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.

To make a מתנגד cringe

Funny story:

A couple of years ago, I was in
ארץ ישראל during this week and I found myself davening in a chassidishe מנין. When the בעל קריאה got to the following פסוק:

ח:ט אֶרֶץ אֲשֶׁר לא בְמִסְכֵּנֻת תּאכַל בָּהּ לֶחֶם

he "mistakenly" pronounced the word miskenus. A voice from the back called out in correction "Miskenis!"

I remember thinking to myself, "Leave him alone, he actually pronounced it right the first time."

Friday, August 19, 2016

Raise the valleys

I was recently contacted by a בעל דקדוק whom I trust regarding a פסוק in this week's הפטרה:
כָּל גֶּיא יִנָּשֵׂא
Since the word גֶּיא does not have any vowel under the יו"ד, the letter is completely silent and therefore, should be pronounced with a סגול and should not sound like a צירי. And this is how he instructed the Bar Mitzvah boy he was teaching to prnounce it. (Most other times you see this word it is סמוך and there is therefore a צירי under the יו"ד.)

Thursday, August 18, 2016

You were shown

This week's parsha contains a number of familiar passages. One which might be slightly more familiar to those who daven נוסח ספרד is אַתָּה הָרְאֵתָ לָדַעַת כִּי ה' הוּא הָאֱלֹקים, "you have been shown, etc." Although the שוא under the רי"ש is indeed a שוא נח, it is important not roll over it completely and place the צירי under the רי"ש. In other words, it should be pronounced "har-ei-sa." If it is mispronounced "ha-rei-sa," it would seem that it might confuse the word to seem like it is of the root הריון. I will let the experts chime in on the actual gravity of the mistake, whether the alternate meaning is in fact true. But I think the correct pronunciation is indisputable.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Past and Future

ספר דברים by nature is full of challenges relating to the tense of verbs. There was one that slipped by me a few years ago. It's not that I didn't catch it, just that I failed to correct it on the spot after deliberating in my mind. Not sure which is worse.

משה רבינו relates (א:י"ג) that he instructed the nation to gather wise men וַאֲשִׂימֵם בְּרָאשֵׁיכֶם. Although this is being related in the past, he is stating that he said in the past that he will place these men as heads of the nation - in the future. The בעל קריאה mistakenly put a קמץ under the וי"ו of ואשימם which I am pretty sure would change it from future to past. This is an easy mistake to make as everything which follows is indeed in the past tense. This is also tricky to catch since the difference between the וי"ו ההיפוך and the regular וי"ו is a שוא and a קמץ or פתח. But here it ends up being a difference between a קמץ and פתח. (See the comment by Bezlalel for more detail as to why this ends up being more tricky.)

Hopefully recording this now will help me be more mindful of it in future years.

Don't you worry

    In pasuk ל"א:ח, Moshe gives Yehoshua words of encouragement upon his taking over of Moshe's position. The pasuk ends off, לא תירא ולא תיחת. In pasuk א:כ"א, Moshe commands B'nei Yisroel, with regards to their seemingly imminent conquer of Eretz Yisroel, אל תירא ואל תיחת. The commands are almost exactly identical. The only difference is the exchange of the word אל for the word לא.
    Both לא and אל may both be translated as "don't." However, there is a difference between the two. The word אל is, for the most part, confined to a single meaning. Alternatively, the word לא is slightly more flexible. It can take on the form of a command, as in לא תרצח, thou shall not murder. However, it can also take on the form of a promise or assurance. Perhaps the clearest example of this is when HaShem commands Moshe to prevent בני ישראל from ascending the mountain to fight following the incident with the spies. Moshe is told (א:מ"ב) to declare "לא תעלו." The simple reading is clearly, "do not go up!" However, Rashi quotes from a Midrash, "לא עליה תהא לכם אלא ירידה," it will not be an ascent for you, rather a descent i.e. you will not succeed. Here we see clearly that the word לא can mean both a command and a promise, even at the same time.
    Therefore, in our parsha, Yehoshua is not being commanded not to fear, but rather being promised that he will have nothing to fear. In דברים, he is being told not to fear. Indeed, the expression in דברים is said in the context of other commands. In our parsha, however, it is stated in the context of other promises.
    I understand that the above distinction is not 100% clear-cut and there are numerous examples which might throw it into question. I'm open to suggestions.

     Recently, I heard a different approach from משך חכמה. In the פרשה of קרבן פסח - שמות י"ב:ט he explains that אל implies a certain tone of בקשה whereas לא is a more definite prohibitive commandment. Perhaps that explanation can be applied here as well. As leader of the nation it was imperative that יהושע show absolutely no fear whatsoever. Therefore it was delivered in the form of a commandment - לא תירא ולא תיחת. But when בני ישראל are being briefed prior to their imminent entry into ארץ ישראל it is simply stated in the form of a request. Or, alternatively, we can suggest that this "request" was made just prior to the demand for spies which had drastic consequences. With that now many decades in the past but its lessons still very clear, a mere request was no longer appropriate. It was clear that the to not fear and not tremble must be an outright commandment.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

כבש vs כשב

This is a question I have had for some time and a reader recently brought it up with me again in person and pointed out that it is very applicable with פינחס coming up:
Is the mistaking of כבש for כשב (or vice-versa) a correctable mistake? While the words are different, their meanings are exactly the same. What say you?

UPDATE: Once again, the Dikdukian is rescued by its readers:

MG said...
According to the Malbim these two words do NOT have the exact same meaning, and might even be referring to two different "types" of sheep:

Link to ספר at HebrewBooks

However, as per my comment per below, the מסורת הש"ס to :שבת צב might imply otherwise. As well, I happened upon a ספר חותם תכנית written in the 1860's which asserts that they are the same here.

Additionally, the משנה ברורה קמ"ג:כ"ו (which was recently learned as part of the Dirshu דף היומי בהלכה program), based on מגן אברהם counts כשב/כבש as an example of a change in pronunciation without a change in meaning which would nevertheless necessitate putting the Torah back and laining from another.

Nevertheless, Jack Gross's comment is very poignant.  Whether there is a difference in meaning and whether this is a correctable mistake are likely two completely separate discussions. The difference in meaning might very well be debatable. But as for the קריאה aspect, it's simply a different word and the fact that it is almost the same is irrelevant. If the consonants are out of order, the word has not been pronounced properly and this needs to be corrected.
(Perhaps the same argument may be made regarding R' Marwick's position on בלילה הוא.)