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Haftarat Naso part i -- prophecy of Shimshon's conception and birth

Summary: Considering the haftara of parashat Naso, which is the story of Shimshon's miraculous birth. I present Malbim, and use his commentary as a jumping off point. In this first part, the malach's first communication.

Post: From Shofetim 13:
ב  וַיְהִי אִישׁ אֶחָד מִצָּרְעָה מִמִּשְׁפַּחַת הַדָּנִי, וּשְׁמוֹ מָנוֹחַ; וְאִשְׁתּוֹ עֲקָרָה, וְלֹא יָלָדָה.2 And there was a certain man of Zorah, of the family of the Danites, whose name was Manoah; and his wife was barren, and bore not.
ג  וַיֵּרָא מַלְאַךְ-ה, אֶל-הָאִשָּׁה; וַיֹּאמֶר אֵלֶיהָ, הִנֵּה-נָא אַתְּ-עֲקָרָה וְלֹא יָלַדְתְּ, וְהָרִית, וְיָלַדְתְּ בֵּן.3 And the angel of the LORD appeared unto the woman, and said unto her: 'Behold now, thou art barren, and hast not borne; but thou shalt conceive, and bear a son.

The Malbim writes:
[יג, ב]
עקרה ולא ילדה -
כי יצוייר עקרה אשר כבר ילדה בטרם שנעשית עקרה גם יצוייר שלא ילדה מסבה אחרת, ולכן כפל דבריו.
"barren and bore not --  For it is possible a barren woman who has already given birth before she became barren, and it is also possible that she had not given birth due to some other reason {than barrenness}, and therefore it doubled its words."

The Malbim acts here true to form. While Radak, Ibn Ezra, etc., maintain that there is something called kefel inyan bemilim shonot, poetic repetition, Malbim disagrees. There are no absolute synonyms in Biblical Hebrew, and if there is repetition, it is to give additional shades of meaning.

Here, I would agree that it is present for some purpose. It is important to stress the miraculous nature of Shimshon's birth. It is not just Divine foreknowledge at play here, but Divine intervention in bringing about this miraculous birth. Thus, she is an akara. And that she had not bore yet is there in order to signal that this was about to end. It also is the perfect poetic setup for the contrast in pasuk 3. akara is contrasted with veharita, 'shalt conceive', and velo yaladt is contrasted with veyaladt. Indeed, akara means barren in that she cannot conceive, and yalada refers to the end product, giving birth. So it is repeated in the introduction as a setup for the reversal in the next pasuk.

The word יָלַדְתְּ should not be pronounced with a sheva na under the daled. If it were so, then there would be no dagesh kal in the tav, under the laws of beged kefet. So, it is v'yaladt as opposed to v'yalad't. This is rather difficult to pronounce because we pronounce every daled as a plosive. Pronounce it as they used to, as the /dh/ as is "either", and you will have no problem.

The next pasuk is:

ד  וְעַתָּה הִשָּׁמְרִי נָא, וְאַל-תִּשְׁתִּי יַיִן וְשֵׁכָר; וְאַל-תֹּאכְלִי, כָּל-טָמֵא.4 Now therefore beware, I pray thee, and drink no wine nor strong drink, and eat not any unclean thing.

The Malbim writes further:
[יג, ד]
ועתה השמרי נא -
מדברים הגורמים היזק בטבע לאשה הרה, וחוץ מזה אל תשתי וכו' ומ"ש כל טמא פי' דברים האסורים לנזיר.
"Now therefore beware -- From things which cause damage in their nature a pregnant woman. And aside from this, drink not etc., and that which is stated any unclean thing, the meaning is [J: eating] items which are forbidden to a Nazir."

The Malbim is conducting a close reading of the pasuk. Perhaps he is noticing the vav in וְאַל-תִּשְׁתִּי יַיִן. In this way, the 'beware' is an entirely separate matter from 'and drink no wine', as well as from 'and eat no unclean thing'.

I would disagree, on the level of peshat. The malach's instruction is first general: Now beware. And then goes into the specifics, which is the drinking and eating.

A difficulty in this pasuk is what eat no unclean thing means, and why other laws of the Nazir, such as becoming impure to dead bodies, or not eating grapes, grape skins, or grape seeds, are not mentioned. Is this ignorance / divergence from the Torah law of Nazir?! Furthermore, what are these unclean things? Wouldn't any righteous Israelite not eat traif food as a matter of course? The Malbim solves this by equating eating 'all that is impure' with those items which are forbidden to a Nazir to eat.

Though one can point to the idea that Shimshon's nezirus was already different in one regard, namely becoming ritually impure, and in another, that it was accepted on his behalf. So if there was an extra prohibition of eating tamei and an absent prohibition of eating grapes, grapeskins, and grapeseeds, then that is certainly acceptable.

In terms of eating tamei, it might refer to:

  • impure species
  • neveilos
  • treifos
  • chullin which had become impure under the conditions which would render terumah impure
While Shimshon and his mother were no kohanim -- Shimshon was from the tribe of Dan -- and thus would not be eating terumah, perhaps this extra law of tamei refers to Chullin.

Or perhaps it refers to eating treifos. How could this be? Well, recall that Chazal say that Manoach was an am ha'aretz. Perhaps we could also say that he was not ritually observant. See how he makes the shidduch between Shimshon and Philistine women. See how he might not know the laws of Nazir (see Malbim below.) See how he does not know what to make of seeing a malach or navi. See how Shimshon conducted himself. So while they may have been God-fearing, especially after seeing the wonders of the malach, that does not mean that they would not regularly eat treif.

Or maybe they darshened the pesukim differently in those days. Recall that the prohibition of eating treifa appears twice. Once in Sefer Shemot, perek 22 (Mishpatim):
ל  וְאַנְשֵׁי-קֹדֶשׁ, תִּהְיוּן לִי; וּבָשָׂר בַּשָּׂדֶה טְרֵפָה לֹא תֹאכֵלוּ, לַכֶּלֶב תַּשְׁלִכוּן אֹתוֹ.  {ס}30 And ye shall be holy men unto Me; therefore ye shall not eat any flesh that is torn of beasts in the field; ye shall cast it to the dogs. {S}
where the addressees are the common Israelites. And once in Vayikra 22,
ח  נְבֵלָה וּטְרֵפָה לֹא יֹאכַל, לְטָמְאָה-בָהּ:  אֲנִי, ה.8 That which dieth of itself, or is torn of beasts, he shall not eat to defile himself therewith: I am the LORD.

where from the context, it is targeted towards kohanim specifically. Perhaps this repetition was darshened at the time of Manoach to exclude the common Israelite, with the Leviim and specifically Kohanim taking the place of the Yisraelim, as they do in other matters of holiness.

If so, not eating traif would indeed be an innovation for Manoach's wife.

Sefer Shofetim continues:

ה  כִּי הִנָּךְ הָרָה וְיֹלַדְתְּ בֵּן, וּמוֹרָה לֹא-יַעֲלֶה עַל-רֹאשׁוֹ--כִּי-נְזִיר אֱלֹהִים יִהְיֶה הַנַּעַר, מִן-הַבָּטֶן; וְהוּא, יָחֵל לְהוֹשִׁיעַ אֶת-יִשְׂרָאֵל--מִיַּד פְּלִשְׁתִּים.5 For, lo, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and no razor shall come upon his head; for the child shall be a Nazirite unto God from the womb; and he shall begin to save Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.'
The Malbim writes:

[יג, ה]
כי הנך הרה -
דומה כאילו הנך הרה עתה עד שצריכה את להשמר תיכף. 

וחז"ל (מד"ר נשא) אמרו: 
שהיה שכבת זרע במעיה ברגע שדבר עמה המלאך קלטה, וזה שאמר תחלה והרית בעתיד ואח"כ אמר כי הנך הרה בזו הרגע ולכן אמר ויולדת בחולם, מורכב מן ההוה והעבר המהופך, שכבר הוכנה ללדת.
"For lo, thou shalt conceive -- It was as if, behold, she was conceiving right now, such that she needed to beware immediately. And Chazal (in Midrash Rabba on Naso) said:
that there was semen in her womb at the time, and at the moment that the malach spoke with her it took,
and this is what is stated at first וְהָרִית, in future tense, and afterwards said כִּי הִנָּךְ הָרָה, at that moment. And therefore it states וְיֹלַדְתְּ with a cholam [chaser by the vav],  grafted from the present-tense and the reversed past tense, for she was already prepared for giving birth."

Again, a close reading from the Malbim in support of a derasha. And even if we don't take the derasha absolutely literally, in tone the text is transmitting this message, such that is is "as if" she was now conceiving.

Are there other reasons one could give for this repetition of כִּי הִנָּךְ הָרָה וְיֹלַדְתְּ? Perhaps this is to stress the certitude of it, and also, as a bridge / introduction. For the text moved past the mother's required conduct when she was pregnant and forward into the future (where the hara will be completed, and the yoladt will be completed), such that a new set of rules will be necessary, for the child. Also, since the child shall be a Nazirite from the womb, it pays to recall the conception and birth once more.

Not many details are given as to Shimshon's required conduct. Just that he shall have no razor pass over his head. We might extrapolate about drinking wine, eating grapes, [not eating impure], no contact with a dead body [though this last apparently does not apply to Shimshon]. Why? For one halacha of Nazir was mentioned, and he was called a Nazir. But maybe we cannot extrapolate.

Next, in Shofetim:

ו  וַתָּבֹא הָאִשָּׁה, וַתֹּאמֶר לְאִישָׁהּ לֵאמֹר, אִישׁ הָאֱלֹהִים בָּא אֵלַי, וּמַרְאֵהוּ כְּמַרְאֵה מַלְאַךְ הָאֱלֹהִים נוֹרָא מְאֹד; וְלֹא שְׁאִלְתִּיהוּ אֵי-מִזֶּה הוּא, וְאֶת-שְׁמוֹ לֹא-הִגִּיד לִי.6 Then the woman came and told her husband, saying: 'A man of God came unto me, and his countenance was like the countenance of the angel of God, very terrible; and I asked him not whence he was, neither told he me his name;

The Malbim writes:
[יג, ו]
איש האלהים בא אלי -
כי היתה מסופקת אם הוא איש או מלאך, רצה לומר מצד היותו מלובש בחומר הוא איש האלהים ומצד יראתו הוא כמלאך וזה שאמר כמראה מלאך כו' מצד שהוא נורא מאד. 

ולא שאלתיהו אי מזה הוא כו' -כי היה המנהג לשאול על מקומו, והמשיב היה מגיד את שמו, כמו שאמר ויאמר לו מיכה מאין תבא ויאמר לוי אנכי.
"a man of God came unto me -- For she was in doubt whether he was man or angel. That is to say, by virtue of his being clothed in a body, he was a man of God, and by virtue of his awesomeness, he was like an angel {malach}. And this is what is stated כְּמַרְאֵה מַלְאַךְ, etc., by virtue of his being נוֹרָא מְאֹד.

and I asked him not whence he was -- for this was the custom to ask upon one's place [of origin], and the person would respond with his [?] name, just as is said {in Shofetim 17:9}:

ט  וַיֹּאמֶר-לוֹ מִיכָה, מֵאַיִן תָּבוֹא; וַיֹּאמֶר אֵלָיו לֵוִי אָנֹכִי, מִבֵּית לֶחֶם יְהוּדָה, וְאָנֹכִי הֹלֵךְ, לָגוּר בַּאֲשֶׁר אֶמְצָא.9 And Micah said unto him: 'Whence comest thou?' And he said unto him: 'I am a Levite of Beth-lehem in Judah, and I go to sojourn where I may find a place.'


This is a wonderful multivalent approach by the Malbim. He knows the meforshim differ as to whether this is a malach in the sense of angel or a navi. For instance, the Ralbag insists it is a human navi, and indeed is Pinchas, for no prophecy would come to two people together. Thus:

[יג, יא-טז] והנה זה המלאך שדבר אל מנוח ואל אשתו היה נביא בהכרח כי אין מדרך הנבואה שתהיה יחד לשנים בזה האופן, הנזכר בזה המקום, והנה אחשוב שזה הנביא היה פנחס. והנה לא רצה לאכול מגדי העזים, כמו שלא רצה לאכול מהבשר והמצות שהביא אל פניו גדעון, כדי לישב יותר בלב מנוח ואשתו כי הוא מלאך ה', כדי שיהיו נזהרים מכל מה שאמר להם. 

Though the standard interpretation is a malach as heavenly angel. And each has textual evidence. Malbim reads this ambiguity back into the text, such that the deliberate ambiguity reflects the uncertainty of Manoach and his wife.

Malbim also deals with the divergence between her related non-asked question and his related non-response. That is, she does not ask אֵי-מִזֶּה הוּא, and he did not relate to her אֶת-שְׁמוֹ. The resolution is to make this into a custom.

I am not sure if the cut off quote from later in Shofetim is deliberate. Michah said to him 'whence comest thou?' and the man indeed responded 'Levi I am', though that is not his name but his tribal identity. And the answer is in the uncited continuation, 'of Beth-lehem in Judah'.

Perhaps et shemo means the name of the place. And perhaps that was even what Malbim meant. Or perhaps the idea is simply that this man is untraceable, such that if Manoach wants to ask the man/angel further questions, he would be unable to. For they don't have his name nor his location. And she neither thought to ask, in shock, as to either of these pieces of information, nor did the man / angel supply any of this sort of information. And the two actors (Manoach's wife and the malach) and the two bits of information are not strictly joined to one another, but perhaps function as a sort of hendiadys.

Perhaps to be continued...

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Naso sources -- 2012 edition

מראי מקומות ללימוד פרשת נשא, תשע"ב
by aliyah
rishon (Bamidbar 4:21)
sheni (4:38)
shelishi (5:1)
revii (5:11)
chamishi (7:1)
shishi (7:42)
shevii (7:72)
maftir (7:87)
haftara (Shofetim 13), with Kli Yakar, Ralbag, Malbim

by perek

meforshim - מפרשים
Judaica Press Rashi in English and Hebrew (France, 1040 - 1105) -- ואני לא באתי אלא לפשוטו של מקרא ולאגדה המיישבת דברי המקרא, דבר דבור על אופניו
Chizkuni (France, 13th century) -- see Wikipedia
Shadal (1800-1865) -- see Wikipedia entry:
  1. In plain text    here  , though not encoding some of the trup and nikkud, and omitting certain references to non-Jewish scholars.
  2. In Google book form    here , but with all that was omitted above. Also, with Shadal's Italian translation of the Chumash text.
  3. Mishtadel , an earlier and shorter commentary
  4. In determining the correct girsa of Targum Onkelos, Ohev Ger

Daat -- with Rashi, Ramban, Seforno, Ibn Ezra, Rashbam, Rabbenu Bachya, Midrash Rabba, Tanchuma+, Gilyonot
Gilyonot Nechama Leibovitz (Hebrew-- 1905-1997 -- see Wikipedia

Rav Yonasan Eibeshitz (1690-1764) -- see Wikipedia entry:
  1. Tiferes Yehonasan
  2. Chasdei Yehonasan -- not until Behaalosecha  -- chiddushim and pilpulim on midrashim, Toras Kohanim, Sifrei, and Rashi al haTorah. With supercommentary of R' Yaakov Goldshlag.
  3. Toldos Yitzchak Acharon, repeated from Rav Yonasan Eibeshitz -- not until Shlach
  4. Divrei Yehonasan -- discussing halacha and aggada together, interpreting difficult midrashim
  5. Nefesh Yehonasan -- commentary on midrashim and pilpulim + Tanchuma, and suygot in Shas connected to each parsha.
  6. Midrash Yehonasan -- on difficult midrashim

Posts so far for parshat Naso


1. Did Chazal know the meaning of Hebrew wordsGiven a Tannaitic dispute about the respective meaning of chartzan and zag, some Protestant scholar says no. Shadal says yes, and explains how something so basic can be a matter of dispute. Also, that Targum Onkelos is merely attributed to Onkelos.


  1. Naso sources -- further expanded. For example, many more meforshei Rashi.
  2. Impure to the bone? Part iiContinuing a topic from last year on parshat Naso, about whether לטמי means bone or impure, and whether דאינשא should be present.
  3. YU Torah on parashat Naso.
  4. How shall we pronounce the first וּבָאוּ in parashat Naso?  Is it mile'eil or mi'le-ra? I weigh in, considering the meaning of Minchas Shai.
  5. An explanation for that cryptic Minchas Shai on ובאו --  If marking a telisha on the place of stress is so rare, why does Minchas Shai note its absence? This on Naso.

  1. Naso sources -- revamped, with more than 100 meforshim on the parasha and haftara.
  2. If a man does not have a redeemer -- Why is Rashi inconsistent in his explanation of this phrase, between Naso and Behar?
  3. Sotah, and Identical Twin Sisters -- A statement about identical twin sisters, one of whom is a Sotah, seems oddly out of place. It is a taus sofer, as several meforshei Rashi explain? This is quite plausible. On the other hand, I give a reason why it might well not be, at least not in its entirety.
  4. Impure to the bone, or just ImpureRashi explains Onkelos, who deviates from his usual manner and explains tamei lenefesh as tamei to the bones of a dead person. This sort of expansion is quite irregular. But maybe Rashi isn't really saying this. And even if Rashi says this, this may not be what Onkelos says, or what Onkelos means, as Shadal explains.
  5. Ibn Kaspi and the (poisonous?) bitter waters -- Ibn Kaspi, perhaps, sheds light on the Ibn Ezra I discussed last year, that the kohen put poisonous bitter herbs into the water.

  1. Naso sources -- links by aliyah and perek to an online Mikraos Gedolos, and links to many meforshim on the parshah and haftarah.
  2. Thanks, DovBear, for the link and discussion! Check out this post and the comment section there, all about 2008's post on The Nature of the "Bitter" Waters. What precisely in Ibn Ezra's comment make Shadal and Avi Ezer draw their conclusions about Ibn Ezra's intent?
  3. As a followup to the above, in "Poisonous Sota Water?!", I carefully translate and parse Ibn Ezra and Avi Ezer, in an attempt to demonstrate exactly what Shadal saw in Ibn Ezra. Then, I relate another supercommentary on Ibn Ezra, namely Mechokekei Yehudah, and show how he says more or less the same thing -- that the kohen puts a potentially harmful agent in the water -- while disagreeing with Shadal's take on Ibn Ezra that it was always fatal and up to the kohen to decide whether to put it in.
  4. Then, as an additional followup, some more takes on Ibn Ezra's "sod" of the bitter waters (or waters of bitter substances), from another Ibn Ezra supercommentator, from a Karaite, and from Torah Temimah.
  5. The bitter waters operating with gender equality -- Baal Haturim's supplemental support to a midrash of it affecting both adulteress and adulterer, and whether the gematria is really the mechanism of derivation here.
  6. Amen | Amen; is the pasek meaningful as the Baal Haturim takes it, or is it something almost mechanical as a result of the duplication, which was anyway the source for the midrashic conclusion?
  7. Yaer Hashem as a revival of Yitzchak? The Baal Haturim connects this part of the famous priestly blessing to a midrash in Pirkei DeRabbi Eliezer which has Yitzchak actually die at the akeida only to be resurrected.
  8. In the haftarah, questions about chronology. At what point were Shimshon's parents told about his birth? Was it during the forty year subjugation under the Philistines, or before it? And how the "missing" first pasuk might help resolve this.
  9. How can you have a nazir who runs after women? Ralbag resolves this by relating the two, that this is supposed to offset and restrict Shimshon's nature.
  10. Who spoke to Manoach and his wife? An angel or prophet? Ralbag interprets this as prophet, in a way that can have repercussions across Tanach.
  11. How is the birth of Shimshon connected to parashat Naso? Besides the obvious nazir connection. That Manoach did not suspect his wife of adultery.
  1. The trup on umichsei hatachash
    • may be reversed. Trup charts and discussion to illustrate.
  2. Ufkudav -- As Hashem Commanded Moshe
    • Understanding Rashi on this pasuk, which may involve getting the correct girsa of Rashi. And an analysis of Sifsei Chachamim's analysis.
  3. Venistera, And She Is Defiled
    • Is this saying that she was secretly defiled? That there was a separate action of seclusion?
  4. The meaning of "And She Was Not Seized"
    • Does this refer to rape? Or to her being caught in the act? If the latter, by whom? By witnesses or by her husband?
  5. The Nature of the "Bitter" Waters
    • Were they merely bitter in (potential) effect? Or were they physically bitter? Or were they poisonous? And if poisonous, was this due to trickery of the kohen who made a private determination that she was guilty -- thus eliminating any Divine role in any of this? Is this similar to trickery in how the ketores saved the people in the mageifa? How will Avi Ezer try to save Ibn Ezra from this heresy? How will Shadal reject this Ibn Ezra as a matter of peshat?
  6. The bitter waters of Sotah as a selective abortive agent for bastards
    • a weird theory, I grant you, but read it to see if it makes any sense
  7. "Sitting" in Taanis, and Critiquing Homiletic Divrei Torah
    • In which I critique a homiletic interpretation of a gemara relating to nazir, then discuss whether it is legitimate to critique homily. Finally, I find a version of the devar Torah, attributed to the same source, which better (though not entirely) accords with the shakla veTarya of the gemara.
    • As a quick followup, the Seforno on the relevant pasuk in Naso.
  8. The segol of Pera
    • Understanding Rashi's grammatical point that the segol in the word pera is only there because it is the construct form. Even in absolute form it would remain the same. Shadal notes a variant girsa of Rashi which has him potentially referring to the patach, but even so, Rashi is not correct. I suggest that Rashi differs as to the pattern in play, and is working off the form as it appears in Aramaic, in Targum Onkelos.
  9. HaMearerim as Accursed, Causing Curse, or Something Else
    • A discussion of what Rashi means in his assessment of the word -- prickly rather than causing curse (the latter is Onkelos); then as it occurs in the Samaritan Targum and in Targum Pseudo-Yonatan, discerning.
  • Healed at Sinai (Naso/Shavuot)
    • A midrash that all were healed in order to receive the Torah. We look at the derivations, then suggest a vector for the genesis and development of the midrash.
  • Na Only Connotes Please
    • cross-listed from Behaalotecha. We consider the meaning of X only connotes Y, and cite in part a midrash in Bamidbar Rabba about Shimshon.
  • A Hair-Raising Experience
    • eh. I tried to make a link from a nazir's consecrated hair, burned on the altar, with the Indian hair wigs.
  • Count
    • C++ code to count the sons of Gershon.

to be continued...

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Did Chazal know the meaning of Hebrew words?

Summary: Given a Tannaitic dispute about the respective meaning of chartzan and zag, some Protestant scholar says no. Shadal says yes, and explains how something so basic can be a matter of dispute. Also, that Targum Onkelos is merely attributed to Onkelos.

Post: Consider the following pasuk, and Rashi, from parashat Naso:

4. For the entire duration of his abstinence, he shall not eat any product of the grape vine, from seeds to skins.ד. כֹּל יְמֵי נִזְרוֹ מִכֹּל אֲשֶׁר יֵעָשֶׂה מִגֶּפֶן הַיַּיִן מֵחַרְצַנִּים וְעַד זָג לֹא יֹאכֵל:
seeds: Heb. חַרְצַנִּים. They are the kernels. - [Sifrei Naso 1:93]חרצנים: הם הגרעינין:
skins: Heb. זָג, the outer shells, for the seeds are inside, like the clapper in a bell (זוּג).זג: הם קליפות שמבחוץ, שהחרצנים בתוכן כענבל בזוג:

Shadal writes (here and here):

"That which is made (yei'aseh) from the grape vine" -- the language of asiya is found to also connote gathering and acquisition, such as in {Bereishis 31:1}

1. And he heard the words of Laban's sons, saying, "Jacob has taken all that belonged to our father, and from what belonged to our father, he has amassed this entire fortune."א. וַיִּשְׁמַע אֶת דִּבְרֵי בְנֵי לָבָן לֵאמֹר לָקַח יַעֲקֹב אֵת כָּל אֲשֶׁר לְאָבִינוּ וּמֵאֲשֶׁר לְאָבִינוּ עָשָׂה אֵת כָּל הַכָּבֹד הַזֶּה:

and {Devarim 8:17}:

17. and you will say to yourself, "My strength and the might of my hand that has accumulated this wealth for me."יז. וְאָמַרְתָּ בִּלְבָבֶךָ כֹּחִי וְעֹצֶם יָדִי עָשָׂה לִי אֶת הַחַיִל הַזֶּה:

and so too here, מִכֹּל אֲשֶׁר יֵעָשֶׂה מִגֶּפֶן הַיַּיִן, the import is anything collected from the vine, and its explanation is at its side, [in the continuation of the pasuk], evem the chartzanim and even the zag.

'Chartzanim', in my opinion, are the name for grapes that have already been trodden and wine was made from them, and this encompasses the grapeskin and the seeds within it, and this is as they said in the Yerushalmi {Demai, perel 1 halacha 1}:
At first, the grapes were plentiful and the chartzanim were not considered chashuv, and now that the grapes are not plentiful, the chartanim are considered chashuv.
And the intent is at the time of plentiful grapes, then, the grapes which had already been trodden were not considered to be anything, for no one would purchase them to produce temed from them {water poured on the crushed grapes}, for the good wine was at a very cheap price. And the opposite when the grapes were not plentiful, then the chartzanim were sold in order to produce temed from them.

And so too when they say {Berachot 22a}
'R. Josiah in the matter of mixed kinds', as it is written, Thou shalt not sow thy vineyard with two kinds of seeds.14  R. Josiah says: The law has not been broken until one sows wheat, barley and grape kernels with one throw.15 
The intent is the outer skin with the seeds within it.

While it is true that the seeds in and of themselves have in them the force of germination, still, one who comes to plant a vine will not trouble himself to extract the seeds from within the grape skin, but will rather take the grapes which have already been trodden upon and plant them just as they are.

Howbeit, zag is in my opinion the name of the seeds within the grape skin, and the verse is saying that the Nazir shall not eat even chartzanim from which the wine has already gone out, and even a single zag {seed}, even though it is not human food.

My explanation is in accordance with the position of Rabbi Yehuda {in Nazir 34b}:
And the Targum of Onkelos,

ו,ד כֹּל, יְמֵי נִזְרוֹ:  מִכֹּל אֲשֶׁר יֵעָשֶׂה מִגֶּפֶן הַיַּיִן, מֵחַרְצַנִּים וְעַד-זָג--לֹא יֹאכֵל.כֹּל, יוֹמֵי נִזְרֵיהּ:  מִכֹּל דְּיִתְעֲבֵיד מִגֻּפְנָא דְּחַמְרָא, מִפֻּרְצְנִין וְעַד עִצּוּרִין--לָא יֵיכוֹל.

is in accordance with the position of Rabbi Yossi (see there, daf 39a).

R. ELEAZAR B. AZARIAH SAID etc.: R. Joseph said: In agreement with whom is the rendering in the Targum2  as 'from the kernels even unto the skins'?3  — In agreement with the opinion of R. Jose.4

And after him [Onkelos] followed most of the meforshim and the authors of books of shorashim [roots]; also Gesenius. Only the Targum Yerushalmi which was created in Eretz Yisrael preserves the import of these words truthfully, just as was well-known in Eretz Yisrael as well in the language of the common folk. Not so was Targum Onkelos, which was produced in Bavel, and the Kadmonim called it by the name of Targum Bavli (see Kerem Chedem 5, page 223). 

And this that we find the Tannaim, Rabbi Yehuda and Rabbi Yossi, arguing about the meaning of these words, I think that this is the substance of the matter: Rabbi Yehuda explained the words according to their import even in his days, but Rabbi Yossi, who was from Tzippori which was in the Galil, accustomed himself to not rely upon the custom of the hamon, and he sought the import of the words based upon the roots from which they were hewn. And since he found that the word zog that is can mean a bell, he thought that the zag as well meant the outside and not the inside. 

And with this is removed the complaint of the scholar Gussetius {a French Protestant theologian and philologist, 1635-1702)}, who opened his {big} mouth wide in his Lexicon (in the word zag) and said that one should not rely at all upon the words of Chazal in terms of the meaning of the words, for the understanding of the language had already been forgotten from them, to the extent that they did not know what was a chartzan and what was a zag

And this is a blatant falsehood, for from the Yerushalmi in Demai we see that in their language, they were in no doubt as to the import of the words, and that the Jerusalemite Targumim translated in accordance with the implication of the words in the common speech. And only Rabbi Yossi, who was born in the medina, where they did not preserve their language well, did not wish to rely on the language of the hamon am, and decided to be wise, to explain from his own thought, and the people of Bavel followed after him in the Targum which is attributed to Onkelos."

I, Josh, would simply add that Rabbi Yossi born in Tzippori but whose family was of Babylonian-Jewish origin -- see Yoma 66b. Perhaps we could thus construct this as a Babylonian / Eretz Yisrael divergence even from that early stage.

What sevara would account for these divergent opinions of Rabbi Yossi and Rabbi Yehuda? Besides zag as a bell, perhaps the plural in the pasuk itself. That pasuk, again, was:

4. For the entire duration of his abstinence, he shall not eat any product of the grape vine, from seeds to skins.ד. כֹּל יְמֵי נִזְרוֹ מִכֹּל אֲשֶׁר יֵעָשֶׂה מִגֶּפֶן הַיַּיִן מֵחַרְצַנִּים וְעַד זָג לֹא יֹאכֵל:

Chartzanim are plural and zag is singular. But a grape only has one husk, and many seeds. I could also point to the following, for the word chartzan, though. Yerushalmi Maasarot, I, 48d, "their kernels {chartzan} must be seen through their berries." Chartzanita, in Tanchuma, Vaera 14: like the berry of a pomegranate whose stones {chartzanita} are seen from within." Also, words of similar meaning might shift slightly semantically between Biblical and Mishnaic times.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Shavuot lineup at Etz Chaim (of KGH)

Shavuot at Etz Chaim

Featuring Scholar-in-Residence Rabbi Dr. Gidon Rothstein
Yeshiva University Torah Tours
Treasured Local  Magidei Shiur
And Partnerships with DRS and Central High  Schools

Shabbat Bamidbar, May 25-6
Drasha: Rabbi Rothstein
Pirkei Avot between Mincha and Maariv: Jacob Chevlin and Joey Zaghi, Torah Tours
Tikkun Leil Shavuot
Upstairs at Etz Chaim
 Rabbi Gidon Rothstein - 613 Mitzvot and Their Reductions                      
1:15am   Rabbi Simcha Hopkovitz - Breaking the Har Sinai?
2:30am   Rabbi Saul Erlbaum – Contemporary Applications of Kibbud Av Va’Em
3:45am   Rabbi Zvi Lew - Lifnei Iver: Enabling Others to Sin
 5:00am   Shacharit KiVatikin

Downstairs at Etz Chaim - For High School Girls
In partnership with Yeshiva University HS for Girls - Central:
12:00 - 2:00am Limmud for High School Girls with Rabbi Zvi Lew
- Entering Churches, Selling Crucifixes and other Interfaith Dilemmas
Around the 'Hood - For High School Boys
In Partnership with DRS High School
12:00am - meet at Yeshivas Ohr HaChayim - Shiur by Rabbi Simcha Hopkovitz - Breaking the Har Sinai?
1:15am at Lander Beis Midrash - Shiur by Jake Chevlen of Torah Tours
2:45am at Yeshivas Chofetz Chaim - Shiur by R. Moshe Erlbaum - Insights into the Evil Eye
3:45am at Congregation Etz Chaim - Shiur by R. Zvi Lew - Lifnei Iver: Enabling Others to Sin
5:00am Shacharit KiVatikin
Sunday May 27th
Drasha: Rabbi Moshe Rosenberg –
Harvard Commencement and Shavuot: A Study in Contrasts?

Tikkun Yom Shavuot
The State of Orthodoxy: Have We Lost Our Way?
A panel discussion with
Rabbi Dr. Gidon Rothstein
Author of: Are We Missing the Point? What's Wrong with Orthodoxy and How to Fix It
Rabbi Yoel Schonfeld
Rav, Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills, President, Vaad HaRabbonim of Queens
Deena Rabinovich
Director of the Legacy Heritage Foundation program at Yeshiva University's Stern College for Women
Moderated by Rabbi Moshe Rosenberg
Rav, Congregation Etz Chaim of Kew Gardens Hills

5:30-6:10pm Eliana Schreiber (Torah Tours)
6: 15-7:00pm Rabbi Simcha Hopkovitz - Breaking the Had Sinai?
7:05-7:35pm Cheryl Zwiren - The Two Sets of Aseret HaDibrot

Between Mincha and Maariv - Divrei Torah from the next generation

Monday May 28th
Drasha – Rabbi Simcha Hopkovitz

3:00-4:15pm Shavuot Learning and Fun for Younger Children, led by Torah Tours.  Liason: Rabbi Saul Erlbaum.
Between Mincha and Maariv: Rabbi Gidon Rothstein - Fiction and Faith: the Uses of Fiction in a Religious Life


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