Thursday, April 14, 2022

Don't sell the goat

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 8, 2022

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.