Menachot 51 - 57
The Mighty Missing Comma
Rabbi Ezra said: “Let the mighty (G-d) take revenge for the mighty (Jewish People) from the mighty (Egyptians) via the mighty (water).”
Who isn’t familiar with the “Song of the Sea” — Shirat Hayam — that is part of our daily prayers? These verses from the Book of Exodus recount the praises that the Jewish People sang upon being saved by
On our daf, Rabbi Ezra, as a guest of Rabbi Preida, composed a catchy and clever poem based on a number of verses in the Torah: “Yavo Adir vayifra l’adirim m’adirim b’adirim” —“Let the mighty (G-d) take revenge for the mighty (Jewish People) from the mighty (Egyptians) via the mighty (water).” Rashi explains that this statement refers to what
Rabbi Ezra teaches what appears to be a novel interpretation of a well-known verse in Shirat Hayam (Shemot 5:10): “You blew with Your wind, the sea covered them; they sank like lead in the mayim adirim.” Although mayim adirim is often translated in Chumashim as “mighty water,” Rabbi Ezra explains that that the verse should be interpreted as if there is a comma between these two words, since mayim refers to the water, whereas adirim refers to the mighty Egyptians who drowned in the water of the sea.
In fact, the Mishna Berura (51:17) writes in the name of the Pri Megadim that one should pause between the words mayim and adirim since the word adirim refers to the Egyptians and is not a modifier of the word mayim. This is consistent with the teaching of Rabbi Ezra in our sugya. The te’amim (cantillation notes) for this verse seem to support this interpretation since the note preceding the word adirim indicates a pause to indicate that the word adirim is not an adjective for the word mayim in the verse, but rather is a new and independent word — i.e., the might Egyptians who drowned in the might water of the Red Sea.
The Mishna Berura adds that one should say Shirat Hayam with happiness, and conjure an image in his mind to see himself as if he had crossed the Red Sea today.
Rabbi Ezra taught additional clever teachings in a poetic manner regarding essential connections between
One teaching is, “Yavo yadid ben yadid
v’yivneh yadid l’Yadid b’chelko shel yadid v’yitkapru bo yedidim.” This phrase expresses
Another teaching is, “Yavo tov v’yekabel tov m’Tov l’tovim.” Here God is saying: “Moshe Rabbeinu should come and receive the Torah from
- Menachot 53 a-b