Friday, September 23, 2016

Tough Day at the Office

[From תשע"ג]

Last week was an interesting one, to say the least.
First, at the beginning of כ"ו:י"ט, the בעל קריאה committed the capital crime of say וְלְתִתְּךָ instead of וּלְתִתְּךָ. What could be worse than that? I'll tell you what - half the shul correcting him! I really actually had an urge to tell him to specifically go back and say it wrong again. But I resisted the urge. Of course, later, כ"ט:ד, when he said וְאוֹלֵךְ instead of וָאוֹלֵךְ - not a peep! (Don't worry I did correct that one.)

My oversight of the קריאה has its pros and cons for the בעלי קריאה. On the one hand, they have to deal with me. But on the other, they don't have to deal with anyone else. Case in point: as soon as the עליה with the תוכחה was complete, a well-meaning individual raced to the בימה to insist to the בעל קריאה that in כ"ח:ס"ח he had said וְהֵשִׁיבְךָ instead of וֶהֱשִׁיבְךָ. He just looked at him, pointed at me and said, "Talk to him." I believe he was right. That was what it sounded like. However, I proceeded to convince him that there is actually no change in meaning and thus, it did not warrant a correction. Any objections? We certainly agreed that the vowel under the ו was inconsequential. I'm no expert when it comes to conjugation. But I pointed out that in a shorter form, there is a צירי under the ה, as in וְהֵשִׁיב אֶת הַגְּזֵלָה. My guess is that the elongation of the word "softens" the vowel into a סגול.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Shva vs. Kamatz?

In this week’s Parsha, the pasuk states (Devarim 24:6),

"לא יחבל רחים ורכב וגו'"

Tosefos discuss how there are actually two separate prohibitions, one for the רחים and one for the רכב. In the course of their discussion Tosefos mention that there was a possibility that some opinions could have thought that there was actually only one prohibition for the two, but since ורכב is written with a חטף it shows that these words are somewhat separated and are to be considered as two independent prohibitions. (Tosefos Menachos 58b) The Yaavetz mentions that Tosefos are referring to the lack of a שוא when they say חטף. (Yaavetz Menachos 58b)

The Rashash questions Tosefos’ assertion based on Targum Lashon Ivri (chapter 34). The rule as mentioned there, is that when the trop under the last word of a list of two or more items has a hard pause then the ו takes a קמץ instead. Based on this rule the lack of a שוא is not something that connotes a separation in our pasuk since וָרָכֶב clearly has an esnachta beneath it. Rather, it shows that the items are separated and that this is the last of the list. (Rashash Bava Metziah 115b)

I was wondering if one could possibly answer on Tosefos’ behalf that even though linguistically the pasuk does not demonstrate that two as being separate, on a level of drush one can see that they are. The Torah was given with an esnachta in this place instead of another trop formulation from the pasuk. The pronunciation conjures up the idea of the words being separate even if the actual reading does not mean that. Therefore, one can assume the words have a level of separation to the point that they can be considered independent prohibitions.

Shiluach Ha...

This week's פרשה contains one of my דקדוק pet peeves. The mitzvah of sending away the mother bird is very commonly referred to as "Shiluach haKan." However, the word is "kan" in the pasuk only because of סמיכות. When referring to the mitzvah, the proper term should be "Shiluach HaKein."

However, I was very intrigued to find this point actually discussed in this article by R' Zvi Goldberg of the Star-K. See footnote #1 (it's linked at the very beginning.)

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Clean Blood

In פרשת שופטים, there are three instance where the term דם נקי, or a variation thereof, appears. If the vowel underneath the ד is a פתח, it would indicate סמיכות and the translation would be, "the blood of a clean (innocent) person." If it were a קמץ, it would simply mean clean blood. Although one might argue that the connotation is ultimately the same, I would say this is still a rather significant difference. Oh, wouldn't it be nice and simple if it were always the same. Alas, not only is it not always the same, there is not always 100% clarity as to which way it should be pronounced.

In שופטים, we have the following:
י"ט:י וְלֹא יִשָּׁפֵךְ דָּם נָקִי
י"ט:י"ג וּבִעַרְתָּ דַם הַנָּקִי
כ"א:ח וְאַל-תִּתֵּן דָּם נָקִי
The latter two appear to be undisputed. However, someone came over to me about the first one suggesting the בעל קריאה had said it wrong. I was certain he had not. But sure enough his (Artscroll) חומש had a פתח while mine (חורב) had a קמץ. I have embedded a snippet from the ספר אם למקרא למסורת below which should bring some clarity to the subject.

Don't Feed the Animals

We have previously discussed the possible mix-up of כבש and כשב. Whether or not the two words mean the exact same thing, it definitely needs to be corrected. I actually had to do just that this past שבת when I'm pretty sure the בעל קריאה said שה כבשים instead of י"ד:ד - שה כשבים. But while I was contemplating that, something arose on the very next פסוק which I was unsure of. Someone claimed that instead of אַיָּל, a deer, he said אַיִל, a ram. Whether he did or he didn't is not particularly relevant at this point, I suppose, but it is worth pointing out how similar these two words are while they refer to two completely different animals. And by posting this now, hopefully it will jog my memory to be en garde in coming years.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Jewish Milk

I once saw an article about חלב ישראל and decided to post this. A friend of mine pointed out to me once that the common pronunciation of this term, Cholov Yisroel, is actually incorrect. Due to סמיכות (which I'm not 100% certain of, see comments) it should be chaleiv Yisrael as in לא תבשל גדי בחלב אמו. I've always wanted to try some funny "proper דקדוק" social experiments - like have everyone use that term in public and see what kind of reactions you get, and the one I suggested on another occasion.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

To Afflict the Corrector

ח:ג וַיְעַנְּךָ
Need I say more? I think I do. Most people with even a slight דקדוק awareness will know that it is important to not pronounce this וַיַעַנְךָ. That would mean "and He answered you," rather than "and He afflicted you." You might hear some בעלי קריאה making the שוא very clear to show that they are saying it correctly. However, this too is incorrect. It is a שוא נח under the יו"ד. So the actual proper pronunciation would be: vay-a-ne-cha. One has to be very careful to make the "Syllable Stop" before the פתח. I'm not sure if there is a better technical term for that but I'm going with it for now - the art of "pronouncing" the שוא נח such that it breaks the syllable such as in אַתָּה הָרְאֵתָ last week -  har-ei-sa, as opposed to ha-rei-sa.

Of course, the real problem becomes that the very correct pronunciation here is barely discernible from the very incorrect pronunciation, which makes my job all the more difficult. So, maybe pronouncing that שוא נע isn't such a bad idea after all.

As another reader has pointed out, the דגש חזק in the נ is another important differentiating factor. Properly executing it should remove all doubt as to whether the word has been pronounced correctly.