Ha’azinu: Hard ~ Yehoshua Steinberg

האזינו

The root עקש appears for the first time in this week’s Parashah: Corruption is not His – the blemish is His children’s, a generation that is עִקֵּשׁ וּפְתַלְתֹּל (Deut. 32:5).

Rashi explains that עִקֵּשׁ means bent and twisted (עקם and עקל), citing Micah (3:9) – who twist [יְעַקֵּשׁוּ] all that is straight, as well as the Mishnah: “A child whose teeth are crooked [עקושות].” Rabbi Shlomo ben Avraham of Orbino, author of Ohel Moed,  (the first comprehensive thesaurus of Leshon kodesh), lists no less than ten synonyms for this root, each of which are connected to the concept of crookedness

1. עקש, 2. עוה [עוות], 3. עקל, 4. סלף, 5. פתל, 6. לוז, 7. עקב, 8. עול, 9. און, 10. עמל.

What then is unique about עקש? How can it be differentiated from the other terms in this list? Moreover, what is the difference between the two words that appear together in this verse –  עִקֵּשׁ  and פְתַלְתֹּל?

Of note is that these two words appear together elsewhere: II Sam. 22:26-27 – With the devout You deal devoutly, with the one who is strong in his wholeheartedness You act wholeheartedly, with the pure You act purely, with the corrupt You act perversely [וְעִם עִקֵּשׁ תִּתַּפָּל].Many commentators note the contrast between  the symmetry of the first three pairs versus the lack thereof in the last pair: עִקֵּשׁ וּפְתַלְתֹּל. Why not say “with the corrupt You act corruptly” וְעִם עִקֵּשׁ תִּתְעַקֵּשׁ))?

In our article on Parashat Toldot, we examined the word עקש as it relates to other words containing the string עק, (including עקם and עקל cited by Rashi). In this chapter, we will examine the root עקש is it relates to the other the two-letter string in עקש, namely קש, and the other roots that contain those letters, to wit:

1. קשה 2. קשת 3. בקש 4. מוקש / נקש  5. קשח 6. קש 7. לקש 8. קשוא 9. קשר 10. עקש.  

We suggest that all of these share the common the concepts of solidity and/or adhesion and dense concentration, since the solidity of an object derives from the cohesion and concentration of its elements. Let’s analyze the examples one at a time:

  1. קשה (hard, difficult) – as in: It shall not be difficult [לֹא יִקְשֶׁה] in your eyes when you send him away free from you (Deut. 15: 18). 
  2. קשת (archer’s bow, rainbow) – In Gen. Rabba 53:15, the Sages interpret קשת as if it were written קשה, hard, tough. On the verse that states that Ishmael became an accomplished archer [רֹבֶה קַשָּׁת] (Gen. 21:20), the Sages relate that the greater Ishmael became, the tougher and more callous he became as well.

    The root קשת also means rainbow. This meaning as well is also expounded by the Sages to as a derivative of the root קשה: Gen. Rabba 35:3 – I have set My rainbow [קַשְׁתִּי] in the cloud (Gen 9:13) – This is My קישות, because it [the rainbow] is compared to Me [מוּקש לי]. Is that possible? [No,] rather, like the hard parts of the fruit; Chen Tov (P. 236) – like the hard parts of the fruit – this refers to the seeds that are within the fruit, which are the fruit’s hardest part… so too, the “hardness” means: My anger against the world I have placed in the cloud. Meaning, I punish My world by means of the clouds, when I command them to withhold their rain.connotation

  1. בקש (to request) – As a continuation of the previous entry (which ascribed to קשת a connotation of  קושי / קשיות ), the Sages also hint to an association between קשת and the word בקשה (a request): Bava Batra 123a – And as for me, I have given you Shechem – one portion more than your brothers, which I took from the hand of the Amorite with my sword and with my bow [וּבְקַשְׁתִּי] (Gen. 48:22). Did Yaakov then take [Shechem] with his sword and his bow? But it states: For I do not trust in my bow, nor does my sword save me (Ps. 44:7)! Rather, my sword means prayer, and my bow [קַשְׁתִּי] means request [בקשתי]. 

    Maharsha adds that on the level of drush, it is as if Jacob states that he received Shechem from the Amorites through his prayer and request, with the ב’ at the beginning of בקשתי serving a double purpose (as if it stated בבקשתי).

    This is curious, because when making a request, one generally does so in a mild, friendly manner. All the more so if he is making his request from God Himself! 

    However, the root בקש often appears concerning hard, harsh matters, such as: Pharaoh… sought to kill [וַיְבַקֵּשׁ לַהֲרֹג] Moses (Ex. 2:15). 

    Of note as well is that the word בקשה does not appear among the 13 expressions for prayer listed by the Sages.Perhaps the explanation for this is that בקשה, more than a request, is in fact a demand – a direct claim from Hashem,  as Moses hints to in his prayer, per the Midrash: 

    Deut. Rabba 2:1 – Moses said before Him, “Master of the World, did you not tell me that whoever does not have [merit] by Me, I will grant him for free? Now, I am not saying that there is anything owed to me [שמתבקש לי] by You; rather, grant this for free.” From where do we know this? From what it states: ואתחנן אל ה’ – Moses asked that Hashem grant his request חינם, for free.

  1. מוקש (a trap) – The root of this word is יקש according to Radak, with derivatives appearing either with the prefix מ’ (see Deut. 7:16, Ps. 140:6, Job 40:24) or י’ (Hos. 9:8, Jer. 5:26, Prov. 6:5).

    [Although Radak lists the root נקש  separately, he qualifies this by adding that this root also refers to a trap. On the verses: through his own handiwork was the wicked person entrapped  ([נוֹקֵשׁ] Ps. 9:17) and: the seekers of my life have laid snares  ([וַיְנַקְשׁוּ] ibid. 38:13), Radak explains that נקש and יקש are synonymous].

    In Esther Rabba the Sages explain the word מוקש as referring to קשיות  and קושי: “[He removes] the hypocrite from kingship, so that the people not become ensnared [מִמֹּקְשֵׁי עָם] (Job 34:3). When a king is godless and yet bears sway over mankind, it is because of the “snares” of the people themselves  [ממוקשי עם]. They are stiff-necked [קושי ערפם] and wicked, and do not do the will of God (per explanation of Eitz Yosef).”

    Cheshek Shlomo (entry קש) adds that the above words have at their root the concept of solidity, because a  מוקשrefers to a trap made of a hard, solid substance such as wood or metal.    

  1. קשח – This root as well means hardness, particularly hardness of the heart, as Radak (entry קשח) explains: Becoming hardened [הִקְשִׁיחַ] against her offspring, as if they were not hers (Job 39:16), letting our heart become hardened [תַּקְשִׁיחַ] from fearing you (Isa. 63:17) – this refers to cruelty and hardening of the heart.
  2. קש (straw) – Cheshek Shlomo explains that קש is the hard part of the stalk, which is close to the ground and is hard as wood,  not soft like the upper part, which is edible for animals and is called תבן… and so explain Tosafot (BM 103a): “תבן is the soft part, which is harvested with the stalk, and קש is what remains in the ground.”

    Rashi, however, holds that קש means a collection. He explains the verse: לְקֹשֵׁשׁ קַשׁ לַתֶּבֶן (Ex. 5:12) as “to gather a collectionfor the purpose of straw for mortar. An item that is spread out and needs to be gathered is called קש in other places.” However, this need not contradict Cheshek Shlomo’s definition. As we said at the beginning of the chapter, for an item to be hard, its components must be densely concentrated. In the case of straw, this means gathering the 

stalks and amassing them into an integrated entity (i.e. a haystack), ready as a source for brick production or animal feed.

  1. לקש – Radak (entry לקש) defines this word as lateness, a definition reflected in various ways in its derivatives, for examples: 1. the early rains and the late rains [וּמַלְקוֹשׁ] (Deut. 11:14). 2. the later growth [לֶקֶשׁ] appeared after the king’s reaping [לֶקֶשׁ] (Amos 7:1). 3. and: … a vineyard, a wicked man delays it [for his evil purposes] (Job 24:6). 

    The Sages, however, interpreted מלקוש as a compound word, made up of מל  and קש (including the idea of קשיות): Taanit 6a – The Rabbis taught in a Baraita: Yoreh (the first rain)… because it causes the fruit to fall… The Torah therefore states Malkosh [the late rain], just as Malkosh is for blessing, so too Yoreh is for blessing. However, perhaps it is called Malkosh only because it knocks down houses. Rav Nehilai bar Idi said in the name of Shmuel: Something that excises [מל] the hardness [קשיותיהן] of Israel.  In the academy of R’ Yishmael a Baraita was taught: Something that fills [ממלא] the stalks [קשיה] with grain. In [another] Baraita it was taught: Something that descends on the ears [מלילות] and stalks [הקשין]. 

  1. קשוא (cucumbers) – The Sages explain that cucumbers are so named because they are “hard on the body like swords” (Brachot 57b). On the verse: We miss the cucumbers and the watermelons (Num. 11:5), Rashi explains that that the manna would assume the flavor of any food except cucumbers or watermelons, because these are hard on the bodies of nursing mothers.
  2. קשר – Binding items together is called קשירה, but not only when binding is achieved by means of a knot, as we find by the קשירה of tefillin, as explained by the Sefer Mitzvot Gadol (Positive Commandment 22 [paraphrased]) – We find in Perek Hakometz (Menachot 35b and in Tosafot) – “When do we bless on them [the tefillin]? At the time of donning them. [Abayei and Rava both say] from the time of donning them until the time of binding them,” in the way that the embryonic sac is bound to the fetus… Mishnah Mikvaot (10:3) lists  the knots that do not need contact with water during ritual immersion, and included there is the knot of the head when it is “utza”… meaning it is fixed in its place, and not able to move about on the arm… And since one does not have to untie this at the time of immersion, we can learn from this that it constitutes an enduring knot. “Utza” means it is tied tightly. 
  3. עקשAs mentioned, Rashi (Deut. 32:5) explained עקש as bent or twisted, and usually, this word is interpreted as a distortion, as in: Prov. 2:15 – Whose ways are crooked [עִקְּשִׁים] and who go astray [וּנְלוֹזִים] in their courses; Rashi – The word נלוז always means crookedness, because it always appears together with עקש, and עקש means crooked, as it states: and make the crooked places straight [ומעקשים למישור] (Isa. 42:16).

    In the vernacular of the Rishonim, however, there is a different meaning for the root עקש, namely  stubbornness / obstinacy, as in: Ex. 32:9 – I have seen this people and they are a stiff-necked [קְשֵׁה עֹרֶף] people; Abarbanel – a stiff-necked [קְשֵׁה עֹרֶף] people – There are those who explain this as they will not desist from the perversity of their hearts. Gen. 42:9 – He said to them, you are spies, you have come to see the nakedness of the land; Abarbanel – Yosef repeated (below, v. 12)… no, you have come to see the nakedness of the land, as if stubbornly holding his ground: no! but you indeed have come to see the nakedness of the land! And this meaning is alluded to in Midrash Proverbs (4:24), which explains עקשות פה as evil speech, which is as harsh / hard as bloodshed or idolatry. In Midrash Lekach Tov (Ex. 9:35), Pharaoh’s ”hardened heart” is referred to “מתעקש” – stubbornly refusing to send away the Israelites. Radak (entry עקש) concludes that all derivatives of this root relate to brazenness.

In any event, from the above we can suggest that the root עקש is a double root, made up of עק and קש,with these two meanings integrated into a root that means at once both עקום  and קשה. In other words, the twisted ways of the stubborn man and his warped thinking bring him nothing but hardships and suffering.

Only, we find a positive side to stubbornness and brazenness, in the Sages’ comments on the wicked Balaam: Sanhedrin 105a – Brazenness is effective even against Heaven. Initially, the Torah relates [that God told Balaam]: Do not go with them, and afterwards, we find [that God said]: Rise and go with them; Rashi – Brazenness is effective even against Heaven – Balaam’s brazenness in telling the emissaries of Balak, “spend the night here” was effective, because Hakadosh Baruch Hu told him initially not to go [with them], and later, He told him to go [with them].

The author of Birkat Avraham (pg. 60) adds that if brazenness works even for the sinister plot of Balaam, all the more so does it work for positive causes: “In this, the Sages imparted to us that Balaam’s brazenness changed the command to fit with his will, in his great wickedness. And it seems that the main lesson to be derived is that for good as well, since [God’s] good measure is much greater, if a man stubbornly persists at doing good even when faced by many setbacks and tests, and it seems that there is a [divine] decree against him, if instead of giving up he intensifies his stubbornness for the good, these decrees will be annulled and will turn into good – commensurate with the strength of his decision for good.” And the Vilna Gaon is quoted as saying: “we have a rule that in spiritual matters, the stubborn one succeeds.”

In the Midrash as well we find praise for the traits of brazenness and stubbornness: Ex. Rabba 42:9 – Said Rav Yakim, there are three brazen ones: Among the animals it’s the dog, among the fowl it’s the chicken, and among the nations it is the Israelites. Said R’ Yitzchak son of Radifa in the name of Rav Ami, you think this is meant as a denigration but it is nothing but praise – Either be a Jew or be prepared to be hanged. Said R’ Avin, to this day, Israelites are called the stiff-needed people; Yad Moshe – Either be a Jew or be prepared to be hanged- Meaning, in times of decrees of eradication, a Jew is given a choice, either be a Jew or I will hang you on this tree, and he [the Jew] gives over his soul and does not want to change his religion, thus turning their obstinacy into a praise.

And thanks to their brazenness, the Israelites’ merited to receive the Torah: Beitza 25b – Why was the Torah given to Israel? – Because they are brazen. Rashi – because they are brazen – they are hard to win over; Meromei Sadeh (Netzi”v) – It seems that the intent is that brazenness helps in fulfilling commandments, even though this causes them many hardships… but the spirit of Israel withstands anything and can exist.

We asked above about the two wordsעקש  and פתלתל appearing together in Scripture, in this Parashah, and in the Prophets: With the corrupt You act perversely [וְעִם עִקֵּשׁ תִּתַּפָּל] (II Sam. 22:26-27). The Sages explained (Sifrei Haazinu 208:5) that this verse teaches us the rule of measure for measure [מדה כנגד מדה]. However, we still have no answer for why the verse says: With the corrupt You act perversely (תתפל) and not With the corrupt You act corruptly (תתעקש) or With the perverse You act perversely. Whereas in the other three verses describing God’s “measure for measure,” the subject and predicate both match, to wit:  With the devout (חסיד) You deal devoutly (תתחסד), with the wholehearted (תמים) man You act wholeheartedly (תתמם) . With a pure one (נבר), You show Yourself pure 

 (תתברר – Psalms 18:26-27).

However, Chatam Sofer hints at yet another positive side to the verse: With the corrupt You act perversely:

Gen. 29:12 – Jacob told Rachel that he was her father’s brother; Rashi – The Midrash is that [Jacob stated] if he is for trickery, I too am his brother in trickery, and if he is a proper man, I too am the son of Rebecca, his honest sister; Torat Moshe – “According to Rashi, Jacob said that he was her father’s brother in trickery, because most sons follow after the mother’s brother. Jacob therefore said that he was the son of Rebecca, meaning he had corrected this [tendency to trickery], as in: with the corrupt You act perversely [עם עיקש תתפל] (II Sam. 22:27).” It seems that the Chatam Sofer is saying that Jacob took his tendency to trickery and corrected it by means of “acting perversely with the corrupt.” Now, how can acting perversely with a corrupt person possibly ”correct” corruption itself?

Rosh Yeshivat Tchebin, Rav Baruch Shimon Shneerson, zt”l, explained this with an analogy: 

“Imagine a young man whose whole way of thinking is warped. He cannot understand anything straight. To him applies the verse: with the corrupt You act perversely, because sometimes, ironically, another warped idea might be what comes to his rescue… Unconventional ways must be tried with him, since [otherwise] it’s impossible to grasp the mental workings of a lunatic.”

Based on the above, we can say that there are two sorts of עקשים, one who acts that way intentionally, and therefore deserves to be dealt with measure for measure. The second, referred to above as the “lunatic,” is one whose thinking is naturally distorted. He truly cannot think straight. To deal with the latter individual measure for measure would mean only more and more stubbornness and perverseness – עקשות, and retaliations. But just as the Sages say that God’s measure of good far outweighs His measure of bad (Sanhedrin 100b), so too can we switch the measure of bad itself to good. Of note is that we find nowhere a doubling of the root עקש (i.e. עקשקש) in the way that we do find for פתל (פתלתל). When one takes strands and spins them together, this act of twisting, of פיתול, in the end yields a פתיל, a useful, straight thread. This is the way to deal with the עקש, take his twisted way of thinking and keep twisting and twisting until ironically something straight and proper emerges.

From time immemorial our forefathers turned to God through prayer  -תפילה- when faced with difficulties. In Parashat Vayeira, the Torah relates that the women of the House of Abimelech were rendered barren due to his appropriation of Sarah. Only when Abraham prayed did God heal Abimelech and his household. In the Midrash, this barrenness is referred to as a “knot” that was “untied” in the merit of Abraham’s prayer. Maharzav explains from this Midrash that prayer has the power to straighten out the twisted: “It seems that the Midrash understands תפילה as an expression of twisting, as Rashi defines the words נפתולי אלהים נפתלתי by likening them to עקש ופתלתל. Onkelos translates this as prayer… and both are true, because God made man straight, but through sin man warps the straightness and he becomes twisted in the world, and prayer comes to straighten him out and get rid of his twistedness. This is what is meant by נפתולי אלהים – at first I was obstinate and fought against God’s divine providence, but afterwards, through prayer, the twisted became unraveled. 

He goes on to suggest that תפילה and פתול have the same root letters, indicating that תפילה  is the opposite of פיתול, as we find by certain roots, that teach “a thing and its opposite,” similar to the apparently self-contradictory meanings of the roots דשן and שרש.

Let us pray that we use our עקשות to fulfill His commandments and change our twisted [פתלתול] world into the Kingdom of His Throne of Glory, which resembles the techeilet string [פתיל].

1  בהערות של ר’ שעוועל כתב: “ועקושות” בגמרא (חולין נו.) – ליתא, וע”ש בדקדוקי סופרים אות ט שבכ”י – איתא. וראה גם מנחת יהודה לרש”י כאן. והשוה גם מגילה כד,ב. וראה פלתי סימן ל”א, שגרס כרש”י. 

2  שרש ‘עקם’ בעצמו אינו מופיע בכתבי הקודש, רק בתרגום (ובדברי חז”ל), לרוב כתרגומו של ‘עקש’.

3  ובתהלים לשון דומה: תהיח:כוכז – עִם חָסִיד תִּתְחַסָּד עִם גְּבַר תָּמִים תִּתַּמָּם. עִם נָבָר תִּתְבָּרָר וְעִם עִקֵּשׁ תִּתְפַּתָּל.

4 ראה מבוא לבר’ רבה (אלבק, דף 5) שהביא נוסחאות רבות אחרות. ברם, כולם דורשים “קשת” מלשון  קושי. ובחידושי אגדות למהר”ל (ר”ה כג:) כתב: הקשת הזה הוא נקרא קשת בעבור שהוא ממדת הדין והוא קשה. יפהתואר (לבראשיתרבהנג:טו) – רבה וקשיותו – כל מה שרבה בגידולו והולך רבה וגדלה קשיותו עמו; מתכ (שם) – רבה… וכתב “קשת”… ע”ש קושי ערפו ואמוץ לבבו. 

5  מתכ – דבר שהוא מוקש לי, כלומר דומה לי. ופריך: אפשר לומר כן שהוא דוגמא לכבודי ית’?

6  וכן הביא אבן יק’ לריקאנטי (פ’ נח) ואדרת אליהו (בראשית יח:). ובעץ יוסף לב”ר פי’ כלשון קליפת הפרי.

7  לסיכום: “קשתי” נדרשת כלש’  קושי מבחינת 1. “קשין דפירי”, המורה על קליפת הפרי ה”קשה” לעומת בשר הפרי בעצמו (או על או הגרעין הקשה שלו, או על קשיות דין המבול), 2. “מוקש לי”, לשון  היקש. לפי תפא”י (מכות א:ז [מובא באנצ’ תלמודית ערך ‘הקש’]), המלה נגזרת מֵהַקָּשַׁת קורנוס (ע”ש לנימוקו. והוא מלשון: “וְאַרְכֻבָּתֵהּ דָּא לְדָא נָקְשָׁן” [דניאל ה:ו]. ונראה להוסיף בד”מ שמתכת המוקשת בפטיש בסדן, מתקשה ומתחזקת). וראה פירוש אב”א לב”ר לה:ג שסיכם: נמצא מלת קשת היא מורכבת מלשון קש ומלשון היקש. 

8  והציע מחבר ספר “התורה והתלמוד” שלשון “בקשה” עצמה קשורה למלה “קשה”, והיא מורה על הרצון  לרכךאתהלבהקשה: התורהוהתלמוד (חלקב‘, דףקלהתד) – ולולא דמסתפינא הייתי אומר… שעיקר שרש “בקשה” – ‘קשה’, והב’ שימושית: הפצר לרכך הלב הקשה… בקשה – הסרת ושלילת הקשה.

9  והשאלה בוודאי שייכת גם לראש הדרשה “חרבי – זו תפלה”. אלא, שכבר מצינו תפלה משולה למצבי מאבק, 1. קרב / מלחמה, 2. פלילים / משפט, 3. חרב (היינו עניני  נחישותואומץבמטרהלהיוושע), כדלהלן: 1. קרב / מלחמה – אמרו ז”ל שתפקיד הש”ץ הוא לעשות “קרב” למען הצבור: ירושברכד:ד – זה שעובר לפני התיבה אין אומר לו בוא והתפלל, אלא בוא וקרב – עשה קרבינו, עשה צרכינו עשה מלחמותינו1. 2. פלילים / משפט – וכן דרשו “תפלה” מן ‘פלל’, ל’  משפט: סנהדפב: – ויעמד פינחס ויפלל (תה’ קו:ל), אמר ר”א… ויפלל – מלמד כביכול שעשה פלילות עם קונו. 3. חרב – ברמח:כב – לָקַחְתִּי מִיַּד הָאֱמֹרִי בְּחַרְבִּי וּבְקַשְׁתִּי; רשי – בחרבי ובקשתי – היא חכמתו ותפלתו; פברטנוראלרשי – דאשכחן התפלה נקראת חרב, כדכתיב: רוממות אל בגרונם וחרב פיפיות בידם. וראה גם גור אריה בר’ מח:מב. ~~~תת הערה 1 [וכן פירשו “קרבן” מענין קרב ומלחמה]: רבחייבמכח:ז – קרבני לחמי (במ’ כח:ב) מלשון קרב ומלחמה. העמקדברויט:ז – קרב אל המזבח – מל’ מלחמה נגד המסטינים, ומזה נקרא בכלל שם קרבן מלשון קרב.

10  וכן: שמותד:כד – וַיִּפְגְּשֵׁהוּ ה’ וַיְבַקֵּשׁ הֲמִיתוֹ. שאכ:א – כִּי מְבַקֵּשׁ אֶת נַפְשִׁי. שאכד:ט – הִנֵּה דָוִד מְבַקֵּשׁ רָעָתֶךָ. ובבנין התפעל יש לה משמעות  דרישהוזימוןלדין, כדוגמת: תעניתכט. – בעל החוטם מתבקש, בעל החוטם מתבקש; רשי – מתבקש – ליהרג, ברמז אמר ליה, שלא יכירו בו אנשי המלך. שאכח:יג – אֱלֹהִים רָאִיתִי עֹלִים מִן הָאָרֶץ; רשי – אלהים ראיתי – מלאכים שנים משה ושמואל שנתיירא שמואל שמא אני מתבקש בדין והעלה משה עמו. 

11  בספרי (ואתחנן פיסקא כו) מופיעות י”ג לשונות (למרות שהפיסקא פותחת “עשרה לשונות נקראת תפלה”. והשוה דב”ר ב:א ויל”ש תתי”א שאכן מופיעות בכל אחד מהם עשרה ביטויי תפלה.

12  עכ”פ בענין צרכי יחיד, כמו תפילת מרע”ה ליכנס לארץ. ובענין “ויעמוד פינחס ויפלל”, עי’ בספרי הנ”ל, שהביא פסוק זה כראיה רק ללשון “עמידה”, ואילו ללשון “פלל” הביא פסוק אחר: “ויתפלל אל ה'”. וגם הדמויים למלחמה ופלילים שהבאנו בהערה לעיל, פירשו רבים שהם מסמלים את המאבק נגד היצר וכדומה.

13 וכן עם ו’ תמורת י’ (בחילוף אותיות אהו”י): פֶּן תִּוָּקֵשׁ בּוֹ (דברים ז:כה).

14  וממשיך רד”ק להשוות “פן תנקש” (משרש ‘נקש’), ל”פן תוקש” (משרש ‘יקש’): והנפעל: פֶּן תִּנָּקֵשׁ אַחֲרֵיהֶם (דברים יב:ל), כמו: פֶּן תִּוָּקֵשׁ (שם ז:כה). וראה בבאור מעין גנים לכלה רבתי ג:טו שהציע קשר בין ‘נקש’ ל’נשק’. 

15  פתיח’ ט.

16  פַּח יָקוֹשׁ (הושע ט:ח), מִפַּח יוֹקְשִׁים (תהלים קכד:ז) – מלשון קשוי, והוא מין מצודה הנעשה… מדבר קשה – מעץ או ממתכות הלוכד את הנתפס ברגלו או בגופו [ולכן] נקרא “יקוש”… אמר: נַפְשֵׁנוּ כְּצִפּוֹר נִמְלְטָה מִפַּח יוֹקְשִׁים, הַפַּח נִשְׁבָּר (תהלים קכד:ז) – מזה ראיה שהוא מִדָבָר קשה שנופל עליו לשון “שבירה”.

17  וראה ס’ שערי התלמוד, דף תרכד, הערה 288.

18  ורש”י הציע מקור ללשון חז”ל “היקש”: צפניהב:א – הִתְקוֹשְׁשׁוּ וָקוֹשּׁוּ הַגּוֹי לֹא נִכְסָף; רשי – התקוששו – התלקטו ואספו יחד כמו לקושש קש (שמות ה); וקושו – מעשיכם השוו מעשיכם לדעת קונכם, ורז”ל דרשו קשוט עצמך ואח”כ קשוט אחרים עשו שניהם לשון היקש אדם המשוה עצמו ומישר דרכו. וראה גם רש”י ש”ב יט:מד.

19  כלשון “ירה יירה.”

20 חברותא תעניתו. – מלקוש – אלא לשון מל וקשה, והיינו שהגשם הזה מל את קשיות ליבם של ישראל [הערה בטקסט של חברותא- כלשון הכתוב: ומל ה’ אלקיך את לבבך וגו (דב’ ל:ו). והיינו, כשם שמילה מסירה את הערלה האוטמת, כך יסיר הקב”ה את המפריעים והמונעים מלשוב לעבודת ה’], שעל ידי חוזקו הוא מפיל את הבתים, ומשבר את האילנות.

21 גוראריה דבריםעקביא:יד – על המלילות ועל הקשין. לפי ש”מלקוש” היא מלה מורכבת מלשון ‘קש’ ומלשון ‘מל’. רשי תעניתו: – שמפיל את הבתים – ומשמעו כדלקמן, ש[המלקוש] מל קשיותן של ישראל, אי נמי: שמל דבר הקשה – חותך ומשבר את הבתים.

22  כלומר, ש”קשר” מורה גם על חיבור טבעי, ללא לולאה או קשר מלאכותי. והשוה לשון נדה כו,ב.

23 גרסתינו במשנה היא “חוצה”. אמנם ז”ל רא”ש (חולין א:יב) – פירוש חוצה כמו אוצה שהוא לשון מיהדק.

24  כמו אוצצא בפרק המפקיד (ב”מ מ.). רש”י – איצצא – דוחק, מתוך שהם במקום צר נדחקו יחד ואין תפוחין.

25  מדרש משלי (בובר) פרשה ד:כד.

26 שם ו:יב.

27 ובמקום אחר הגדיר “עז” ו”קשה” כמלים נרדפות: ישעיט מִצְרַיִם בְּיַד אֲדֹנִים קָשֶׁה וּמֶלֶךְ עַז יִמְשָׁל בָּם; רדק – אדנים קשה ומלך עז – כפל הענין במלות שונות. [והשוה גם רבינו יונה ומצ”צ למשלי יח:ג].

28 כעין הדוגמאות שהביא רש”פ: יש (הקדמה, א:י,אתד) – 1. ‘שחט’ נדרש (חולין כז.) כמו ‘שח’-‘חט’: ושחט את בן הבקר (וי’ א:ה), ממקום ששח חטהו – רמז לשחיטה מן הצואר. 2. ‘זבח’ נדרש (שם) כמו ‘זב’-‘חת’: וזבחת (דב’ יב:כא) -ממקום שזב חתהו. 3. ‘פתום’ נדרש (סוטה יא.) כמו ‘פי’-‘תהום’. 4. ‘בפרך’ נדרש (שם) כמו ‘בפה’-‘רך’. [ויש להוסיף גם ש’שחד’ נדרש (כתוב’ קה:) כמו ‘שהם’-‘חד’. ובאהלי יהודה (ערך ‘פחד’) הציע ש’פחד’ מורכב מן ‘פח’-‘חד’. ובאור חדש (דב’ כח:כד) שהציע ש’מטר’=’מט’-‘טר’. ועי’ גם מלבי”ם פ’ ויקרא (קטע א, ד”ה כרמל, אות קנב)].

29 מעין פ’ רבינו יונה למשלי יז:כ – עִקֶּשׁ לֵב – הוא האיש אשר דעתו משובשת ולא יכיר האמת.

30 כפי שפירש מצ”ד: משליכב:ה – צִנִּים פַּחִים בְּדֶרֶךְ עִקֵּשׁ שׁוֹמֵר נַפְשׁוֹ יִרְחַק מֵהֶם; מצד – צנים פחים – קוצים ופחים יקושים נמצאים בדרך עקש ר”ל המעקם דרכיו יתייסר בקוצים וילכד בפח.

31 במדברכב:יב – וַיֹּאמֶר אֱלֹהִים אֶל בִּלְעָם לֹא תֵלֵךְ עִמָּהֶם. שםפסוקכ – וַיָּבֹא אֱלֹהִים אֶל בִּלְעָם לַיְלָה וַיֹּאמֶר לוֹ אִם לִקְרֹא לְךָ בָּאוּ הָאֲנָשִׁים קוּם לֵךְ אִתָּם.

32  מכתב מאליהו (תשובה, יום כיפור, סוכות חלק ב’, דף תקסא.

33 וכדברי בעל האורחות צדיקים (שער הקנאה) בענין מידה רעה בעצם: אע”פ שהקנאה היא מידה רעה מאד, יש מקום שהיא טובה מאד… שישים קנאתו על יראת שמים, כ”ש: אל יקנא לבך בחטאים כי אם ביראת ה’ כל היום (משלי כג:יז). ובספר הסכת ושמע (דף נט): גאוה על אף שהיא מידה גרועה ובעלי הגאוה מתועבים בעיני ה’, כמו שנאמר: תועבת ה’ כל גבה לב (משלי טז:ה), אך כשמשתמשים בה למעלת החכמה היא משובחת, כמו שנאמר: ויגבה לבו (דה”ב יז:ו). וראה פסיקתא דרב כהנא ט”ז שמונה ענינים רבים שנהפכו לטובה.

34  והסביר בעל העץ יוסף גם את אימרתו ית’: וְהִנֵּה עַם קְשֵׁה עֹרֶף הוּא (שמות לב:ט) – כתיאור חיובי בעצם: עץיוסףשרמב:ט – אינו אלא לשבחן – וה”ק: ראיתי את העם הזה שהוא טוב לי, לתת להם תורה מפני שהם קשה עורף, ולא ישובו ממנה אחר שיקבלו אותה, ועתה אינו כן, כי סרו מהר ולא היו קשה עורף לטובה.

35 וראה מהרש”א נדרים כ., שהבחין בין מדת הבושה שנשתבחה בה ישראל לבין העזות שבזכותה זכו לקבלת התורה. וכן הסביר ב’ טעמים לקשר העזות לתורה. וראה מבשר טוב (לר’ בצלאל רבנוביץ, אדמו”ר מביאלא, ירושלים תשס”ב, דף קמ”ג) בענין העקשנות וחוצפא ה”חיובית” בעצם של המעפילים לאחר חטא העגל.

36 ובתלמוד דרשוהו מכתוב אחר: סנהדצ. – כפר בתחיית המתים – לפיכך לא יהיה לו חלק בתחה”מ, שכל מד’ של הקב”ה מד’ כנגד מד’, שנא’… סאה סלת בשקל וסאתים שערים בשקל… וכתיב… וירמסו אתו העם בשער… מאי בשער – על עסקי שער. ולמדו גם לרמאות: בבקכג. – א”ל: אחיו אני ברמאות… ומי שרי להו לצדיקי לסגויי ברמאותא? אין… ועם עקש תתפל. ורדב”ז הביאו גם להלכה: מצודתדודלרדבז (מהדרצוריאל, ירושלים, תשסג, דףסג) – והותר הנקימה והנטירה למי שאינו עמך במצות כי במדה שהוא מודד מודדין לו, כדאיתא: ועם עקש תתפל.

  מעין דרכם של חז”ל במקומות רבים, שמצאו נחמה ורמז לתיקון ותקווה אף בתוך קללות וחורבן, כגון: תעניתכ. – הָיְתָה יְרוּשָׁלִַם לְנִדָּה בֵּינֵיהֶם (איכה א:יז), אמר רב יהודה אמר רב: לברכה. כנדה, מה נדה יש לה היתר – אף ירושלים יש לה תקנה. ספראבחוקותיה:ו – וַהֲשִׁמֹּתִי אֲנִי אֶת הָאָרֶץ (ויקרא כו:לב) – זו מידה טובה שלא יהו ישראל אומרים הואיל וגלינו מארצנו עכשיו האויבים באים ומוצאים עליה נחת רוח שנאמר ושממו עליה אויביכם היושבים בה אף האויבים הבאים אחרי כן לא ימצאו עליה נחת רוח.

37 סנהד’ ק,ב.

38  דביר המוצנע (דף נ”ג).

39 וכן גם לתקן את המעוות: משמרתאריאל (רש. אריאלי, ירושליםתשס, דףקלג) – שמצד האמת היו מגיעות הברכות ליעקב ולא לעשו הרשע אלא שעשו ברמאותו הצליח להטעות את יצחק עד שסבור היה שהוא מדקדק במצוות ביותר, הרי מצד האמת יש להוציא את הטעות מיצחק ולהסב את הברכות ליעקב – ועם עקש תתפתל.

40 ורד”ק הדגיש את תכונת  החוזק של הפיתול: רדק (ערךפתל‘) – ענין העוות וההפוך, כי החוט כשהוא כפול ושזור הוא מעוות. וכן הבגד שנעשה מן החוטים השזורים. ויש מפרשים מזה נפתולי אלקים נפתלתי, כלומר נתחזקתי עם אחותי כי החוט כשיכפל ויהיה שזור הוא יותר חזק.

41  כִּי עָצֹר עָצַר ה’ בְּעַד כָּל רֶחֶם לְבֵית אֲבִימֶלֶךְ עַל דְּבַר שָׂרָה אֵשֶׁת אַבְרָהָם (בראשית כ:יח).

42  וַיִּתְפַּלֵּל אַבְרָהָם אֶל הָאֱלֹהִים וַיִּרְפָּא אֱלֹהִים אֶת אֲבִימֶלֶךְ וְאֶת אִשְׁתּוֹ וְאַמְהֹתָיו וַיֵּלֵדוּ (שם פסוק יז).

4בראשיתרבהנב:יג – וַיִּתְפַּלֵּל אַבְרָהָם אֶל הָאֱלֹהִים… מתחלת הספר ועד כאן לא נאמר בלשון הזה. כיון שהתפלל אבינו אברהם הותר הקשר הזה, כי עצור עצר נאמר עצירה בפה עצירה בגרון עצירה באוזן, עצירה מלמעלה, עצירה מלמטה, והכל אומרים על דבר שרי אשת אברם.

44 כלומר הפצרה והיאבקות תפילתית לביטול גזירה מפי עליון, ולהלן המשך לשון רש”י בפירושו לדברי רחל: ברל:ח – נַפְתּוּלֵי אֱלֹהִים נִפְתַּלְתִּי עִם אֲחֹתִי גַּם יָכֹלְתִּי וַתִּקְרָא שְׁמוֹ נַפְתָּלִי; רשי – נפתולי אלהים – מנחם בן סרוק פירשו במחברת: צמיד פתיל (במ’ יט:טו) – חבורים; מאת המקום נתחברתי עם אחותי לזכות לבנים. ואני מפרשו לשון: עקש ופתלתול (דב’ לב:ה), נתעקשתי והפצרתי פצירות ונפתולים הרבה למקום להיות שוה לאחותי… ואונקלוס תרגם לשון תפילה, כמו נפתולי אלהים, נתפללתי בקשות החביבות לפניו, נתקבלתי ונעתרתי כאחותי.

45 ודברים דומים הובאו בשם רמ”ד וואלי (תלמיד רמח”ל): מבעדלחרכים (דףקס) – ומצינו שלשון תפלה משורש ‘פלל’… לשון עיקש ופתלתל ליישר ליבו של אדם מנפתולי היצר לעבודתו ית’. והציע ר”א בן דוד דברם דומים גם בענים “פיתולי” התפלין סביב סביב: וזאתהמנוחה (דף 82) – תפילין הוא מלשון עקש ופתלתל התפילין באות ליישר את העקמימות וזהו נוסח להניח שבברכות להניח ליישב ולהסיר את כל החשבונות והפיתולים שיצרנו.

46  סִּירֹתָיו לְדַשְּׁנוֹ (שמות כז:ג), וּבְכָל תְּבוּאָתִי תְשָׁרֵשׁ (איוב לא:יב). נראה שמהרז”ו סובר כמו הערוך, שלדעתו “תפילין” ו”תפילה” נגזרות משרש ‘תפל’ (חבר “תפילין” בערך ‘תפל’ ג’ ו”תפילה” בערך ‘תפל’ ד’). מהרז”ו אמנם ציין ‘דשן’ ו’שרש’, שהם דוגמאות של שרשים זהים המורים על דבר והיפוכו, אמנם יש דוגמאות רבות לכך משרשים בעלי אותיות שנתחלפו סדרם, כמו ‘פלס’ / ‘סלף’, ‘שתל’ / ‘תלש’, ‘לחץ’ / ‘חלץ’, וכן גם כאן לפ”ז. ברם, לעומת הערוך, רוב בעלי הלשון שגזרו “תפלה” / “תפלין” מן ‘פלל’; ראה תשבי ערך ‘תפילין’, וראה אור ישראל (מאנסי, תשס”א סימן כה). ובענין מקבילות בין ‘תפל’ ל”תפילה”, ראה קדושת לוי המבואר (שה”ש דף לח)].




Kedoshim: Sacrifice Delayed, Sacrifice Denied ~ Yehoshua Steinberg

Sacrifice Delayed, Sacrifice Denied – The Wonders of the Holy Tongue for P’ Kedoshim

Leviticus 19:5-7: When you slaughter a peace offering… It may be eaten on the day you slaughter it and on the morrow… And if it would be eaten on the third day, it is פגול; it shall not be accepted.

There are two occurrences of the word פגולin the Pentateuch, and Onkelosrendersthe word in both instances asמרחק(distancing, repelling). Torah Shleimah notes that Onkelos utilizes the root רחקin the translation of no less than six additional Scriptural words, all of which he views as distinct: עֲרֵלִים– forbidden(Lev.19:23), נִדָּה– loathsome(ibid. 20:21), וָאָקֻץ– and I was disgusted (ibid. v. 23), גָּעֲלָה– repelled(ibid. 26:43), תוֹעֵבָה– abomination(Deut. 7:26), שָׂנֵא– hates(Deut. 16:22). However, it seems to me that there is a common theme among the seven words, namely, they all refer to something that is forbidden or distanced due to some defect1.

Following the view of Ribagand Radakthatפגלmeansa change in odor or appearance2,Torah Shleimah further suggests that the underlying root of פגולis actually the two letter string פג. For the נָמָרword in the verse (Jer.48:11), and its scent was not diminished (נָמָר),is translated by Targum Yonatanasפג, which Aruchdefines as a term denoting slackness/weakness3. He also suggests that the ruling in the Mishnah (Zevachim2:3, 5) that an offering loses its sanctity through invalid thoughts at the time of its ritual slaughter is also alluded to by the termפִּגּוּל. Thus, the common link in both of Torah Shleimah’ssuggestions is a change for the worse.

It is also interesting to note that the root ‘פלג’, a permutation of the word ‘פגל’, also seems to be connected to the root פג. For the word יָמִירin the verse (Micah2:4), God is exchanging (יָמִיר)the portion of my people,is translated by Targum Yonatanas מְפַלְגִין, thus demonstrating that he sees division (פלג) as signifying exchangeand change. Likewise, Targum Yerushalmitranslates וַיָּפָג לִבּוֹ(Gen.45:26) as וְאֵפְלַג לִבֵּיהּ, linking ‘פגל’and ‘פג’, with both of them indicating the division of a single unit into segments. Once again, the change here is for the worse: a transformation from a unified entity to divided fragments.

I wish to suggest that a similar connection exists between all the words sharing the letters פגin Biblical Hebrew and Aramaic, namely: 1. פג; 2. פגל; 3. פגר; 4. פגע; 5. פגש; 6. פגם; 7. פגן; 8. ספג.Let us examine them one by one.

  1. Pagפג – In his first subsection of the entry ,’פג’ Menachem cites all of the following verses: וַיָּפָג לִבּוֹ (Gen. 45:26)4,נְפוּגוֹתִי וְנִדְכֵּיתִי (Psalms 38:9)5,אַל תִּתְּנִי פוּגַת לָךְ (Lam. 2:18)6,מֵאֵין הֲפֻגוֹת (ibid. 3:49)7,וְלֹא תָפוּג (Psalms 77:3)8,תָּפוּג תּוֹרָה (Chabakuk 1:4)9. The common thread in the various interpretations of the commentators appears to be an impedimentor hindrance; a defectof some kind. Even according to Rashi (in his comments to Gen. 45:26, Psalms 38:9, and Lam. 3:49), who interprets this root to meanexchange/passing on,it is used in the sense of weakening and ceasing of one’s strength and power, strongly resembling Radak’sinterpretation (in Psalms 38:9) thereof as flaccidity/weakness.

Under the second subsection of the entry ,’פג’ Menachem cites the word פַגֶּיהָ(Song of Songs 2:13), which Ibn Ezra interprets as, her pre-ripened figs. Given that premature fruits are by definition deficient, there thus appears to be a common thread across the two subsections of Menachem, with both of them involving defect, delay, detention, andcessation.

  1. Pagalפגל– The core meaning was explained above as somethingwithheld or distanced due to some defect.
  2. Pagarפגר– Rashi (Gen.15:11) links פגרandפגל, noting that Onkelos translates פְּגָרִים(animal carcasses) as פַּגְלַיָא10.Now, we have already demonstrated above that all the definitions of פגלinvolvedistancing from something because of a defect,and this also fits perfectly for a פגר, the corpse of a living being whose life and soul have departed. This would also seem to be the link to the two other Biblical usages ofפגר: 1) The word פִּגְּרוּ(I Sam. 30:10) is variously defined by the commentators to mean delay, inaction, prevention,and fatigue.2) In numerous instances (see Ex. 19:21, 24; Judges 6:5, 14:8; Micah 5:10), the root פגרappears as the Aramaic translation of the Hebrew term הרס(destruction), and the Hebrew words מַפֶּלֶתandגְוִיַּת, both of which mean death. [This usage of פגרasdestructionand deathleads us directly to פגע, our next example of a term containing the string פג.]
  3. Pegaפגע- This word often takes on the meaning of a fatal blow11. The second definition of the word פגעis a meeting12. This meaning also conveys delay, waiting, andtemporary stoppage, for the definition of a meeting is the devotion of time to engage with one’s fellow, although his other missions will consequently be delayed. This also would explain the other meaning of the root פגע, namely, a plea/prayer(see Rashi to Gen. 28:11; Metz. Tzion to Isaiah 53:12, and Targum to Jer. 15:11), for prayers and pleas require setting aside time in which the pleader is constrained from pursuing his ordinary occupations. I also believe that there is a common thread in all the meanings ofפגע, namely, a deficiencyandloss. Thedeficiencyin death is obvious. However, as we have demonstrated, there is also a loss entailed in the meanings of meetingand plea/prayer— a lossof time.
  4. Pagashפגש- As shown above, both meanings of this word— meetingand plea/prayer— involve a lossof time.
  5. Pagamפגם- In the Talmudic vernacular, פגםmeans something whose taste has become tainted13.Likewise, פִי חָרֶב, the sharp edge (orpoint)of the sword is translated as the פגםof the sword by Targum Yonatan (Jud. 1:8). Perhaps it is so called in Aramaic because it causes weakening, destructionand death. In any case, the common thread amongst of all the usages of פגםonce again seems to be defect.
  6. Paganפגן- In the verse, the betrothed girl cried out(Deut.22:27), Targum Yonatan translates the word cried outasפָּגְנַת.Perhaps this is also the reason that the Midrash(Vayikra Rabbah26:4) refers to the ordinary citizen as a פגן(possibly related to the English “pagan”), for like the assaulted “betrothed girl,” who is powerless to do anything but cry out, so too does he lack meaningful power. This is also the source of the Talmudic term הפגנה, meaning theforlorn person’s outcry for compassion. As Rashiexplains the word הפגינו(R.H. 19a): “They shouted in the markets and the thoroughfares, so that the ministers would hear them and have compassion on them.” We also find the word תְפִיגִיןas the Aramaic translation of הָסִירִי,remove.
  7. Safagספג- This Aramaic word, meaning to absorb,appears in the Talmud in the specific sense of one whoreceives/absorbsforty lashes for his intentional violation of a biblical transgression (see, for example, Nazir 16b). Since this word does not appear in the Talmud in any positive connection (i.e., we do not find it used in connection with absorbinga compliment or a kiss), it seems reasonable to suggest that this too is connected to the root פג, in the sense that the person being flogged is physically weakened and loses strength through the lashes.

Perhaps we can also offer an explanation for the more generally used Talmudic word סְפוֹג(see Shabbat 134b), which is interestingly similar in sound to its English cognate, sponge.The primary purpose of this object is to absorb liquids, that is, toremove and diminish their presencefrom their present location14.

In conclusion, all the words containing the letters פגin Biblical Hebrew and Talmudic Aramaic, are connected to defector weakeningin quality, time, or strength. May the Master of the Universe deliver fatal blows (יפגע) against our enemies, making them absorb(שיספגו) blow after blow, until all their strength shall peter out (יפוג), and there shall remain be nothing but repugnant (פגול)

blowseeir present location (kudos to Binyamin Kaufman for this insight)carcasses (פגרים) from them, while we become ever stronger and ascend always higher and higher.

1[This definition also fits with the other nuances used by the Biblical commentators in their own interpretations of the word פגול:Targum Yerush.to Lev.7:18 defines it as invalid/disqualified;Rashito ibid. 19:7, Isaiah65:4 and Kiddushin21b define it as abominable/repugnant;Ribagand Radak(entry פגל) define it as a change in odor or appearance (seemingly a negative change); and Hirsch and HaKetav VeHakabbalah (Lev.7:18) define it as separated/divided.].

2[כך לשון ריב”ג(ערך’פגל’)]:הוא הבשר שנשתנה ריחו ומראהו.[ורד”ק כתב דברים דומים].

3[ערוך השלם,ערך’פג’ (א’)שם,שפירש’פג’מעניןרפיון וחלישות].

4Ibn Ezra definesוַיָּפָגto mean that his heart stopped/became silent.

5Metz. Tzion definesנְפוּגוֹתִי,תָפוּג, and תָּפוּגas referring to flaccidity/weakness.

6Ramban (to Gen.45:26) definesפוּגַתascancellation/cessation.

7איכה ג:מט.

8תה’עז:ג;מצ”צ-תפוג-ענין רפיון וחלישות,כמו:תפוג תורה (חב’א).

9חב’א:ד;מצ”צ-תפוג-ענין רפיון וחלשות,כמו:נפוגותי ונדכיתי (תה’לח).

10[Similarly, the word פגר(I Samuel17:46), referring to a human carcass, is translated asפגולbyTargum Yonatan. See also HaKesav Vehakabbala(Lev.7:18) for various explanations of the root פגל].

11[seeEx.5:3;I Sam.22:18; I Kings2:25, 31, 32; Isaiah64:4].

12[SeeOnkelosand RashitoGen.28:11;Jos.16:7, 19:11; Targum Yonatan toI Sam.10:5; Job36:32].

13[Rashiexplains in Pesachim30a, 44b and A.Z.38b, that – הופגטעמו, its taste has deteriorated].

14[Kudos to Binyamin Kaufman for this insight].




Acharei Mot: Mixed Up and Worn out ~ Yehoshua Steinberg

The word “tevel”(תבל) appears once in Parashat Acharei Mot and once in Parshat Kedoshim, and nowhere else in the Pentateuch. In both instances, Rashi offers two similar —but not identical— explanations. The word תבלfirst appears in connection to bestiality (Lev. 18:23), and Rashi explains that it is an expression of “’kadesh’(קדש, prostitution1), ‘arayot’ (עריות, incest) and ‘niuf’ (ניאוף, adultery)”. He supports this by citing Isaiah 10:25, in which God warns the Assyrians: “My fury and My anger will destroy them for their blasphemy (תבליתם).” Alternatively, Rashi writes that תבלis an expression of mixture and combination because bestiality mixes the seed of man and animal. The second time that the word תבלappears is in regarding the sin of fornicating with one’s daughter-in-law (Lev. 20:12). In that context, Rashi first explains that the worldתבל means “gnai”(גנאי, disgrace), before again explaining that it refers to a mixture (this time, of the seed of a father and son).2

Most interpreters of Rashi explain that when he writes that תבלis an expression of mixing, he means that the root of the word תבלisבלל.3Some explain that the root of תבלis בלה(wearing out).4By contrast, in Rashi’s other explanation (that תבלmeans something related to sexual misconduct), he does not convey his opinion as to the root of the word תבל. In this explanation, the consensus5is that Rashi understood the letter תto be part of the root, making ‘תבל‘ the root itself. We will examine the differences between Rashi’s two approaches concerning the rare word תבלand the reason why the second time תבלappears, Rashi dropped his tripartite definition of “kadesh,” “arayot” and “niuf”in favor of simply writing “gnai.”

As is well-known, Rashi’s opinion concerning the roots of words in Hebrew is, in great measure, based on the work of Menachem ibn Saruk, whom Rashi cites hundreds of times throughout his commentaries to the Bible and Talmud. According to Menachem, the root of תבלis the biliteral בל. Menachem further divided the root בלinto eleven distinct subcategories, and places the word תבלin the sixth category. In said category, Menachem lists the following verses:

  1. Do not lie with any animal to be defiled through it, and a woman shall not stand in front of an animal for mating—it is a תבל”(Lev. 18:23).

  2. My fury and My anger will destroy them for תַּבְלִיתָם(Isa. 10:25).

  3. And I said [about she who] has become לַבָּלָהthrough her adulteries…” (Ezek. 23:43).

  4. Ephraim will יתבוללwith the nations” (Hos. 7:8).

The commonality between all these passages is that in each, the root בלrefers to something related to prostitution, adultery, and/or incest. Menachem clarifies that even the appearance ofבלin the context of Ephraim assimilating into the nations refers not to merely “mixing” in with them, but to their imitation of the pagan aberrations of incest and adultery.

That said, we can now better understand the background to Rashi’s first approach. In Lev. 20:12, which is the first passage Menachem cites, Rashi defines תבלas related to “sexual impropriety” and refers to Isa. 10:25, the second passage cited by Menachem. Similarly, in his commentary to Isa. 10:25, Rashi cites Lev. 20:12.

In contradistinction, Rashi to Ezek. 23:43 (“לַבָּלָה) explicitly disagrees with Menachem and instead of explaining לַבָּלָהas related to “sexual misdeeds”, he interprets it as simply “wearing out” with age. The same is true concerning the final passage which Menachem cited, Hos. 7:8. In that verse too, Rashi does not follow Menachem in explaining יתבוללas referring to “sexual misconduct,” but explains that it simply refers to the exiles of Ephraim “mixing” into the nations.

In order to understand why Menachem and Rashi differed on these two points, we will provide some background to the discussion in the form of Menachem’s eighth and ninth categories of the root בל.

In the eighth category of בל, Menachem cites the following verses:

  1. After I had become בְלֹתִי(old), I had my [menstrual] period”6(Gen. 18:12).

  2. “…their form shall לבלות(rot) in the grave” (Ps. 49:15).

  3. And the Earth תִּבְלֶה(will become worn out) like clothing” (Isa. 51:6).

  4. My chosen ones יְבַלּוּ(will become old)” (Isa. 65:22).

  5. “…and its leaves will not become יבול(putrid)” (Ps. 1:3).

  6. You will surely become תבול נבול(exhausted)” (Ex. 18:18).

  7. Rags that are בְּלוֹיֵ(worn out)” (Jer. 38:11).

In the ninth category of בל, Menachem cites the following two verses:

  1. “…and we shall נבלה(mix) their language there” (Gen. 11:7).

  2. “…its name Babylon because God had בלל(mixed)…” (Gen. 11:9).

Menachem, as is often his wont, does not explain the connection between these verses and why he categorized them as he did. Still, the connections can be gleaned from their context: the eighth category refers to the concept of “wearing out,” while the ninth category refers to the notion of “mixture.” That said, we can now understand what motivated Rashi to differ from Menachem. Rashi understood that the rootבל which appears in Ezek. 23:43 does not belong in the sixth category of בלas per Menachem’s placement, but should be placed in the eighth category. Likewise, Rashi understood that יִתְבּוֹלָלin Hos. 7:8 should have been placed in the ninth category, not the sixth.7

Until now, we have discussed various possibilities concerning the implications of the word תבל. At least according to Menachem, its root is בלwhich Menachem understood in some cases denotes “mixing” and in other “wearing out.” After consulting with various lexicons and other sources which treat all the words which include the two-letter stringבל, it seems that all such words are connected in some way or another to the idea of “mixing” or “wearing out” – and these two notions are themselves related to one another. We will now visit numerous examples; first those clearly describing mixture:

  1. בלל(“mixing”) – Concerning the Tower of Babel, Scripture states: “…and we shall נבלה (mix) their language there” (Gen. 11:7), and “…its name Babylon because God had בלל(mixed)…” (Gen. 11:9).

  2. תבלול(“cataract”) – When listing the blemishes for which a Kohen might be disqualified from service in the Temple, the Bible mentions that if he has aתבלול in his eye, he is disqualified (Lev. 21:20). Rashi explains that תבלולis something which is מבלבל(“confuses”) the eye. Ibn Ezra, on the other hand, explains that תבלולis related to the word תֶּבֶלwhich means “destructive” (i.e. sexual misdeeds are destructive to society, just as a cataract is destructive to one’s eyesight) or is related to the word בלולה(“mixed”) and refers to something mixed into his eye.

  3. בליל(“fodder”) – “Does an ox moo over בלילו(“its food”)?” (Job 6:5). Radak in Sefer HaShorashim(s.v. בלל) explains that animal fodder is called בלילbecause it is a mixture of barley and oats.

  4. גבל(“knead”) – The Mishnah (Parah9:5) teaches that the waters of the Red Heifer which became disqualified cannot be used commercially to knead (גבל) clay. Similarly, the Talmud (Shabbat18a) says that dirt is considered fit for use in kneading clay (בר גיבול הוא).8Lastly, the Tosefta (Challah1:4) rules that roasted flour that was kneaded (קמח קלי שגבלו) into dough requires the challah tithes to be taken off.

  5. שבלול(“snail”) – The Sages homiletically interpreted this word as שבולת(powerful current) and as בלול(mixture):Tanchuma Vayera 17– “like the snail (שבלול) that melts and slithers away.” (Psalms 58:9) – just as as a turbine-like torrent sweeps away) – everything in its path, so were the wicked Sodomites melted and swept away; Commentary of R’ Shlomo Buber– The Midrash here interprets שבלולlike the similar word שבולת(rapid current)9and also like שֶבָּלוּל(mixed and confused).

  6. תבלין(“seasoning”) – Aruch HaKatzar10(s.v. תבל א‘) explains that seasonings are called תבליןbecause various types of spices were typically mixed in together. Maase Rokeach11(to Maimonides’ Laws of Yom Tov 3:12) explicitly writes thatתבלין is an expression of בלילהbecause it has various ingredients mixed together. Rabbi Shlomo Pappenheim in Cheshek Shlomo (s.v. בל) writes that the hot spices are called תבליןbecause their existence accentuates the taste of a dish and “mixes” (integrates) the flavors very well.

  7. טבל(“untithed produce”) – Sefer HaAruchexplains that untithed produce is called טבלbecause it is unfit for consumption, and is therefore like a wooden tablet (טבלא) which cannot be eaten. However, R. Chaim Kanievsky (in Derech Emunahto Maimonides’ Laws of Maasar 5:23) and R. Yaakov Tzvi Mecklenburg (in HaKetav VeHaKabbalah to Exodus 22:28) explain thatטבל refers to a “mixture” (the latter explaining that טבלis related to the word תבל12), as untithed produce is effectively treated as regular produce mixed together with holy tithes (which would render it unfit for consumption until the required tithes are given to the Kohen and Levite).

  8. כבול(“shackles”) – As told in I Kgs. 9:13, the cities which King Solomon built and gave as a present to Hiram, king of Tyre, are called the Land of Cabul (כבול, shackles). Rashi explains that they were called so because those cities were built on marshlands, such that if one would tread on its ground, his foot would get stuck as if he were tied down in shackles.13The Medieval Yemenite exegete Rabbi Avraham ben Shlomo (in his Peirush Neviim Rishonim to I Kgs. 9:13) explains that Cabul is related to נבוכה(“perplexed” or “confused”).14

Next, thoseבלwords which relate to “wearing out,” “rotting” or “exhaustion” include:

  1. בלה(“worn out, exhausted, rotting”) – This usage is found many times in the Bible: After I had become בלתי(old), I had my [menstrual] period (Gen. 18:12); Your clothing לא בלו (did not deteriorate) (Deut. 29:4); My flesh and my skin became בלה(worn out) (Lam. 3:4); My chosen ones will become worn out (Isa. 65:22); and more.

  2. בל,בלתי,בלי (various expressions of negation) – Rabbi Shlomo Pappenheim (Yeriot Shlomo vol. 2, pg. 72a) connects these words to the notion of being worn out or exhausted (in this case, the exhaustion or collapse of a possibility). In this way, the word בלmeans “not” such that בל ידעתי (Isa. 44:8) means, “I did not know.” As derivatives of this meaning, words like בלי(“without”) and בלתי (“no other”) also denote limited choice or exclusivity.15

  3. הבל(“futility”) – R. Shlomo Pappenheim (ibid.) continues to explain that the wordהבל is also related toבל because it denotes something “empty” or “non-existent,” similar to the “exhausted” meaning of בל(an exhausted entity being essentially useless). King Solomon famously declared: Vanity of vanities (הבל הבלים), says Koheleth, all is vain (הכל הבל) (Ecc. 1:2). R. Elazar of Worms notes that the letters in the phraseהכל הבל can be permuted to read הכל בלה (“everything is worn out”), thus cementing the association of הבלwithבלה.

  4. נבלה(“carcass”) – R. Shlomo Pappenheim (ibid.) and R. Yaakov Tzvi Mecklenburg (HaKetav VehaKabbalahto Deut. 21:23) explain that the ultimate root of this word for carcasses is בלהbecause a נבלה is a dead body left to rot.

  5. אבל(“mourning”) – Radak (in Sefer HaShorashim, s.v. אבל) points out that one of the usages of the word אבלis as a term for “destruction,” adduced from two Scriptural texts: Therefore, the land will be destroyed (תאבל) and all who live in it will be weakened (Hos. 4:3) and He feels only the pain of his flesh, and his soul will be destroyed (תאבל) over him (Job 14:22).

  6. חבל(“wound”) – In Nehemiah’s confessional, he admits to God: We have surely acted destructively towards You (חבל חבלנו לך) (Neh. 1:7). Rashi explains that חבלהis an expression of destruction. This is conceptually related to בלהbecause something “worn out” is essentially “destroyed.”

  7. זבל(“dwelling place”) – When Leah names her sixth son Zebulun, she says: This time, my man will live (יזבלני) with me (Gen. 30:20). Radak (in Sefer HaShorashim, s.v. זבל) explains that the word זבלrefers to one’s domicile, such as when King Solomon stated: I surely had built a House of Dwelling (בית זבול) for You (I Kgs. 8:13). However, in Rabbinic Hebrew, the word זבלrefers to excrement or other rotting and repulsive substances used for manure. For example, Meilah12b says that one may derive benefit from זבלandפרש(excrement) belonging to the Temple’s Treasury and it is not subject to the rules of Meilah.16R. Samson Raphael Hirsch (Gen. 30:20) finds a conceptual connection between these two usages of זבל. He explains that זבלis the stuff which facilitates the growth of flora and is also the word for a house (especially the Holy Temple) because it denotes something which provides one’s needs, whether in terms of nutrition to allow a plant to grow, or whether in terms of the spiritual nourishment provided by the Temple.

  8. סבל(“carries a burden”) – Isaiah quotes God as saying: I carry [a burden] (Isa. 46:4). The Midrash (Lev. Rabbah4:8) interprets this as referring to God “carrying” the world, so to speak. That Midrash also says that God “causes the world to expire.” These two statements about God are interconnected: God’s “carrying” the burden of world refers to His role in actively administering all of creation. Under normal circumstances, one who carries a burden eventually becomes exhausted and worn out, while the beneficiary being carried does not. However, in the case of God, the very opposite is true: Not only does God continuously “carry” the burden of creation without tiring, but the entires world and its inhabitants eventually “tires” and “wears out”). In the piyyut Melech Elyonrecited on Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, we describe God as: “[He] carries the burden of everything (סובל הכל), timeless (סב, lit. ‘grandfatherly’), and causes the expiration of everything (ומבלה הכל)…” In that spirit, R. Dov Kook of Tiberias (Sefer Piskuk Mikraot SheBaTorah)suggests that the very word סובל, by way of contraction, alludes to the notion that God is סב ומבלה הכל.

There are some words related to בלwhich are interpreted variously as being derived from בללorfrom בלה:

  1. תֵּבֵל– (“the physical world”) – Both R. Yom Tov Lipmann-Heller (in his commentary to Bechinat Olam 4:6) and R. Shlomo Pappenheim (Cheshek Shlomo, s.v. 17בל) explain that the word תבלis derived from בלהbecause everything in the physical world is by nature fleeting, and will eventually “wear out” and cease to exist. Alternatively, R. Eliyahu Kramer of Vilna (Aderet Eliyahuto Nahum 1:5) explains that the word תבלis derived from בללbecause it is the home to a mixture of various sorts of creatures: humans, domesticated animals, wild animals, insects, and birds. Similarly, R. Samson Raphael Hirsch (to Ps. 9:918) writes that while both תבלandארץ refer to the Earth, the two words imply distinct states of existence: תבלimplies a population sans law and order which is mixture (בלל) of all manners of competing objectives and proclivities, while the word ארץ implies an orderly world which adheres to certain given rules.

  2. עיבל(“Ebal”) – Mount Ebal is the site upon which the Jewish people were commanded (Deut. 27:13) to utter curses against those who fail to keep the Torah’s precepts. Rabbi Rephael Schlanger (Shivtei Nachalatecha,p. 17) suggests that the name עיבלis a contraction of the word עי(“destruction”19) and בל (“non-existence”). The very name of this site teaches the naught and destruction which is the lot of those who fail to fulfill the Commandments.

  3. There are five derivatives of the root יבל:

    1. יבלת(“cataract”) – Discussed above.

    2. יבול(“produce”) – For example, God promises, if the Jews follow the Torah, then “the land will gives it יבול(“produce”)” (Lev. 26:4).

    3. יוֹבל(“ram’s horn”) – “With the drawing of the ram’s horn” (Ex. 19:13), “Horns of the Rams” (Josh. 6:4).20

    4. יוּבל(“transportation”).

    5. יוּבל(“river”) – Rashi (to Avot 3:17 and Isa. 30:25) explains that יובלrefers to a river.

The words יבלת21andיבול22refer to the concept of “wearing out” or “rotting”; the former, the rotting of the eye, and the latter, the potential for rotting produce. The word יוֹבלis related to בללaccording to R. Shlomo Pappenheim,23due to an upheaval and “mixture” of ownership in the Jubilee year. And, finally, both meanings of the word יוּבלare associated with mixture and wearing out, as we shall soon explain.

  1. מבול(“flood”) – When God warned about the flood which He was to bring in the time of Noah, He said, “Behold I am bringing a מבול(flood) of water” (Gen. 6:17). Rashi explains that מבולis related to three different בל-based roots: It is related to בלהbecause the flood had “worn out” the world by destroying it. It is related to בללbecause the flood overpowered the entire world and moved everything around so that each individual/country’s property was mixed up with another’s. And thirdly, מבולis related to יובל(“transport”) because the flow of the flood’s waters relocatedeverything by driving them towards Babylonia—a valley in Lower Mesopotamia.24

  2. תבליתם(“their lowly abominations”) – As mentioned above, Rashi equated תבליתםwithתבל in two places (Lev. 18:23, Isa. 10:25). The commentators here too are split as to the root of the word תבליתם, variously deriving it fromבלה25,בלל26orתבל .

As mentioned above, lthough Rashi wrote that תבליתםis related to תבל, his explanation of תבליתםitself (in his commentary to Isa. 10:25) differs from his explanation of תבל(in his commentary to Lev. 18:23). In Isaiah, Rashi writes that תבליתםrefers to “chiruf”andgiduf(blasphemous aberrations), an interpretation different from his explanations of the word תבל in Lev. 18:23, where he defined תבלas: “kadesh,” “arayot” and “niuf” (prostitution, incest and adultery). On the other hand, his interpretation of תבלin Lev. 20:12 – “gnai”(disgrace), does not necessarily contradict his “chiruf”andgiduf(blasphemous aberrations) explanation in Isaiah, because certainly blasphemous aberrations constitute one form of disgrace. By the same token though, “kadesh,” “arayot” and “niuf” are themselves disgraceful. Therefore, one could argue that Rashi understood the primary meaning of תבלto in fact be “gnai,”a general term applying to both תבלandתבליתם.

In light of this, Rashi seems to be explaining that תבלis derived from בלה, but that בלה can indicate deteriorationor rottenof various types. That is, תבל refers not to the “rotting” in the physical sense, but to the “rotting” of society, on a spiritual plane. It is from this spiritual perspective that the “rotting” of תבלrefers to gnai, in addition to “kadesh,” “arayot” and “niuf,” plus“chiruf”andgiduf.Indeed, R. Samson Raphael Hirsch (to Lev. 18:23) differentiates between בלה which he explains refers to corruption or rotting in a physical/mechanical sense, and תבל/תבליתwhich refers to corruption in a spiritual/moral way.

  1. תבל(“abomination”) – The Torah labels a woman engaging in a bestiality as a תבל(Lev. 18:23). As we mentioned above, the word תבלcan be related to בללorבלה.

To conclude, we will draw from the words of Rabbi Shlomo Pappenheim who explains the connection between בללandבלה (Yeriot Shlomo, vol. 2 p. 72a–b). He writes that the prime rootבלdenotesnon-existenceand destruction, from which meaning derives the root בללi.e.mixture, and by extension:destruction of an entity’s uniquenessby means of mixture and dilution. For example, in the Hos. 7:8 verse, should Ephraim be homogenously mixed in with the other nations, it will cease to exist. It would become wasted and utterly lose its identity. From this concept derives the word נבָלה(outrage), in that disgraceful, contemptible behavior leaves confusion and bafflement, thus destroying a sense of well-being and integrity.For example, upon the defilement of Dinah, her brothers said: He [Shechem] has made an outrage (נבלה) in Israel (Gen. 34:7) – that shocking experience not only leaving her undoubtedly with lifelong fear and confusion, but leading to a chain of events with potential calamitous and destabilizing effects .

We pray that it be God’s will that we shall not become confused (שלא נתבלבל), nor shall we become wasted through futile vanities (ולא נתבלה בהבלי שוא), and that all the inhabitants of the world (תבל) shall be transported (יובלו) to a state of knowing God, and the land shall be filled with the knowledge of Torah like a flowing river (כיבלי נהר) and the land shall bear its produce (יבולה), speedily and in our days, amen.

1I Kgs. 14:24 describes the spiritual decline under the reign of King Rehoboam and tells that in his time, there was קדשin the land. Rashi explains that קדשrefers to adultery (it is probably a catch-all phrase for all sexual misdeeds).

2The connection between תבלis mixing is already found in rabbinic literature: Sifra (Kedoshim10:10) says that when one performs a תבל, he has “mixed up the ropes”, which Korban Aharon (ibid.) explains refers to the confusion in the line of lineage that results from a man fornication with the same woman as his son. This is also found in Midrash Lekach Tov(toLev. 20:11). Moreover, the Talmud (Nedarim 51a) explains that when the Bible labels bestiality a תבל, it is as if the Torah rhetorically asks one who engages in such actions, “Is there any spice (תבלין) in it? Is there more of a ‘taste’ in this sort of copulation than any other?” As we shall explain below, the word תבליןis related to בללwhich means “mixing”.

3Such is the opinion of Mizrachi, Siftei Chachamim, andMinchat Yehudah. Ibn Ezra (to Lev. 18:23), R. Yonah ibn Janach, and Radak (s. v. בלל in their respective lexicons) also cite this view. Rabbi Shlomo Pappenheim in Yeriot Shlomo (vol. 2, pg. 72b) and Cheshek Shlomo (s.v. בל) similarly writes that the meaning of תבלis mixing, although in his opinion the root is בל, with a single ל. Rashi himself (to Ps. 58:9) explicitly writes that the letter תin the word תבלis indeed part of its root.

4R. Samson Raphael Hirsch (to Lev. 18:23), Minchat Yehudah(ibid.), Kedushat HaTorah VeDikdukeha (ibid.). Likkutim MiPardes (R. Y. Sarim, pg. 68) cites both possibilities.

5.Mizrachi,Siftei Chachmim, and Moda LeBinah(to Lev. 20:12). R. Yehuda Chayuj also classifies it under the entry תבל.

6See Rashi for alternate interpretation.

7It should be noted, that the term “niuf” appears throughout the prophecy of Hosea as a way of referring to all sorts of sins (by which the Jewish people strayed from God), and it does not perforce have a sordid connotation.

8The Biblical source for the root גבלis probably I Kgs. 5:32 which refers to those who built the walls of the Holy Temple asהגבלים (see Radak there).

9Indeed, Rashi and Ibn Ezra (to Ps. 58:9) explain the word שבלולis related to aשבולת מים(concentration of water).

10Constantinople, 1516.

11R. Massud Hai Rokeach, 1740.

12The Jerusalem Talmud (Orlah 1:3, Nazir 6:9) uses the word תבלinstead of טבלbecause the lingual letters דטלנתare sometimes interchangeable.

13See Shabbat 54a for the Sages’ exegesis of this passage.

14One who is perplexed, is “all mixed-up”. Indeed, the word נבוךis translated by Targum (to Ex. 14:3, Joel 1:18, Job 38:16, and Est. 3:15) as מתערבלא, an Aramaic word which is also derived from בל.

15The Jerusalemite Talmud (Brachot 6:1) exegetically expounds on the word בל to refer to both “wearing out” (בלה) and “mixing” (בלל). Cf. Midrash SocherTov(Ps. 16).

16In this case, R. Shmuel Strashun (רשש) explains that זבל refers to excrement which already exited the body, while פרשrefers to excrement still inside the intestine.

17Cf. R. Pappenheim’s comment in Yeriot Shlomo, vol. 2 pg. 72b.

18See also R. Hirsch’s commentary to Ps. 24:1.

19For example, Jer. 26:18 prophesies doom for Jerusalem by saying, “Jerusalem will be עיים”. See also Mic. 1:6, Isa. 17:1, Ps. 79:1, Job 30:24.

20R. Shlomo Pappenheim (Yeriot Shlomo, vol. 2, p. 72b) explains that the Jubilee Year (שנת היובל) is called so because it involves the mixing of different authorities as slaves are freed from the authority of their master to their own devices, and the ownership of properties are reverted to their natural owners.

21See Yeriot Shlomo, vol. 2 pg. 72b, Cheshek Shlomo (s.v. בל), and HaKtav VeHaKabbalah (to Lev. 26:4). In Mishnaic Hebrew, there is a verb מייבלין(see Sheviit 2:2), which Maimonides (ibid.) and Sefer haAruch s.v. זבל) explain is derived from the word יבולand refers to reaping produce. R. Shimshon of Sanz (in his commentary to the Mishnah, ibid.) explains that it refers to removing dried branches, thus associated מייבליןwith בלה(“worn out” or “putrid”)

48R. Dov Heiman points out that this is found in the Warsaw edition of the Jerusalemite Talmud, but later prints read: יבללו, a textual variance which he prefers. Other sources read: יובלוwhich is interpreted as abbreviated notation for the phrase יובל שי לו (“he transports a gift for him”).

22Yeriot Shlomo, vol. 2 pg. 72a and HaKsav VeHaKabbalah (to Lev. 26:4). Cheshek Shlomo (s.v. בל) cites alternate explanations.

23Yeriot Shlomo, vol. 2 pg. 72a and Cheshek Shlomo (s.v. בל).

24Radak (Sefer HaShorashim, s.v. בול) explains that the name of the eighth month of the Ancient Hebrew calendar—Bul (mentioned in I Kgs. 6:38)—is related to the wordמבול because the flood in Noah’s time began in that month. This month is known as MarCheshvan in the contemporary Jewish Calendar (whose month names are derived from the Babylonian calendar).

25R. Y. Chayyuj, R. Yonah ibn Janach, Radak, R. Isaiah of Trani (to Isa. 10:25), and Ibn Ezra (ibid.). This is also the opinion of R. Hirsch (to Lev. 18:23), as well as the Kedushat HaTorah VeDikdukah (ibid.) and HaTorah VeHaTalmud (1:11).

26This is also implied by the Midrash Lekach Tov, cited above in a footnote. We also mentioned that Menachem classifies this passage in the same category as Hos. 7:8 which refrring to Ephraim mixing in with the nations, even though the “mixing” usage of בלis a separate category for Menachem. This suggests that perhaps תבליתםand יתבוללmight share a meaning in that both imply some form of mixing (even though Menachem himself explained that their common denominator is an implication of sexual misconduct).