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.

Oops

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

להבדיל

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:
1)
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

נעשה

[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:

(א:י)
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?
Thanks.

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:

(ט:י"ב)
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.

Thanks.

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.

Friday, March 1, 2019

ועשה בצלאל ואהליאב

"ועשה בצלאל ואהליאב" (Shemos 36:1)

There are two main types of וי"ו at the beginning of a word: a וי"ו החיבור and a וי”ו ההיפוך. A וי”ו החיבור links the word with that which preceded it, and a וי”ו ההיפוך switches the tense of a verb (and also implies sequence and order). The puzzling thing about all this, is that a וי”ו ההיפוך when switching a verb from past tense to future tense is punctuated in exactly the same manner as a וי"ו החיבור. Usually context can guide us to proper understanding, but sometimes context is not enough. A nice example of an ambiguous וי"ו is ועשה בצלאל ואהליאב. That וי"ו could be either a וי”ו ההיפוך or a וי"ו החיבור . תרגום אונקלוס and תרגום יונתןunderstand it to be a וי”ו החיבור and the אבן עזרא and רש"י מכות יב. understand it to be a וי”ו ההיפוך." There is a further מחלוקת between רש"י and the אבן עזרא regarding whether it is regular future tense or a command which has enough of a relationship with the future to be a possibility within a וי”ו ההיפוך which has switched a verb to future tense.
NOTE: See Weekly Shtikle's blog on the above פסוק.

The obvious question which the camp which understands it to be a
וי”ו החיבור (past tense) must deal with is that according to the plain reading of the text, בצלאל had not even gathered the donations yet, how could he have already done the work? Because of this issue, the אור החיים הקדוש explained that ועשה is referring to making the instruments necessary for the work and not referring to the actual work itself.

One final question: Why would the
תורה create this ambiguous וי"ו?

This is a question one could ask regarding many of the unclear parts of the
תורה system where ראשונים and אחרונים argue. The only possible answer is that the ambiguity is calculated to allow for both interpretations within the text.