Sunday, August 06, 2006

With All Your Heart And With All Your Soul

Yesterday, Prof. James Kugel spoke at Yedidya during Sholla-Shooddiss. This is a reconstruction of what he discussed.

Devarim/Deuteronomy 6:5

״וְאָ֣הַבְתָּ֔ אֵת֖ ƶ׳֣ אֱלֹהֶי֑ךָ בְּכָל־לְבָֽבְךָ֥ וּבְכָל־נַפְשְׁךָ֖ וּבְכָל־מְאֹדֶֽךָ״


There are two well-known drashes on this verse:

1. BEKHOL LEVAVEKHÁ = with both your selfless and selfish inclinations
(because "your heart" is written with two bets לְבָבְך and not one לִבְּך)

2. BEKHOL NAFSHEKHÁ UVEKHOL ME’ODÉKHA = there are some people who value life more than property, and others who value property more than life
(this is from Talmud Bavli Sanhedrin 74a)

The second drash is understanding the pasuq to mean And you shall love God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your stuff. However, מְאֹד as a noun is very rare. It only appears here, whereas everywhere else it appears in the Tanakh it has the adverbial meaning of "very" or "a lot" (Colloquial American English: mad).

Prof. Kugel sources this understanding of me’od in the Septuagint, the translation of the Greek-speaking Jewish diaspora. In the Septuagint (a.k.a. Targum Hashiv‘im), the noun מאד is translated as δύναμις dýnamis (source of the English word "dynamic"), which means power... but can also mean stuff. And so the Hebrew word מאד, which may have originally only meant "power" (fitting very well with the use of מאד for "very"), absorbed the additional connotation of its Greek translation dýnamis, namely "stuff, objects, material possessions". This is what we call a calque, or 'loan-translation'. The other, seemingly original meaning of מאד is expressed in other translations, like the JPS linked to above, that translate ובכל מאדך as and with all your might.

There's another well-known drash on this pasuq.

3. UVEKHOL ME’ODÉKHA = R' ‘Aqiva says that one should acknowledge God for both the good and the bad.

Based on the evidence of the Dead Sea Scrolls, where מאד is spelled מודה (ignore the extra hei at the end; the DSS people were fond of adding /a/ to the ends of adverbs, as well as other places), it's very likely that the alef was elided or dropped in the speech of Late Second Temple period Jews. So while R' ‘Aqiva may have been careful when leining to enunciate מאד as מְאֹד, it's possible that when speaking colloquially he may have read it מוֹד like the writers of the Dead Sea Scrolls (compare contemporary Ashkenazim who pronounce Hebrew differently depending on register).

Instead of reading the pasuq as

ואהבת את ה' אלקיך בכל לבבך ובכל נפשך וּבְכָל מְאֹדֶךָ


he drashed it as:

וְאָהַבְתָּ אֵת ה' אלקיך בְּכָל לְבָבְךָ וּבְכָל נַפְשְׁךָ —
וּבַכֹּל [אֲנִי] מוֹדֶךָּ

"...and for everything I acknowledge/thank you."

13 Comments:

Blogger Amishav said...

The rabbi at the Shul I go to said that it could also mean with all your might as in military strength-
So it is appropriate to praise HaShem by having an army to defend ourselves.

8/06/2006 12:56 PM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

I like that! Good idea!

8/06/2006 3:44 PM  
Blogger Drew_Kaplan said...

Steg,
Props - I really liked the calque stuff - that was definitely a hiddush. Props on the UD reference, though you could have also have used the close variant of madd in addition to mad.

8/06/2006 10:40 PM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

Thanks.

Huh... i've never heard of or seen "mad" spelled with the extra D. And i wonder why all those people are so angry with MADD :-P

8/07/2006 2:09 AM  
Blogger Lipman said...

I'm late again (Euro thing), and here are some remarks:

- I shouldn't call this a calque. It would be one had the Septuagint used δύναμις in a secondary meaning of מְאֹד not justified by normal Greek usage, not the other way around. Still this is a case of linguistic interference.

- Massoretic Hebrew and Aramaic is fixed, even if it's not always easy to determine what the massoretes' rule is, but the DSS show that it is puristic nonsense and fiction to apply those rules to each and every form of Hebrew. In this case, it shows that this kind of ollef dropping is not a late Yiddish perversion. But you knew that from the root קרא in the gemore anyway, didn't you?

- The מְאֹד and mad thing is great, but be careful - there are some hobby linguists online who will take this as another proof for the identity of English and Hebrew!

- Interestingly, there are similar sounding words in German and Czech - all of them unconnected. I once heard a Bavarian in the Czech republic often say /mots/ in German for "very". First I thought he jocundly used the Czech colloquial &jt;moc> /mots/, literally "might" and then "mighty, a lot" until I understood it was the German &jt;Mords->, literally "murdorous", then, especially in Bavarian dialects, "a lot" (eine Mordsarbeit = "a helluvalotta work"). In his Franconian dialect, the /r/ is dropped without lengthening the vowel before, and the &jt;ds> is devoiced at the end of a syllable anyway. So, Czech &jt;moc> and German &jt;Mords-> merge. And they resemble mad(d) and מוֹד.

8/07/2006 3:30 AM  
Blogger Lipman said...

Sorry, I messed up the html in the last paragraph. This is how it should look like:

- Interestingly, there are similar sounding words in German and Czech - all of them unconnected. I once heard a Bavarian in the Czech republic often say /mots/ in German for "very". First I thought he jocundly used the Czech colloquial <moc> /mots/, literally "might" and then "mighty, a lot" until I understood it was the German <Mords->, literally "murdorous", then, especially in Bavarian dialects, "a lot" (eine Mordsarbeit = "a helluvalotta work"). In his Franconian dialect, the /r/ is dropped without lengthening the vowel before, and the <ds> is devoiced at the end of a syllable anyway. So, Czech <moc> and German <Mords-> merge. And they resemble mad(d) and מוֹד.

8/07/2006 3:32 AM  
Anonymous Manna Eater said...

The last section about dərash based on elided pronouncation is very interesting. I guess something similar is going on in Mənaḥot 43b on this week's parsha:

תניא, היה רבי מאיר אומר: חייב אדם לברך מאה ברכות בכל יום, שנאמר: (דברים י') ועתה ישראל מה ה' אלקיך שואל מעמך

but here it's the other way round: the 'ma' in the Tora is being drashed as the elided form of 'meʾa'.

8/10/2006 3:04 AM  
Blogger Lipman said...

Which is quite a stretch, because there, not only a shvo is dropped, but a whole tzeire, unless we take it as evidence for מְאָה. It's not even entirely clear that the word was stressed me'o in that period.

8/11/2006 4:43 AM  
Blogger Mar Gavriel said...

In Aramaic, of course, it's clearly me'o (מְאָה). Or, at any rate, in Onqelôs-Aramaic.

8/13/2006 10:10 PM  
Blogger GoldaLeah said...

I guess I'm the only one still hung up on how one can be commanded to love...

8/14/2006 12:03 AM  
Blogger Lipman said...

You're at least not the first to ask; the meforshem talk about that question.

8/14/2006 2:46 AM  
Blogger Tzvee said...

yawn WITP (what is the point)?

8/16/2006 11:23 PM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

Tzvee:

The point is 1) DiqduqGeeqage and 2) Understanding the process of midrash.

8/16/2006 11:26 PM  

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