Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Something else that was "hidden" in the מגילה

While others might have been having more mainstream הערות or simply paying attention to the מגילה, I had the following observation:

ומה שאלתך וינתן לך ומה בקשתך עוד ותעש

Certainly, the word שאלה is feminine. Therefore, we would expect the פסוק to read ומה שאלתך ותנתן לך just as ותעש is in feminine form due to בקשה being feminine. I believe the following must be the explanation: If someone requests something, it is certainly possible to perform the request. However, if someone asks for something, you cannot give them "their asking." Rather, you give them the thing which they asked for. Therefore, we treat this as if there were a hidden word, perhaps as follows: ומה שאלתך וינתן הדבר לך and that is why it is masculine.

However, as MG points out in the comments, even בקשה switches seemingly to masculine earlier on in the מגילה. The אבן עזרא says there that it is referring to a hidden דבר. So my explanation for the gender change was correct. But my distinction between בקשה and שאלה apparently was not.

Recently, the following excerpt was posted in the Dikduk WhatsApp group which addresses this question:

Monday, February 26, 2018

I could use a rest

Tonight (פורים תשע"ז) I made a correction on a split-section decision which I wasn't sure really changed the meaning.
ט:כ"ב כַּיָּמִ֗ים אֲשֶׁר־נָ֨חוּ
The בעל קריאה pronounced it na-CHU, with the accent on the last syllable. I know that the שורש of נח - or whatever it should be in full form - is a very tricky one with words sounding very similar but meaning completely different things. For example, see שולחן ערוך או"ח כ"ה:ז ובמשנה ברורה. So I corrected on the spot. Any thoughts as to whether it changes the meaning?

Bigsan and ...

This post will probably be of little interest to those who lain in הברה ספרדית.
I'm not sure why but this year, my "pet peeve" energies have been spent on the widespread misconception that מרדכי was אסתר's uncle. It states explicitly twice that they were cousins but everyone seems to teach that he was her uncle. Anyway, another part of the story the kids tend to know very well is that of Bigsan and Seresh. Now for the younger kids, it is always a challenge to remember the difference between Seresh and Zeresh, Haman's wife. But it doesn't have to be that hard!

The geniuses at Kol Rom have just released Megillas Lester, a brilliantly executed 3D-animated film revolving around the story of the מגילה. They put up a number of fascinating behind the scenes video and one of them discusses where they went specifically with חז"ל and when artistic license was used. He discusses something that never occurred to me. The name of the second guard was actually Teresh. It never appears that way in the מגילה because it is always preceded by a וי"ו. I've included the video below (jumping to the important part):

This is the time

You make the call:

It was a pretty breezy Purim as far as the מגילה goes. However, there was one thing I was a little unsure of. At night, the בעל קריאה said ד:י"ד וּמִי יוֹדֵעַ אִם לָעֵת כָּזֹאת הִגַּעַתְּ לַמַּלְכוּת instead of לְעֵת. I let it go. My thinking was that the term as a whole is a definite, even if לְעֵת is indefinite. What do you say?

I would also say that in the back of my mind, I hoped that there was actually another גרסא that had לָעֵת. I have been using an Artscroll Megillah for the last while. But I have realized that it might not be as מדוקדק as I would like. Can anyone recommend a readily available new מגילה which is known to be מדוקדק?

מגילת אסתר Advisory - Floor or coal?

Here's one to get you started:

עַל רִצְפַת בַּהַט-וָשֵׁשׁ

A couple of years ago, one of the readers of this blog pointed out to me a very subtle observation on the above word which I am certain is not at all well-known. The proper pronunciation is as above and the word means 'floor.' Probably due to the Hebrew word with which most are familiar, it is quite common to pronounce this word רִצְפַּת.

However, in ישעיה ו:ו we have the word רִצְפָּה meaning 'coal.' It is therefore very important that the word is pronounced properly. I would even suggest mentioning it to the בעל קריאה beforehand.

See the comments below for a lengthy discussion.

מגלת אסתר

Being in charge of correcting for the מגילה is a very scary task. It's enough that everyone is so uptight about making sure every syllable is pronounced correctly. What makes it worse is all the different שיטות and knowing what might be a mistake and what is not. I once was "right-hand man" (I might have stood on his left) for someone who chose to repeat the פסוק for every word that was a matter of significant dispute, not just להרוג ולאבד and לא עמד בפניהם.

On that note, the רב of our shul told me this past week he once heard someone read בפניהם and not go back. He was very troubled as he read in מנחת שי that לפניהם was in fact the more likely correct word. However, he later found in קסת הסופר by the בעל קיצור שלחן ערוך that בפניהם is in fact correct. Surprisingly, to support this assertion, he asserts that this is the way it is found in the Concordance!

So, anyone who has any advisories to offer, anything to look out for, please post.
For anyone who is not registered as a contributor, I have made a new link on the right to send questions or comments to be posted.


Here's a good one from MG in the comments:
A lesser-known mistake but one that I've heard: "צהלה ושמחה" - the first "ה" in "צהלה" is a חטף-פתח. If pronounced as a קמץ., it changes the meaning to a noun.

Please see more in the comments below:

Balaila hu

During K'rias Hamegillah, I thought I heard the Ba'al K'riah say "Balaila hu" instead of "Balaila hahu". [The person whose job it is to correct insists otherwise] I decided not to reread that word in my Megillah for two reasons.

Number One: There is really no difference in meaning. The Radak writes in Michlol (pg 42) that a "heh hayediah" modifying a noun and an adjective (2 words read together) can be placed on the first , second or both words. [hence the machlokes Rav Shabsai Sofer and Matteh Moshe about "bizman haze"vs. "baz'man haze"] So grammatically "balaila hu" means the same thing as "balaila hahu." [The "beis" includes within it a "heh hayediah," hence the patach, and dagesh chazak in the lamed]

Number Two: There are 4 places in Tanach where "balaila hahu" is written "balaila hu". [B'reishis 19:33, 30:16, 32:23;Shmuel I 19:10] so even if there was a change in meaning, one might argue that where exceptions to the rule exist, one need not correct the mistake, as its correct meaning is still within the realm of possibe interpretation.

Not that kind of oil

From תשע"ד:

Rather hot of the press - not the oil press, just had to make this correction tonight and figured it would be a good idea to bring it to everyone's attention.
ב:י"ב ששה חדשים בשמן המר
The phrase that appears a number of times in the תורה is שמן המאור so it is easy to mistakenly use that term here but it obviously completely changes the meaning. I highly doubt the king would have fancied a woman who smelled like olive oil. Some of you might be thinking "oh come on, that's obvious." Well, I'll have you know that while I corrected it immediately, no one else in the entire shul even flinched, from what I could tell. So keep an eye/ear out for this one.

Fighting the Good Fight

One of the more serious mistakes a בעל קריאה can make when reading the מגילה is actually not in the מגילה itself. This hit me one year when I heard this mistake made and unfortunately, did not have the reflexes to correct it on the spot. After we finish the מגילה we make the ברכה of הרב את ריבנו, He who fights our fights. The proper pronunciation is, of course, הָרָב. But when mispronounced הָרַב, I believe that means "He who increases our fights." (Or, Elie suggests in the comments that perhaps it might have a different meaning.) That's not a good thing at all. Honestly, if I hear this again, I would try to correct it ... unless someone thinks otherwise.

Whys and Wherefores

The following thorough and intriguing write-up was submitted by a Dikdukian reader:

It is difficult to research a rule that apparently has no name.

I refer to what some colloquially refer to as the "למה" rule, because it is perhaps best illustrated with a handful of examples in which למה is used twice in close succession, once מלעיל and once מלרע (e.g., Shemot 5:22; Shemot 32:11-12 -- you know it from ויחל on a תענית צבור). The rule is that an otherwise מלעיל word becomes מלרע before a word that begins with an א, ה, or ע (of course, HaShem's name spelled with a י is pronounced with an א and therefore triggers the rule).

R. Yaakov Kamenetsky refers to the rule often in his ספר אמת ליעקב but generally as "that rule I have cited many times." Paul Jouon, in his well-regarded grammar written with T. Muraoka, calls it "hiatus" (a not uncommon grammatical process) but admits the name is less than ideal.

None of this sheds much light on the details of the rule itself. Jouon does mention that the word in question must end in an open syllable, but are there any other environmental factors?

Consider these examples (or nonexamples): 

  1. Bamidbar 11:8: שָׁטוּ֩ הָעָ֨ם וְלָֽקְט֜וּ... There is some disagreement about this one, as indicated in many חומשים that mark it as מלעיל but other sources, including מנחת שי and אמת ליעקבthat say it follows the rule and is מלרע. Those who say it is מלעיל claim that that is true to the meaning of the word, but we see other instances where the rule overrides that consideration (e.g., זָד֖וּ עֲלֵיהֶֽם Shemot 18:11). Nevertheless, it is unusual to see Koren and others mark מלעיל if it should be מלרע. My thought was that perhaps the rule is blocked with a תלישה (big or small), as seen in ...
  2. Bamidbar 16:7: וְשִׂימוּ֩ עֲלֵיהֶ֨ן קְטֹ֜רֶת where ושימו is marked (in every חומש I've seen that double-marks the תלישה in such a case) as מלעיל. But is טעם part of the environment that blocks the rule? Consider also ...
  3. Shemot 25: 24: וְצִפִּיתָ֥ אֹת֖וֹ זָהָ֣ב טָה֑וֹר... R. Kamenetsky says it is מלרע because of "that rule." Conveniently, the word doesn't show up elsewhere (without an א afterward) for comparison, supporting R. Kamenetsky's view by default. But what of other ל-ה verbs that don't trigger the rule, such as the very common ועשית? I had surmised merely that a ל-ה verb doesn't trigger the rule, and thus that the שורש of וצפית is not צפה as otherwise expected. And, in fact, other ל-ה verbs like וראית are still מלעיל before an א (Shemot 33:23, Devarim 4:19, the latter with a תלישה, fwiw). Further, the problem for the other view is that is doesn't explain why ועשית is often followed by an א and yet remains מלעיל (as in Shemot 27:1וְעָשִׂ֥יתָ אֶת־הַמִּזְבֵּ֖חַand we see וצפית as מלרע followed by את in 26:29). The other question here is possible interaction between this rule and that of וי"ו ההיפוך in עתיד/צווי -- but clearly R. Kamenetsky is saying the rule occurs here without saying why it doesn't in other seemingly like situations.

So what are the other environmental conditions that trigger/block the rule? I might like to write down each instance the rule shows up to see what's missing, but perhaps someone has done that already or has the software to find out quickly...?

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

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

ונתת שמה מים
ויתן שמה מים
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

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

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

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

אִם עַנֵּה תְעַנֶּה אתוֹ

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

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!