Thursday, November 14, 2019

Is it ko-yei or ko-vei?

This seem to come up as a hot topic every year regarding the הפטרה:

ישעיה מ:ל"א
וְקוֹיֵ֤ ה' יַחֲלִ֣יפוּ כֹ֔חַ

Where does the צירי fall? Under the ו"ו or the יו"ד? The מנחת שי is very clear that it is under the יו"ד and therefore, pronounced v'ko-yei. However, there is a very similar פסוק in תהלים ל"ז:ט:

כִּֽי־מְ֭רֵעִים יִכָּרֵת֑וּן וְקֹוֵ֥י ה' הֵ֣מָּה יִֽירְשׁוּ־אָֽרֶץ׃

There, the מנחת שי says it is under the וי"ו. He quotes the אבן עזרא which he understands to hold the opposite. I don't fully understand it but if that is the case, this might very well remain a matter of dispute and if so, perhaps no need to make a fuss over it. But one should probably go with the מנחת שי.

There is an interesting twist in this matter with the influence of contemporary Jewish music. There is a popular song by Dedi which probably leads to the "misconception" of many that it should be pronounced v'kovei

Also, I recently saw that Artscroll (in one specific version - they are not always consistent) has the צירי under the ו"ו.

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


חיי שרה

כי תצא

שלח לך

כי תבא



כי תשא


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?

Different forms of יירש

Previously, I have discussed the intricate difference between the ברכה given to אברהם after the עקידה and that given to רבקה before she departed to marry יצחק. However, I recently noticed that in וירא, the word is written וירש whereas in חיי שרה it is ויירש with two יו"דs. תרגום אונקלוס is identical. Any explanation for why they would be written differently?

באר שבע

The episode of the wells involving יצחק and אבימלך comes to a conclusion in באר שבע. However, it was called באר שבע before they got there. Then, after the covenant between יצחק and אבימלך, it is named באר שבע. Is this the same באר שבע as the one named by אברהם? If so, why did they name it the same name all over again?

רשב"ם writes that this was in fact a different באר שבע from the one in the times of אברהם. However, an interesting explanation is given by the ספורנו. He writes that the name in אברהם's time was בְּאֵר שָׁבַע. After the episode with יצחק and אבימלך, it was renamed to בְּאֵר שֶׁבַע. It is very interesting that this theory can not be disproved. Any time that the city is mentioned until now, it appears either at the end of a פסוק, or an אתנחתא. Even if it were בְּאֵר שֶׁבַע from before, the סגול would have always changed to a קמץ. So we have no way of knowing if it called בְּאֵר שָׁבַע because of its position in the פסוק or if it is because that is really its name. ספורנו writes that it was in fact its name since it was only named as such to reflect the vow that אברהם made. Now that it reflected the number seven as well, corresponding to the seven wells that were found, it was changed to בְּאֵר שֶׁבַע. 

One year, on ראש השנה, the בעל קריאה said בְּאֵר שֶׁבַע and I almost corrected him based on the ספורנו. But I didn't.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

King #5

This week's פרשה features the epic battle between the short-handed four kings, אמרפל, אריוך, כדרלעמר and תדעל, and the five kings, ברע, ברשע, שנאב, שמאבר and... wait, was the name of the fifth king? When the five kings are mentioned, the last is "ומלך בלע היא צער". Rashi explains that the city of בלע was also known as צער. The פסוק could not be naming צער as the king of בלע because of the feminine "היא." If צער were the name of the king of בלע, it would have read " ומלך בלע הוא צער." So what was his name and why is it left out?

A number of answers are suggested. רמב"ן states that בלע was a small city and so the name of its king was left anonymous due to his relative insignificance. שערי אהרן points out that the names of the four other kings are apparently nicknames alluding to each one's wickedness as רש"י thoroughly explains. From the story of the destruction of סדום in next week's פרשה we learn that צער was the least wicked of the five wicked cities slated for destruction. Thus, the king's name is left out due to his relatively insignificant wickedness.

Suprisingly, however, חומת אנך and ספר הישר actually write that the name of the king was בלע. I am not sure how the grammar of the פסוק works and why this king is differently introduced than the others but this is the only offering I have found as to the actual name of the king.