Friday, September 15, 2017

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.

Name of the פרשה

I try not to be too nit-picky about transliterations. But this week's פרשה is very often mispronounced and mistransliterated Netzavim. It is חיריק under the ו so it should be Nitzavim. Hey, I'm just standing up for what's right. (You see what I did there?)

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Shva vs. Kamatz?

In this week’s Parsha, the pasuk states (Devarim 24:6),

"לא יחבל רחים ורכב וגו'"

Tosefos discuss how there are actually two separate prohibitions, one for the רחים and one for the רכב. In the course of their discussion Tosefos mention that there was a possibility that some opinions could have thought that there was actually only one prohibition for the two, but since ורכב is written with a חטף it shows that these words are somewhat separated and are to be considered as two independent prohibitions. (Tosefos Menachos 58b) The Yaavetz mentions that Tosefos are referring to the lack of a שוא when they say חטף. (Yaavetz Menachos 58b)

The Rashash questions Tosefos’ assertion based on Targum Lashon Ivri (chapter 34). The rule as mentioned there, is that when the trop under the last word of a list of two or more items has a hard pause then the ו takes a קמץ instead. Based on this rule the lack of a שוא is not something that connotes a separation in our pasuk since וָרָכֶב clearly has an esnachta beneath it. Rather, it shows that the items are separated and that this is the last of the list. (Rashash Bava Metziah 115b)

I was wondering if one could possibly answer on Tosefos’ behalf that even though linguistically the pasuk does not demonstrate that two as being separate, on a level of drush one can see that they are. The Torah was given with an esnachta in this place instead of another trop formulation from the pasuk. The pronunciation conjures up the idea of the words being separate even if the actual reading does not mean that. Therefore, one can assume the words have a level of separation to the point that they can be considered independent prohibitions.

Shiluach Ha...

This week's פרשה contains one of my דקדוק pet peeves. The mitzvah of sending away the mother bird is very commonly referred to as "Shiluach haKan." However, the word is "kan" in the pasuk only because of סמיכות. When referring to the mitzvah, the proper term should be "Shiluach HaKein."

However, I was very intrigued to find this point actually discussed in this article by R' Zvi Goldberg of the Star-K. See footnote #1 (it's linked at the very beginning.)

Friday, August 25, 2017

Clean Blood

In פרשת שופטים, there are three instance where the term דם נקי, or a variation thereof, appears. If the vowel underneath the ד is a פתח, it would indicate סמיכות and the translation would be, "the blood of a clean (innocent) person." If it were a קמץ, it would simply mean clean blood. Although one might argue that the connotation is ultimately the same, I would say this is still a rather significant difference. Oh, wouldn't it be nice and simple if it were always the same. Alas, not only is it not always the same, there is not always 100% clarity as to which way it should be pronounced.

In שופטים, we have the following:
י"ט:י וְלֹא יִשָּׁפֵךְ דָּם נָקִי
י"ט:י"ג וּבִעַרְתָּ דַם הַנָּקִי
כ"א:ח וְאַל-תִּתֵּן דָּם נָקִי
The latter two appear to be undisputed. However, someone came over to me about the first one suggesting the בעל קריאה had said it wrong. I was certain he had not. But sure enough his (Artscroll) חומש had a פתח while mine (חורב) had a קמץ. I have embedded a snippet from the ספר אם למקרא למסורת below which should bring some clarity to the subject.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Two of a kind

In the beginning of the פרשה, י"ז:ו, regarding the giving of capital punishment, the pasuk says "על פי שנים עדים...", that we require at least two witnesses. Later on, (י"ט:ט"ו), regarding monetary matters, it states "על פי שני עדים...", again that two witnesses are required. Although the words שנים and שני both seem to mean 2, there is still a difference between the two. What is the difference, and why is one used over the other in each instance?

נצי"ב writes, in העמק דבר, that שני means two identical objects whereas שנים doesn't mean 2, but rather a pair. In ירושלמי סנהדרין, quoted in the .רא"ש כ"ג, it says that if two witnesses give absolutely identical testimony, they must be investigated further for something is a little suspicious. It is told that the גר"א would disqualify witnesses who gave absolutely identical testimony based on a משנה in סנהדרין. Therefore, with regards to capital cases, since there is a requirement to deeply investigate the witnesses (דרישה וחקירה), it says שנים, because identical testimony is not accepted. But in monetary matters, where there is no requirement of דרישה וחקירה, it says שני, because they are allowed to be identical.

[I was once asked why when we count the omer we say שני שבועות or שני ימים instead of שבועיים or יומיים. I answered based on the above, that שבועיים or יומיים would mean a pair of weeks, or a pair of days and therefore, would not be a real counting of two and for the sfira, we require a genuine count.]

מהרי"ל דיסקין offers an alternate explanation. The word שנים means not only two, but two at the same time. Just as רגליים or ידים refers to a presence of two hands or feet, שנים means two together. Therefore, for capital matters, it says שנים because the two witnesses must be present together. Two witnesses who observe a capital crime, but don't see each other are not valid witnesses. This is referred to in the gemara as עדות מיוחדת. However, for monetary matters, עדות מיוחדת is still valid. So the תורה wrote שני instead of שנים over there.

ר' יעקב Kaminetzky, in אמת ליעקב offers yet another approach. He suggests that the proper wording would usually be שני עדים. However, the :גמרא סוטה ב teaches that the word עד by itself implies two witnesses - because only the testimony of two witnesses is valid - unless the תורה makes it clear that it means one. Therefore, I might have thought that שני עדים means that two groups of two witnesses are required to build a capital case. Therefore, the term שנים עדים is used, implying שנים שהם עדים, two individuals who are witnesses, to dispel any such notion. Then, once it is clear that capital cases do not require two groups but rather simply two individuals, it is obvious that no more is needed for monetary cases and so the conventional wording, שני עדים, is used.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Don't Feed the Animals

We have previously discussed the possible mix-up of כבש and כשב. Whether or not the two words mean the exact same thing, it definitely needs to be corrected. I actually had to do just that this past שבת when I'm pretty sure the בעל קריאה said שה כבשים instead of י"ד:ד - שה כשבים. But while I was contemplating that, something arose on the very next פסוק which I was unsure of. Someone claimed that instead of אַיָּל, a deer, he said אַיִל, a ram. Whether he did or he didn't is not particularly relevant at this point, I suppose, but it is worth pointing out how similar these two words are while they refer to two completely different animals. And by posting this now, hopefully it will jog my memory to be en garde in coming years.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

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."

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.

Friday, August 4, 2017

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.)

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.

Friday, July 28, 2017

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.

יהצה, what is your real name?

In this week's פרשה, we find בני ישראל are confronted militarily by סיחון. The פסוק states כ"א:כ"ג ויבא יהצה. The question is, what was the name of the place? Was it יהץ and the pasuk is stating that he came to יהץ and the suffix ה implies to? Or is the name of the place actually יהצה?

The הפטרה appears to settle this quite unequivocally. In שופטים י"א:כ it states ויחנו ביהצה. That seems quite clear that the name of the place is יהצה. However, shockingly, אונקלוס in our פרשה renders ואתא ליהץ (as well as in דברים ב:לב)!!

תרגום יונתן in שופטים renders ושרו ביהצה.

Thank you to R' Ari Storch for pointing this out.


elie said...
ישעיה טו ד
ירמיה מח לד
!!!יהץ!!!
MG said...
This question is asked in the Sefer Derech Sicha (questions to R' Chaim Kanievsky by one of his talmidim). R' Chaim answers simply that the name evolved to יהצה by Yiftoch's time. Targum Onkelos, although written later, used the name that existed in the time of Moshe, which was יהץ.

Monday, July 24, 2017

The Cold has Passed

This past שבת I did not daven in my normal venue and therefore, was not in my usual position to correct. There were two faulty accents which unfortunately went completely uncorrected. The first was at the end of מטות:
ל"ב:ל"ח וַיִּקְרְא֣וּ בְשֵׁמֹ֔ת אֶת־שְׁמ֥וֹת הֶעָרִ֖ים אֲשֶׁ֥ר בָּנֽוּ
The בעל קריאה put the accent on the first syllable, BA-nu, instead of the second, ba-NU. This changes the meaning from "built" to "us" or "among us."

Then, in מסעי:
ל"ד:ד וְנָסַ֣ב לָכֶם֩ הַגְּב֨וּל מִנֶּ֜גֶב לְמַעֲלֵ֤ה עַקְרַבִּים֙ וְעָ֣בַר צִ֔נָה
Here, the accent was mistakenly placed on the last syllable, tzi-NAH. It must be on the first syllable, TZI-nah. The real meaning is "to Tzin." However, the way it was pronounced, it would seem to mean "and the cold passed," or "the shield has passed," as in תהלים צ"א:ד.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Whose tribe is it anyway?

(ל"ו:ט)
וְלֹא תִסֹּב נַחֲלָה מִמַּטֶּה לְמַטֶּה אַחֵר


A slightly embarassing story: A number of years ago, I was all ready for this פסוק and when the בעל קריאה pronounced it לְמַטֵּה אַחֵר I pounced on him and corrected him. One of the גבאים then corrected me and showed me that his חומש clearly said לְמַטֵּה.


First, let me clarify my position. When I was going over the פרשה the night before, I noticed that the תרגום of למטה אחר was "לשבטא אחרנא". This would mean that the term is translated as "another tribe." Pronouncing it לְמַטֵּה would give it סמיכות and it would then be understood as "the tribe of another. If that were the proper form, the תרגום would have been "לשבטא דאחרנא." The former also seemed to be the more intuitive understanding of the words. I was therefore quite confident that this was the right pronunciation and לְמַטֵּה would distort the meaning of the word.


It turns out I wasn't completely wrong. As the ספר אם למקרא (which I was finally able to score for myself) points out, there is a מחלוקת as to how this word is to be pronounced. Indeed, R' Breuer, on whom my חומש was based, says it should be לְמַטֶּה . But there are others who disagree. The בעל קריאה actually called me in the middle of the week to acknowledge this and stated that had he known, he would have made sure to pronounce it לְמַטֶּה in accordance with R' Breuer.

Nevertheless, when פ' מסעי comes around every year, I make sure to keep my mouth shut on this פסוק.

They are correct, sir!

כ"ז:ז כֵּן בְּנוֹת צְלָפְחָד דֹּבְרֹת
ל"ו:ה כֵּן מַטֵּה בְנֵי יוֹסֵף דֹּבְרִים

A friend of mine pointed out the glaring similarity between these two פסוקים which are obviously closely related. But, additionally, he pointed out, why is דובר used instead of the more common מדבר. Any thoughts?





Binny said...
kal vs. nifal
I assume it is to show that they did not present their argument in a harsh manner. These are not the only pplaces where that verb form is found in kal.


Anonymous said...
Binny: you mean Kal vs. Piel...

ELIE said...
אבל בתחילה כתוב ויקרבו ראשי האבות...ויְדַבְּרו ולא ויִּדְברו
אבל בפרשת פינחס לא כתוב על
בנות צלפחד ותדברנה
לכן אולי נאמר בדרך של ביני
בנות צלפחד ביקשו יפה לא בתקיפות ולכן כתוב שם דוברות
וכדי להשוות כתוב כך גם על מטה יוסף


The Interrogative

(ל"א:ט"ו)
וַיֹּאמֶר אֲלֵיהֶם מֹשֶׁה הַחִיִּיתֶם כָּל נְקֵבָה


When the soldiers returned with the women they had captured from מדין we find משה quite annoyed. He exclaims in a rhetorical manner, "You let the all the women live?!" A rhetorical question, however, is still a question. The understanding of this statement as a question hinges on the ניקוד of הַחִיִּיתֶם. If this word were to be mispronounced הֶחֶיִֵיתֶם it would lose its interrogative form and be understood as a statement - "You have let all the women live." While the message of the פסוק would ultimately be the same, I think this mistake would distort the true meaning of the word and should definitely be corrected on the spot.

To afflict or to answer


(ל:י"ד)
כָּל נֵדֶר וְכָל שְׁבֻעַת אִסָּר לְעַנֹּת נָפֶשׁ

Of course, one should not get too distracted with all the מפיק ה's that they miss the important nuance in this פסוק. An erroneous פתח under the ל would change the meaning of the word from that of affliction to that of answering. En garde!

[Also, it is best to stress the דגש חזק in the נו"ן for the same reason as per the anonymous comment below.]

Don't miss the Mapik!

The first עליה of the פרשה contains many instances of a מפיק ה. Sometimes I think they should have an oxygen tank up there just to get through it. For many of them, it might not be entirely critical as its meaning is clear without the מפיק ה. However, for words like אִישָׁהּ where missing the מפיק ה would change the meaing of the word from "her husband" to "a woman," it is of utmost importance to make sure that these words are pronounced properly.

Monday, July 17, 2017

One Big Happy Family?

The recounting of the tribes and their various descendants generally follows a pretty steady pattern. The first name contains no prefix and the rest are prefixed with a למ"ד as follows: פלוני... לפלוני... לפלוני... וכו. An anomaly is found, however, in the children of גלעד. We find איעזר, לחלק, ואשריאל, ושכם, ושמידע, וחפר. The latter four are prefixed with a וי"ו. Why?

In a discussion within the דקדוק WhatsApp group, it was suggested that the explanation for this might lie in the turn of events at the end of the next week's פרשה in which the daughters of צלפחד are instructed that they must marry within the שבט in order that their father's portion of the land not end up belonging to another שבט. Perhaps these are the individuals, or the families of the individuals, who married those daughters. Since their families were ultimately intertwined, instead of the traditional למ"ד separating each name, a וי"ו החיבור is used to indicate that in the end, they were all one big family.

Friday, July 14, 2017

I Say Yericho, You Say Yereicho

The city we know of us Jericho is commonly pronounced יְרִחוֹ. This is, in fact, how it is written in נ"ך*. However, in last week's פרשה and this week's, and in all other examples in the תורה it is written יְרֵחוֹ (with a צרי). Anyone have an explanation for the change?

*As per Anonymous' comment: It is written this way in יחושע, שמואל and מלכים (with the exception of מלכים ב כ"ה:ה) but in ירמיהו, עזרא, נחמיה and דברי הימים it is יְרֵחוֹ as well.

All of the brothers

(כ"ז:ט-י)
וְאִם אֵין לוֹ בַּת וּנְתַתֶּם אֶת נַחֲלָתוֹ לְאֶחָיו
וְאִם אֵין לוֹ אַחִים וּנְתַתֶּם אֶת נַחֲלָתוֹ לַאֲחֵי אָבִיו


In the first פסוק one must be careful about לְאֶחָיו, to his brothers, not being pronounced לְאָחִיו, to his (singular) brother. However, the second פסוק contains a more dangerous possible mistake (by that, I mean that it is a mistake much easier to make and much harder to detect) and that would be לַאֲחִי אָבִיו instead of לַאֲחֵי אָבִיו, once again erroneously switching the plural to the singular.

פינחס - What's in a name?

... A יו"ד, that's what. In the תורה, the name פינחס is written מלא, thus rendering the שוא underneath the נו"ן a שוא נע. However, in שמואל, the son of עלי is פנחס without a יו"ד. Could it be that they are actually considered different names?

Lest one suggest that this might be a תורה-נביאים quirk like ירחו, in the very last פסוק of יהושע, it is written פינחס.

Last week, the בעל קריאה did not pronounce the שוא נע in פינחס so since he was reading it again anyway for מפטיר I brought this to his attention whereas I would never do so for or a regular שוא נע.

UPDATE: Based on Elie's comment, the above appears to be incorrect. Both names are really פינחס. But the one פנחס is an exception. So now the question is "Why?"

Reader question: שבת בשבתו

A reader recently sent in this interesting question:
In this week's parsha, במדבר כח:י, the פסוק reads:
'עֹלַת שַׁבַּת בְּשַׁבַּתּוֹ וגו
Why is the סמיכות form (שַׁבַּת) used instead of שַׁבָּת?

Shaggy said...
We often employ the semichut construct at times for certain words, see Nechemia 9:14 "וְאֶת-שַׁבַּת קָדְשְׁךָ".
Similarly in Parshat Emor "מִשְׁפַּט אֶחָד יִהְיֶה לָכֶם".
Just a Masoretic quirk.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

The Dead of the Plague

The following was apparently told over in a dream to his son by R' Shraga Feivel of Smargan. The last pasuk of this week's parsha (25:9) gives us the devastating death toll of the plague that followed B'nei Yisrael's intermingling with the Midyanites. There is an odd structure to the trop, notes, on this particular pasuk. The esnachta, which somewhat resembles a wishbone, indicates the primary stop in the middle of a pasuk. It usually concludes a thought. Take, for example, a few pesukim earlier (25:3) "Vayitzamed Yisrael leVa'al Pe'or, vayichar af HaShem beYisrael." And Yisroel clung to Ba'al Pe'or, and HaShem's wrath glowed upon Yisroel. The esnachta is used to separate the two distinct thoughts. However, our pasuk seems to be one single thought. In fact, a very similar pasuk earlier on (17:14) seems to classify such a statement as one thought. Why, then, is there an esnachta on the word bamageifah?

R' Feivel answers that this pasuk has in it a hidden meaning. Because of the terrible sin at Ba'al Pe'or, it was necessary to wipe out 24,000 of B'nei Yisrael. However, the gemara (Sanhedrin 105b) tells us that the period from the Shittim to the Gilgal (which encompasses this period,) was a period of goodwill during which HaShem did not become angry with B'nei Yisrael. Therefore, in order to lessen the blow of this plague, HaShem made it so that included in the 24,000 would be those who had reached their time to die anyway. This is expressed by the complete thought "Vayihyu hameisim bamageifah," and the dead ones, i.e. those who had reached their time to die, were in the plague. The pasuk then finishes off with a separate thought, tallying the total number of deaths in the plague.

I thought that perhaps this interpretation of the word meisim as those who were to die rather than those who died is in accordance with Rashi in parshas Ki Seitzei. Without getting into detail as to the meaning of Rashi, the pasuk warns to put a fence around one's roof so that you should not bring blood upon your house, "ki yipol hanofeil mimenu," if a faller were to fall from it. Rashi comments "Ki yipol hanofeil - ra'ui zeh lipol," the faller - one who deserved to fall. Here, too, we see a noun referring not to one to which something happened but one to whom this was destined to happen.

Friday, June 30, 2017

It wasn't thrown

There two instances in the opening section of the פרשה of the term מֵי נִדָּה לֹא זֹרַק. It is of utmost importance for זֹרַק to be pronounced properly indicating the passive - was not thrown - and not as זָרַק which would mean he did not throw. I am not from the "oy-ers" but those בעלי קריאה who are make it much easier to catch this. Many "oh-ers" do not necessarily differentiate enough between קמץ and חולם, making this very difficult to catch.

Watch out for that חיריק

(כ:י"ג)
הֵמָּה מֵי מְרִיבָה אֲשֶׁר רָבוּ בְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶת ה' וַיִּקָּדֵש בָּם

The difference between וַיִּקָּדֵש and וַיְּקַדֵש is tremendous - to be sanctified or to sanctify. This is an easy mistake to make and an easy mistake to miss and should definitely be corrected. En garde!
(Note that there is an additional significant difference in the vowel underneath the ק. But for ספרדים, that might be insignificant.)

What land was Sichon king of?

Sound like a silly question? I'm not so sure it is.We find numerous references throughout the תורה to the אמורי. In פרשת חקת, we are introduced to סיכון מלך האמורי. It would seem, from the structure of the word, that אמורי is the name of the nationality - Canadian, American, אמורי. But what is the name of the land? Canada, America ... Is it אמור? Is it possible that אמורי was also the name of the land and the word simply stays as is? We see a similar situation with the families listed in the census: לְיִשְׁוִי מִשְׁפַּחַת הַיִּשְׁוִי

Am I missing something obvious on this? Anyone see anything that might answer this question? It is similar to our discussion of יהצה.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Flee Market

A number of years ago, I let a mistake go which I have been wondering about. In ט"ז:ל"ד, the word נָסוּ should be pronounced NA-su with the accent מלעיל. However, it was mispronounced na-SU, מלרע. My compunctions are based on the possibility that moving the accent to the end would make the word derive from the root נסיון. However, I can't recall ever seeing such a word in form. It would be נִסוּ (with a חיריק.)

Thoughts?

Just do it! ... again

As we have discussed in פרשיות מקץ and ויגש, it is of utmost importance that the word עֲשׂוּ is pronounced with the חטף-פתח and not a קמץ which would change the word from a command to a past tense verb. The same is true, of course, in this week's פרשה in ט"ז:ו.

בעלי קריאה I have heard in the past are very careful to get this right. I also heard extra emphasis put on the פתח in תַלִּינוּ in פסוק י"א. It occurred to me that if mispronounced with a קמץ, the meaning would change there too from the root of תלונה, complaint, to לינה, sleeping.

I know the critics will probably jump on this and say that the דגש would disappear if it were קמץ and therefore it does not change the meaning. However, I have stated my opinion on this before. For a בעל קריאה who is actually careful with the דגש, perhaps that is a valid point. However, for the large majority who are not, the vowel is clearly the more dominant indicator.

ויקח קרח



Chuck asked...
Someone asked my sister the first word of parashat Korach (va yi KACH) has its stress on the third syllable. He thinks the stress should be on the second syllable (va YI kach) based on tropp reasons or something.
Any thoughts? (We can start with if he's correct, and if so why.)
MG said...
He's wrong. He thinks that the word "vayikach" should be "nasog achor" because the stress on "korach" is on the first syllable and we often push back a prior word's stress so as not to conflict with the second word. However, one exception to the rule is that nasog achor does not "jump" over a sheva nach or a dagesh chazak. Here the "kuf" has a dagesh and thus the stress remains on the last syllable. Happy to elaborate or give similar examples

Thursday, June 15, 2017

What's different about אפרים?

This has bothered me for many years. The פסוקים enumerating the names of the spies are almost all identical in structure with the obvious exception of מנשה for whom it says למטה יוסף למטה מנשה. As such, the טעמים on the פסוקים are identical as well with the curious exception of אפרים. Instead of the זקף קטון as with the others, למטה אפרים has a מרכא-טפחא. Why?

I have heard a suggestion that perhaps the different tone is meant to indicate יחושע's ענוה. But I am not convinced. In pondering this issue I did come to an interesting discovery which may somehow be connected to the reasoning behind this. Of all of the sons of יעקב, the only one whose name is pronounced with the accent not on the last syllable is אפרים! Perhaps this affects how the פסוק needs to be noted.

As is often the case here, MG comes to the rescue:
MG said...
I've seen two answers for this. I'll leave out one of them because it has a more "Chasidish"/Drush slant.
Basically, this posuk is an exception because "Bin-Nun" is a "short" word (all the other names have more syllables). Because of that, we don't want to place a tipcha (pause/melech)immmediately prior, since that presents a slightly difficult flow of words. So we must have a mercha there, as that is the only possible meshares for a sof-posuk. Thus the tipcha (which is required to be in every single posuk at least once) gets moved to the word "Efroyim".

Friday, June 9, 2017

The Impure

The Torah recounts that as בני ישראל brought what would be their only קרבן פסח during their sojourn in the desert, there were individuals who were טמא מת and thus unable to participate. There is a discussion in the gemara (.סוכה כה) as to who in fact these individuals were. ר' יוסי הגלילי suggests they were the ones in charge of transporting יוסף's body. רבי עקיבא is of the opinion that it was מישאל and אלצפן who were instructed to remove נדב and אביהו bodies from the mishkan. Finally, רבי יצחק discounts the first two opinions and posits that these were individuals who had become tamei as a result of a מת מצוה.

It is somewhat intriguing that the approach taken in the גמרא is that there was something special and unique about this group. Although, it is not unusual for a midrashic source to fill in the blanks in a פסוק, even if there is no compelling evidence that there is something missing. However, there is a question to be asked on the first two opinions. Why is it that ר' יוסי and רבי עקיבא assume that these individuals were part of a single group, that they were all טמאי מת for the same reason? Could there not have been more than one cause for people to be טמא?

Perhaps they made an inference from the specific wording of the פסוק. The introduction to this story is as follows (9:6)
ויהי אנשים אשר היו טמאים לנפש אדם
One would have expected the פסוק to read "ויהיו" in the plural. But instead, the singular "ויהי" is used in reference to a group of people. Perhaps ר' יוסי and רבי עקיבא understand that the פסוק is specifically worded this way to convey that although there were a number of individuals were טמא, they were all טמא for the same reason.

In my Humble Opinion...

Technically, this pet peeve is not connected to any פרשה in particular but for obvious reasons, it becomes more prevalent for פרשת בהעלותך. It's very simple - ענִווּת - the word simply does not exist, at least not in any authoritative source that I know of. The real word for humility found everywhere that counts, for example, the very end of משניות סוטה, is ענווה. Yet you will hear people everywhere use this word, even people who are normally careful to use proper דקדוק. Unfortunately, Google Translate does not agree with me. But that's probably because it has managed to slip into the language. How? My guess is that might be a sort of Yiddishism. Just like we have טליתים, שבתים and תעניתים when the real words are טליתות, שבתות and תעניות, many descriptive words tend to end with ות such as חסידות and התנגדות so it is assumed that the word for humility should as well. But... it doesn't.
If this word does exist somewhere and I simply haven't seen it, please correct me.

... and so MG has done in the comments. He cites two examples where the word is used by מהרש"א:

:מועד קטן ט"ז


.סוטה מ


So this is still a curious matter. Let's say the word is not used through the ראשונים and suddenly appears. Where did it come from? Indeed, לשון הקדש is an evolving language as seen throughout תנ"ך and history. We find new words arise that haven't been used before. But what makes this more puzzling is that there already exists a perfectly sufficient word in the language. Why create a new one?

Friday, June 2, 2017

Alephs and Ayins


The שולחן ערוך או"ח קכח:לג, based on the :גמרא מגילה כ"ד states that someone who cannot properly pronounce the letters, such as one who mispronounces an א as an ע or an ע as an א, should not go up to perform ברכת כהנים. The difficulty with this is that the פסוקים do contain an א but do not contain an ע. Why then would someone who mispronounces an ayin as an aleph be forbidden from performing ברכת כהנים?
רש"י in the גמרא seems to be sensitive to this issue. He gives a specific example of a grievous mispronunciation that would result with the exchange of an ע for an א. However, when explaining the opposite substitution, he writes simply that as a result of this substitution he will disqualify his prayers. This statement of רש"י is quite vague and requires further interpretation but it shows, nevertheless, that רש"י addressed the lack of an ע in ברכת כהנים.
The issue is dealt with further in the commentaries on the שולחן ערוך. The question is raised in באר היטב but no answer is given. מחצית השקל seems to suggest that this is not an issue as the גמרא is simply referring to one who confuses the two letters. Thus, as long as one of the substitutions is significant, it is a sufficient problem.
I suggest a possible explanation for the גמרא which may be the meaning of רש"י as well. After the כהנים complete the main part of ברכת כהנים, they recite an additional prayer which begins, "רבונו של עולם, עשינו מה שגזרת עלינו..." concluding with the פסוק:
הַשְׁקִיפָה מִמְּעוֹן קָדְשְׁךָ מִן-הַשָּׁמַיִם, וּבָרֵךְ אֶת-עַמְּךָ אֶת-יִשְׂרָאֵל, וְאֵת הָאֲדָמָה, אֲשֶׁר נָתַתָּה לָנוּ--כַּאֲשֶׁר נִשְׁבַּעְתָּ לַאֲבֹתֵינוּ, אֶרֶץ זָבַת חָלָב וּדְבָשׁ
Pronouncing the ע of נשבעת as an א would drastically change the meaning from "you have sworn" to sounding something like נִשְׁבָּתָּ, "you have been taken captive." Although this is not part of the actual blessings of the כהנים, perhaps it is a serious enough mispronunciation to forbid a כהן from performing ברכת כהנים.

Another suggestion made by Snag in the comments is that the real שם המפורש used in the בית המקדש might contain an ע. But that doesn't fit with רש"י and also doesn't account for why we would still be particular about this today.

Friday, May 26, 2017

במדבר

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.

פרשת במדבר

From Elie:

דיונים לשוניים
א. כתבת שהטעם בתיבת ונתתי (בהפטרת במדבר) נסוג אחור.
ואכן כך הוא בתנ"ך ברויאר, אמנם בתנ"ך קורן הוא במלרע (ומתג בנו"ן).
{וכשהפטרתי אשתקד בנביא מתוך תנ"ך ברויאר, המדקדק שבמקומנו (שקרא מתוך תנ"ך קורן) החזיר אותי לקרוא במלרע (שינוי משמעות!) וכך פעמיים ושלש עד שהראיתי לו שכן הוא בספרים מדוייקים מלעיל.}
וכן בפרשת השבוע שעבר: "ושלחתי דבר בתוככם" נסוג אחור בהברה סגורה.
האם תמיד יש נסוג אחור בהברה סגורה?

ודאתאן להכי, מהם כללי נסוג אחור?
לפני זמן רב ראיתי כללי נסוג אחור בהקדמת המדקדק ר' שמעון וייזר לתיקון קוראים הוצאת מישור, ואינני זוכר מה שראיתי.

שבת שלום.

בברכה
שמעון דוד קורץ
שלום רב
לר' שמעון דויד
ובכן באחד מהדפים כתבתי לסתור את הכלל שנמצא אצל רז"ה שאין נסיגת טעם להברה סגורה
מזה שמצאנו מילים עם וי"ו ההיפוך לעתיד נשארות מלעיל כשהן סמוכות לטעם.
למעשה נראה לקיים את הכלל הזה.
ויש כנראה הבדל בין השארת טעם מלעיל במילה שלולא ו' ההיפוך היא מלעילית,
ובין הסגת הטעם מסוף המילה להברה שלפניה כשהיא סגורה בשוא נח או בדגש.
הדבר הזה עלה בכמה מדיונינו.
עכשיו אם לא הסתבכת ממה שכתבתי עד עתה, ושלחתי דבר המילה ושלחתי היא מלעילית אלא שכדי להבחין בינה ובין עבר עם ו' החיבור מטעימים אותה מלרע.
אם יש סיבה כמו סמיכות הברות היא שבה לדינה. והזכירו שכך פסקו להלכה.
כללי נסוג אחור פחות או יותר מוכרים, קשה להגדיר אותם חד משמעית הלא תראה מה שהבאתי השבוע מהרב משולם מקרית ספר.
יש סתירה בין מחנה למחנה.
במחנה אני יכול להסביר שעל הטעם הנסוג ללכת דרך ארוכה יותר ו"לדלג" מעל שוא נע (חטף) ולכן אם הוא לא עושה כן אין כל כך קושיא.
למה אם כן והיתה לו נסוג? כי הוא עושה כן הרבה פעמים, אבל לסגת לסגורה אינו נסוג.
אני מעביר לכמה שבעבר דנו עמי על זה או על בדומה לזה.
אליהו

החילוק בין מחנה למחנה אמנם קשה, אבל מה שכתב ר' אליהו לגבי כללו של רז"ה 'אין נסיגה אחור להברה סגורה', כבר נתווכחתי עמו וטענתי את מה שהוא טוען כעת בדיוק, אם כי הוא טוען זאת בדרך אפשר: לעולם אין נסיגה אחור להברה סגורה. ומקרים כמו 'ושלחתי דבר' הם מילים שמוטעמות מעיקרן מלעיל, ורק ו"ו ההיפוך היא שהפכתן מלרע, והנסיגה אחור מחזירתן למצבן המקורי.
אותו חילוק, אבל בהגדרה מעט עמוקה יותר: הטעמת מלעיל הנוצרת מחמת נסיגה אחור אינה נחשבת כמלעיל גמור, כפי שכותב המנש"י ששוא הבא אחרי הטעמה כזו עדיין יהיה שוא נע [דוגמת 'כֽוֹכְבֵי אור' שהשוא הוא נע], אבל מילים מלעיליות גמורות דוגמת לַֽיְלָה, מַֽטָּה, לָקַֽחְתִּי, שָׁלַֽחְתִּי – השוא שאחרי ההטעמה הוא נח גמור משום שזו הטעמה מלאה.
כעת: הברה סגורה יכולה להיות מוטעמת למרות שהיא מנוקדת בתנועה קטנה [למרות שגם זה אינו שכיח כל כך, כי אם בפעלים ובאותן מילים שהזכרתי, אבל על פי רוב אין הברה סגורה מוטעמת נקודה בתנועה קטנה]. אבל מלעיל שאינו גמור – דהיינו המלעיל שנוצר מחמת נסיגה אחור – אינו בא בשום אופן בהברה סגורה. ולכן לא תתכן נסיגה אחור אל הברה סגורה
בברכה
יעקב לויפר
סטייה מהנושא קצת אבל על פי רוב אין הברה סגורה מוטעמת נקודה בתנועה קטנה בפעלים שכיח מאוד הברה מוטעמת בתנועה קטנה
אכל ישב נשבר, יש גם מילים של הברה אחת כמו דף או מס או הדס
הכלל שתנועה גדולה היא בהברה פתוחה לא מוטעמת
וקטנה בהברה סגורה לא מטעמת
החלק שלו הנכון הוא תנועה גדולה אינה בהברה סגורה לא מוטעמת.
ולכן שוא אחרי ת"ג לא מוטעמת הוא נע. יש לזה חריגים בארמית.
שאר הכלל הוא נטייה כללית והרבה מקומות שאינם מתנהגים לפי נטייה זו.

ב. שלום
ראיתי בספרו של ר' ניסן שרוני (אם למקרא השלם) את הכלל של הדגשת בג"ד כפ"ת בראש מלה, אף שהתיבה הקודמת מסתיימת בהברה פתוחה, כאשר ישנן שני עיצורים דומים או זהים והראשונה מנוקדת בשו"א (הוא קרא לכלל זה 'הדומות'). לדוג' "בשבתך בביתך"; לעניין זה ב' ופ' דומות ("איש יביא בפריו אלף כסף") {עוד הזכיר שם דעת א' הקדמונים (אינני זוכר כעת מיהו) שאף ב' ומ' דומות (ולשיטתו "כי במקלי" הב' דגושה).
אח"כ כתב שכלל זה אינו נוהג אחרי מלה קצרה, לדוג' "לא תתעב מצרי" וציין מקורו במ"ש.

כנראה הוכרח לפרש (המ"ש) כן, כי לא מצא הסבר אחר לרפיון התי"ו.
אך קשה ממה שכתב לעיל על "כי במקלי", ועוד קשה מפסוק בעזרא ה,יז דכתיב התם "די בבבל" בבי"ת
דגושה. (הייתי מעדיף למצוא דוגמה בעברית, אך חיפשתי ומצאתי רק 'כמעט הוכחה' טעם מפסיק, או מפיק)
[המ"ש לשיטתו, יכול לומר שדקדוק לשון ארמית שאני, כמו שכמדומני שראיתי שכתב לגבי תיבת דריוש בשו"א נח אחרי תנועה גדולה דדקדוק לשון ארמי אינו כלשון הקדש]

אמנם לענ"ד נראה, כי כלל זה של הדומות אינו שייך באות תי"ו; ואין לי הסבר אחר, חוץ מזה שאפשר לומר, כי כלל זה בא להקל על הלשון (וליתר דיוק, על השפתיים והחך) ואילו באות תי"ו אין זה כ"כ הכבדה על הלשון בקריאת שני תי"ו רפויים רצופים כשהראשונה בשו"א (כך לפחות אני מרגיש).

בברכה
שמעון דוד קורץ
זה הוזכר בקצרה באחד העלונים האחרונים בהערת שוליים על רשימת הדקדוקים (עיין בפרשת אמור על אשה בבתוליה).
שם זה נקרא אותיות צבותות.
אם יש לך גליון כי-תצא עיין מה שכתבתי על לא תתעב.
הכלל הזה אינו נכון אצל תי"ו.
למעשה מסתבר שגם בבי"ת וכ"ף הוא לא יהיה נכון אחרי מקף כך שכל הדיון מלא תתעב הוא מוטעה לענ"ד.
בעניין כי במקלי נדמה לי שרוו"ה מביא בזה בשם עין הקורא, יש בזה מחלוקת, אבל לפי ספרינו כלל זה נכון בב-ב ובב-פ אבל לא בב-מ.
לענין "כ"ף' יש דיון על כקול או על כגעת,
אגב דאגב יש ביהושוע ובשופטים המעשה עם עכסה בת כלב אשת עתניאל "ויהי בבואה" ביהושוע הוא עם פסק ולכן הבית דגושה כדין, בשופטים יש מונח רביע ללא פסק והבי"ת דגושה מדין צבותות.
אליהו

Clarification of a שוא נע rule

As the Shabbos before my mother's yahrtzeit, I will lain this הפטרה from time to time. In 2014was actually my first time laining הפטרת במדבר. (It did fall out this way three years prior but there was a בר מצוה in shul.) I came across something I thought odd and eventually discovered an interesting nuance of which I was not previously aware. Going through my other stuff on במדבר it appears Elie's post addresses almost the exact same issue. But I found it a little difficult to follow (probably my fault, not his) and so I thought I'd lay out in simpler English:

There are a number of reasons a שוא would be נע. There is a well-known mnemonic - א ב ג ד ה ו where each letter stands for a different rule. The ג stands for תנועה גדולה. If the שוא is preceded by a קמץ, for example (except if it's a קמץ קטן,) the שוא should be נע. However, I recalled that there is an exception to this rule. If the letter with the קמץ has a trop on it, it does not make the שוא נע. I was therefore puzzled when I saw in my תיקון:
  וְעָ֤נְתָה שָּׁ֙מָּה֙ כִּימֵ֣י נְעוּרֶ֔יהָ
The שוא under the נ of וענתה was shown to be נע. But what about the note on the ע?

I have the big monster of a תיקון סימנים which has a thorough discussion of the rules in the front. He goes into detail about this exception. Indeed, there is an exception to the exception. Not surprising in the world of דקדוק. The trop only prevents the שוא נע if it is in its natural position. If the word were on its own, where would the note be? We see from דברים כ"ה:ט וְעָֽנְתָה֙ וְאָ֣מְרָ֔ה  that the natural accent is מלרע. In our case, it is pushed forward by the מלעיל accent on שמה and the rule of נסוג אחור. Since the מהפך on the נ is not its natural position, the שוא remains נע, just as it does in בראשית ל:ל"ג וְעָֽנְתָה־בִּ֤י צִדְקָתִי֙.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Life as we Know it

In the section dealing with our obligation to reach out and come to the aid of our neighbour, there is a glaring discrepancy, pointed out by Meshech Chachmah, in two adjacent pesukim. The first deals with the ger toshav, a non-Jew who has sworn off avodah zarah but is not subject to all of our mitzvos. We are commanded to support him in his time of need. The pasuk ends of, "vachai imach." The next pasuk, dealing with the prohibition of charging interest, ends of, "vechei achicha imach." The message seems almost the same but the word vachai turns into vechei.

Meshech Chachmah explains the difference between these two similar terms. One might summarize it as follows: Chei is to live whereas chai is life itself. We find the word chai used with respect to HaShem, as in "Chai HaShem," because He embodies everlasting lifeThe word chei is used with respect to more fleeting life, such as Yoseif's use of the term "chei Par'oah."


When we support our neighbour, the ger toshav, it is far more than providing financial stability. Since he has not accepted the full burden of all mitzvos, his sole source of "everlasting life" is his connection to our community. If we do not come to his aid, he will surely stray and give up the life he had chosen. Therefore, reaching out to him is indeed providing him with everlasting life.


The second pasuk refers to achicha, your Jewish brother. He therefore already merits the "everlasting life" by virtue of his service of HaShem and acceptance of all mitzvos, a pact he surely cannot alleviate himself of under any circumstances. Therefore, our financial support, however mandatory, is simply providing superficial, physical life. And so, the word chei is used instead. 

Hearing Los

A few years ago I was pondering what it means when there is a kri/ksiv when the kri and ksiv are homonyms. A prime example of this is when there is a kri/ksiv on the word lo when both the kri and ksiv are read lo, but one is spelled lamed aleph and the other lamed vav. While this issue has crept into my head several times, especially when the laining of the week would have an example, I never dedicated much time to pursuing the idea until recently. In the back of my head I kept wondering if the possible solution to this issue was something that could be a fundamental way of understanding lashon hakodesh.

There are certain languages that are considered to be tonal and others that are not. Being a tonal language means that the pitch which a speaker uses is not just helpful in understanding context and emotion, but even definition. For example, many tonal languages have homonyms found in the language that change meaning based on whether the speaker enunciates these words with a high pitch or low pitch tone. I began to consider that maybe lashon hakodesh is somewhat tonal in nature. It is important to note that there are very few homonyms in lashon hakodesh, but the tonal nature would be just as integral to the enunciation of any word, not just a homonym, as the proper vowels being used. Thus, if one were to say a word that should have a high pitch sound incorrectly, he may have spoken the word incorrectly and it might not have any meaning. It would be comparable to changing the vowels of a word without spelling a new word with the rearrangement such as spelling versus spilleng. Whereas, if it were a homonym that were spoken incorrectly, it could actually have a new meaning.

An integral part of laining is the fact that the words are read with a specific cantillation, trop. The nature of trop is such that it forces the reader to read the text with proper perspective. Many times the trop forces the reader to take pauses in places that had the reader continued reading without pause he would have misunderstood the verse. In this fashion the trop helps keep the proper punctuation in place. Perhaps, trop also forces the reader to enunciate with proper pitch in order to give that element to the word. Trop forces the reader to sound some words in higher pitch than others.

In order to test this hypothesis I decided to research the occurrences of kri/ksiv on the word lo as mentioned above. (Note: From this point on I will refer to lo with an aleph as aleph and lo with a vav as vav.) There are eighteen examples in tanach when there is a kri/ksiv with the kri being vav and the ksiv being aleph. The following cantillation marks can be found on the words being discussed: esnachta, munach, mahpach, tipcha, mercha (including one with a makaf to the following word containing a mercha), and sof pasuk (connected to the sof pasuk via makaf). I then decided to see how many alephs there were with the above trop. I was hoping to find very few or no alephs with this trop and a disproportionate amount of vavs that would. The theory would then be supported since it would then seem that the trop is adding the tonal element and although the word is written aleph it is sounded vav due to the trop. This would then prove that the kri adds the tonal element and although the word is written as aleph, the ksiv, it is read as vav, the kri.


The research did not show the anticipated results, but it showed something extremely interesting. I actually found the opposite of what I had anticipated to be true. With alephs I found the above mentioned trop occurred a total of two-thousand five-hundred and nineteen times. When I looked for similar vavs I found that there were only four times that they had the above trop. I found that to be somewhat astounding as such a staggering difference clearly displays that the alephs with that trop is normal and that the vavs are exceptions. If it was normal for the vavs one should see a much higher rate of having these cantillations. I also found it notable that all four exceptions can be found in Sefer Yirmiyah. Although one can come up with many theories as to why this is the case, that is not the purpose of this writing.


Just to be certain, I then took the examples when the ksiv is vav and the kri is aleph and found that there are only two cases like that in tanach. Interestingly, both are found in Sefer Shmuel and one has a pashta and the other is attached to a word with a kadma. When looking at the alephs that had these markings I found only one such occurrence. However, the vavs can be found with these markings one-hundred and two times. The one exception mentioned above is found in Sefer Devarim.


It would seem that the trop clearly does not reflect the kri rather it is an element of the ksiv. It is uncertain whether this is some function of trop or if it is an issue of lashon hakodesh being somewhat tonal, but it is fascinating to notice that trop does not reflect the kri. In today’s day and age it is certainly unreasonable to correct the shaliach tzibbur if he makes a mistake in trop with regard to a kri/ksiv of this nature or any other word, since we find no halachic precedent to do so. Perhaps, even when they were more attune to these issues they were only lechatchila and preferred, but not absolute ways of reading. Or, perhaps since we are not so familiar with these changes to the words we only correct items that are noticeably different to the populace.


Regarding the first question, how does one practically read a kri/ksiv that has the kri and ksiv as homonyms, I am still not one-hundred percent sure of the answer. Maybe kri means the intention and thought of the reader, so if in his head he was thinking aleph then it is an aleph. Again, I am not familiar with any source stating that if the shaliach tzibbur mentions he intended the wrong word that he must go back to that earlier place. So, I guess I am open to suggestion.


The following were the kri/ksiv cases with aleph as ksiv: Shemos 21:8, VaYikra 11:21 and 25:30, Shmuel 1 2:3, Shmuel 2 16:18, Melachim 2 8:10, Yeshaya 9:2, 49:5 and 63:9, Iyov 6:21, 13:4 and 41:4, Mishlei 19:6 and 26:1, Tehillim 100:1 and 139:16, Ezra 4:2, Divrei HaYamim 1 11:20.

The exceptions were: Yirmiyah 48:12, 49:1, 49:31 and 50:32.

The following were the kri/ksiv cases with vav as ksiv: Shmuel 1 2:16 and 20: 2.

The exception was: Devarim 32:29.