Thursday, February 21, 2019

Whys and Wherefores

The following thorough and intriguing write-up was submitted by a Dikdukian reader:

It is difficult to research a rule that apparently has no name.

I refer to what some colloquially refer to as the "למה" rule, because it is perhaps best illustrated with a handful of examples in which למה is used twice in close succession, once מלעיל and once מלרע (e.g., Shemot 5:22; Shemot 32:11-12 -- you know it from ויחל on a תענית צבור). The rule is that an otherwise מלעיל word becomes מלרע before a word that begins with an א, ה, or ע (of course, HaShem's name spelled with a י is pronounced with an א and therefore triggers the rule).

R. Yaakov Kamenetsky refers to the rule often in his ספר אמת ליעקב but generally as "that rule I have cited many times." Paul Jouon, in his well-regarded grammar written with T. Muraoka, calls it "hiatus" (a not uncommon grammatical process) but admits the name is less than ideal.

None of this sheds much light on the details of the rule itself. Jouon does mention that the word in question must end in an open syllable, but are there any other environmental factors?

Consider these examples (or nonexamples): 

  1. Bamidbar 11:8: שָׁטוּ֩ הָעָ֨ם וְלָֽקְט֜וּ... There is some disagreement about this one, as indicated in many חומשים that mark it as מלעיל but other sources, including מנחת שי and אמת ליעקבthat say it follows the rule and is מלרע. Those who say it is מלעיל claim that that is true to the meaning of the word, but we see other instances where the rule overrides that consideration (e.g., זָד֖וּ עֲלֵיהֶֽם Shemot 18:11). Nevertheless, it is unusual to see Koren and others mark מלעיל if it should be מלרע. My thought was that perhaps the rule is blocked with a תלישה (big or small), as seen in ...
  2. Bamidbar 16:7: וְשִׂימוּ֩ עֲלֵיהֶ֨ן קְטֹ֜רֶת where ושימו is marked (in every חומש I've seen that double-marks the תלישה in such a case) as מלעיל. But is טעם part of the environment that blocks the rule? Consider also ...
  3. Shemot 25: 24: וְצִפִּיתָ֥ אֹת֖וֹ זָהָ֣ב טָה֑וֹר... R. Kamenetsky says it is מלרע because of "that rule." Conveniently, the word doesn't show up elsewhere (without an א afterward) for comparison, supporting R. Kamenetsky's view by default. But what of other ל-ה verbs that don't trigger the rule, such as the very common ועשית? I had surmised merely that a ל-ה verb doesn't trigger the rule, and thus that the שורש of וצפית is not צפה as otherwise expected. And, in fact, other ל-ה verbs like וראית are still מלעיל before an א (Shemot 33:23, Devarim 4:19, the latter with a תלישה, fwiw). Further, the problem for the other view is that is doesn't explain why ועשית is often followed by an א and yet remains מלעיל (as in Shemot 27:1וְעָשִׂ֥יתָ אֶת־הַמִּזְבֵּ֖חַand we see וצפית as מלרע followed by את in 26:29). The other question here is possible interaction between this rule and that of וי"ו ההיפוך in עתיד/צווי -- but clearly R. Kamenetsky is saying the rule occurs here without saying why it doesn't in other seemingly like situations.

So what are the other environmental conditions that trigger/block the rule? I might like to write down each instance the rule shows up to see what's missing, but perhaps someone has done that already or has the software to find out quickly...?

יעשה vs. תעשה

From Ephraim Stulberg:
(ל"א:ט"ו)
שֵׁשֶׁת יָמִים יֵעָשֶׂה מְלָאכָה

In the above פסוק, where we are told that "for six days shall work be performed." The passive "יֵעָשֶׂה" is of course masculine, in spite of the fact that its subject is the feminine "מְלָאכָה". And so follows the question: What's up with that?

R, Yaakov Kamenetzky observes that in many instances in which the word "כל", or "all", is used to modify a noun, the gender of the verb/adjective used to describe even a feminine noun will be masculine. Thus, in פרשת בא, we have the phrase (כָּל מְלָאכָה לא יֵעָשֶׂה בָהֶם" ( י"ב:ט"ז", where the masculine "יֵעָשֶׂה" refers back to the word "כל" more than it does to the feminine "מְלָאכָה". R' Kamenetzky suggests that the verse in כי תשא is to be read as though the word "כל" were present. R' Kamenetzky also quotes the opinion of a certain R' Nathan, who appears to have been some sort of confederate of his back in Lithuania, who explains the incidence in בא by positing a rule in which the gender of passively constructed verbs does not necessarily correspond to the gender of their related nouns. R' Kamenetzky is somewhat dismissive of this suggestion, though it clearly solves the question in כי תשא much more effectively.The truth is that R' Nathan's suggestion had already been anticipated by an earlier authority, namely רד"ק, in his comments on מלכים א ב:כ"א:

וַתּאמֶר יֻתַּן אֶת אֲבִישַׁג הַשֻּׁנַמִּית לַאֲדנִיָּהוּ אָחִיךָ לְאִשָּׁה

He explains that when the passive voice is employed, it creates a sort of gap between nound and verb. רד"ק reads the verse in מלכים as follows: "It shall be given, namely Avishag the Shunamite, to Adoniyahu". Likewise, we would read: "For six days it shall be done, namely 'work'". Actually, this is not very different from the explanation given by R' Kamenetzky. R' Kamenetzky makes the important point of noting that the phenomenon is not limited to the נפעל, and that it really applies in any case where a neuter noun is employed. However, R' Nathan's point is also crucial, for it recognizes that this phenomenon will be much more prevalent in cases in which the נפעל is utilized, thus creating an implicit break between subject and verb which is filled by the invisible neuter.

Minimizing Sin

ל"ד:ט וְסָלַחְתָּ לַעֲו‍ֹנֵנוּ וּלְחַטָּאתֵנוּ וּנְחַלְתָּנוּ 

As per a comment in this other post, it is important to be careful to not pronounce it וּלְחַטֹּאתֵנוּ, with a חולם on the ט. This would change it from singular to plural. As I've mentioned elsewhere, in situations like this, I appreciate the "oy-ers." It makes it much easier to discern if it has been pronounced properly or not.

ולא שתו

Another episode of You Make the Call:

One time, the בעל קריאה, when laining ל"ג:ד וְלֹא שָׁתוּ אִישׁ עֶדְיוֹ עָלָיו put the accent on the last syllable of שתו rather than the first. Usually, I am not a real stickler for accents and I let them fly when it isn't a glaring change of meaning. But here it would seem to completely change the word from "put" to "drink." So, I corrected it on the spot.

As per MG in the comments, I believe it was the right call.

Need to bring this up

ל"ב:ז אֲשֶׁר הֶעֱלֵיתָ מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם
ל"ג:א אַתָּה וְהָעָם אֲשֶׁר הֶעֱלִיתָ מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם 

There was a בר מצוה laining and he said הֶעֱלֵיתָ with a צרי the second time and I corrected it as a knee-jerk reaction. However, looking at the two words, I can't tell that there is any actual difference between the two. The תרגום is essentially the same. So, as I always do in these situations, I ask: If there is a difference, what is it? And if there is no difference, why are they different?

קול ענות

(ל"ב:י"ח)
וַיּאמֶר אֵין קוֹל עֲנוֹת גְּבוּרָה וְאֵין קוֹל עֲנוֹת חֲלוּשָׁה קוֹל עַנּוֹת אָנכִי שׁמֵעַ

The pronunciation of the דגש חזק is an art which has fallen largely out of practice. Even amongst the best of בעלי קריאה I have heard few who actually still do. More often the not, the דגש does not change the meaning of the word in and of itself. However, one of my Rebbeim in ישיבת אור ירושלים once pointed out to me that in the above פסוק, the דגש diffrentiates between two words in the very same pasuk!

משה רבינו is answering יהושע that he does not hear the sound of the (victorious) outcry of the mighty, nor the (defeated) outcry of the weak. In those first two instances, the word ענות is from the verb לענות, to answer or to exclaim. Rather, says משה רבינו, it is the call of blasphemy, as רש"י explains, which afflict the souls of those who hear them. Here, the word ענות is from the word ענוי, affliction. Clearly, there are two different words in this pasuk and the only to diffrentiate between the two is with the pronunciation of the דגש.

Friday, February 15, 2019

תרשיש ושהם

(כ"ח:כ)
והטור הרביעי תרשיש ושהם וישפה

In the listing of the stones on the חושן there is a difference between the last row and the other three. The last row is "תרשיש ושהם וישפה" There is a וי"ו before the second stone as well as the third. In the other three rows, the וי"ו appears only before the last stone. משך חכמה points out that the reason for this is as we find in קריאת שמע, that certain groups of words have the first word beginning with the same letter as the next word like "על לבבכם" and therefore must be very carefully differentiated. So, too, here תרשיש and שהם have the same problem. Therefore, in order to differentiate between the two, told Moshe "תרשיש ושהם" so he would not get mixed up.


The difficulty is, however, that in (פקודי (ל"ט:י"ג the list does not contain a וי"ו before שהם. Although משך חכמה does make mention of this fact he does not clearly indicate why that is. ר' ברוך אפשטין, in ברוך שאמר, gives an answer. In ה', תצוה is talking to משה. Therefore, it was important there to differentiate between the two so that there is no confusion. In פקודי, however, the Torah is merely giving a recount of events so it was not imperative to place a וי"ו in the middle.

One of the members of the חבורה where I heard this brought up an interesting point. At the beginning of שמות we seem to find a similar phenomenon. When listing the sons of יעקב a וי"ו is only used for the last name in each פסוק. Except for א:ד, where there is a וי"ו before נפתלי. It would seem that this is to differentiate between the נו"ן at the end of דן and the נו"ן at the beginning of נפתלי. However, here it seems only to be giving a recount and there is no one speaking to anyone. I do not know an answer to that problem.
Any suggestions?