Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Scribal Space in Our Story


I had a question after last Shabbat from an overseas client, which I found of great interest and would like to share here:

hi there. what can you tell us about the 3 spaces instead of the 9 spaces btwn last weeks parsh & this week's. we've read some commentary, wanted yours. we actually read a chassidic commentary on this, last week & wanted to see what you knew about the blending of the parshiot, as one whole. thanks for your input

Hi there, XX!
Nice to hear from you - how are you & R' X doing?

There are 2 pages of commentary on this question in The Gutnick Edition Chumash Qol Menachem, the one that Chabad uses. You can find their take on your question on pages 318-319.

As for my thought: there actually shouldn't be ANY spaces between these two Parshi'ot. We checked various Tiqunim le-Sofrim we own (including Yemenite!) and nobody leaves any spaces. So if you have a Sefer with 3 spaces, then that is a scribal error. According to the strictest rules of sofrut, this could passul the Sefer, but there are disagreements about petucht & s'tumot...

RaMBaM ruled that no space should be left in between, ie there would only be one "space" (a Yud-width). The Yemenite Tiqun Le-Sofrim also said that there should be no gap, however noted that in later generations some non-Yemenite scribes left one "space" the size of a large letter (like an Alef), which is two additional Yud-widths to the one existing Yud-width.

So although there should only be one Yud-width between these Parshi'ot, like there is between any words, some have a tradition to leave 3 Yud-widths, but that is all. If your "3 spaces" is wider than 3 Yuds, then you may have a problem with the kashrut of the scroll.

Marc and I found some commentary on this lack of space by the Ba'al Ha-Turim. He says that there is a s'tumah rather than a petuchah because the first two words of Parashat Va-yechi is juxtaposed with the final two words of Parashat Va-Yigash to show that Ya'aqov lived to see 30 myriads of his descendants.

Marc also thinks that the two Parshi'ot may well have been all one originally, since the Parashah divisions are not organic.

Hope that's helpful! Always happy to be of assistance!

Copyright © A Barclay
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