Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Zevachim 40: Does Rabbi Shimon darshen 'asher'?

In today's daf (Zevachim 40) we encounter a "derasha chain". That is, a brayta (a Tannaitic source) describes how Rabbi Shimon interprets a verse, and Rabbi Yehuda pointedly says such a derivation is not necessary.

The setama digemara then interjects. What then does Rabbi Yehuda deduce from the superfluous verse?  And how does Rabbi Shimon derive the same? And what does Rabbi Yehuda do with the verse that Rabbi Shimon then uses? And so on and so forth. It ends with an extra dangling word asher, which Rabbi Yehuda uses and Rabbi Shimon does not bother with.

This is a common pattern of "derasha chain" in the setam
a digemara. It is well grounded in the assumption (see e.g. Sanhedrin 34) that each verse, or word, or letter, must be systematically used and deduced. There must be a one-to-one mapping from each source text to each deduced halacha. You cannot have either a superfluous verse or a superfluous halacha.  The common end result of such a derasha chain is that there is a superfluous word, and one of the pair does not bother interpreting it, not deeming it to be a matter of importance. Another common end result is that the pair is said to differ in another law, such that one of the pair utilizes that final dangling derasha for that purpose.

Thus, today's gemara reads as follows. First the brayta:

א"ר ירמיה לא נצרכא אלא לר"ש דתניא למעלה אומר קרן קרנות שתים למטה הוא אומר קרן קרנות ארבע דברי ר"שר' יהודה אומר אינו צריך הרי הוא אומר באהל מועד על כל האמור באהל מועד 

And then the gemara's derasha chain:

ורבי יהודה כן יעשה מאי עביד ליהמיבעי ליה לכדתניא לפי שלא למדנו לפר יוה"כ לסמיכה ושירי הדם מנין ת"ל כן יעשהולפר יוה"כ לא למדנו הא אמרת לפר זה יוה"כאיצטריך סד"א הני מילי עבודה דמעכבא כפרה אבל עבודה דלא מעכבא כפרה אימא לא קמ"לור"ש האי באהל מועד מאי עביד ליה באהל מועד מבעי ליה שאם נפחתה תקרה של היכל לא היה מזה ואידך מאשר ואידך אשר לא דריש
Tosafot point out that this claim, that Rabbi Shimon does not darshen the word asher, is somewhat problematic. They write:

אשר לא דריש - לעיל פירשתי בריש פ"ב (דף יח: ד"ה ואידך:):
"He does not darshen the word asher -- earlier, I explained it at the start of the second perek (daf 18b, d"h ve'idach").

There is another derasha chain of the setama degemara there , and this one involves darshening asher. Looking there, this is what Tosafot have to say:
ואידך אשר לא דריש - משמע הכא דאיכא דמרבה כסות דסומא ולא מרבה בעלת חמש ומקשה ר"ת דבפ' התכלת (מנחות דף מג.) גבי פלוגתא דר' שמעון מרבי התם רבי שמעון כסות סומא מאשר תכסה ובעלת חמש מאשר ולאו פירכא היא דההיא סוגיא כמאן דמרבי הכא בעלת חמש ומיהו קשה אההיא דמנחות ולקמן בפ' בית שמאי (דף מ.) אמרינן דר"ש אשר לא דריש ויש לומר דהכי אמרינן אשר כי האי לא דריש וטובא איכא כי האי גוונא בפ' קמא דבכורות (דף ו:) דדריש ר"ש את הגמל ובפ"ק דמנחות (דף יא:) לא דריש את:

That is, Rabbenu Tam notes that in Menachot 43a, Rabbi Shimon derives one point of law from the phrase אשר תכסה, and another point of law from just the word אשר. Yet in our perek, we see that Rabbi Shimon does not darshen the word asher (albeit one in another pasuk). And their answer is that the meaning is that "asher" such as this Rabbi Shimon does not darshen. And that there are many such instances. For instance, in the first perek of Bechorot (6b), Rabbi Shimon darshens the et of et-hagamal, yet in the first perek of Menachot (11b) he does not darshen the word et.

Here is the obvious place to bring up Shimon HaAmsuni. In Pesachim 22b, after a discussion of whether certain Tannaim do or do not darshen the word et, we read:

כדתניא שמעון העמסוני ואמרי לה נחמיה העמסוני היה דורש כל אתים שבתורה כיון שהגיע (דברים ו, יג) לאת ה' אלהיך תירא פירש אמרו לו תלמידיו רבי כל אתים שדרשת מה תהא עליהן אמר להם כשם שקבלתי שכר על הדרישה כך אני מקבל שכר על הפרישה עד שבא ר"ע ודרש את ה' אלהיך תירא לרבות תלמידי חכמים
As it was taught in a baraitaShimon HaAmmassoni, and some say that itwas Neḥemya HaAmmassoni, would interpret all occurrences of the word etin the Torah, deriving additional halakhot with regard to the particular subject matter. Once he reached the verse: “You shall be in awe of [et] the Lord your God; you shall serve Him; and to Him you shall cleave, and by His name you shall swear” (Deuteronomy 10:20), he withdrew from this method of exposition, as how could one add to God Himself? His students said to him: Rabbi, what will be with all the etim that you interpreted until now? He said to them: Just as I received reward for the interpretation, so I shall receive reward for my withdrawal from using this method of exposition. The word et in this verse was not explained until Rabbi Akiva came and expounded: “You shall be in awe of [et] the Lord your God”: The word etcomes to include Torah scholars, and one is commanded to fear them just as one fears God. In any case, Shimon HaAmmassoni no longer derived additional halakhot from the word et. 

This brayta pictures the system of interpretation of the object marker et to be an all-or-nothing endeavor. Either et is extra and must always be interpreted, or else it may never be interpreted. And the gemara (22b) writes ואידך את לא דריש, seeming to state that certain Tannaim subscribe to this system of derivation and other Tannaim do not. It should then be always or never.

Yet, according to Rabbenu Tam, an individual Tanna may sometimes interpret et and sometimes choose not to interpret it.

I can see a few resolutions to this, and think all of them may have a bit of truth to them.

* Rabbenu Tam's question is better than the answer. It is indeed a contradiction between what is attributed to Rabbi Shimon here and what is attributed to Rabbi Shimon there. This is because none if this is truly Rabbenu Tam. It is, rather, the Savoraim in the setama digemara who are attributing these positions to Rabbi Shimon. We must look for explicit derashot in Tannaitic sources to determine whether Rabbi Shimon really does, or does not, interpret asher or et.

Perhaps the assumption that the system of midrash halacha may not reuse pesukim or words, or may not have unused pesukim or words, is deficient. That is, maybe the system is not so systematic and comprehensive. Maybe, for example, Rabbi Shimon (as an example Tanna) operated only locally, on individual pesukim, and did not get around to finding a law for every word, or did not agree that such was necessary. If so, then we do not have to play the game of the derasha chain.

Even if the one-to-one assumption is correct, we lack the explicit enumeration of such derashot. We have no real knowledge of what the derashot were, and are faced with the task of Reconstruction. Different Savoraim may have worked on different masechtot, and Savora A might have assumed X about Rabbi Shimon, while Savora B might have assumed NOT X about Rabbi Shimon.

* Systematic need not mean mechanical. As Tosafot wrote, one might say that a particular et or asher is superfluous, whilst another is not. The Tannaim has a sensitivity to language. It is not the case that every language usage is superfluous. Consider the word et. It is most often used as the marker that a noun is the object, rather than the subject, of the sentence. So, in Vayikra 1:5:

וְהִקְרִיבוּ בְּנֵי אַהֲרֹן הַכֹּהֲנִים, אֶת-הַדָּם

the word order is VSO, that is, Verb Subject Object. Shall Present / the sons of Aharon the priests / et-the blood. VSO is the usual word order. If the word et had not appeared, the meaning would still be fairly obvious. Not just because of the usual word order, but because the blood cannot very well present the sons of Aharon!

But consider the counterexample to Shimon HaAmsuni, Devarim 10:20:
אֶת־ה אֱלֹהֶ֛יךָ תִּירָ֖א וְאֹת֣וֹ תַעֲבֹ֑ד

the word order is O(S)V, Hashem your God / (You) shall fear. The et is perhaps more grammatically necessarily, to prompt the reader that Hashem here is the direct object.

Depending on grammatical structure as well as local word usage -- how often is asher used in this parasha, in this sefer, in this topic? -- a word might or might not be deemed superfluous. Textual analysis is a science but also an art, and there is room for such sensitivities.


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