Thursday, August 29, 2019

Don't Feed the Animals

We have previously discussed the possible mix-up of כבש and כשב. Whether or not the two words mean the exact same thing, it definitely needs to be corrected. I actually had to do just that this past שבת when I'm pretty sure the בעל קריאה said שה כבשים instead of י"ד:ד - שה כשבים. But while I was contemplating that, something arose on the very next פסוק which I was unsure of. Someone claimed that instead of אַיָּל, a deer, he said אַיִל, a ram. Whether he did or he didn't is not particularly relevant at this point, I suppose, but it is worth pointing out how similar these two words are while they refer to two completely different animals. And by posting this now, hopefully it will jog my memory to be en garde in coming years.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

To Afflict the Corrector

ח:ג וַיְעַנְּךָ
Need I say more? I think I do. Most people with even a slight דקדוק awareness will know that it is important to not pronounce this וַיַעַנְךָ. That would mean "and He answered you," rather than "and He afflicted you." You might hear some בעלי קריאה making the שוא very clear to show that they are saying it correctly. However, this too is incorrect. It is a שוא נח under the יו"ד. So the actual proper pronunciation would be: vay-a-ne-CHA. One has to be very careful to make the "Syllable Stop" before the פתח. I'm not sure if there is a better technical term for that but I'm going with it for now - the art of "pronouncing" the שוא נח such that it breaks the syllable such as in אַתָּה הָרְאֵתָ last week -  har-EI-sa, as opposed to ha-REI-sa.

Of course, the real problem becomes that the very correct pronunciation here is barely discernible from the very incorrect pronunciation, which makes my job all the more difficult. So, maybe pronouncing that שוא נע isn't such a bad idea after all.

As another reader has pointed out, the דגש חזק in the נ is another important differentiating factor. Properly executing it should remove all doubt as to whether the word has been pronounced correctly.

To make a מתנגד cringe

Funny story:

A couple of years ago, I was in
ארץ ישראל during this week and I found myself davening in a chassidishe מנין. When the בעל קריאה got to the following פסוק:

ח:ט אֶרֶץ אֲשֶׁר לא בְמִסְכֵּנֻת תּאכַל בָּהּ לֶחֶם

he "mistakenly" pronounced the word miskenus. A voice from the back called out in correction "Miskenis!"

I remember thinking to myself, "Leave him alone, he actually pronounced it right the first time."

Those Bad Egyptians


In the beginning of the פרשה we are promised ז:ט"ו וְכָל־מַדְוֵי֩ מִצְרַ֨יִם הָרָעִ֜ים אֲשֶׁ֣ר יָדַ֗עְתָּ לֹ֤א יְשִׂימָם֙ בָּ֔ךְ וּנְתָנָ֖ם בְּכָל־שֹׂנְאֶֽיךָ, we will not be subjected to "madvei Mitzrayim hara'im".  It seems that most of the meforshim explain it to mean the bad sicknesses of Mitzrayim. However, a while back, it seemed to me that the notes in the pasuk suggest otherwise. The notes קדמא and אזלא are often together and when they are, they join the two words. The notes קדמא and אזלא appear on the words מצרים and רעים. It would seem, therefore, that the word רעים is describing מצרים and it means the sicknesses of the bad Egyptians. This in fact, would seem to be the way that the תרגומים translate it. אונקלוס is slightly ambiguous but תרגום יונתן seems clear.


However, I was very soon notified by my friend, Ari Brodsky that my assumption on the טעמים was incorrect:
I disagree with the suggestion from the te'amim.  If I'm not mistaken, there
is a telisha ketana on the word madvei.  A telisha ketana is a mesharet,

just as is the kadma.  If I remember correctly from what I read in Rav

Breuer's book Ta'amei Hamikra beKaf Alef Sefarim uveSifrei Eme"t, he

explains that when you have the sequence telisha ketana - kadma - azla,

there is no way to tell from the te'amim whether the word with the kadma is

more closely connected to the word with the azla, or to the word with the
telisha ketana.  It could be either way.  (I'm not saying that there's
anything wrong with understanding it the way the Targumim do, I'm just
saying that you can't prove it either way from the ta'amei hamikra in this
case.)

Monday, August 12, 2019

Raise the valleys

I was recently contacted by a בעל דקדוק whom I trust regarding a פסוק in this week's הפטרה:
כָּל גֶּיא יִנָּשֵׂא
Since the word גֶּיא does not have any vowel under the יו"ד, the letter is completely silent and therefore, should be pronounced with a סגול and should not sound like a צירי. And this is how he instructed the Bar Mitzvah boy he was teaching to pronounce it. (Most other times you see this word it is סמוך and there is therefore a צירי under the יו"ד.)

You were shown

This week's parsha contains a number of familiar passages. One which might be slightly more familiar to those who daven נוסח ספרד is אַתָּה הָרְאֵתָ לָדַעַת כִּי ה' הוּא הָאֱלֹקים, "you have been shown, etc." Although the שוא under the רי"ש is indeed a שוא נח, it is important not roll over it completely and place the צירי under the רי"ש. In other words, it should be pronounced "har-ei-sa." If it is mispronounced "ha-rei-sa," it would seem that it might confuse the word to seem like it is of the root הריון. I will let the experts chime in on the actual gravity of the mistake, whether the alternate meaning is in fact true. But I think the correct pronunciation is indisputable.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Days of Past Future

ספר דברים by nature is full of challenges relating to the tense of verbs. There was one that slipped by me a few years ago. It's not that I didn't catch it, just that I failed to correct it on the spot after deliberating in my mind. Not sure which is worse.

משה רבינו relates (א:י"ג) that he instructed the nation to gather wise men וַאֲשִׂימֵם בְּרָאשֵׁיכֶם. Although this is being related in the past, he is stating that he said in the past that he will place these men as heads of the nation - in the future. The בעל קריאה mistakenly put a קמץ under the וי"ו of ואשימם which I am pretty sure would change it from future to past. This is an easy mistake to make as everything which follows is indeed in the past tense. This is also tricky to catch since the difference between the וי"ו ההיפוך and the regular וי"ו is a שוא and a קמץ or פתח. But here it ends up being a difference between a קמץ and פתח. (See the comment by Bezlalel for more detail as to why this ends up being more tricky.)

Hopefully recording this now will help me be more mindful of it in future years.

Don't you worry


    In pasuk ל"א:ח, Moshe gives Yehoshua words of encouragement upon his taking over of Moshe's position. The pasuk ends off, לא תירא ולא תיחת. In pasuk א:כ"א, Moshe commands B'nei Yisroel, with regards to their seemingly imminent conquer of Eretz Yisroel, אל תירא ואל תיחת. The commands are almost exactly identical. The only difference is the exchange of the word אל for the word לא.


    Both לא and אל may both be translated as "don't." However, there is a difference between the two. The word אל is, for the most part, confined to a single meaning. Alternatively, the word לא is slightly more flexible. It can take on the form of a command, as in לא תרצח, thou shall not murder. However, it can also take on the form of a promise or assurance. Perhaps the clearest example of this is when HaShem commands Moshe to prevent בני ישראל from ascending the mountain to fight following the incident with the spies. Moshe is told (א:מ"ב) to declare "לא תעלו." The simple reading is clearly, "do not go up!" However, Rashi quotes from a Midrash, "לא עליה תהא לכם אלא ירידה," it will not be an ascent for you, rather a descent i.e. you will not succeed. Here we see clearly that the word לא can mean both a command and a promise, even at the same time.


    Therefore, in our parsha, Yehoshua is not being commanded not to fear, but rather being promised that he will have nothing to fear. In דברים, he is being told not to fear. Indeed, the expression in דברים is said in the context of other commands. In our parsha, however, it is stated in the context of other promises.


    I understand that the above distinction is not 100% clear-cut and there are numerous examples which might throw it into question. I'm open to suggestions.

     Recently, I heard a different approach from משך חכמה. In the פרשה of קרבן פסח - שמות י"ב:ט he explains that אל implies a certain tone of בקשה whereas לא is a more definite prohibitive commandment. Perhaps that explanation can be applied here as well. As leader of the nation it was imperative that יהושע show absolutely no fear whatsoever. Therefore it was delivered in the form of a commandment - לא תירא ולא תיחת. But when בני ישראל are being briefed prior to their imminent entry into ארץ ישראל it is simply stated in the form of a request. Or, alternatively, we can suggest that this "request" was made just prior to the demand for spies which had drastic consequences. With that now many decades in the past but its lessons still very clear, a mere request was no longer appropriate. It was clear that the to not fear and not tremble must be an outright commandment.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Whose tribe is it anyway?

(ל"ו:ט)
וְלֹא תִסֹּב נַחֲלָה מִמַּטֶּה לְמַטֶּה אַחֵר


A slightly embarassing story: A number of years ago, I was all ready for this פסוק and when the בעל קריאה pronounced it לְמַטֵּה אַחֵר I pounced on him and corrected him. One of the גבאים then corrected me and showed me that his חומש clearly said לְמַטֵּה.


First, let me clarify my position. When I was going over the פרשה the night before, I noticed that the תרגום of למטה אחר was "לשבטא אחרנא". This would mean that the term is translated as "another tribe." Pronouncing it לְמַטֵּה would give it סמיכות and it would then be understood as "the tribe of another. If that were the proper form, the תרגום would have been "לשבטא דאחרנא." The former also seemed to be the more intuitive understanding of the words. I was therefore quite confident that this was the right pronunciation and לְמַטֵּה would distort the meaning of the word.


It turns out I wasn't completely wrong. As the ספר אם למקרא (which I was finally able to score for myself) points out, there is a מחלוקת as to how this word is to be pronounced. Indeed, R' Breuer, on whom my חומש was based, says it should be לְמַטֶּה . But there are others who disagree. The בעל קריאה actually called me in the middle of the week to acknowledge this and stated that had he known, he would have made sure to pronounce it לְמַטֶּה in accordance with R' Breuer.

Nevertheless, when פ' מסעי comes around every year, I make sure to keep my mouth shut on this פסוק.

They are correct, sir!

כ"ז:ז כֵּן בְּנוֹת צְלָפְחָד דֹּבְרֹת
ל"ו:ה כֵּן מַטֵּה בְנֵי יוֹסֵף דֹּבְרִים

A friend of mine pointed out the glaring similarity between these two פסוקים which are obviously closely related. But, additionally, he pointed out, why is דובר used instead of the more common מדבר. Any thoughts?







Binny said...
kal vs. nifal
I assume it is to show that they did not present their argument in a harsh manner. These are not the only pplaces where that verb form is found in kal.


Anonymous said...
Binny: you mean Kal vs. Piel...

ELIE said...
אבל בתחילה כתוב ויקרבו ראשי האבות...ויְדַבְּרו ולא ויִּדְברו
אבל בפרשת פינחס לא כתוב על
בנות צלפחד ותדברנה
לכן אולי נאמר בדרך של ביני
בנות צלפחד ביקשו יפה לא בתקיפות ולכן כתוב שם דוברות
וכדי להשוות כתוב כך גם על מטה יוסף

Don't miss the Mapik!

The first עליה of the פרשה contains many instances of a מפיק ה. Sometimes I think they should have an oxygen tank up there just to get through it. For many of them, it might not be entirely critical as its meaning is clear without the מפיק ה. However, for words like אִישָׁהּ where missing the מפיק ה would change the meaing of the word from "her husband" to "a woman," it is of utmost importance to make sure that these words are pronounced properly.

To afflict or to answer


(ל:י"ד)
כָּל נֵדֶר וְכָל שְׁבֻעַת אִסָּר לְעַנֹּת נָפֶשׁ

Of course, one should not get too distracted with all the מפיק ה's that they miss the important nuance in this פסוק. An erroneous פתח under the ל would change the meaning of the word from that of affliction to that of answering. En garde!

[Also, it is best to stress the דגש חזק in the נו"ן for the same reason as per the anonymous comment below.]

The Interrogative

(ל"א:ט"ו)
וַיֹּאמֶר אֲלֵיהֶם מֹשֶׁה הַחִיִּיתֶם כָּל נְקֵבָה


When the soldiers returned with the women they had captured from מדין we find משה quite annoyed. He exclaims in a rhetorical manner, "You let the all the women live?!" A rhetorical question, however, is still a question. The understanding of this statement as a question hinges on the ניקוד of הַחִיִּיתֶם. If this word were to be mispronounced הֶחֶיִֵיתֶם it would lose its interrogative form and be understood as a statement - "You have let all the women live." While the message of the פסוק would ultimately be the same, I think this mistake would distort the true meaning of the word and should definitely be corrected on the spot.

The Cold has Passed

This past shabbos (5777) I did not daven in my normal venue and therefore, was not in my usual position to correct. There were two faulty accents which unfortunately went completely uncorrected. The first was at the end of מטות:
ל"ב:ל"ח וַיִּקְרְא֣וּ בְשֵׁמֹ֔ת אֶת־שְׁמ֥וֹת הֶעָרִ֖ים אֲשֶׁ֥ר בָּנֽוּ
The בעל קריאה put the accent on the first syllable, BA-nu, instead of the second, ba-NU. This changes the meaning from "built" to "us" or "among us."

Then, in מסעי:
ל"ד:ד וְנָסַ֣ב לָכֶם֩ הַגְּב֨וּל מִנֶּ֜גֶב לְמַעֲלֵ֤ה עַקְרַבִּים֙ וְעָ֣בַר צִ֔נָה
Here, the accent was mistakenly placed on the last syllable, tzi-NAH. It must be on the first syllable, TZI-nah. The real meaning is "to Tzin." However, the way it was pronounced, it would seem to mean "and the cold passed," or "the shield has passed," as in תהלים צ"א:ד.