Wednesday, June 28, 2023

The Dead of the Plague

The following was apparently told over in a dream to his son by R' Shraga Feivel of Smargan. The last pasuk of this week's parsha (25:9) gives us the devastating death toll of the plague that followed B'nei Yisrael's intermingling with the Midyanites. There is an odd structure to the trop, notes, on this particular pasuk. The esnachta, which somewhat resembles a wishbone, indicates the primary stop in the middle of a pasuk. It usually concludes a thought. Take, for example, a few pesukim earlier (25:3) "Vayitzamed Yisrael leVa'al Pe'or, vayichar af HaShem beYisrael." And Yisroel clung to Ba'al Pe'or, and HaShem's wrath glowed upon Yisroel. The esnachta is used to separate the two distinct thoughts. However, our pasuk seems to be one single thought. In fact, a very similar pasuk earlier on (17:14) seems to classify such a statement as one thought. Why, then, is there an esnachta on the word bamageifah?

R' Feivel answers that this pasuk has in it a hidden meaning. Because of the terrible sin at Ba'al Pe'or, it was necessary to wipe out 24,000 of B'nei Yisrael. However, the gemara (Sanhedrin 105b) tells us that the period from the Shittim to the Gilgal (which encompasses this period,) was a period of goodwill during which HaShem did not become angry with B'nei Yisrael. Therefore, in order to lessen the blow of this plague, HaShem made it so that included in the 24,000 would be those who had reached their time to die anyway. This is expressed by the complete thought "Vayihyu hameisim bamageifah," and the dead ones, i.e. those who had reached their time to die, were in the plague. The pasuk then finishes off with a separate thought, tallying the total number of deaths in the plague.

I thought that perhaps this interpretation of the word meisim as those who were to die rather than those who died is in accordance with Rashi in parshas Ki Seitzei. Without getting into detail as to the meaning of Rashi, the pasuk warns to put a fence around one's roof so that you should not bring blood upon your house, "ki yipol hanofeil mimenu," if a faller were to fall from it. Rashi comments "Ki yipol hanofeil - ra'ui zeh lipol," the faller - one who deserved to fall. Here, too, we see a noun referring not to one to which something happened but one to whom this was destined to happen.


Anonymous said...

הדברים אינם מוכרחים
יש כאן פסוק קצר ואין מקום יותר מתאים לשים את האתנח
זה פשט'ל או פרפרת

Shtikler said...

וכי נזקקים אנו לאתנח בכל פסוק? והרי "ויעשו בני ישראל את הפסח במעדו" אין לו אתנח. ואף שהטפחא שום יש לו כח כמו אתנח, מכל מקום אינו אתנח ממש. ומה ראו לשים אתנח ממש בפסוק זה אם אינו צריך

Anonymous said...

נכון יש פסוקים ללא אתנח(תא) עם זאת הם נחשבים יוצאים מהכלל
הבה נספור פסוקים של שש מילים ונראה

כמה מהם בלי אתנח

בשירת אסף
שאנו אומרים כל יום ("הודו" דברי הימים א טז החל מפסוק ח) יש
הרבה פסוקים עם זקף ולא אתנח
כנראה בגלל שהוא בגדר "שירה" [עיין במקביל תהילים קה] אבל

בדרך כלל יש אתנח
וזה יפה אבל פשטל

Ekowalsky said...

I think this "pshetl" helps to answer another question, namely, how could we end the Parsha on such a "down note" of 24,000 people dying in a plague! But based on this "pshetl" it really is not such a down note as the 24,000 included those whose time was up anyway and so thenumber of dead as a result of the plage (which came about as a result of the "anger" of HKBH, was not as great as the number might otherwise indicate.

Sarah said...

Thanks for thhis