Tuesday, June 26, 2018

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.

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 22, 2018

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.

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.

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 סיחון 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 13, 2018

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

Friday, June 8, 2018

To Make Travel

A friend of mine let me know that he was corrected by the Rav where he lained this past week on the following:

י:ב עֲשֵׂ֣ה לְךָ֗ שְׁתֵּי֙ חֲצֽוֹצְרֹ֣ת כֶּ֔סֶף מִקְשָׁ֖ה תַּעֲשֶׂ֣ה אֹתָ֑ם וְהָי֤וּ לְךָ֙ לְמִקְרָ֣א הָֽעֵדָ֔ה וּלְמַסַּ֖ע אֶת־הַֽמַּחֲנֽוֹת

He pronounced it וּלְמַסָּע with a קמץ under the ס. Kudos to the Rav for catching that. It's a big shul, too, so the בימה is not very close to his seat so that makes it even a better catch. If I'm not mistaken the correct pronunciation makes it a verb - to make the nation travel. However, the incorrect pronunciation would turn it into a noun, a journey, the singular of מסעי.

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".

Friday, June 1, 2018

The Impure

The Torah recounts that as בני ישראל brought what would be their only קרבן פסח during their sojourn in the desert, there were individuals who were טמא מת and thus unable to participate. There is a discussion in the gemara (.סוכה כה) as to who in fact these individuals were. ר' יוסי הגלילי suggests they were the ones in charge of transporting יוסף's body. רבי עקיבא is of the opinion that it was מישאל and אלצפן who were instructed to remove נדב and אביהו bodies from the mishkan. Finally, רבי יצחק discounts the first two opinions and posits that these were individuals who had become tamei as a result of a מת מצוה.

It is somewhat intriguing that the approach taken in the גמרא is that there was something special and unique about this group. Although, it is not unusual for a midrashic source to fill in the blanks in a פסוק, even if there is no compelling evidence that there is something missing. However, there is a question to be asked on the first two opinions. Why is it that ר' יוסי and רבי עקיבא assume that these individuals were part of a single group, that they were all טמאי מת for the same reason? Could there not have been more than one cause for people to be טמא?

Perhaps they made an inference from the specific wording of the פסוק. The introduction to this story is as follows (9:6)
ויהי אנשים אשר היו טמאים לנפש אדם
One would have expected the פסוק to read "ויהיו" in the plural. But instead, the singular "ויהי" is used in reference to a group of people. Perhaps ר' יוסי and רבי עקיבא understand that the פסוק is specifically worded this way to convey that although there were a number of individuals were טמא, they were all טמא for the same reason.

In my Humble Opinion...

Technically, this pet peeve is not connected to any פרשה in particular but for obvious reasons, it becomes more prevalent for פרשת בהעלותך. It's very simple - ענִווּת - the word simply does not exist, at least not in any authoritative source that I know of. The real word for humility found everywhere that counts, for example, the very end of משניות סוטה, is ענווה. Yet you will hear people everywhere use this word, even people who are normally careful to use proper דקדוק. Unfortunately, Google Translate does not agree with me. But that's probably because it has managed to slip into the language. How? My guess is that might be a sort of Yiddishism. Just like we have טליתים, שבתים and תעניתים when the real words are טליתות, שבתות and תעניות, many descriptive words tend to end with ות such as חסידות and התנגדות so it is assumed that the word for humility should as well. But... it doesn't.
If this word does exist somewhere and I simply haven't seen it, please correct me.

... and so MG has done in the comments. He cites two examples where the word is used by מהרש"א:

:מועד קטן ט"ז

.סוטה מ

So this is still a curious matter. Let's say the word is not used through the ראשונים and suddenly appears. Where did it come from? Indeed, לשון הקדש is an evolving language as seen throughout תנ"ך and history. We find new words arise that haven't been used before. But what makes this more puzzling is that there already exists a perfectly sufficient word in the language. Why create a new one?