Friday, March 26, 2010

First-born males

I just received this excellent question from my father:
Why is it מכת בכורות but תענית בכורים?
I'm sure there's an excellent answer as well but I can't think of one off the top of my head.

Friday, February 5, 2010

בעלמא די ברא כרעותיה

As per the comments, the below theory is most probably invalid. But I thought it would be nice to bring up the discussion anyway:

I once had a discussion with a friend about the specific pronunciation of the word כרעותיה in the above exerpt from the beginning of קדיש. Should there be a דגש in the כ"ף or not? He reasoned that with no דגש, the word כרעותיה connects with ברא as it is the ending vowel sound that steals the דגש. This would then group this phrase together to mean "the world which He has created according to His will."

However, if you leave the דגש in the כ"ף that disjoints the word כרעותיה from ברא, essentially forming a complete thought out of all the words that precede it. "His will" would therefore not be defining "the world He created," but rather "יתגדל ויתקדש שמיה רבא." Let His name grow exalted and be sanctified according to his will.

Leaving aside which understanding is correct, I would like to suggest the דגש does not necessarily change the meaning in this manner. I say this based on the טעם העליון and טעם התחתון, the two distinct arrangements of trop for the עשרת הדברות. Commandments 6 to 9 have a varying דגש in the leading תי"ו depending on which reading is used. But surely the meaning of the words has not changed. This would seem to imply that presence of the דגש at the beginning of the word is somewhat arbitrary and does not determine the meaning of the word on its own.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Dikduk in the Rishonim

Someone today asked me whether I knew of a good book explaining dikduk of the Rishonim. Any ideas?