Thursday, July 11, 2019

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, July 3, 2019

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 28, 2019

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 21, 2019

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?

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.

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.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Alephs and Ayins

The שולחן ערוך או"ח קכח:לג, based on the :גמרא מגילה כ"ד states that someone who cannot properly pronounce the letters, such as one who mispronounces an א as an ע or an ע as an א, should not go up to perform ברכת כהנים. The difficulty with this is that the פסוקים do contain an א but do not contain an ע. Why then would someone who mispronounces an ayin as an aleph be forbidden from performing ברכת כהנים?
רש"י in the גמרא seems to be sensitive to this issue. He gives a specific example of a grievous mispronunciation that would result with the exchange of an ע for an א. However, when explaining the opposite substitution, he writes simply that as a result of this substitution he will disqualify his prayers. This statement of רש"י is quite vague and requires further interpretation but it shows, nevertheless, that רש"י addressed the lack of an ע in ברכת כהנים.
The issue is dealt with further in the commentaries on the שולחן ערוך. The question is raised in באר היטב but no answer is given. מחצית השקל seems to suggest that this is not an issue as the גמרא is simply referring to one who confuses the two letters. Thus, as long as one of the substitutions is significant, it is a sufficient problem.
I suggest a possible explanation for the גמרא which may be the meaning of רש"י as well. After the כהנים complete the main part of ברכת כהנים, they recite an additional prayer which begins, "רבונו של עולם, עשינו מה שגזרת עלינו..." concluding with the פסוק:
הַשְׁקִיפָה מִמְּעוֹן קָדְשְׁךָ מִן-הַשָּׁמַיִם, וּבָרֵךְ אֶת-עַמְּךָ אֶת-יִשְׂרָאֵל, וְאֵת הָאֲדָמָה, אֲשֶׁר נָתַתָּה לָנוּ--כַּאֲשֶׁר נִשְׁבַּעְתָּ לַאֲבֹתֵינוּ, אֶרֶץ זָבַת חָלָב וּדְבָשׁ
Pronouncing the ע of נשבעת as an א would drastically change the meaning from "you have sworn" to sounding something like נִשְׁבָּתָּ, "you have been taken captive." Although this is not part of the actual blessings of the כהנים, perhaps it is a serious enough mispronunciation to forbid a כהן from performing ברכת כהנים.

Another suggestion made by Snag in the comments is that the real שם המפורש used in the בית המקדש might contain an ע. But that doesn't fit with רש"י and also doesn't account for why we would still be particular about this today.

Friday, June 7, 2019

שבועות takes it on the chin

In the English-speaking world we still manage to pronounce the names of the holidays fairly precisely - except, of course, there's yontif. פסח has, for some reason become peisach. But that's not such an egregious mispronunciation. Shavuos, however, has it tough. The conventional lazy way to pronounce it, Shvues, completely changes the meaning from "weeks" to "oaths." Ironically, there are two מסכתות which end on daf 49 and are thus customarily learned from פסח to שבועות. One of them is Shevuos.
Hope you all enjoy the YOM TOV of SHAVUOS.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Clarification of a שוא נע rule

As the Shabbos before my mother's yahrtzeit, I will lain this הפטרה from time to time. In 2014was actually my first time laining הפטרת במדבר. (It did fall out this way three years prior but there was a בר מצוה in shul.) I came across something I thought odd and eventually discovered an interesting nuance of which I was not previously aware. Going through my other stuff on במדבר it appears Elie's post addresses almost the exact same issue. But I found it a little difficult to follow (probably my fault, not his) and so I thought I'd lay out in simpler English:

There are a number of reasons a שוא would be נע. There is a well-known mnemonic - א ב ג ד ה ו where each letter stands for a different rule. The ג stands for תנועה גדולה. If the שוא is preceded by a קמץ, for example (except if it's a קמץ קטן,) the שוא should be נע. However, I recalled that there is an exception to this rule. If the letter with the קמץ has a trop on it, it does not make the שוא נע. I was therefore puzzled when I saw in my תיקון:
  וְעָ֤נְתָה שָּׁ֙מָּה֙ כִּימֵ֣י נְעוּרֶ֔יהָ
The שוא under the נ of וענתה was shown to be נע. But what about the note on the ע?

I have the big monster of a תיקון סימנים which has a thorough discussion of the rules in the front. He goes into detail about this exception. Indeed, there is an exception to the exception. Not surprising in the world of דקדוק*. The trop only prevents the שוא נע if it is in its natural position. If the word were on its own, where would the note be? We see from דברים כ"ה:ט וְעָֽנְתָה֙ וְאָ֣מְרָ֔ה  that the natural accent is מלרע. In our case, it is pushed forward by the מלעיל accent on שמה and the rule of נסוג אחור. Since the מהפך on the נ is not its natural position, the שוא remains נע, just as it does in בראשית ל:ל"ג וְעָֽנְתָה־בִּ֤י צִדְקָתִי֙.

* I recently heard a great quote from R' Yaakov Kamenetsky: "In דקדוק, there are no exceptions. There are simply more rules."


For some time, when I would write my Weekly Shtikle (shameless cross-promotion) for this week's פרשה, I would write it Bemidbar since that is how it is pronounced correctly. However, one year a friend of mine sent me the following convincing argument which I have accepted:
While you are correct that in context the word is read Bemidbar, the name of the parsha is clearly Bamidbar. The custom has been to isolate the word or words that are the title and conjugate accordingly. This is why we have Tazriyah and not Sazriyah. Mishpatim and not HaMishpatim (since we do not use v'aileh and clarify it with asher ...). Devarim and not HaDevarim. Since the reference is to a specific desert (Sinai) the hay hayediyah is implemented. The names, according to tradition, are clearly not just the word or words of the beginning phrase.

פרשת במדבר

From Elie:

דיונים לשוניים
א. כתבת שהטעם בתיבת ונתתי (בהפטרת במדבר) נסוג אחור.
ואכן כך הוא בתנ"ך ברויאר, אמנם בתנ"ך קורן הוא במלרע (ומתג בנו"ן).
{וכשהפטרתי אשתקד בנביא מתוך תנ"ך ברויאר, המדקדק שבמקומנו (שקרא מתוך תנ"ך קורן) החזיר אותי לקרוא במלרע (שינוי משמעות!) וכך פעמיים ושלש עד שהראיתי לו שכן הוא בספרים מדוייקים מלעיל.}
וכן בפרשת השבוע שעבר: "ושלחתי דבר בתוככם" נסוג אחור בהברה סגורה.
האם תמיד יש נסוג אחור בהברה סגורה?

ודאתאן להכי, מהם כללי נסוג אחור?
לפני זמן רב ראיתי כללי נסוג אחור בהקדמת המדקדק ר' שמעון וייזר לתיקון קוראים הוצאת מישור, ואינני זוכר מה שראיתי.

שבת שלום.

שמעון דוד קורץ
שלום רב
לר' שמעון דויד
ובכן באחד מהדפים כתבתי לסתור את הכלל שנמצא אצל רז"ה שאין נסיגת טעם להברה סגורה
מזה שמצאנו מילים עם וי"ו ההיפוך לעתיד נשארות מלעיל כשהן סמוכות לטעם.
למעשה נראה לקיים את הכלל הזה.
ויש כנראה הבדל בין השארת טעם מלעיל במילה שלולא ו' ההיפוך היא מלעילית,
ובין הסגת הטעם מסוף המילה להברה שלפניה כשהיא סגורה בשוא נח או בדגש.
הדבר הזה עלה בכמה מדיונינו.
עכשיו אם לא הסתבכת ממה שכתבתי עד עתה, ושלחתי דבר המילה ושלחתי היא מלעילית אלא שכדי להבחין בינה ובין עבר עם ו' החיבור מטעימים אותה מלרע.
אם יש סיבה כמו סמיכות הברות היא שבה לדינה. והזכירו שכך פסקו להלכה.
כללי נסוג אחור פחות או יותר מוכרים, קשה להגדיר אותם חד משמעית הלא תראה מה שהבאתי השבוע מהרב משולם מקרית ספר.
יש סתירה בין מחנה למחנה.
במחנה אני יכול להסביר שעל הטעם הנסוג ללכת דרך ארוכה יותר ו"לדלג" מעל שוא נע (חטף) ולכן אם הוא לא עושה כן אין כל כך קושיא.
למה אם כן והיתה לו נסוג? כי הוא עושה כן הרבה פעמים, אבל לסגת לסגורה אינו נסוג.
אני מעביר לכמה שבעבר דנו עמי על זה או על בדומה לזה.

החילוק בין מחנה למחנה אמנם קשה, אבל מה שכתב ר' אליהו לגבי כללו של רז"ה 'אין נסיגה אחור להברה סגורה', כבר נתווכחתי עמו וטענתי את מה שהוא טוען כעת בדיוק, אם כי הוא טוען זאת בדרך אפשר: לעולם אין נסיגה אחור להברה סגורה. ומקרים כמו 'ושלחתי דבר' הם מילים שמוטעמות מעיקרן מלעיל, ורק ו"ו ההיפוך היא שהפכתן מלרע, והנסיגה אחור מחזירתן למצבן המקורי.
אותו חילוק, אבל בהגדרה מעט עמוקה יותר: הטעמת מלעיל הנוצרת מחמת נסיגה אחור אינה נחשבת כמלעיל גמור, כפי שכותב המנש"י ששוא הבא אחרי הטעמה כזו עדיין יהיה שוא נע [דוגמת 'כֽוֹכְבֵי אור' שהשוא הוא נע], אבל מילים מלעיליות גמורות דוגמת לַֽיְלָה, מַֽטָּה, לָקַֽחְתִּי, שָׁלַֽחְתִּי – השוא שאחרי ההטעמה הוא נח גמור משום שזו הטעמה מלאה.
כעת: הברה סגורה יכולה להיות מוטעמת למרות שהיא מנוקדת בתנועה קטנה [למרות שגם זה אינו שכיח כל כך, כי אם בפעלים ובאותן מילים שהזכרתי, אבל על פי רוב אין הברה סגורה מוטעמת נקודה בתנועה קטנה]. אבל מלעיל שאינו גמור – דהיינו המלעיל שנוצר מחמת נסיגה אחור – אינו בא בשום אופן בהברה סגורה. ולכן לא תתכן נסיגה אחור אל הברה סגורה
יעקב לויפר
סטייה מהנושא קצת אבל על פי רוב אין הברה סגורה מוטעמת נקודה בתנועה קטנה בפעלים שכיח מאוד הברה מוטעמת בתנועה קטנה
אכל ישב נשבר, יש גם מילים של הברה אחת כמו דף או מס או הדס
הכלל שתנועה גדולה היא בהברה פתוחה לא מוטעמת
וקטנה בהברה סגורה לא מטעמת
החלק שלו הנכון הוא תנועה גדולה אינה בהברה סגורה לא מוטעמת.
ולכן שוא אחרי ת"ג לא מוטעמת הוא נע. יש לזה חריגים בארמית.
שאר הכלל הוא נטייה כללית והרבה מקומות שאינם מתנהגים לפי נטייה זו.

ב. שלום
ראיתי בספרו של ר' ניסן שרוני (אם למקרא השלם) את הכלל של הדגשת בג"ד כפ"ת בראש מלה, אף שהתיבה הקודמת מסתיימת בהברה פתוחה, כאשר ישנן שני עיצורים דומים או זהים והראשונה מנוקדת בשו"א (הוא קרא לכלל זה 'הדומות'). לדוג' "בשבתך בביתך"; לעניין זה ב' ופ' דומות ("איש יביא בפריו אלף כסף") {עוד הזכיר שם דעת א' הקדמונים (אינני זוכר כעת מיהו) שאף ב' ומ' דומות (ולשיטתו "כי במקלי" הב' דגושה).
אח"כ כתב שכלל זה אינו נוהג אחרי מלה קצרה, לדוג' "לא תתעב מצרי" וציין מקורו במ"ש.

כנראה הוכרח לפרש (המ"ש) כן, כי לא מצא הסבר אחר לרפיון התי"ו.
אך קשה ממה שכתב לעיל על "כי במקלי", ועוד קשה מפסוק בעזרא ה,יז דכתיב התם "די בבבל" בבי"ת
דגושה. (הייתי מעדיף למצוא דוגמה בעברית, אך חיפשתי ומצאתי רק 'כמעט הוכחה' טעם מפסיק, או מפיק)
[המ"ש לשיטתו, יכול לומר שדקדוק לשון ארמית שאני, כמו שכמדומני שראיתי שכתב לגבי תיבת דריוש בשו"א נח אחרי תנועה גדולה דדקדוק לשון ארמי אינו כלשון הקדש]

אמנם לענ"ד נראה, כי כלל זה של הדומות אינו שייך באות תי"ו; ואין לי הסבר אחר, חוץ מזה שאפשר לומר, כי כלל זה בא להקל על הלשון (וליתר דיוק, על השפתיים והחך) ואילו באות תי"ו אין זה כ"כ הכבדה על הלשון בקריאת שני תי"ו רפויים רצופים כשהראשונה בשו"א (כך לפחות אני מרגיש).

שמעון דוד קורץ
זה הוזכר בקצרה באחד העלונים האחרונים בהערת שוליים על רשימת הדקדוקים (עיין בפרשת אמור על אשה בבתוליה).
שם זה נקרא אותיות צבותות.
אם יש לך גליון כי-תצא עיין מה שכתבתי על לא תתעב.
הכלל הזה אינו נכון אצל תי"ו.
למעשה מסתבר שגם בבי"ת וכ"ף הוא לא יהיה נכון אחרי מקף כך שכל הדיון מלא תתעב הוא מוטעה לענ"ד.
בעניין כי במקלי נדמה לי שרוו"ה מביא בזה בשם עין הקורא, יש בזה מחלוקת, אבל לפי ספרינו כלל זה נכון בב-ב ובב-פ אבל לא בב-מ.
לענין "כ"ף' יש דיון על כקול או על כגעת,
אגב דאגב יש ביהושוע ובשופטים המעשה עם עכסה בת כלב אשת עתניאל "ויהי בבואה" ביהושוע הוא עם פסק ולכן הבית דגושה כדין, בשופטים יש מונח רביע ללא פסק והבי"ת דגושה מדין צבותות.

Friday, May 31, 2019

A name that took ME by surprise

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.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

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.

Monday, May 6, 2019

סוכת דוד

I'm sure everyone will notice the reference in this week's הפטרה to the phrase we insert in ברכת המזון for סוכות - (actually, it's the other way around, the phrase is a reference to the פסוק)

הרחמן הוא יקים לנו את סכת דויד הנופלת

I'm probably not the only one, however, to notice the slight anomaly in the פסוק. We are accustomed to saying הַנֹּפָלֶת, with a קמץ under the פ. I believe it is this way in most, if not all ברכונים. But in the עמוס ט:י"א ,פסוק, it is written with a סגול, even though it is on an אתנחתא.
This therefore begs two questions:
  1. Why would it not change to הַנֹּפָלֶת on an אתנחתא?
  2. Seeing as it does not in the original biblical text, why would we change it in ברכת המזון?

    Please see Elie's comment.

Friday, May 3, 2019

Stand up, goat

וְהַשָּׂעִיר אֲשֶׁר עָלָה עָלָיו הגּוֹרָל לַעֲזָאזֵל יָעֳמַד חַי

The above bolded word is translated "shall be made to stand." However, if it is mispronounced יַעַמֹד it would mean simply that the goat "shall stand" (on its own.) Beware.

מטמאת - Watch that plural!

וְכִפֶּר עַל הַקּדֶשׁ מִטֻּמְאֹת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל
וְטִהֲרוֹ וְקִדְּשׁוֹ, מִטֻּמְאֹת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל
With these and any other instances, it is of utmost importance that it is not pronounced מִטֻּמְאַת, which would change it from plural to singular.
(It should also be noted that while the שוא under the מ is a שוא נח, it is important to create a separation between the מ and א so that the א doesn't disappear and it is pronounced as if it is מטמות, i.e. it should be mitum-os, not mitu-mos.)

A Revealing Note

This seems to have come up fairly often so I should probably address it in a post. Every now and then, a בעל קריאה will mix up תְגַלֶּה (with a סגול) and תְגַלֵּה (with a צירי.) This comes up many times in אחרי מות and again in קדושים as well. I have seen people get rather antsy about this. However, (please correct me if I'm wrong) there is absolutely no difference whatsoever. The only factor that determines the נקוד under the ל is that it will get a צירי if it is at the end of a פסוק or on an אתנחתא. Otherwise, it will be a סגול. This should never be corrected by anyone on the spot.

Qualification of the אהוי rule

I have recently been asked on a number of occasions regarding apparent exceptions to the אהוי rule which is that if a word ends with one of those letters, it will remove an expected דגש at the beginning of the next word. This is provided that the first word is connected to the second by means of a טעם משרת such as a מרכא, rather than a pausal note like an אתנחתא or טפחא.

The first example was in ויצא:
ל:טז ...וַתֹּ֨אמֶר֙ אֵלַ֣י תָּב֔וֹא
The י does not remove the דגש from the תּ even though it has a מונח which functions as a משרת.

Another example on which this question was raised was in אחרי מות:
יח:ה ...וָחַ֣י בָּהֶ֑ם
Again, the דגש remains in the בּ.

This phenomenon is interestingly observed in בחוקתי. The first mention of the word בחוקתי is on a טפחא which is a מפסיק anyway. But when it is mentioned in the negative portion, we find:
כו:טו וְאִם־בְּחֻקֹּתַ֣י תִּמְאָ֔סוּ
The מונח is a משרת but the תּ keeps its דגש.

It is important to forget about the actual letters for a moment. The essence of this rule is that it is applied when the first word ends with a vowel. This best way to understand this apparent anomaly is to observe a similar paradigm we find the English language with the letter Y. It can function as a consonant, as in yes or year, but can also be used as a vowel, as in the word gym or psychology. When the י extends a vowel sound, which would seem to be only after a צירי or חיריק, it functions as a vowel. However, after any other vowel, the function of the י is clearly a consonant, closing the syllable. Therefore, the אהוי rule would not apply. 

(Now, this applies to צירי and חיריק because they both end with a י sound. That is why the י is said to extend or fill the vowel. If one pronounces a חולם "oy," shouldn't it apply there, too, whereas if you pronounce it "oh," it would not. As per the comments below, דברים ד:ח וּמִי֙ גּ֣וֹי גָּד֔וֹל is a good example. If this theory is correct it would prove the "oy" pronunciation to be incorrect. But I'm not fully convinced myself.)

Thursday, April 18, 2019

חד גדיא

I don't usually cover Aramaic דקדוק and I cannot claim to know terribly much about it but it seems the entire world sings חד גדיא pronounced thusly: חד גדיא, חד גדיא דְזַבִּין אבא בתרי זוזי It's a tricky word because almost the same word is used for buying as for selling. However, it seems from the הגדות מדויקות that the proper pronunciation is in fact דִזְבַן. I haven't done too much research on this but I know someone who has. The Haggada of Rabbi Jonathan Sacks by Koren Publishers also has דִזְבַן.

הגיענו - הגדה vs יגיענו

כן ה' אלוקינו יגיענו למועדים ולרגלים אחרים

In just about all the הגדות I've seen, the נוסח of the ברכה at the end of מגיד is as above. However, in אבודרהם and רבינו סעדיה, as well as the הגדות מדויקות you will find the word יגיענו substituted with הגיענו. This version seems more correct considering the context. The entire ברכה is in the second person. Why would we change to the third person with יגיענו? Furthermore, it seems this portion of the ברכה is meant as a request. The word הגיענו is certainly לשון בקשה whereas the word יגיענו seems to be merely a statement of fact. Why is it that almost all הגדות have this version?

Friday, April 12, 2019

שבת הגדול

This Shabbos, the last Shabbos before Pesach, is called שבת הגדול - the great Shabbos. Or is it? Have no fear. I am certainly not doubting that it is שבת הגדול. But is that really what the term means? Shabbos is found all over Tana"ch as being feminine. Therefore, the term for the great Shabbos should have been Shabbos HaGedolah. One is lead to believe that the term Shabbos HaGadol must truly mean the Shabbos of the Gadol. Incidentally, this would change the pronunciation from Shabbos to Shabbas. So if it is the Shabbos of the Gadol - what does that mean?

I have heard a number of answers on this subject but I found many to be unsatisfactory. There seem to be two viable options. First, perhaps the term skips a word. It is the Shabbos of "something" great. This is most commonly used to refer to it as the Shabbos of the great miracle that was entailed in B'nei Yisroel's gathering of the Korban Pesach unharmed. (For an alternate approach to what that something might be see this post.)

I heard in the name of R' Yaakov Kaminetzky that the term is not meant to be a gramatical conjugation but rather, it follows the same pattern as Shabbas Chazon, Shabbas Nachamu and Shabbas Shuvah. It is merely referring to a significant word in the haftarah for this occasion. In our case, it is a reference to the end of the Haftarah, when HaShem proclaims, (Malachi 3:23) "Hinei anochi sholei'ach lachem es Eliyah HaNavi lifnei bo yom HaShem hagadol vehanora." This pasuk refers to the coming of Eliyahu HaNavi before the great and awesome day of HaShem - the ultimate redemption. Shabbas HaGadol is a direct reference to the word hagadol in this pasuk.

This approach gives great significance to the name and plays beautifully into the theme of the day. Whereas Chazon, Nachamu and Shuvah are all the first words of their respective haftaros, HaGadol is not, certainly indicating a special meaning. Just as this pasuk in the Haftarah gets us ready for the ultimate redemption, on this Shabbos we are readying ourselves for the celebration of the great redemption from Egypt. This pasuk gets us in the geulah mood which allows us to better appreciate the seder and its geulah theme.

Please see the comments for further discussions on the gender of שבת and some of the opinions not fully discussed here.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

White Hair

The beginning of this week's פרשה contains many instances of the מפיק ה, indicating the female, third-person possessive. The proper pronunciation of these is more critical than usual as we find the word טהרה both with and without. The absence of an expected מפיק ה would certainly change the meaning. There is another such instance later on. In the discussions of the various laws of צרעת, there are a number of references to hair. In 13:20, when the כהן observes the white hair, the word ושערהּ has a מפיק ה as expected, indicating that its hair turned white. However, earlier on, (13:4) in reference to hair that has not turned white, we find the very same word without a מפיק ה. Most חומשים go out of their way to call attention to this apparent anomaly.

I had originally thought that this was simply another one of the many grammatical anomalies found in the תורה, such as the missing דגש in the שׂ of the last word of פסוק י in this very פרק. However, I found a very logical explanation for this in משך חכמה. In the later reference to the hair, rewinding to the beginning of the paragraph reveals that the subject is בשר, flesh. That is why ושערהּ is punctuated in the possessive form, because the hair emanates from the flesh. However, the subject of the earlier pasuk is עור, the skin. Although the hair appears to be coming from the skin, in truth, it comes from the flesh underneath it so the non-possessive form without the מפיק ה is used.

A reader offered the following alternative approach which seems more plausible, partially due to MDJ's question in the comments:

Note that “Hair” in English has two separate connotations – either referring to individual strand of hair, or to a collection of strands. I suggest se’ara (the fem. Form) has the former meaning, and se’ar (masc.) the latter.
When we describe a situation where white hair has appeared, it may be a minimal amount or (more typically) an entire section, so “hair” is used in the collective sense.When we describe the opposite situation, we say not one strand of hair has turned white.
Thus:In 13:3 which speaks of some hair turning white, the masculine form se’ar is used.In 13:4, the condition described is that no hair (not even a minimal number of individual strands) has turned white – so the feminine form denoting a strand is used.And in 13:20, which (like 13:3) speaks of some of “its” hair having turned white, we are back to the masculine form, but with a feminine possessive suffix added.

דקדוקי פרשת תזריע והחודש

דקדוקי קריאה בפרשת תזריע, במפטיר החודש, בהפטרת החודש, ובראשון של מצֹרע.
תזריע היא הפרשה הקשה ביותר לקריאה שיש. אולי אפילו קשה יותר מויקרא, אם כי לא אתווכח עם אף אחד שיחשוב הפוך ממני.
קריאה או קריעה? בא נאמר שהמפטיר הוא סוג של נחמה לעומת הפרשה עצמה. נדמה לי שבשנה שעברה ספרתי משהו כמו 18 פסוקים המתחילים ב"וראה הכהן" או "וראהו הכהן". כמעט בלתי אפשרי לזכור את כולם ללא כל עזרה.
יב ב וְיָלְדָה: אי הקפדה על השווא נע בלמ"ד משבשת את המשמעות. וְטָֽמְאָה: המ"ם בשוא נע, והאל"ף צריכה להישמע. לא לקרוא וְטָמָה. וכן בפסוק ה.
יב ד בִּדְמֵי טָהֳרָהֿ: אין מפיק בה"א. יְמֵי טָהֳרָֽהּ׃ הה"א מופקת[1].
יב ה עַל-דְּמֵי טָהֳרָֽהֿ׃ אין מפיק בה"א.
יב ו וּבִמְלֹאת: הלמ"ד בחולם והאל"ף אינה מונעת. יְמֵי טָהֳרָהּ: הה"א מופקת.
יג ד וּשְׂעָרָהֿ: אין מפיק בה"א.
יג ה לֹא-פָשָׂה: שׂי"ן שמאלית
יב ב וְיָלְדָה: אי הקפדה על השווא נע בלמ"ד משבשת את המשמעות. וְטָֽמְאָה: המ"ם בשוא נע, והאל"ף צריכה להשמע. לא לקרוא וְטָמָה. וכן בפסוק ה.
יב ד בִּדְמֵי טָהֳרָהֿ: אין מפיק בה"א. יְמֵי טָהֳרָֽהּ׃ הה"א מופקת.
יב ה עַל-דְּמֵי טָהֳרָֽהֿ׃ אין מפיק בה"א.
יב ו וּבִמְלֹאת: הלמ"ד בחולם והאל"ף אינה מונעת. יְמֵי טָהֳרָהּ: הה"א מופקת.
יג ג הוּא: יש לשים היטב בכל הפרשה מתי מנוקד הוּא ומתי מנוקד הִוא!
יג ד וּשְׂעָרָהֿ: אין מפיק בה"א.
יג ה לֹא-פָשָׂה: שׂי"ן שמאלית
יג ו כֵּהָה: הה"א בקמץ.
יג ח וְטִמְּאוֹ: המ"ם בשוא נע, והאל"ף צריכה להשמע. לא לקרוא וְטִמּוֹ. וכן בהמשך.
יג יא בַּשְׂאֵֽת׃ השׂי"ן בשוא נח ללא דגש; אין לבלוע את האל"ף, לא בַּשֵׂת.
יג טז וְנֶהְפַּךְ: הה"א בשווא נח והפ"א בדגש קל וכן הדבר בהמשך
יג יט אוֹ בַהֶרֶת לְבָנָה אֲדַמְדָּמֶת: טעם טפחא בתיבת בַהֶ֖רֶת
יג כט בְּרֹאשׁ אוֹ בְזָקָֽן׃ הבי"ת בשווא, בלתי מיודע, יש להיזהר מלקרוא בפתח
יג לב וְלֹא-הָיָה בוֹ: טעם נסוג אחור לה"א הראשונה
יג לז צָֽמַח-בּוֹ: געיה בצד"י, יש לקרוא בהעמדה קלה שם
יג לט בֶּהָרֹת כֵּהוֹת לְבָנֹת: טעם טפחא בתיבת בֶּהָרֹת
יג מב נֶגַע לָבָן אֲדַמְדָּם: טעם טפחא בתיבת נֶגַע
יג מה פְרֻמִים פָרוּעַ: הפ"א בשתיהן רפויה. יַעְטֶה: העי"ן בשווא נח אך אין להבליעו כי אז יישמע כלשון 'הטייה'. וְטָמֵא ׀ טָמֵא יִקְרָֽא׃ פסק בין התיבות וְטָמֵא – טָמֵא, יש להפסיק מעט בין הראשונה לשנייה
יג מח בְעֵרֶב: הבי"ת בשווא, לא מיודע, בשונה מההמשך שאז היא בקמץ: בָעֵרֶב
יג מט וְהָרְאָה: הה"א בקמץ קטן, והרי"ש בשוא נח. להיזהר מהבלעת האל"ף, לא וְהוֹרָה ולא וְהָרָה!
יג נא אֲשֶׁר-יֵעָשֶׂה: היו"ד בצירי
מפטיר שבת החודש שמות יב:
יב ג בֶּעָשֹׂר: העמדה קלה בבי"ת להדגשת הסגול המורה על מיודע. וְיִקְחוּ: וא"ו החיבור בשווא נע, לשון עתיד
יב ז וְנָתְנוּ: מרכא בנו"ן כטעם משנה. הַבָּתִּים: דגש חזק בתי"ו (אחד מן היוצאים מן הכלל), יש להטעים מעט את הבי"ת בגלל המונח על אף האי נוחות שבדבר.
יב יא וְכָכָה: הטעם בכ"ף הראשונה מלעיל. כדי למנוע טעות סומנה זרקא בכמה חומשים גם בכ"ף הראשונה.
יב יד תְּחָגֻּֽהוּ׃ החי"ת בקמץ חטוף (קטן).
יב טו מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל: היו"ד בחירק ודגש חזק, אין לקרוא מיאישראל
יב טז לֹא-יֵעָשֶׂה ... יֵאָכֵל: היו"ד בצירי וגעיה אחריו המורה על העמדה שלא יישמע 'יַעשה' וישנה משמעות.

הפטרת החודש, יחזקאל מה:
יז וְהַנֵּסֶךְ נו"ן בצירי. וּבֶחֳדָשִׁים: העמדה קלה בבי"ת להבחין בין מיודע בסגול ללא מיודע בשווא וכן הוא בהמשך מו ג
חָג החי"ת בקמץ כא שְׁבֻעוֹת: השי"ן בשווא ולא בקמץ
מו ח וּבְבוֹא: בי"ת ראשונה בשווא נח על אף הקושי וכן הוא בפס' ט
מו ט נִכְחוֹ: הכ"ף בשווא נח על אף הקושי
מו י וּבְצֵאתָם יֵצֵֽאוּ׃ בכל הדפוסים וכתבי היד החוץ-תימניים הידועים הגירסא וּבְצֵאתָם, ובכללם כתר ארם צובא[2].
מו יב וּפָתַֽח לוֹ: טעם נסוג אחור לפ"א
מו יז וְהָיְתָה לּוֹ: טעם נסוג אחור לה"א, עם זאת השוא ביו"ד נע, ודגש חזק בלמ"ד מדין אתי מרחיק. וְשָׁבַת: הבי"ת רפה, פועל לשבות בלשון עבר

ראשון של מצורע
יד ב הַמְּצֹרָע מ"ם דגושה ושווא נע.
יד ד לַמִּטַּהֵר: המ"ם בחירק חסר והטי"ת דגושה.
יד ה וְשָׁחַט אֶת-הַצִּפּוֹר הָאֶחָת: טעם טפחא בתיבה וְשָׁחַט וכן הוא בהמשך בפסוק כא
יד ו עַל הַמַּיִם הַֽחַיִּֽים׃ טעם טפחא בתיבה עַל
יד ח וְאַחַר יָבוֹא אֶל-הַֽמַּחֲנֶה: טעם טפחא בתיבה וְאַחַר
יד ט יְגַלַּח הלמ"ד בפתח. יְגַלֵּחַ: הלמ"ד בצירי חי"ת בפתח גנובה.
יד י וְכַבְשָׂה: הכ"ף פתוחה.
יד יא וְהֶעֱמִיד: העמדה קלה בה"א למנוע הבלעת הגרונית החטופה. הַֽמְטַהֵר: זהו המקום היחיד בפרק בו המ"ם מנוקדת בשווא נח[3]
[1] כאשר מדובר בדמיה של האישה אז ללא מפיק בה"א, כאשר מדובר בימים, אז הה"א במפיק ולסיכום: ראשונה ושלישית הה"א ללא מפיק, שנייה ורביעית, במפיק.
[2] לפי תורה קדומה צריך להיות 'ובדרכם יצאו' על פי כתבי יד תימניים.[3] לפי הכלל בסוף תנ"ך ברויאר מוסד הרב קוק שגעית ה"א במילה בעלת טעם מפסיק משאירה שווא נח. הערה נוספת, בשוא הכוונה לכהן ולא לאדם הבא להטהר שאז מנוקד בחירק חסר.

תרגום המילה כבוס

יג נח אֲשֶׁר תְּכַבֵּס וְסָר מֵהֶם הַנָּגַע וְכֻבַּס שֵׁנִית וְטָהֵר׃ ת"א: דתחור ויעדי מנהון מכתשא ויצטבע תנינות וידכי.

הזכרנו כבר כמה פעמים את דברי רש"י כאן. מגיליון בהעלותך: ח ז וְכִבְּסוּ בִגְדֵיהֶם תרגום אונקלוס: ויחוורון לבושיהון. והנה בסוף פרשת תזריע (ויקרא יג נח) פרש רש"י: וְכֻבַּס שֵׁנִית ־ לשון טבילה. תרגום של כבוסין שבפרשה זו לשון ליבון׃ "ויתחוור"; חוץ מזה, שאינו לליבון אלא לטבול, לכך תרגמו׃ "ויצטבע"; וכן כל כבוסי בגדים שהן לטבילה, מתרגמין׃ "ויצטבע".

בפשטות כבוס הבגדים כאן [בפרשת בהעלותך] הוא לטהרה ולא לנקיון, כך מוכיח סוף הפסוק והטהרו. ולכן היה צפוי לפי הכלל של רש"י בסוף תזריע לתרגם ויצבעון (השווה עם לשון המקרא וּבְטַל שְׁמַיָּא יִצְטַבַּע דניאל ד יב). שאלה זו אפשר לשאול בשני מקומות נוספים: א. שמות יט י וְכִבְּסוּ שִׂמְלֹתָם; במדבר לא כד וְכִבַּסְתֶּם בִּגְדֵיכֶם, בשני המקומות ההם כמו כאן אף שלפי פשוטו מדובר בטהרה מתורגם לשון חוור. עיין בהעמק דבר ובמשך חכמה במקומות האלה (או בחלקם), גם הספר שערי אהרן דן בשאלה זו. שמעתי בשם הרב דויד צבי הילמן, וזה תוכן דבריו: התרגום מצד אחד משתדל לפרש פשוטו של מקרא, מצד שני אין הוא מתרגם בניגוד לתורה שבעל פה. ולכן אם התורה קוראה לטבילת בגדי הלובש בשם כיבוס – המתרגם מתרגמו בלשון צבע כמו שהבאנו מהארמית המקראית (לשון הרטבה), בשלושת המקומות היוצאים מן הכלל אין דין שנוהג לדורות אלא מעשה שהיה. כאן התרגום חוזר לכללו לפרש פשוטו של מקרא, כבוס לשם ניקיון. עד כאן מפרשת בהעלותך.

Friday, March 29, 2019

Let your Soul not be Desolate

Although mistakes in the הפטרה might not be as serious, they tend to be more prevalent since the reader of the הפטרה tends to be less of a seasoned lainer (depending on the shul.) Unfortunately, there was one year I heard this done completely wrong every time. In the הפטרה of פרשת פרה, towards the end, there are numerous instances of the word נְּשַׁמָּה, meaning desolate. If it is mispronounced נְּשָׁמָה it refers to the soul. Two words, nearly indistinguishably similar whose meanings couldn't be further apart. It would be advisable, if you know who will be laining the הפטרה, to alert them to this in advance. Fortunately, our shul has acquired קלף's for all the הפטרות and now only actual בעלי קריאה lain it.

As MG points out in the comments - for those who are particular about pronouncing a דגש חזק - the דגש in the מ is also an important distinction between the two words.


I very often find myself focusing very closely on possible little mistakes that might go unnoticed and sometimes, the bigger mistakes fly over my ahead. Such was the case one פרשת פרה when I missed a biggy. Fortunately, it was in the הפטרה. In (יחזקאל ל"ו:ל), instead of פרי העץ, the בעל קריאה said פרי הארץ!! I heard murmurings and I knew I had missed something but I just wasn't sure what it was so I couldn't very well correct it.

I joked with people afterwards that perhaps it is not such a serious mistake. After all, if you make a בורא פרי האדמה on an apple, you are יוצא, right? It is still אדר.

Thursday, March 28, 2019


As I have discussed in a different forum, the essence of פרשת שמיני is one word - להבדיל, do differentiate. Towards the end of the פרשה, in פרק י"א that manifests itself in a דקדוק sense as well. There are two sets of words which appear very similar but must be pronounced differently so that they take on their proper meaning:
Here, אכל means food items.

Here, אכל refers to a person who eats.

The trop is included to stress the difference in accent. The first is pronouned with a סגול and מלעיל. The second is with a צירי and מלרע.

2) מג וְלֹא תִטַּמְּאוּ is with a חיריק meaning "do not become טמא," whereas
מד וְלֹא תְטַמְּאוּ is with a שוא meaning "do not make טמא."

Both are definitely correctable. I once heard someone get the vowel right but the accent wrong on #1 (or vice versa, can't remember) and I corrected it on the spot.

Friday, March 22, 2019


[While we're all getting ready for פורים, let's take a look back at חנוכה:]

In 2013 I posted:
I might have missed this one: someone came over to me at the end of the עליה to tell me that he was pretty sure that instead of וְכָל נַעֲשָׂה בַמַּרְחֶשֶׁת, he was pretty sure he heard נַעֲשֶׂה (with a סגול.) He was pretty certain that changed the tense to future, "let us do." I tried to suggest that perhaps נַעֲשֶׂה is simply the masculine version of  נַעֲשָׂה and still means "made." However, I don't think that is correct. In מעוז צור we say נַעֲשָׂה נס לשושנים. Even though נס is masculine, it is still נַעֲשָׂה. So it would appear that if he heard correctly, then it was in fact a serious error.

However, later that year I actually posted specifically about that line in מעוז צור and thanks to some reader feedback, it produced some interesting revelations as to the proper pronunciation. There are even more links to follow there. With much confusion surrounding the issue I think the one clear outcome is that this should definitely be corrected (in the laining, not in מעוז צור).

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

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.

Recently, this word was the subject of discussion in the Dikduk WhatsApp group. One of the members suggested that the mispronunciation is not as drastic as first thought since the two words - floor and coal - actually really emanate from the same root רצף. To support this assertion, he pointed to שיר השירים ג:י - תוכו רצוף אהבה. There רש"י explains it as connected to the word for floor while מצודת ציון connects it to גחלת.

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?

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):

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:

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.

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.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

כבש vs כשב

This is a question I have had for some time and a reader recently brought it up with me again in person and pointed out that it is very applicable with פינחס coming up:
Is the mistaking of כבש for כשב (or vice-versa) a correctable mistake? While the words are different, their meanings are exactly the same. What say you?

UPDATE: Once again, the Dikdukian is rescued by its readers:

MG said...
According to the Malbim these two words do NOT have the exact same meaning, and might even be referring to two different "types" of sheep:

Link to ספר at HebrewBooks

However, as per my comment per below, the מסורת הש"ס to :שבת צב might imply otherwise. As well, I happened upon a ספר חותם תכנית written in the 1860's which asserts that they are the same here.

Additionally, the משנה ברורה קמ"ג:כ"ו (which was recently learned as part of the Dirshu דף היומי בהלכה program), based on מגן אברהם counts כשב/כבש as an example of a change in pronunciation without a change in meaning which would nevertheless necessitate putting the Torah back and laining from another.

Nevertheless, Jack Gross's comment is very poignant.  Whether there is a difference in meaning and whether this is a correctable mistake are likely two completely separate discussions. The difference in meaning might very well be debatable. But as for the קריאה aspect, it's simply a different word and the fact that it is almost the same is irrelevant. If the consonants are out of order, the word has not been pronounced properly and this needs to be corrected.
(Perhaps the same argument may be made regarding R' Marwick's position on בלילה הוא.)