Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The DAG"Z on Va’eira

(yes i know i'm a week late)

1. Moshedipus

In his infancy, according to a famous legend, Moses was the object of an infanticidal attempt by Pharaoh. At three years old, he took Pharaoh's crown from his head and put it on his own. Pharaoh's advisers, led by Balaam, urge that the child be put to death. Clearly, his gesture is one of usurpation — he aims, like all his Israelite ancestors, to overthrow the superior, the elder rival. The angel Gabriel, disguised as one of the Egyptian sages, proposes a test to determine if there is precocious intent behind the infant Moses' act. An onyx stone and a burning coal are placed before him: if he reaches for the coal, brighter but worthless, he will prove that he is just an infant, attracted to the shiny; if he reaches for the valuable stone, he will prove his precociousness and the sinister nature of his self-crowning. Moses, who is indeed precociously wise, and destined to overthrow Pharaoh, reaches for the stone. But Gabriel supernaturally diverts his hand towards the coal; he burns his hand and puts it instinctively to his mouth, burning that as well. This gesture saves his life, and also explains how he becomes "heavy of mouth and heavy of tongue."

As Robert Paul suggests, Moses' "speech-defect" thus can be understood as the "scar" left by a failed infanticidal attack, like Oedipus's wounded feet. He has survived his "father's" fatal attack; later he will kill this father at the Red Sea...

2. ‘Orla

Moshe describes himself as ‘aral sefatayim — "of uncircumcised lips". When he is attacked by God on the way back from Midyan to Mitzrayim, Tzipora saves his life by circumcising their son. In cutting away their son's foreskin with a stone knife, she circumcises her husband's lips. The child is now unblocked from entry into the Hebrew/Israelite covenant; Moshe is now unblocked from leading the Israelite Nation into the future.

3. Quoting Sartre

"How can anyone choose to reason falsely? It is simply the old yearning for impermeability... there are people who are attracted by the permanence of stone. They would like to be solid and impenetrable, they do not want change: for who knows what change might bring? ...It is as if their own existence were perpetually in suspense. But they want to exist in all ways at once, and all in one instant. They have no wish to acquire ideas, they want them to be innate... they want to adopt a mode of life in which reasoning and the quest for truth play only a subordinate part, in which nothing is sought except what has already been found, in which one never becomes anything else but what one already was."


Blogger The back of the hill said...

vatikach tzipora tzor vatichrot et-arlat bena vataga leraglav vatomer ki chatan-damim ata li

Assuredly one of the most meshune statements in the parsha.

Even subsequently modified into "chatan damim lamulot", it makes scant sense. But note that in the entire parsha, this is the clearest statement about circumcision, which is only hinted at, though several times, before.

1/31/2006 10:51 PM  
Anonymous brother korach said...

the D in DAGZ stands for..?

2/01/2006 11:22 AM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

the Back:

Where are other hints, other than `aral sefatayim?

Bro' Ko':


2/01/2006 12:07 PM  
Blogger The back of the hill said...

Tayere Steg,

In answer to that question, a blathersome post on my own blog:

Freyndliche grisn,


2/01/2006 8:47 PM  
Blogger Berel Dov Lerner said...

Look at Ibn Ezra for the weirdest interpretation of Moshe's speech defect - and God's response to it! Ibn Ezra says that God told Moshe, "I know you have problems pronouncing certain letters, so I will formulate your speeches without using those letters"!
If Hebrew works here, the quote is:

(1) אבן עזרא על שמות פרק ד פסוק י
גם מאז דברך - מעת דברך כמו ומאז באתי אל פרעה לדבר בשמך. כי לא סר כובד לשונו רק נשאר כאשר היה. והאומר ששכח לשון מצרים איננו נכון כי הוא אומר ב' דברים כבד פה וכבד לשון. ועוד נלמוד מתשובת השם מי שם פה לאדם או מי ישום אלם שאינו מדבר על לשון מצרים רק ככה נולד שהיה כבד פה שלא היה יכול להוציא אותיות השפה וכל אותיות הלשון. רק קצתם היה מוציאם בכובד וזה הוא טעם ואנכי אהיה עם פיך והוריתיך. אמר שיורינו אשר ידבר מלות שאין שם מאותיות הכבדות על פיו:

2/03/2006 3:21 AM  
Blogger Chana said...

This is such an interesting post (and I always connected Oedipus to Sparta rather than Moshe, but still clever...). I really like the idea that they are scarred by the "father" figure's love- creative Torah. :)

2/06/2006 8:14 PM  
Blogger Datingmaster, Jerusalem said...

you are very deep and thoughtful but do women like htis approach?

2/08/2006 4:21 AM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

Well, considering what דאג"ז stands for...

2/08/2006 8:12 AM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

Prof. Lerner:

Wow, that's really interesting! Moshe unable to pronounce dental and labial consonants properly... Although they do appear in the later transcripts of what is said to Par‘oh. Unless Aharon was the one pronouncing those phonemes... that'd make a very interesting rhetorical device, the same sentence split up phoneme-wise to different speakers.

2/08/2006 8:16 AM  
Blogger The back of the hill said...


Shreib voss.

The peasants are getting bored.

2/08/2006 8:02 PM  

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