Sunday, October 17, 2021

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, October 12, 2021

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.

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. Also, a reader provided me with evidence that according to the כתר ארם צובה, the צירי is under the יו"ד in ישעיה.

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.

Friday, October 8, 2021

Noach's three sons are...

If you ask most kids to name נח's three sons, you will almost certainly be told שֵׁם חָם and יָפֶת But of course, his name is only יָפֶת when it is at the end of the פסוק or on an אתנחתא. But in truth, his name was יֶפֶת as in י:ב.

It's always fun and interesting (and sometimes disappointing) every year seeing what my kids are taught in school.

Different ways to wake up?

This past שבת, for the following פסוק:
ט:כ"ד וַיִּיקֶץ נֹחַ מִיֵּינוֹ
the בעל קריאה mistakenly said וַיִּיקַץ as it is in the beginning of ויצא and מקץ.
I corrected him out of reflex but later wondered what exactly is the difference between the two. As I always ask: If there's a difference, what is the difference. If there is no difference, why are they different?

Once again, Dikdukian is saved by its knowledgeable readers. Yaakov Gross explains:
The later examples (accent on ultimate syllable, with פתח) are the normal form. The first example (accent on penult, final vowel סגול) is נסוג אחור, because it leads into נח whose first syllable is accented; that shift of accent causes a change in the final syllable’s vowel. (The shift in accent is very common with וי"ו ההיפוך, and that often leads to a change of vowels as well. A very familiar example is ויברך (in ויכולו): accent move to ב, and vowel of ר changed from צירי to סגול.

Another reader, however, pointed me to a רשב"ם at the very last פסוק of בראשית which indicates that וַיִּיקֶץ (here) is the passive form. Based on that, he (the reader) suggests the following:
Rasbam explains that with a segol it means a passive form, similarly to vayussam (and he was put), and he compares it to vayiketz (which in this case means he got woken up, while vayikatz means "he woke up". Look into targum yonasan and you'll see that he is wondering who told Noiach what his younger son did to him. And he says that he was informed about it by a dream. But following Rashbam's pshat there is no kushiah. According to both opinions about what he did to Noiach, if we translate vayiketz "he got woken up", it was obviously what was done to him that woke him up, so clearly he knew who did it and what he did.

And the days was

Although the פרק recounting the generations from אדם to נח seems somewhat repetitive, I noticed an interesting discrepancy this year. For most, the grand tally of their years lived begins ...ויהיו כל ימי. However, for חנוך it says ה:כ"ג ויהי כל ימי חנוך. I first thought the change might be related to חנוך's early exit. But the same wording is found later for למך as well. I have to admit, I haven't looked very hard to see if this is addressed anywhere. Any ideas?

Do you Sea what I Sea

This particular issue presents itself twice on שמחת תורה. First, in וזאת הברכה ל"ג:י"ט and then in בראשית. On days 3, 4 and 5 we find the word ימים. But there is, of course, a very important difference. In וזאת הברכה and on days, 3 and 5, the word is יַמִּים with a פתח, meaning seas. On day 4, the word is יָמִים with a קמץ. This is easily overlooked and a very important distinction. En garde!

(I know someone is going to point out the דגש in יַמִּים but, as I have mentioned before, since for the most part, most בעלי קריאה do not precisely differentiate, I don't include that as a significant difference. Nevertheless, for those who lain in הברה ספרדית with little or no differentiation between קמץ and פתח, it might be a good idea to use the דגש to differentiate.)