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