Thursday, March 23, 2017

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?

ועשה בצלאל ואהליאב

"ועשה בצלאל ואהליאב" (Shemos 36:1)

There are two main types of וי"ו at the beginning of a word: a וי"ו החיבור and a וי”ו ההיפוך. A וי”ו החיבור links the word with that which preceded it, and a וי”ו ההיפוך switches the tense of a verb (and also implies sequence and order). The puzzling thing about all this, is that a וי”ו ההיפוך when switching a verb from past tense to future tense is punctuated in exactly the same manner as a וי"ו החיבור. Usually context can guide us to proper understanding, but sometimes context is not enough. A nice example of an ambiguous וי"ו is ועשה בצלאל ואהליאב. That וי"ו could be either a וי”ו ההיפוך or a וי"ו החיבור . תרגום אונקלוס and תרגום יונתןunderstand it to be a וי”ו החיבור and the אבן עזרא and רש"י מכות יב. understand it to be a וי”ו ההיפוך." There is a further מחלוקת between רש"י and the אבן עזרא regarding whether it is regular future tense or a command which has enough of a relationship with the future to be a possibility within a וי”ו ההיפוך which has switched a verb to future tense.
NOTE: See Weekly Shtikle's blog on the above פסוק.

The obvious question which the camp which understands it to be a
וי”ו החיבור (past tense) must deal with is that according to the plain reading of the text, בצלאל had not even gathered the donations yet, how could he have already done the work? Because of this issue, the אור החיים הקדוש explained that ועשה is referring to making the instruments necessary for the work and not referring to the actual work itself.

One final question: Why would the
תורה create this ambiguous וי"ו?

This is a question one could ask regarding many of the unclear parts of the
תורה system where ראשונים and אחרונים argue. The only possible answer is that the ambiguity is calculated to allow for both interpretations within the text.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

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.

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?