Thursday, November 14, 2019

Parshiyos with a common shoresh

My 4th grade daughter came home with an extra credit question last week - to name the פרשיות that share a common שורש. This is a particularly fun exercise (for those who find this kind of thing fun) because you start out thinking it won't be so many but in the end, there are a lot. Here's what I found:

לך לך
וילך

וירא
וארא
ראה

חיי שרה
ויחי

ויצא
כי תצא

וישלח
בשלח
שלח לך

בא
כי תבא

משפטים
שופטים

תצוה
צו

כי תשא
נשא

בחוקתי
חוקת

Some statistics: two instance of a group of three, only one pairing that appears within the same ספר.

Did I miss any? Is there a case to be made that במדבר and דברים share commonality?

Friday, May 31, 2019

A name that took ME by surprise

[תשס"ט]
Having yahrtzeit this week, I had the opportunity to lain  the הפטרה for בהר this past week - not a very common occurrence. I checked with my trusty ספר אם למקרא ולמסורת to see what I should be looking out for. I found quite an interesting tidbit on the name ירמיהו. There is a tendency to pronounce the name Yir-mee-ya-hu. However, it should be noted that the vowel under the מ is a שוא, not a חיריק. Therefore, it should be pronounced Yir--ya-hu. I have to say, I was practicing it for quite a while and it is difficult on the tongue.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Zachar Amaleik? What was he smoking?

In the portion read for Parshas Zachor we find the commandment תמחה את זכר עמלק, wipe out the remembrance of Amaleik. The gemara (בבא בתרא כא) relates a rather bizarre incident where Yoav, David HaMelech's general was sent to destroy Amaleik. He returns, having wiped out all of the males. When he is confronted by David HaMelech as to why the others were allowed to live, he declares that he was taught "Timcheh es zachar Amaleik," wipe out the males of Amaleik. Needless to say, Yoav was not very happy when he found out he had been taught wrong.


It is indeed quite difficult to understand how the mesorah could be so skewed as to totally misunderstand and misrepresent this pasuk. I heard an interesting insight into this mistake from the footnotes of the מעשה רב. Yoav's rebbe never thought that the word was pronounced "zachar." Rather, this error was a result of a misunderstanding of the possessive form of zachar."


The word for smoke is "ashan." The vowelization of this word is the same as "zachar." However, when the Torah describes Har Sinai and describes how its smoke rose like the smoke of a furnace, the term used is "eshen hakivshan." Clearly, when the word "ashan" is used in the possessive, both kamatzim are converted to segolim. Yoav's rebbe read the pasuk "timche es zecher Amaleik," and understood that zecher was the possessive form of zachar. He therefore mistakenly taught Yoav that the commandment is to wipe out only the males of Amaleik.