Thursday, June 9, 2016


For some time, when I would write my Weekly Shtikle (shameless cross-promotion) for this week's פרשה, I would write it Bemidbar since that is how it is pronounced correctly. However, last year a friend of mine sent me the following convincing argument which I have accepted:
While you are correct that in context the word is read Bemidbar, the name of the parsha is clearly Bamidbar. The custom has been to isolate the word or words that are the title and conjugate accordingly. This is why we have Tazriyah and not Sazriyah. Mishpatim and not HaMishpatim (since we do not use v'aileh and clarify it with asher ...). Devarim and not HaDevarim. Since the reference is to a specific desert (Sinai) the hay hayediyah is implemented. The names, according to tradition, are clearly not just the word or words of the beginning phrase.


MG said...

If that argument were true, we would call the second book of the Torah "Sheimos", and not "Shemos".
"Shemos" is only conjugated in that form as it is somech to the words "Bnei Yisroel"; as a stand-alone word it would be "Sheimos". The reality is that we are not consistent with how we colloquially name the parshios.

Shtikler said...

Very true.
But at the very least, it shows that I should not be so particular about it.
The truth is that other rules fall by the wayside when it comes to proper names as well: When was the last time you learned the Mishnah Verurah?

Anonymous said...

Bad example, I think - I believe that "Mishnah Berurah" is actually grammatically correct because of the exception of Ati Merachek.

Shtikler said...

Please explain

Chuck said...

To add to Mg's comment:
"Bereishis" should be "Barishona" (at least according to Rashi),"Behar" should be "Bahar," "Chukas" should be "Chukah," and "Masei" should be "Masaim."

Anonymous said...

Dude, I addressed this in my Hadoresh Umivakesh on the Torah years ago:

1:1- וַיְדַבֵּר יְהוָה אֶל-מֹשֶׁה בְּמִדְבַּר סִינַי, בְּאֹהֶל מוֹעֵד: בְּאֶחָד לַחֹדֶשׁ הַשֵּׁנִי בַּשָּׁנָה הַשֵּׁנִית, לְצֵאתָם מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם--לֵאמֹר
What is the name of this section of Chumash? I had always thought of it as Bamidbar (with an a), as it is spelled out in most English versions of the chumash. Yet R’ Aryeh Kaplan (my personal choice of Chumash) writes it as Bemidbar (with an e), which is in fact the correct punctuation of the word as it appears in the parsha. Obviously, the reason why we know the word differently from the proper way is because we already know which desert is referred to, thus changing the vowel from a shva into a patach. Interesting.