Sunday, November 8, 2009

Chayei Sara, Breishis 23:10. Efron Sat Among His People: The Median can be the Cardinal Point

23:10.  Efron sat “be’soch bnei Chais” Rashi says that this day he had been appointed as a ‘sar’ of his people.  Rabbi David Zupnick Z'l told me that Heidenheim, in his pirush on Rashi, asks what made Rashi say this, and he answers that in all of Tanach this expression of ‘besoch’ of a people means being a master, and that in Melachim II 3:14, this is what the Isha Hashunamis meant when she told Eliahu that there was nothing she needed because she was "besoch ami'.
יג וַיֹּאמֶר לוֹ אֱמָרנָא אֵלֶיהָ הִנֵּה חָרַדְתְּ אֵלֵינוּ אֶת-כָּלהַחֲרָדָה הַזֹּאת מֶה לַעֲשׂוֹת לָךְ הֲיֵשׁ לְדַבֶּרלָךְ אֶלהַמֶּלֶךְ אוֹ אֶלשַׂר הַצָּבָא; וַתֹּאמֶר בְּתוֹךְ עַמִּי אָנֹכִי יֹשָׁבֶת.
she did not need his help in any material things.

I later realized that the same idea is evident in the Gemara in Bava Kamma 88a, where the Gemara darshens the passuk “mikerev achecha” to mean that only “muvchar she'bi’achecha” can be a king, and not an eved meshuchrar or even a geir.  Kerev and toch not only mean the same thing but also carry the same connotation.

Why?  Why does a word that means common also connote uncommon?  Wy does 'undistinguished' or median also connote greatness?  This Zohar about the Shunamite woman is interesting, and has some potential to explain the Gemara in Bava Kamma, but it does nothing to explain Efron:
ועל דא תנינן דלא איצטריך ליה לבר נש לאיתפרשא מכללא דסגיאין בגין דלא יתרשים איהו בלחודוי
ולא יקטרגון עליה לעילא דכתיב בשונמית ותאמר בתוך עמי אנוכי יושבת לא בעינא לאפקי גרמי
מכללא דסגיאין בתוך עמי יתיבנא עד יומא דאובתוך עמי בכללא חדא.

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