Friday, December 29, 2017

You Make the Call - אבל מצרים

From 2010:
Last week, the בעל קריאה said אֵבֶל מצרים instead of אָבֵל מצרים. I did correct it on the spot but it occurred to me afterward that perhaps it is only אָבֵל because of סמיכות in which case, I don't think it is a critical mistake absolutely requiring correction. Is that the case?

But I was wrong:

elie said...
המילה אָבל מצרים אינה לשון אבלות
יש עוד מקומות כמו אָבל השיטים
לכן כשקרה אֵבל הוא עשה טעות חמורה

Friday, December 15, 2017

Clear the halls!

Over חנוכה we will be reciting על הניסים numerous times - probably more than 30. As we describe the process following the military victory, we say "ופנו את היכלך". It is rather important to put the stress on the right syllable in ופנו. When properly pronounced with the accent on the last syllable, u-fi-NU, it means "and they cleared out." However, if pronounced with the accent on the previous syllable, u-FI-nu, it would literally mean "and our mouths." (It is possible that the laws of context might make this a less serious error but there's nothing wrong with doing something right!)

Also, another reader pointed out:
Of course, if one is precise in pronunciation, there are 2 other differences between the words.  The word for “mouth” is spelled with a chirik malei, which is pronounced differently than the chirik chaser in “clean.”  And, what goes along with that is that the nun in “clean” has a dagesh, while the nun in “mouth” is rafah – those 2 nuns are also pronounced differently.

נעשה נס - Correction

In one of the more sung verses of מעוז צור we have the phrase נעשה נס לשושנים. In every text I've seen, it is written נַעֲשָׂה. However, I have heard it sung many times נַעֲשֶׂה, with a סגול. (I'm pretty sure I even remember Uncle Moishy singing it that way! Gasp!) I'm quite certain that is incorrect. For it to be past tense, even though נס is masculine, it would have to be נַעֲשָׂה. With a סגול it would mean "let us do," in the future.

Based on some reader feedback, it appears I have to recant. It appears the סגול might actually be correct.

Yaakov Gross wrote:
The reading with segol appears to be correct.  Consider a regular Kal verb, say G M R (to complete), in the Nif’al:Nigmar with a patach is Perfect (aka “past”): it became depleted, it was completed;with a kamatz, it’s the present participle: it is completed. For nachei lamed he, the Perfect has segol in place of patach. Thus, laaseh nes – “a miracle was wrought”.Whereas the present participle keeps the kamatz, so na’asah would be “a miracle is being wrought”
Some interesting sources from another reader:
See נחמיה ה:י"ח and ישעיה כ"ו:י"ח and contrast with ויקרא ז:ט.   
See also אבן עזרא בראשית א:כ"ו and י"ב:ז.
However, in a separate discussion, I was shown this extensive write-up on this very issue which seems to suggest the other way around and that the קמץ is correct.