתֵינוּ --  the linkage is based on the end of the pasuk in Shemos perek 2. That pasuk:

כג  וַיְהִי בַיָּמִים הָרַבִּים הָהֵם, וַיָּמָת מֶלֶךְ מִצְרַיִם, וַיֵּאָנְחוּ בְנֵי-יִשְׂרָאֵל מִן-הָעֲבֹדָה, וַיִּזְעָקוּ; וַתַּעַל שַׁוְעָתָם אֶל-הָאֱלֹהִים, מִן-הָעֲבֹדָה.23 And it came to pass in the course of those many days that the king of Egypt died; and the children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage, and they cried, and their cry came up unto God by reason of the bondage.

And וַנִּצְעַק is close to the וַיִּזְעָקוּ, both in meaning, and because zayin and tzadi are both sibilants. And that the cry was אֶל-ה' אֱלֹהֵי אֲבֹתֵינוּ we may see because וַתַּעַל שַׁוְעָתָם אֶל-הָאֱלֹהִים.

This actually skips ahead by a perek in Shemos. And intervening was the plot involving the midwives, and the drowning of the firstborn. Yet this is the flow of the pesukim in Arami Oved Avi, and continues along the same topic.

Then, we continue darshening the pasuk:

 וַיִּשְׁמַע ה' אֶת-קֹלֵנוּ --  This is then a link to the next pasuk in Shemot 2:

כד  וַיִּשְׁמַע אֱלֹהִים, אֶת-נַאֲקָתָם; וַיִּזְכֹּר אֱלֹהִים אֶת-בְּרִיתוֹ, אֶת-אַבְרָהָם אֶת-יִצְחָק וְאֶת-יַעֲקֹב.24 And God heard their groaning, and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob.

based on the beginning of the pasuk. By having runs of phrases and contiguous pesukim, it further demonstrates that the short text points to the long text. At this point, this is an indication of how bad the avadim hayinu was, as well as the start of the redemption, the suffering caused us to groan out, and perhaps to turn to Hashem.

וַיַּרְא אֶת-עָנְיֵנוּ -- Why should we assume that onyeinu here means perishut derech eretz? Earlier, vayaanunu meant affliction. But that is indeed one factor. We already had a pointer to the affliction of hard labor. Also, inuy often means holding back from marital relations. Thus, we see an interpretation in the gemara about the actions of Shechem, וישכב אתה ויענה, that the latter means that he refused to have further relations with her. And in Lavan's warning / deal with Yaakov at Gal-Ed, אִם-תְּעַנֶּה אֶת-בְּנֹתַי is taken to mean refraining from marital relations.

I have a suspicion that the text pointed at is not meant to "prove" the perishut derech eretz. Rather, we see that there are runs of pesukim, first from Shemot 1, and now from Shemot 2. In terms of Shemot 2, we had pesukim 23 and 24 already. And we round out the pesukim cited with pasuk 25:

כה  וַיַּרְא אֱלֹהִים, אֶת-בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל; וַיֵּדַע, אֱלֹהִים.  {ס}25 And God saw the children of Israel, and God took cognizance of them. {S}

Perishut derech eretz just comes from a knowledge of the word inuy in Tanach in general. 

If we are compelled to say that a prooftext for perishut derech eretz is in play, then perhaps from vayeda as in the Biblical sense of knowledge, in the carnal sense. Or perhaps that Hashem saw the benei Yisrael, and so He appreciated the limitations on producing further children. However, as noted, I strongly suspect that this is not a prooftext.

Perishut derech eretz is somewhat necessarily as connected to that which follows, which is the drowning of any male children who were born. They had difficulty conceiving, and that which was born was lost. In the Sifrei, there is a variant derasha, in which we instead of continuing with perek 2 and pasuk 25, we return to perek 1, right after the failed attempt to curb Israelite population growth via hard labor. The pasuk is:

טז  וַיֹּאמֶר, בְּיַלֶּדְכֶן אֶת-הָעִבְרִיּוֹת, וּרְאִיתֶן, עַל-הָאָבְנָיִם:  אִם-בֵּן הוּא וַהֲמִתֶּן אֹתוֹ, וְאִם-בַּת הִוא וָחָיָה.16 and he said: 'When ye do the office of a midwife to the Hebrew women, ye shall look upon the birthstool: if it be a son, then ye shall kill him; but if it be a daughter, then she shall live.'

and in particular, the phrase וּרְאִיתֶן עַל-הָאָבְנָיִם . The affliction is then a physical sort of suffering, and to Pharaoh's second failed plan. (Perhaps the hagadah did not choose this derasha since the midwives never put it into action, and the women would be giving birth anyway.) This segues nicely into the drowning of the male children.

Another point is that while our pasuk does not seem to prove the idea that was darshened, this variant does. But ultimately, this is not of any concern.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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