Friday, October 29, 2010

And Lord blessed Abraham BaKol

וְאַבְרָהָ֣ם זָקֵ֔ן בָּ֖א בַּיָּמִ֑ים וַֽיהוָ֛ה בֵּרַ֥ךְ אֶת־ אַבְרָהָ֖ם בַּכֹּֽל
Abraham was now a very old man, and the LORD had blessed him in [BaKol] every way.
-- Gen 21:1

What does the word BaKol mean?
  1. With a voice, that is a kol (@Jyuter)  (He was kidding)
  2. Abraham was blessed that he had no daughter, (presumably because this spared him the  impossible task of finding her a husband) (Rabbi Meir)
  3. The final blessing, the blessing the meant he had everything, without exception, was a daughter (Rabbi Yehuda)
  4. The blessing was a daughter and her name was "BaKol" (Acherim, or "others"; understood to be students of the Tannaim, or alternatively, Rabbi Elisha ben Avuya)
  5. Wealth, possessions, honor, long life, and children (Ibn Ezra)
  6. Land. This is why Abraham was not said to be blessed with "everything" until he purchased the Maarat Hamachpela
  7. A mystical attribute called bat (Ramban)
Great moments in Torah commentary: Ibn Ezra argues that Acherim must be wrong, because had the Torah meant to tell us that the daughter was named BaKol, it would have written B'BaKol, ie with Ba|Kol. In response, the Ramban says, 
"Now had the commentator who prides himself in knowing Torah secrets known this one (i.e. the mystical bat attribute) his lips would have been silent, and he would not have derided the words of the Rabbis. Therefore, I wrote this (i.e several paragraphs about the bat attribute) to shut down the moth that speaks against the righteous ones." 
What a good thing the Ramban didn't own a blog. Had he spoken that way against Ibn Ezra online, everyone would have lined up to scold him about his nasty tone.

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