Thursday, February 22, 2018

נר תמיד

There is a custom to include a light in every shul which is on constantly, called a נר תמיד. Most people are aware of this. So what's the problem? I think that is what leads to a very popular misreading of a פסוק at the beginning of תצוה which is also found in אמור.

 לְהַֽעֲלֹ֥ת נֵ֖ר תָּמִֽיד

I think people automatically group the two words נר תמיד together in their minds and thus read it with a טפחא on להעלות and a מרכא on נר which is incorrect. It does change the meaning ever so slightly but I would never correct that on the spot. Maybe after the fact, I would point it out.

תרשיש ושהם

(כ"ח:כ)
והטור הרביעי תרשיש ושהם וישפה

In the listing of the stones on the חושן there is a difference between the last row and the other three. The last row is "תרשיש ושהם וישפה" There is a וי"ו before the second stone as well as the third. In the other three rows, the וי"ו appears only before the last stone. משך חכמה points out that the reason for this is as we find in קריאת שמע, that certain groups of words have the first word beginning with the same letter as the next word like "על לבבכם" and therefore must be very carefully differentiated. So, too, here תרשיש and שהם have the same problem. Therefore, in order to differentiate between the two, told Moshe "תרשיש ושהם" so he would not get mixed up.


The difficulty is, however, that in (פקודי (ל"ט:י"ג the list does not contain a וי"ו before שהם. Although משך חכמה does make mention of this fact he does not clearly indicate why that is. ר' ברוך אפשטין, in ברוך שאמר, gives an answer. In ה', תצוה is talking to משה. Therefore, it was important there to differentiate between the two so that there is no confusion. In פקודי, however, the Torah is merely giving a recount of events so it was not imperative to place a וי"ו in the middle.

One of the members of the חבורה where I heard this brought up an interesting point. At the beginning of שמות we seem to find a similar phenomenon. When listing the sons of יעקב a וי"ו is only used for the last name in each פסוק. Except for א:ד, where there is a וי"ו before נפתלי. It would seem that this is to differentiate between the נו"ן at the end of דן and the נו"ן at the beginning of נפתלי. However, here it seems only to be giving a recount and there is no one speaking to anyone. I do not know an answer to that problem.
Any suggestions?

שם and שמה

                                                                  (ל:י"ח)
ונתת שמה מים
(מ:ל)
ויתן שמה מים
                                                   (מ:ז)
ונתת שם מים
All three of the above פסוקים refer to the setting up of the כיור. The simple question is: What is the difference between שם and שמה?

As the comments below indicate, there doesn't seem to be any difference between the two. But this is always what I ask when I encounter things like this: "If there's a difference - what is it? If there's no difference - why are they different?"

Of plurals and singulars

As part of the process of producing the priestly vestements, פסוק כ"ח:מ commands "ולבני אהרן תעשה כתנות", and for the sons of Aharon you shall make tunics. This can be interpreted in two ways - one tunic for each כהן or many tunics for each כהן. This is the subject of a dispute in ירושלמי יומא ג:ו. The רבנן hold two tunics for each כהן and ר' יוסי holds one tunic for each כהן suffices.

In the .גמרא מגילה ז we find רב יוסף learns that when it says in מתנות לאביונים in מגילת אסתר it means 2 total מתנות for 2 אביונים - only one for each poor person. טורי אבן in חגיגה and אבני שהם in מגילה (same author) comment that this גמרא goes like ר' יוסי in the ירושלמי who holds one tunic for each כהן. However, asks מצפה איתן in מגילה, from תוספות in .חגיגה ג we see that the הלכה in regards to the dispute in the ירושלמי is like the רבנן - two tunics for each כהן. If רב יוסף in מגילה is going only according to ר' יוסי then it is not in accordance with הלכה!

מצפה איתן answers from פרי חדש אורח חיים תרצ"ד who writes that if the פסוק had written "ולאביונים מתנות" then it would have implied two to each but now that it says it the other way around it only means one to each. Therefore, the rule is that if the subject is written before the object then it may imply that to these subjects you will give (plural) objects to each. That then is the subject of dispute in ירושלמי where the פסוק in question is "ולבני אהרן תעשה כתנות", the subject coming before the object. However, with מתנות לאביונים where the object comes first, it means that these objects shall be distributed amongst the following subjects and everyone will agree that it is one per person. [This also explains why the גמרא in יומא entertains the possibility that there were two lots on each goat in the יום כפור procedure because the pasuk is "על שני השעירים גורלות," the subject before the object.]

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

ונהפוך הוא

This week's פרשה contains many commands and thus, many instances of a וי"ו ההיפוך which changes the accent on the word. There seem to be a number of instances where the accent is not changed due to the נסוג אחור rule. Additionally, it seems the word ועשית, which appears numerous times, can never have the accent on the last syllable. If you know why, feel free to chime in.

In general, I do not correct misplaced accents for reasons I would like to discuss another time. However, I don't think it would be unreasonable to do so. Nevertheless, in those cases when the accent is not changed for circumstantial reasons, like ועשית, I find it very hard to justify a correction.

Watch out for that קמץ

(כ"ה:מ)
אֲשֶׁר אַתָּה מָרְאֶה בָּהָר

The severity of this possible mistake is spelled out clearly in רש"י. Again, this is an easy mistake to make and a difficult one to catch. מָרְאֶה is a strange word you don't see very often. The natural inclination will be to read it מַרְאֶה but that completely changes the word from meaning "shown (by another)" to "show (to others.)" Be aware!

ככר זהב

(כ"ה:ל"ט)
כִּכַּר זָהָב טָהוֹר יַעֲשֶׂה אתָהּ

When I first read this פסוק I thought I would be writing this post as an advisory. The first word of this pasuk seems to be connected to the following word. Therefore it should be pronounced as written above so that it means, "a block of pure gold" and not "a block, pure gold." תרגום אונקלוס seems to support this with his clear indication of סמיכות in translating ככרא דדהב.

However, the חומש I use which attributes its editing to Rabbi Mordechai Breuer, זצ"ל, has a קמץ under the כּ"ף. I must therefore assume that this is a matter of dispute.

This issue becomes more intriguing with the פסוק in (פרשת ויקהל (ל"ז:כ"ד. Whereas the פסוק in פרשת תרומה was rendered by אונקלוס as ככרא דדהב, in ויקהל it is ככרא דהב. Why would they be different?




Anonymous said...
בדפוס סביוניטה אין הבדל בין תרומה לויקהל
March 23, 2007 3:01 AM


Please see further informative comments by MG. Essentially, it appears the קמץ is more correct.

The Lord and the Rings

If you can give me a consistent explanation for this, I just might consider bringing your clothes to the bathhouse for you (:סנהדרין ס"ב). I noticed a very intriguing discrepancy in the תורה's description of the rings that were affixed to the various vessels that required them. In some instances, no specific purpose was given for the rings but in most cases, it was stated that the purpose of the rings was to house the staves. I have constructed a table (without rings) detailing the exact wording for each vessel for both the commandment and the actual manufacturing.

עשיה צווי
(ל"ז:ג)-- (כ"ב:י"ב)-- ארון
בָּתִּים לַבַּדִּים (ל"ז:י"ד) לְבָתִּים לְבַדִּים (כ"ה:כ"ז) שלחן
לְבָתִּים לְבַדִּים (ל"ז:כ"ז) לְבָתִּים לְבַדִּים (ל:ד) מזבח הזהב
בָּתִּים לַבַּדִּים (ל"ח:ה) (כ"ז: ד)-- מזבח החיצון

I have accentuated the problematic portion of the word, namely the vowel underneath the למ"ד which seems to change inexplicably. Any ideas?

Friday, February 9, 2018

האשה וילדיה

(כ"א:ד)
האשה וילדיה תהיה לאדניה

There is a גמרא, I believe it is in בבא קמא but I could not locate it, which discusses the use of a singular verb in reference to plural subjects as acceptable in תנ"ך. However, in all of the examples discussed there the verb precedes the subjects. However, the above פסוק demonstrates that it can occur in the reverse as well. One would have expected the פסוק to read האשה וילדיה יהיו לאדניה but apparently תהיה suffices.

Jewish Milk

I once saw an article about חלב ישראל and decided to post this. A friend of mine pointed out to me once that the common pronunciation of this term, Cholov Yisroel, is actually incorrect. Due to סמיכות (which I'm not 100% certain of, see comments) it should be chaleiv Yisrael as in לא תבשל גדי בחלב אמו. I've always wanted to try some funny "proper דקדוק" social experiments - like have everyone use that term in public and see what kind of reactions you get, and the one I suggested on another occasion.

Tricky Vowels

כ"א: כ"ט וְאִם שׁוֹר נַגָּח הוּא
כ"א:ל"ו אוֹ נוֹדַע כִּי שׁוֹר נַגָּח הוּא


The vowels here are very important. If the קמץ and פתח are flipped, the word takes on a totally different meaning. נָגַח, the incorrect pronunciation, is a verb, gored in the past tense. But the proper pronunciation, נַגָּח, is a noun meaning a goring ox. We find this construct in numerous other places such as גַמָל meaning not a camel but one who rides camels.

It just so happens that my son is now learning the סוגיא of שור מועד in school so this observation was particularly on my mind.

Three strikes and you're out

... well, one strike, really. Saw this in the דקדוק WhatsApp group recently:
👍👍👍דבר יפה שראיתי בתיקון קוראים סימנים:
שארהּ - מפיק הא.
כסותהּ - מפיק הא.
ועונתהּ - מפיק הא.
ואם שלש אלה לא יעשה להּ - כלומר: מי שלא יבטא את שלשת המפיקים, אז - ויצא חינם אין כסף - לא ישלמו לו משכורת על הקריאה...

The Ox and his Friend

One of the laws dealt with in this week's פרשה is that of damages incurred when one's animal gores another. The פסוק says אבן עזרא .כ"א:ל"ה - וכי יגף שור איש את שור רעהו explains these words as follows: And if the ox of a man gores the ox of his (this man's) friend. However, he brings an alternative explanation from קראי by the name of בן זוטא. He interprets: And if the ox of a man gores his (the ox's) friend - another ox. אבן עזרא rejects this ridiculous interpretation based on the trop of the פסוק which clearly indicates that it should be read otherwise. Besides, adds the אבן עזרא sharply, an ox has no friends - except for בן זוטא!


It is not often that a pshat in a ראשון on חומש will have one rolling in laughter but this one did it to me. However, אבן עזרא's sharp attack on בן זוטא is not so clear. Daniel Scarowsky, ז"ל, once pointed out to me that we find in the 'משניות בבא קמא פרק ה (bottom of :מח):
"...שור שהיה מתכון לחברו" an ox that had intention to gore 'his friend.' It seems the ox is not the social outcast the אבן עזרא had perceived him to be. But Daniel explained that the answer must be that there is a difference between the term רֵע used in our פסוק, and the term חבר used in the חבר .משנה comes from the root meaning connection. A חבר is merely one who has a specific connection with the other. This connection may be as simple as both being oxen. A רֵע, a term used to denote a more serious friendship, implies a deeper connection which an ox does not have. Except, of course, with בן זוטא.

Answer vs. Torture

(כ"ב:כ"ב)
אִם עַנֵּה תְעַנֶּה אתוֹ

(כ"ג:ב)
וְלא תַעֲנֶה עַל רִב לִנְטת

If the two פסוקים above are read without vowels, it appears the same word appears both times. However, they are clearly two separate words. תְעַנֶּה means to torture. תַעֲנֶה means to answer. Keep an ear out for this one - it's easy to miss.

Thanks to ba in the comments, here is a nice list of words in תנ"ך that are the same but different.

Give it to me

(כ"ב:כ"ט)
בַּיּוֹם הַשְּׁמִינִי תִּתְּנוֹ לִי

The above bolded word, when pronounced correctly, is translated, "you (singular) shall give it to me." If mispronounced תִּתְּנוּ it means, "you (plural) shall give to me." Certainly correctable!