Wednesday, April 09, 2008

B'rich Sh'mei

Someone on a discussion list inquired about the line near the end of B'rich Sh'mei which states "Lo al enash rachitzna v'lo al bar elohin samichna ela b'Elaka dishmaya", the middle clause of which appears to imply the existence of a son of God, in whom we merely do not rely.

I noted that the Rambam[1] (Y"hT 2:7) states that one of the levels of angels (immediately below Elohim and above Keruvim) was called B'nei Elohim. The "Pirush" on the side of my Choreiv Rambam (anyone know who this is?) notes that Elohim is the level of angel that rules over the world. Hence, perhaps the author of this line used the term Bar Elohin to refer to an angel in this general range rather than the more equivocal "Elohim" to express that not only do we not trust in man, but we do not even rely on more powerful spiritual beings, but rather only on HaShem.

However, according to MiPninei HaRav cited in Hanhagos HaRav in the beginning of the Machzor Masores HaRav, R' Joseph Soloveitchik stated that his grandfather R' Chaim was makpid not to say this line precisely because of the implication of "bar" mamash. (I recall reading that eventually RYBS stopped saying B'rich Sh'mei altogether, but can't find the source for this - maybe it's in the RH edition which I don't have handy.)

[1] who, in Moreh Nevuchim 2:6, states that interaction between angels and man only occurs in prophetic visions, not in the physical world, but that they still definitely exist, to oppose the words of the counterclaimant.



At 4/13/2008 11:12 AM, Blogger Mark Dredze said...

As you say, "bar" need to mean literally son. There are several compound uses (cited in Jastrow) that would indicate other meanings, such as Angel.


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