Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Quasi- Rhetorical Questions in Haftarat Korach

Just as in the Parshah we were able to outline numerous Rhetorical Questions

So too we have a similar dynamic in the Haftarah.

In the passuq [Sh'muel I 12:3]
"Et Shor mi laqachtai?"
Sh'muel asks quasi-rhetorically "have I done anything wrong?"

The assembled people confirm Sh'muel's honesty.

Perhaps Sh'mu'el was merely asking for. An answer, for feedback?

In the parallel Pasuq in the Torah, Moshe does not ask - rather he affirms - «Lo Hamor ehad mei'hem nasatti

Therefore the most likely read would be that Sh'mu'el is making a parallel statement albeit by invoking the interrogative instead of the declarative.

But of course, an affirmative answer is provided in the Haftarah, so we cannot dismiss Sh'mu'el's statement as entirely rhetorical.

Defining "Quasi-Rhetorical"

The Prophet's question is not a search for an answer to open-ended fact-finding. As such - like a rhetorical question - only one answer is anticipated by the question

Unlike the usual rhetorical question SOME response is elicited - while in a "true" rhetorical nothing need be said at all.

EG P. Shmini 10:13
«Hayiitav b'einei Hashem

Moshe responds 10:20 «Vayitav b'einav»

Notice Hashem is not responding - so was Aharon REALLY soliciting Hashem's response? Or was he soliciting what Moshe would suppose Hashem's Response would be?

Thus it appears that Sh'mu'el is seeking something else - namely confirmation. While a true rhetorical question makes a point w/o needing any response at all, Sh'mu'el's interrogative is tantamount to saying

"You are witnesses to the fact that I took nothing"

And the response
"We confirm"

See EG the dialogue between Ya'akov and Lavan at the end of Vayeitze where declarations and confirmations are made EG 31:51 «eid hagal hazzeh v'eidah hamatzeivah»

While Sh'mu'el is not explicitly asking for such confirmation nevertheless in context it is obvious that he is soliciting it


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