Parshah Tol’dot – “And may G-d give you of the dew of the heavens….”

Torah Reading for Genesis 27:28

“And may G-d give you of the dew of the heavens and the fat of the land and abundance of grain and wine.”

“And may G-d give you” Rashi: May He give and repeat and give. But according to it simple meaning (p’shuto) it refers back to the preceding topic “See the fragrance of my son” which the Holy One Blessed is He, has given him, is “like the fragrance of the field,” etc. And may He also give you of the dew of the heavens.”

Rashi gives two interpretations to these words; one is p’shat and one not.

What Is Bothering Rashi?

An Answer: Most commentaries on Rashi agree that he is bothered by the letter “vav” at the beginning of the verse. It means “AND may He give you…” The word “and” implies an addition to something. What could be its meaning here? This is the question. How do Rashi’s interpretations deal with this problem?

Understanding Rashi

An Answer: Rashi’s first interpretation – May He give and continue to give…” gives the “vav” the meaning of an ongoing action. May He give AND give AND give… Rashi’s second interpretation is less easy to understand. Our clue is that he adds words to the verse. Notice he writes “See the fragrance of my son, which the Holy One has given him, is like the fragrance of the field.” The words “which the Holy One has given him” are not in the verse. Why does he add them?

This is our clue. Look at the Torah’s words “like the fragrance of the field which G-d has blessed.” Ask yourself: What has G-d blessed? The usual answer would be “the field.” It was blessed with fragrance. But Rashi says No! He says “…my son, which the Holy One blessed…” The blessing refers to the son (Yaakov) not the field! This is a creative interpretation of these words. In this way our extra “vav” is explained. The son was blessed with a fragrance “AND may G-d give you (also) the dew of the heaven etc…”

Rashi see this as p’shat, certainly an original interpretation.

Click here for a more indepth reading on Toldoth “What’s Bothering Rashi”

An Answer: Couldn’t the passuk (verse) be read with the vav conversive (vav hahipuch)? –

“And G-d has given you of the dew of the heavens and the fat of the land and abundance of grain and wine.”

It could be read in the future perfect prophetic past tense, “And G-d [has given and] will [continue to] give you from the dew of the heavens….”

the passuk reads:  וְיִתֶּןלְךָ, הָאֱלֹהִים, מִטַּל הַשָּׁמַיִם, וּמִשְׁמַנֵּי הָאָרֶץוְרֹב דָּגָן, וְתִירֹשׁ.

NORMALLY, the vav hahipuch takes the patach and the dagesh is in the letter that follows.

HOWEVER, we find variations to this rule:

vayelech (Deut. 31:1) (‘and then he [Moshe] went’) In form this is a verb in the future tense. However the Vav changes it to past tense. This Vav is known as Vav HaHipuch or Vav Conversive. Vav HaHipuch that changes future tense to past tense normally has a Patach and is followed by a Dagesh as in vayelech. When Vav HaHipuch is followed by Yud with a Sheva the Dagesh is omitted as in vaytzav (Deut. 31:10) וַיְצַו (‘and then he [Moshe] commanded). However Alef does not take a Dagesh. Thus when Vav HaHipuch is followed by Alef, Vav HaHipuch has a Kamatz as in va:atzaveh (Deut. 1:16) (‘and then I [Moshe] commanded’). This is ‘compensation’ for the omitted Dagesh. However in vaatzavenu (Deut. 31:15) (‘and I [G-d] will command him’) the Vav has a Patach, because it is a regular Vav HaChibur that means ‘and.’ (Although Vav HaChibur normally has a Sheva, here it has a Patach because of the rule which does not allow two Shevas at the beginning of a word, and Chataf-Patach is a variety of Sheva. In this case the Vav has the vowel closest to the type of Chataf-vowel following.)

Vav HaHipuch that changes past tense to future tense has the same vowels as Vav HaChibur. It is usually Sheva but it undergoes changes before words starting with the letters Bet, Vav, Mem, Peh, or Yud, or before words where the first letter has a Sheva (or a Chataf-vowel). Sometimes it is accompanied by the main stress being moved to the last syllable which helps distinguish between Vav HaChibur and Vav HaHipuch from past tense to future tense. At other times it is impossible to distinguish between them. In one such case (Num.10:31) Rashi provides two explanations, allowing for both possibilities.

****

Here, ve’ye’ten “and give” וְיִתֶּן is followed by the preposition –לְךָ, (possessive) Le’chah “to you”.

The rule “does not allow two Shevas at the beginning of a word” – therefore, where, as here, the vav takes the Masoretes nikud Sheva; this must be an error or the passuk must be kri (read as) va’ye’ten as an exception to the rule like the instance above, vaatzavenu or vaytzav because a yud at the beginning of a word is always personal possessive future tense and in the instance where the exception is given, (Deut. 31:15) (‘and I [G-d] will command him’) the Vav has a Patach, because it is a regular Vav HaChibur that means ‘and.’ (Although Vav HaChibur normally has a Sheva, here it has a Patach because of the rule which does not allow two Shevas at the beginning of a word, and Chataf-Patach is a variety of Sheva. In this case the Vav has the vowel closest to the type of Chataf-vowel following.)

RASHI admits that the vav is read (kri) AND, which he says is pshat!

When Vav HaHipuch is followed by Yud with a Sheva the Dagesh is omitted as in vaytzav (Deut. 31:10) (‘and then he [Moshe] commanded).

Because in vaytzav (Deut. 31:10) (‘and then he [Moshe] commanded) the Dagesh is omitted and in Genesis 27.27 the yud has the dagesh dropped, we see that, PAST TENSE, Ya’acov is already blessed before what is spoken of in our passuk 27.28 and therefore, what was spoken of in 28 must be read as if it [the blessing] were already to have taken place.

We might better understand our passuk if we read the words me’tal hashamayim מִטַּל הַשָּׁמַיִם “into” ve’ye’ten because the heavens, being blessed are the Throne of HaShem and the dew of the heavens is a “continuous action” – something on-going, dor l’dor ( as in Shmoth 3.15) dew every morning, as in, “His Mercies are new every morning” – Lamentations 3.22 “Surely the LORD’S mercies are not consumed, surely His compassions fail not. 23 They are new every morning; great is Thy faithfulness.”

In this case, the Vav takes the vowel closest to the type of variety of Sheva following it to compensate for the dropping of the dagesh in the Yud! That is, the Vav should be read (pronounced) with a Patach rather than with a Sheva because of the rule “no two shevas begin a word” and the stress is on the later syllable, in this case “ten” (Tav, tzeyreeh, Nun) תֶּן

Since we must follow the rule that “no two shevas begin a word;” either the first sheva or the second sheva is in error! Therefore, our passuk must be read and understood as, “And (because you are blessed, past tense, 27.27) G-d has given you (the blessing and will continue to give you and your descendants the blessings) of the dew of the heavens and the fat of the land and abundance of grain and wine.”

27.27 “And he came near, and kissed him. And he smelled the smell of his raiment, and blessed him, וַיְבָרְכֵהוּ and said: See, the smell of my son is as the smell of a field which the LORD hath blessed.”

Clearly, Rashi is correct that Ya’acov is the subjective reading “of Rashi”; whereas the Vav Hahipuch hypothesis is the objective (“perfect prophetic”) reading of the passuk!

27.30 וַיְהִי And it came to pass, as soon as Isaac had made an end of blessing Jacob, and Jacob was yet scarce gone out from the presence of Isaac his father, that Esau his brother came in from his hunting.”

Clearly, something is blessed either the field or Ya’acov. Why not both?

In our verse both are blessed, because the Torah already tells us Ya’acov was blessed (27.27) but continues to speak of Itzchaq blessing Ya’acov in verse 30 in order to continue the narrative. Verse 31 “and he also made” uses the vav hahipuch so why couldn’t our passuk be read in the past tense?

When the vav is followed by action, in this case, “Elohim giving the dew of the heavens;” the rule is that the vav takes the patach, to wit, is read in the conversive because “the dew of heaven” is the past tense, future prophetic perfect. (The blessing is continuous but in HaShem’s Sight, the blessing is understood as perfect prophetic past tense – “For I have known him [his generations], that he will command ….”)

In Devarim 20:19 and commentary of Rashi, man is likened to a tree of the field. We can say that the passuk there speaks in the rhetorical, “is man like the tree of the field?”

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About johnmhummasti

Was the victim of Human Rights Abuses (e.g. Hummasti v Bell, 98-3651-JTC) while a patient in the custody of the US Attorney General and hospitalized under 18 USC 4241 through 4244, et seq.! Interests: Biblical Studies, Talmudic Studies, Dead Sea (Yam Melek [Sea of Kings Soferim]) Scrolls, Scribal (Stam Sofer) Traditions, Cantorial (Hazzan) Psalms (Tehillim). Illustrated Calligraphy (e.g. Ketuvim [Jewish Marriage Contracts], Poetry). Self Published Manuscripts and Screen Plays at yhummastiscribd web site:
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One Response to Parshah Tol’dot – “And may G-d give you of the dew of the heavens….”

  1. In Devarim 20:19 and commentary of Rashi, man is likened to a tree of the field. We can say that the passuk there speaks in the rhetorical, “is man like the tree of the field?” So too, in our analysis of Rashi’s comment, 27.28 must be understood and read rhetorically as: “And (because you are blessed, past tense, 27.27) G-d has given you (the blessing and will continue to give you and your descendants the blessing) of the dew of the heavens and the fat of the land and abundance of grain and wine.” –

    YOCHANAN: “27.27 “And he came near, and kissed him. And he smelled the smell of his raiment, and blessed him, וַיְבָרְכֵהוּ and said: See, the smell of my son is as the smell of a field who the LORD hath blessed.”And G-d has given you of the dew of the heavens and the fat of the land and abundance of grain and wine.”

    JPS 27.27 And he came near, and kissed him. And he smelled the smell of his raiment, and blessed him, and said: See, the smell of my son is as the smell of a field which the LORD hath blessed. 28 So God give thee of the dew of heaven, and of the fat places of the earth, and plenty of corn and wine.

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