Thursday, November 16, 2017

Different types of kissing

A reader recently asked me about the different forms of the word "to kiss" found in the תורה. As a simple illustration:

בראשית ל"ג:ד וַיִּשָּׁקֵהוּ
בראשית ל"ב:א וַיְנַשֵּׁק

There seem to be two different בנינים used. Is there a difference in meaning between the two or any reasoning behind why one would be used more than the other?

In last week's פרשה we had:
  בראשית כ"ז:כ"ו גְּשָׁה נָּא וּשְׁקָה לִּי בְּנִי
Is that yet a third בנין or simply a conjugation of the first one above?

I will eat, you will eat

יעקב , כ"ז:י"ט tells קוּם נָא שְׁבָה וְאָכְלָה מִצֵּידִי ,יצחק. Mispronouncing it וְאֹכְלָה would drastically change the meaning from the second-person "you shall eat" to the first-person "I shall eat," as evidenced by its use in פסוק כ"ה. Fortunately, our בעל קריאה last year was, what my son would call, an oy-er, and a very consistent one at that, so the mistake stood out and I was able to catch it. But this is a mistake that an oh-er could very easily get away with, unfortunately.

It should also be noted (as Elie did below) that וְאֹכְלָה has a שוא נע under the כ whereas וְאָכְלָה has a שוא נח.

A reader has cleverly pointed out:
An amusing mnemonic device: The pasuk states: "קוּם־נָ֣א שְׁבָ֗ה" and not קוּם שְׁבָ֗ה נָ֣א -- It is not a שוא נע!

(From) the Fats of the Land

The ברכה to יעקב begins ויתן לך האלהים מטל השמים ומשמני הארץ כ"ז:כ"ח. One might be tempted to translate the last phrase as "from the fats of the land," with the מ"ם as a prefix meaning "from." However, if that were the case, there should be a דגש in the שי"ן. But there is not. It therefore seems to be that the מ"ם is in fact part of the word - משמן. The same would apply in עשו's ברכה in פסוק ל"ט although it is harder to understand in context there.

Anonymous MG said...
The Minchas Shai brings down old manuscripts that in fact did have a dagesh in the shin, then dismisses these versions. He quotes the Eben Ezra and the Radak who both say that the "מ" of "מטל" applies to both words, implying that the "מ" of "משמני" is not one of שימוש. Then he quotes the Chizkuni who seems to imply that the "מ" is indeed a שימוש here.
עיין שם.
November 22, 2009 9:31 PM

Friday, November 10, 2017

My Master's Brother(s)

פרק כד contains two very similar phrases with one very important distinction which would seem to change the meaning:
כ"ז בַּדֶּרֶךְ נָחַנִי ה' בֵּית אֲחֵי אֲדֹנִי
מ"ח לָקַחַת אֶת בַּת אֲחִי אֲדֹנִי לִבְנוֹ
The first one seems plural and the second is singular. However, there are two points that trouble me about the above observation:

1) I cannot understand why it would be plural. It doesn't really make much sense in context.

2) The תרגום of both is אחוהי which would seem to imply singular on both counts. When תרגום translates אֲחֵי that is clearly plural, such as במדבר כ"ז:ד, he actually leaves the word untouched and translates as אֲחֵי.
Is it possible that even אֲחֵי is singular here? (And if so, perhaps does not need to be corrected.) And of course, if so, the next question would be why does the word change?

Update 2016: Based on Anonymous's comment below (the second one) question #2 is not a question at all. In looking into it further, I came up with a theory to address my first question. The first פסוק is אליעזר's actual private prayer. אברהם sent him to find a girl from his family, seemingly without any further direction. So in truth, he could have ended up at any of אברהם's relatives and that would have sufficed. He was praising השם for guiding him to "the house of [one of] his master's brothers," אחי being used more loosely as a general reference to all relatives.

When telling over the story to רבקה's family, however, he felt that wouldn't make them feel terribly special. Using the singular form implied that he was specifically pleased with having found a girl from this particular family.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

באר שבע

The episode of the wells involving יצחק and אבימלך comes to a conclusion in באר שבע. However, it was called באר שבע before they got there. Then, after the covenant between יצחק and אבימלך, it is named באר שבע. Is this the same באר שבע as the one named by אברהם? If so, why did they name it the same name all over again?

רשב"ם writes that this was in fact a different באר שבע from the one in the times of אברהם. However, an interesting explanation is given by the ספורנו. He writes that the name in אברהם's time was בְּאֵר שָׁבַע. After the episode with יצחק and אבימלך, it was renamed to בְּאֵר שֶׁבַע. It is very interesting that this theory can not be disproved. Any time that the city is mentioned until now, it appears either at the end of a פסוק, or an אתנחתא. Even if it were בְּאֵר שֶׁבַע from before, the סגול would have always changed to a קמץ. So we have no way of knowing if it called בְּאֵר שָׁבַע because of its position in the פסוק or if it is because that is really its name. ספורנו writes that it was in fact its name since it was only named as such to reflect the vow that אברהם made. Now that it reflected the number seven as well, corresponding to the seven wells that were found, it was changed to בְּאֵר שֶׁבַע.

One year, on ראש השנה, the בעל קריאה said בְּאֵר שֶׁבַע and I almost corrected him based on the ספורנו. But I didn't.

Different forms of יירש

Previously, I have discussed the intricate difference between the ברכה given to אברהם after the עקידה and that given to רבקה before she departed to marry יצחק. However, I recently noticed that in וירא, the word is written וירש whereas in חיי שרה it is ויירש with two יו"דs. תרגום אונקלוס is identical. Any explanation for why they would be written differently?

Friday, October 27, 2017

King #5

This week's פרשה features the epic battle between the short-handed four kings, אמרפל, אריוך, כדרלעמר and תדעל, and the five kings, ברע, ברשע, שנאב, שמאבר and... wait, was the name of the fifth king? When the five kings are mentioned, the last is "ומלך בלע היא צער". Rashi explains that the city of בלע was also known as צער. The פסוק could not be naming צער as the king of בלע because of the feminine "היא." If צער were the name of the king of בלע, it would have read " ומלך בלע הוא צער." So what was his name and why is it left out?

A number of answers are suggested. רמב"ן states that בלע was a small city and so the name of its king was left anonymous due to his relative insignificance. שערי אהרן points out that the names of the four other kings are apparently nicknames alluding to each one's wickedness as רש"י thoroughly explains. From the story of the destruction of סדום in next week's פרשה we learn that צער was the least wicked of the five wicked cities slated for destruction. Thus, the king's name is left out due to his relatively insignificant wickedness.

Suprisingly, however, חומת אנך and ספר הישר actually write that the name of the king was בלע. I am not sure how the grammar of the פסוק works and why this king is differently introduced than the others but this is the only offering I have found as to the actual name of the king.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Different ways to wake up?

This past שבת, for the following פסוק:
ט:כ"ד וַיִּיקֶץ נֹחַ מִיֵּינוֹ
the בעל קריאה mistakenly said וַיִּיקַץ as it is in the beginning of ויצא and מקץ.
I corrected him out of reflex but later wondered what exactly is the difference between the two. As I always ask: If there's a difference, what is the difference. If there is no difference, why are they different?

Once again, Dikdukian is saved by its knowledgeable readers. Yaakov Gross explains:
The later examples (accent on ultimate syllable, with פתח) are the normal form. The first example (accent on penult, final vowel סגול) is נסוג אחור, because it leads into נח whose first syllable is accented; that shift of accent causes a change in the final syllable’s vowel. (The shift in accent is very common with וי"ו ההיפוך, and that often leads to a change of vowels as well. A very familiar example is ויברך (in ויכולו): accent move to ב, and vowel of ר changed from צירי to סגול.

Noach's three sons are...

If you ask most kids to name נח's three sons, you will almost certainly be told שֵׁם חָם and יָפֶת But of course, his name is only יָפֶת when it is at the end of the פסוק or on an אתנחתא. But in truth, his name was יֶפֶת as in י:ב.

It's always fun and interesting every year seeing what my kids are taught in school.

Do you Sea what I Sea

This particular issue presents itself twice on שמחת תורה. First, in וזאת הברכה ל"ג:י"ט and then in בראשית. On days 3, 4 and 5 we find the word ימים. But there is, of course, a very important difference. In וזאת הברכה and on days, 3 and 5, the word is יַמִּים with a פתח, meaning seas. On day 4, the word is יָמִים with a קמץ. This is easily overlooked and a very important distinction. En garde!

(I know someone is going to point out the דגש in יַמִּים but, as I have mentioned before, since for the most part, most בעלי קריאה do not precisely differentiate, I don't include that as a significant difference. Nevertheless, for those who lain in הברה ספרדית with little or no differentiation between קמץ and פתח, it might be a good idea to use the דגש to differentiate.)

And the days was

Although the פרק recounting the generations from אדם to נח seems somewhat repetitive, I noticed an interesting discrepancy this year. For most, the grand tally of their years lived begins ...ויהיו כל ימי. However, for חנוך it says ה:כ"ג ויהי כל ימי חנוך. I first thought the change might be related to חנוך's early exit. But the same wording is found later for למך as well. I have to admit, I haven't looked very hard to see if this is addressed anywhere. Any ideas?

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

הרחמן הוא יקים

According to the comment by Elie on this previous post, the proper pronunciation of the last word of the addition at the end of ברכת המזון for סוכות is הַנֹּפֶלֶת, and not the customary הַנֹּפָלֶת. I'd be interested to hear of what sort of funny looks you get when you sing the popular R' Shlomo Carlebach tune with the apparently proper pronunciation. Please post any interesting stories in the comments.

חג שמח

Monday, September 25, 2017

Remember us for the good

One of the lines of אבינו מלכנו is:
אבינו מלכנו זכרנו בְּזִכָּרוֹן טוב לפניך

Above is how it appears in most מחזורים. However, I have found in the סדור רנת ישראל and in the recently released מחזור מקראי קודש from רב אהרן לופיאנסקי slightly differently, זכרנו בְּזִכְרוֹן טוב לפניך, apparently putting סמיכות between זכרון and טוב.

(The new Koren Sacks siddur has זִכְרוֹן as well.)

Any thoughts?

Please see the comments.

A Happy Ending

During this time, between ראש השנה and יום כפור , the common greeting seems to be גמר חתימה טובה. (According to a shiur הרב יעקב משה קולפסקי, זצ"ל used to say over, it might still be appropriate to use the popular pre-ראש השנה greeting, כתיבה וחתימה טובה. But אין כאן מקום להאריך.) However, the gender of this greeting puzzles me. What is it that we are wishing? Should it be a גמר of a חתימה טובה? Or, are we wishing that the גמר חתימה be a good one? The shortened version of this greeting, גמר טוב, would seem to indicate that it is the latter. If so, should the greeting not be גמר חתימה טוב?!

It could be that the general public is thrown off by the word חתימה to think that the term, as a whole is feminine. Nevertheless, see this Kashrus Kurrents article and footnote 1 regarding proper grammar vs. common convention.

Well, whatever the proper gender is - it should all be for the good!

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
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?

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

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

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

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

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.)


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".