[b-hebrew] yorenu (teach US)

Gabe Eisenstein gabe at cascadeaccess.com
Wed Jul 2 14:20:57 EDT 2008

Dear Yitzhak,

Thanks for your time, and for the references.  They reinforce the fact 
that what I called the standard interpretation of the line is quite 
standard. The connection to R. Abba bar Kahana, closer in time to Rabbah 
b. Bar Hana than Rashi or Yalkut, also seems to be a point in your favor.

But just to be clear: you aren't saying that my reading is grammatically 
impossible, only that my interpretation makes no sense of the passage. 

And your argument for this is that it disagrees with three traditional 
interpretations. You don't address the alleged sense of my 
interpretation, nor do you address the Talmudic context.

To explain again as briefly as possible: the Israelites could be saying 
"teach us" because they seek God, seek to repent, despite their feeling 
that they will be unable to do so without God's help. This fits in with 
the general idea that "contesting with God" has a positive as well as a 
negative form (the contextual theme). The other reason they say "us" is 
because they recognize that the "he" or "it" that is the Evil 
Inclination is itself an aspect of themselves (of all of US). --Does 
this not at least make sense, even if it is wrong?

The fact that Rashi calls it a "winning argument" would seem to conflict 
with the negative interpretation, even though he reads "him" rather than 
"us". (Unless you take "winning argument" in an ironic sense, as the 
Schottenstein does in the case of our passage at Sanhedrin 105a. They 
translate it as "defiant rejoinder" in this one case.) What I am saying 
is just that the "winning argument" has a positive aspect, which the 
"teach us" wordplay would reflect.

The connection between YRH as "shoot" rather than "teach" [according to 
my reference book the former is for qal, the latter for hiphil] would 
also work for me, as being shot or struck can be a metaphor for a change 
in perspective or understanding, especially the radical change of 

Gabe Eisenstein
> On Tue, Jul 1, 2008 at 7:43 PM, Gabe Eisenstein wrote:
>> 3. "His God will teach us" is also a possible reading, if we choose to
>> leave the dagesh out of the nun in the Talmudic yorenu, and if we regard
>> the shift from "him" (vav with nun energicum) to "us" (standard nun-vav
>> suffix) as a piece of wordplay.
> Dear Gabe,
> I see no way that "us" can be a possible reading in this verse.  Soncino
> just translated incorrectly.  Let me point out that the sermon is apparently
> found in Yalkut Shim(oni.  There it is related to Rabbi Abba bar Kahana:
> http://www.tsel.org/torah/yalkutsh/yishayahu.html#A1514
> In his commentary, Rashi also apparently relates this sermon to Rabbi
> Abba bar Kahana and writes, "That is, a winning argument, that they
> said - God will discipline, because we cannot discipline it."
> The Shteinzaltz edition notes that Rabbi Yaacov ben Zvi of Emden
> (????) commented on this verse.  Shteinzaltz writes "There are those who
> explain this - throw it away -- from the verb yrh - shoot, that Israel said,
> 'there is no solution to the inclination, unless God will throw it away.'"
> Whether Rashi, or Yaacov ben Zvi, the reading is consistently "him."
> There is no other way, in my opinion, to read the Talmudic passage
> and make sense of it.
> Yitzhak Sapir

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