Thursday, February 4, 2016

The Ox and his Friend

One of the laws dealt with in this week's פרשה is that of damages incurred when one's animal gores another. The פסוק says אבן עזרא .כ"א:ל"ה - וכי יגף שור איש את שור רעהו explains these words as follows: And if the ox of a man gores the ox of his (this man's) friend. However, he brings an alternative explanation from קראי by the name of בן זוטא. He interprets: And if the ox of a man gores his (the ox's) friend - another ox. אבן עזרא rejects this ridiculous interpretation based on the trop of the פסוק which clearly indicates that it should be read otherwise. Besides, adds the אבן עזרא sharply, an ox has no friends - except for בן זוטא!


It is not often that a pshat in a ראשון on חומש will have one rolling in laughter but this one did it to me. However, אבן עזרא's sharp attack on בן זוטא is not so clear. Daniel Scarowsky, ז"ל, once pointed out to me that we find in the 'משניות בבא קמא פרק ה (bottom of :מח):
"...שור שהיה מתכון לחברו" an ox that had intention to gore 'his friend.' It seems the ox is not the social outcast the אבן עזרא had perceived him to be. But Daniel explained that the answer must be that there is a difference between the term רֵע used in our פסוק, and the term חבר used in the חבר .משנה comes from the root meaning connection. A חבר is merely one who has a specific connection with the other. This connection may be as simple as both being oxen. A רֵע, a term used to denote a more serious friendship, implies a deeper connection which an ox does not have. Except, of course, with בן זוטא.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sorry, but it's been proven that Ibn `Ezra miscomprehended Ben Zuta's intention. Turns out the joke is on those who ridicule the Qaraite.

Shtikler said...

Where and how so?

Michael Koplow said...

An amoratzish question: Is it true that רֵע necessarily implies friendship, let alone close friendship? Does Shemot 11:2 apply only to Egyptian friend?

ELIE said...

לכב Anonymous
מי הוכיח שראב"ע טעה? יש לך מקור
או הלשון המקורי של בן זוטא? אם
לא אינני מקבל

Chuck said...

According to בן זוטא doesn't theפסוק mean that an ox gored an ox's ox?

Shtikler said...

No, according to בן זוטא, it would be read as follows:
וכי יגוף שור [של] איש את שור [שהוא] רעהו