Volume 23 Number 79
                       Produced: Fri Apr 26  7:01:43 1996

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Four Sons--Four Verses
         [Baruch J. Schwartz]
         [Al Silberman]
Otanu/Etkhem in the Wise Son's Answer
         [Jay Rovner]
The Teeth of the Wicked Son
         [Michael Shimshoni]
The Wicked Son
         [Caela Kaplowitz]
Tzaddik mit a Pelz (3)
         [Perry Zamek, R. J. Israel, Aryeh Frimer]
Tzadik im Peltz
         [Andy Goldfinger]


From: Baruch J. Schwartz <SCHWARTZ@...>
Date: Fri, 19 Apr 96 07:02:43 IST
Subject: Four Sons--Four Verses

 I believe that the recent discussion of the wicked son's question has
failed to take into account the basic nature of midrash, which, of
course, is what the relevant passage in the haggadah is.  The midrash
has not created the questions asked by the four sons, nor has it devised
the texts of the answers to be given to them. Rather, the midrash is an
interpretation of the Torah text. The Torah text includes the command to
"tell your son" in several different passages, formulating the questions
and answers in several different ways: Exod 12:26; 13:8; 13:14; Deut
6:20. In their simple, contextual meanings, these four passages do not
actually duplicate or contradict each other; each one has a different
function. Only the first pertains to the expectation that future
generations will inquire as to the significance of the Pesah
offering. The second (which includes only the command "you shall tell
your so," and presupposes no question) is stated in the context of the
seven-day matzot festival, not the pesah sacrifice. The third speaks of
the child who may ask about the significance of the commands concerning
the firstborn. In the fourth (Deut 6:20), Moses is envisioning a time
when future generations will inquire about the reason behind the
necessity of keeping the commandments of God in general. In all four,
however, the parent's response, as mandated by the Torah, is essentially
the same: we were slaves to Pharoah, and we perform this (the pesah
offering, the matzot festival, the firstborn regulations, and the
mitzvot in general) in commemoration thereof.
 This, then, is the midrash's point of departure: in four separate
places we are commanded to tell our children about the Exodus.
According to the peshat, all four refer to different situations, and no
distinction is made at all among the types of sons being portrayed.
 The midrash, characteristically taking all four out of their separate
contexts and looking at them as a group, inquires: why is the command to
tell of the Exodus given four times? It responds: kenegged arbaa banim
dibbera torah "The Torah was speaking of four different types of son,"
thus resolving the apparent--though artificial--superfluity.  The manner
in which the four separate texts were assigned to the four types of
child imaginable is rather straightforward. The text with the most
serious and involved question was assigned to the intelligent son (Deut
6:20), the word etchem "you" notwithstanding. The text with the simplest
question (Exod 13:14) was assigned to the simple son.  The text with no
question was assigned to the one who doesn't know how to pose a
question, in order to establish the primary responsiblity of the parent
to instruct his child whether he inquires or not. The remaining passage,
based on the phrasing in general but, as the haggadah says explicitly,
on the word "lachem" in particular, was naturally assigned to the wicked
son, and the objectionable nature of this question is unequivocal:
because he says lachem, he excludes himself.
 True, certain editions of the sources have the wise son asking
"commanded us" rather than "commanded you". These include some of the
ancient versions of the Torah text itself. It is perhaps possible to
presume that the original derashah was based on a biblical text in which
the passage in Deut 5:20 read "otanu"--but it is by no means
necessary. Nor is it possible by any means to assume that the derashah
is based on questions formulated by the darshan. The darshan worked,
here as everywhere, with the Torah text as he knew it, and based his
derashah on the four passages he knew.
 Explanations which ignore this fact, and particularly, explanations
which attribute to the haggadah some other objection to the wicked son's
question that the one explictly stated in the text, are, in my view,

Baruch J. Schwartz
Dept. of Bible
Tel Aviv University


From: <asilberman@...> (Al Silberman)
Date: Mon, 22 Apr 1996 14:20:29 -0500
Subject: Masorah

In MJ v23n70 Mark Steiner writes:

>        On the wise versus wicked son, I'd like to point out that in
>the version of the Four Son passage in the Yerushalmi ...the last word
>of the question of the Wise Son was "osonu" not, as in our sifrei
>Torah, "eschem."  I don't want to draw any conclusions from this,
>except that according to the original manuscripts the standard question
>concerning the wise and wicked son does not arise. As for the
>descrepancy between Chazal and the Massoretic text of the Torah, I open
>the floor to discussion.

The issue of discrepancies between the masorah which Chazal had and the
masorah which we have is mentioned by many of the classic commentators.
Tosfos in Shabbos 55b mentions it and cites 2 examples. R' Akiva Eiger
in the Gilyon Hashas gives many additional examples. I have found others
in addition to those listed in the Gilyon Hashas. Therefore, it would
not surprise me if there was a masorah that agrees with the Yerushalmi.
However, the Minchas Shai which is very comprehensive and throughout
Tanach lists many conflicting masorahs does not list any conflict on the
subject word.

The Rama rules that a Sefer Torah which has added or missing vowels
(which do not alter the pronunciation) does not make a Sefer Torah posul
"since our Sifrei Torah are not accurate to that extent" (see Orech
Chaim 143:4 Rama and commentators). This ruling is derived from the
gemara in Kidushin 30a where the amora R' Yosef said that the Sifrei
Torah then available were not completely accurate with regard to extra
and missing (vowels).

This brings me to the topic of "Torah codes". How is it that the amoraim
didn't have a 100% original text but one is now available for use by
computer programs?

An article on "Torah codes" appeared in the October 1995 issue of Bible
Review by Dr. Jeffrey Satinover. In the February 1996 issue he offers a
long response to many critical letters and addresses this issue as
well. I will quote only one sentence of his long reply:

"Because of the aggregate nature of the phenomenon, introducing more and
more small errors into the text will slowly degrade the robustness of
the findings, but won't entirely efface them - until a certain critical
degree of error is exceeded."


From: <jarovner@...> (Jay Rovner)
Date: Mon, 22 Apr 1996 11:43:02 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Otanu/Etkhem in the Wise Son's Answer

	Although the evidence in medieval haggadot is split, the fact
that the reading in the two oldest siddurim (emanating from the
ninth-tenth centuries) is etkhem (as in Dt. 6:21) would favor that as
the reading original to the haggadah (cf. Siddur Rav Amaram,
ed. Goldschmidt, p. 114 and Siddur Rav Saadia Gaon, p. 137).
	To be sure, the text-traditions of the Mekhilta and the
yerushalmi, which differ in so many respects from the haggadah, differ
from the latter in their readings of the wise son's answer (otanu) as
	Thus rather than proposing a correction from otanu to the
language of the Torah, it would seem more that a correction from the
Mekhilta-Yerushalmi to the more popular iturgical tradition has occurred
in the middle ages.
	Jay Rovner


From: Michael Shimshoni <MASH@...>
Date: Fri, 19 Apr 96 12:27:08 +0300
Subject: The Teeth of the Wicked Son

In Mail-J 23,73 Ms Jeanette Friedman is unduly disturbed:

> I find really disturbing the line in the Hagaddah involving the wicked
> son--Hakeh et Shinav-- Does that mean that if a parent decides that a
> kid is " wicked," you can knock his teeth out?  Not that this is the
> only disturbing line in the Hagaddah, but I find it really scary,
> because many people I grew up with had parents who used it as an excuse
> to beat the crap out of their "evil" children.
> How do you get rid of the line? (Interestingly enough, the Hagaddah I
> was using didn't bother to translate that line into English. Another one
> said "Set his teeth on edge... Cut me a break!)
> The meaning of the words in Hebrew are crystal clear.  It's not "set his
> teeth on edge," it's "hit him in the teeth."

Well, it is not.   I once heard an expression as  clear as mud...  The
Hebrew words  are haq'heh (heh qof  heh heh) et shinav.   If "hit him"
would have been meant the verb would have been ha'ke (heh kav heh) and
would read  hakehu b'shinav.  As it  stands it means blunt  his teeth,
and hopefully the meaning is to do something to make his "biting" less
dangerous (not actually file his teeth...).

> Yeah. Right. How to win friends and influence your kids. NOT.

If done properly I see nothing wrong with that method.   YES.

Shabbat Shalom,

Michael Shimshoni


From: Caela Kaplowitz <caelak@...>
Date: Wed, 24 Apr 1996 07:11:55 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: The Wicked Son

I read a very nice explanation from a Chasidic Hagaddah. We should
"blunt his teeth" so that the wicked son will stop talking a listen. He
is so busy trying to explain his position that he has no time to sit and
absorb anything in the Seder. If we blunt his teeth he becomes a
"She-ayno yodeya lishol" (one who can't ask) and some of the importance
of being part of Klal Yisrael might sink in.

A question. What is a "LOR"? (Legally ordained rabbi? Lots of respect? 
Listen or run? Lovely organized ritual?)

[Local Orthodox Rabbi - Mod.]

Caela Kaplowitz aka caelak


From: <jerusalem@...> (Perry Zamek)
Date: Thu, 25 Apr 1996 08:39:47 +0300
Subject: Tzaddik mit a Pelz

Zemira Shaindl Wieselthier in v23n74 asked about the term "A Tzaddik in
Peltz" -- literally, a tzaddik in a fur coat. As in the story:

A man comes into a room where other people are sitting, and it is
cold. He goes out again, and comes in wearing a fur coat. He's warm,
they're not.  Another man comes in, notices that it's cold, and lights
the fire. All are warm.

The first is a "tzaddik in a fur coat" -- as long as he's OK, things are

We sometimes refer to Noach in this way -- as long as he was going to be
in the Ark, he didn't have to try to make the people of his generation
do Teshuva. He was a Tzaddik for himself.

Not so Avraham Avinu, who went out of his way to influence others (like
the man who lit the fire, so everyone would be warm).

Note: There are other interpretations of the level of Noach's
righteousness, and one should generally not use the term for anyone
deserving of our respect.

Perry Zamek   | A Jew should hold his head high. 
Peretz ben    | "Even in poverty a Hebrew is a prince... 
Avraham       |       Crowned with David's Crown" -- Jabotinsky

[ Similar replies sent in by:

Paul Shaviv - <shaviv@...>
<ajeinhorn@...> (A Einhorn)
<RABIGRAF@...> (Shlomo Grafstein)
David Katz <dkatz@...>

As well as the following three submissions that some additional point,
so left here in full. Mod.]

From: <RJISRAEL@...> (R. J. Israel)
Date: Wed, 24 Apr 1996 20:08:02 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Tzaddik mit a Pelz

"The rabbi of Kotzk (Menachem Mendel) once said of a famous rabbi:
"That's a zaddik in a fur coat." His disciples asked him what he meant
by this. 'Well' he explained, 'one man buys himself a fur coat in
winter, another buys kindling. What is the difference between them? The
first wants to keep only himself warm, the second wants to give warmth
to others too."

Tales of the Hasidim, Vol 2, p. 274, Martin Buber

R. J. Israel

From: Aryeh Frimer <F66235%<BARILAN.bitnet@...>
Date: Thu, 25 Apr 96 08:53 O
Subject: Tzaddik mit a Pelz

    Pelz is a fur coat. There are two ways one can warm oneself. One can
put on a fur coat - but then only he is warm. Or one can build a fire -
which warms others as well. Regarding the comparison between Noach and
Avraham Avinu - There were those who argued that Noach was a "tsaddik in
Pelz" while Avraham built the fire.
    One who saves himself religiously and makes no real effort to save
others - even despite a slight element of risk - was referred to by the
Ba'alei mussar as a tsaddik in Pelz. The latter is also sometimes
pejoratively referred to with the verse: "et Nafshi hitzalti" - I saved
my soul.


From: Andy Goldfinger <andy_goldfinger@...>
Date: 25 Apr 1996 10:14:08 -0400
Subject: Tzadik im Peltz

In response to Zemira Wieselthier's question about the expression
"Tzadik (im) or (mit a) Peltz:

To the best of my understanding, a Peltz was a warm fur overcoat that
was constructed with the fur inside (as a lining) and the backing of the
pelt (origin of peltz?) on the outside.  The person wearing it was warm,
but other people could not see the fur.  Therefore -- it was as if the
wearer kept all the warmth and benefit for himself.

The "tzadik im peltz" is a person who is very righteous or pious in his
own private life (e.g. always goes to mikvah in the morning, follows a
very strict standard of kashrus, etc.) but who does not help other
people.  Just like the person wearing the pelz, he keeps all his
piousness to himself and other people do not benefit.


End of Volume 23 Issue 79