Tuesday, May 12, 2015

"l'imo u'l'aviv" vs "l'aviv u'l'imo": an interesting Ibn Ezra

1) In last week’s post I implied that the din of “l’hazhir gedolim al he’ketanim” is equivalent to similar dinin in other areas, e.g. the gemara darshens to read “lo tochlum” as “lo ta’achilum” to prohibit a parent feeding ma’achalos assuros to a child. In our context what would be prohibited is a kohen parent actively making his child tamei. Ramban writes that these halachos are basically a d’oraysa form of the issur of mesaye’ah ovrei aveirah. If the child were to eat treifus or do something to make himself tamei without involving the parent, that’s a different story. 

The Tur on the parsha disagrees. When it comes to ma’achalos assuros, the issur is in feeding the katan – there is no responsibility (other than chinuch) for what the child eats on his/her own. “L’hazhir gedolim al ha’ketanim” goes beyond that and makes the parent responsible even for what the child does on his/her own.

2) Two weeks ago I posted Rabeinu Bachyei’s answer to the question of why “imo” precedes “aviv” in the pasuk of “Ish imo v’aviv tira’u.” The Ibn Ezra in this week’s parsha asks why the Torah again places “imo” first, “l’imo u’l’aviv…,” in listing the relatives a kohen may become tamei for. He answers that the mortality rate for women is higher than that for men and therefore it is more likely for the kohen to have to mourn for his mother first. 

Let’s get the obvious out of the way: we know that women’s mortality rate is actually lower than that of men. I would guess that maybe that might not have been true in the Ibn Ezra’s time when childbirth was far more dangerous than it is today, though to be honest, a few sites that I checked say that the mortality rate seems to have been slightly lower even as far back as the 1500’s. Maybe where the Ibn Ezra lived things were different; maybe he just wasn’t aware of the statistics. You’ll have to excuse my lack of interest in pursuing this topic because I don’t like metziyus questions. 

Now for the part I am more interested in: I saw the Tolna Rebbe brings from R’ Dovid Meisels that “makshim ha’olam” on the Ibn Ezra that just a few pesukim later when discussing the laws of aveilus that apply to the kohen gadol the Torah says, “V’al kol nafshos meis lo yavo, l’aviv u’limo lo yitamah.” If the Ibn Ezra is right, why here does the Torah put “aviv” first and not “imo”!? 

He answers with a charifus: the Mishna in Bameh Madlikin says one of the reasons women die during childbirth is that they are not careful in the laws of nidah It’s not specifically nidah, but it means they have a lax attitude in general towards issues of tzeniyus. The gemara in Yoma (47) tells the story of a women who was blessed with 5 children who became kohanim gedolim in the merit of her scrupulous adherence to tzeniyus. We see that the reward for modesty is having a child who becomes kohen gadol. QED that if someone became kohen gadol, it means his mother is not the type woman who would be punished with an early death. (Yes, you can nitpick this answer apart, but it’s sharp anyway).

My wife thought of a far simpler solution: chances are the kohen gadol got the position because his father was the previous kohen gadol and he passed away. The Torah therefore gives primacy to the warning against becoming tamei for a father, as that may be the immediate circumstance the new kohen gadol has to deal with. It’s such a simple answer it makes me wonder why you need the charifus. 

3) Sometimes you have to really review the parsha carefully to know when to correct the ba’al korei. The pasuk that commands making the lechem hapanim (24:5) should be read, “V’lakachta soles v’afiSA [emphasis on last syllable] osa” – the word “afisa” is milra, not mil’eil as you would expect. The Ibn Ezra (see Minchas Shai as well) says it’s a “milah zarah.” I admit ignorance in matters of dikduk, so I hope I’m not wrong, but I think how you read it changes the meaning here. Read milra, it’s a command; read mil’eil, it’s a description. 

4) Last point: Chazal disagreed with the Tzedukim and interpreted that “mimacharas hashabbos” when we start counting the omer means the day after Pesach, not Sunday. If that’s what the pasuk means, why did it not simply say “mimacharas haPesach?” Why use an ambiguous and potentially misleading phrase? See Maharal in Gur Aryeh.

No comments:

Post a Comment