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I've been learning Bereshit with Rashi in school, and while reading a part of Vayera, I noticed that there were two grammatically different statements in one Pesuk.

Bereshit (18:7)
וְאֶל הַבָּקָר רָץ אַבְרָהָם וַיִּקַּח בֶּן בָּקָר רַךְ וָטוֹב וַיִּתֵּן אֶל הַנַּעַר וַיְמַהֵר לַעֲשׂוֹת אֹתוֹ
"And to the cattle did Abraham run, and he took a calf, tender and good, and he gave it to the youth, and he hastened to prepare it."

At first it says "וְאֶל הַבָּקָר רָץ אַבְרָהָם" (To the cattle ran Abraham).
And then it says "וַיִּתֵּן אֶל הַנַּעַר" (And he gave it to the youth).

Why is it sometimes "to this he did this" and sometimes "he did this to this"?

I know the question may sound dumb, but I believe there's a meaning behind every word in the Torah. And things were written in a way for a reason.

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    These two have different meaning. Former is direction where to. The latter means to whom – Jacob Seleznev Oct 30 '15 at 2:44
  • The question is why is the verse using in only one instance the proper past tense and not the imperfect waw-consecutive / vav-hahippuch form. – Double AA Oct 30 '15 at 3:22
  • Ba'al HaTurim on the pasuq is one answer, though I don't fully understand it. – Lee Oct 30 '15 at 6:52
  • @DoubleAA I'm not seeing that implied from the OP's question. It looks like s/he wants to know why at the beginning of the verse, the object is mentioned after the verb, whereas at the end, the verb is first. How is that connected to the vav hahipuch? – DanF Oct 30 '15 at 13:46
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    @DoubleAA But it could've said: ״ואברהם רץ אל הבקר״ – Gabriel12 Oct 30 '15 at 14:20
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I believe this is the source for the comment in Pirqei DeRabi Eliezer [Chap. 35] that Avrohom followed the calf all the way to the Me'orath HaMachpeiloh. וירץ אל הבקר implies they were 'fixed' in their place and he ran to them; ואל הבקר רץ אברהם implies that they were creating their own place, in other words, they [or one of them] had moved prompting Avrohom to give chase. (I am not commenting whether or not this Midrash is to be taken literally - merely that this appears to be its source.] On a simple level of the text, ואל הבקר רץ implies a greater alacrity: in other words, 'and to the cattle Avrohom had already ran' - he was there already [!] as opposed to a narrative וירץ אל - 'and he ran to'..

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The simple answer seems to be that we never say one of the avos "ran to" an animal. It would sound very degrading.

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    Interesting idea! Can you edit in a source for this principle in general or its application here, in particular? – Isaac Moses Apr 6 '16 at 14:38
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I wasn't able to locate an explanation that addresses, directly, the grammatical aspect, here. Of course, the phrasing is grammatically correct, just "unparalleled" in that the beginning of the verse mentions the object / place first and the end mentions the verb first.

In terms of why that occurs, here, specifically, I'm inferring a "principle" mentioned in

Messilat Yesharim 8:3 (excerpt; Sefaria English translation):

וכן תמצא כל מעשיהם של צדיקים תמיד במהירות. אברהם כתוב בו (בראשית יח): וימהר אברהם האהלה אל שרה ויאמר מהרי .

It is to be observed that all of the deeds of the righteous are performed with alacrity. In relation to Abraham it is written (Genesis 18:6), "And Abraham hastened to the tent, to Sarah, and he said, 'Hasten...'

This is an explanation of the previous verse. So we see that now, Avraham is in Sarah's tent. Perhaps, as a from of continuation, we already know that Avraham was hurrying and running. So, perhaps to state again, "He ran to the cattle (area)" wouldn't really be necessary, as you know that he's hurrying. So, the next verse tells you right away the next place that he is going by emphasizing the place first, so it says, "(Now) to the cattle he ran."

Note, also, that as @DoubleAA hinted, that if you were to state the verse according to your suggestion, i.e. - "Avrham ran to the cattle", you would need the vav hahipuch format for the 1st verb, which is, currently not there. I.e. the phrasing would be:

וירץ אברהם אל הבקר

You can see that even though the end meaning is the same, there is an important nuance in whether the subject or the place is mentioned first. Compare, in English:

"I went to Citifield" vs. "To Citifield, I went." You can see, in each, what's more "important".

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