Sunday, July 31, 2022

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 Bezalel 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.

יהצה, what is your real name?

In this week's פרשה, we find בני ישראל are confronted militarily by סיחון. The פסוק states כ"א:כ"ג ויבא יהצה. The question is, what was the name of the place? Was it יהץ and the pasuk is stating that he came to יהץ and the suffix ה implies to? Or is the name of the place actually יהצה?

The הפטרה appears to settle this quite unequivocally. In שופטים י"א:כ it states ויחנו ביהצה. That seems quite clear that the name of the place is יהצה. However, shockingly, אונקלוס in our פרשה renders ואתא ליהץ (as well as in דברים ב:לב)!!

תרגום יונתן in שופטים renders ושרו ביהצה.

Thank you to R' Ari Storch for pointing this out.


elie said...
ישעיה טו ד
ירמיה מח לד
!!!יהץ!!!
MG said...
This question is asked in the Sefer Derech Sicha (questions to R' Chaim Kanievsky by one of his talmidim). R' Chaim answers simply that the name evolved to יהצה by Yiftoch's time. Targum Onkelos, although written later, used the name that existed in the time of Moshe, which was יהץ.

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.

Friday, July 29, 2022

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

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 but I see it is also available on Hebrew Books) 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.

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.

Friday, July 22, 2022

פינחס - What's in a name?

... A יו"ד, that's what. In the תורה, the name פינחס is written מלא, thus rendering the שוא underneath the נו"ן a שוא נע. However, in שמואל, the son of עלי is פנחס without a יו"ד. Could it be that they are actually considered different names?

Lest one suggest that this might be a תורה-נביאים quirk like ירחו, in the very last פסוק of יהושע, it is written פינחס.

Last week, the בעל קריאה did not pronounce the שוא נע in פינחס so since he was reading it again anyway for מפטיר I brought this to his attention whereas I would never do so for or a regular שוא נע.

UPDATE: Based on Elie's comment, the above appears to be incorrect. Both names are really פינחס. But the one פנחס is an exception. So now the question is "Why?"

[תשע"א] Just last week, my father, ע"ה, passed away at the age of 77. His name is ראובן פנחס. I'm not sure if this is common everywhere but in our family, it is spelled without the י.

One Big Happy Family?

The recounting of the tribes and their various descendants generally follows a pretty steady pattern. The first name contains no prefix and the rest are prefixed with a למ"ד as follows: פלוני... לפלוני... לפלוני... וכו. An anomaly is found, however, in the children of גלעד. We find איעזר, לחלק, ואשריאל, ושכם, ושמידע, וחפר. The latter four are prefixed with a וי"ו. Why?

In a discussion within the דקדוק WhatsApp group, it was suggested that the explanation for this might lie in the turn of events at the end of the next week's פרשה in which the daughters of צלפחד are instructed that they must marry within the שבט in order that their father's portion of the land not end up belonging to another שבט. Perhaps these are the individuals, or the families of the individuals, who married those daughters. Since their families were ultimately intertwined, instead of the traditional למ"ד separating each name, a וי"ו החיבור is used to indicate that in the end, they were all one big family.

However, I recently discovered another anomaly for which I have no answer:
כ"ו:כ"ג
בְּנֵי יִשָּׂשכָר לְמִשְׁפְּחֹתָם תּוֹלָע מִשְׁפַּחַת הַתּוֹלָעִי לְפֻוָה מִשְׁפַּחַת הַפּוּנִי

All of the brothers

(כ"ז:ט-י)
וְאִם אֵין לוֹ בַּת וּנְתַתֶּם אֶת נַחֲלָתוֹ לְאֶחָיו
וְאִם אֵין לוֹ אַחִים וּנְתַתֶּם אֶת נַחֲלָתוֹ לַאֲחֵי אָבִיו


In the first פסוק one must be careful about לְאֶחָיו, to his brothers, not being pronounced לְאָחִיו, to his (singular) brother. However, the second פסוק contains a more dangerous possible mistake (by that, I mean that it is a mistake much easier to make and much harder to detect) and that would be לַאֲחִי אָבִיו instead of לַאֲחֵי אָבִיו, once again erroneously switching the plural to the singular.

כבש vs כשב

This is a question I have had for some time and a reader recently brought it up with me again in person and pointed out that it is very applicable with פינחס coming up:
Is the mistaking of כבש for כשב (or vice-versa) a correctable mistake? While the words are different, their meanings are exactly the same. What say you?

UPDATE: Once again, the Dikdukian is rescued by its readers:



MG said...
According to the Malbim these two words do NOT have the exact same meaning, and might even be referring to two different "types" of sheep:
Link to ספר at HebrewBooks




However, as per my comment  below, the מסורת הש"ס to :שבת צב might imply otherwise. As well, I happened upon a ספר חותם תכנית written in the 1860's which asserts that they are the same here.

Additionally, the משנה ברורה קמ"ג:כ"ו (which was recently learned as part of the Dirshu דף היומי בהלכה program), based on מגן אברהם counts כשב/כבש as an example of a change in pronunciation without a change in meaning which would nevertheless necessitate putting the Torah back and laining from another.

Nevertheless, Jack Gross's comment is very poignant.  Whether there is a difference in meaning and whether this is a correctable mistake are likely two completely separate discussions. The difference in meaning might very well be debatable. But as for the קריאה aspect, it's simply a different word and the fact that it is almost the same is irrelevant. If the consonants are out of order, the word has not been pronounced properly and this needs to be corrected.
(Perhaps the same argument may be made regarding R' Marwick's position on בלילה הוא.)

5780: This topic is, in fact, covered by R' Michoel Reach in his recently published ספר מימיני מיכאל (available on Amazon.) With his permission, here is his entry for פרשת צו in which he points out that there is a very clear distinction to determine when the תורה will use כשב and when כבש. It all depends on the other animals that are being contrasted. Read below:
(or, since the viewing area might make this harder to read, it might be easier to follow this direct link.)

Reader question: שבת בשבתו

A reader recently sent in this interesting question:
In this week's parsha, במדבר כח:י, the פסוק reads:
'עֹלַת שַׁבַּת בְּשַׁבַּתּוֹ וגו
Why is the סמיכות form (שַׁבַּת) used instead of שַׁבָּת?

Shaggy said...
We often employ the semichut construct at times for certain words, see Nechemia 9:14 "וְאֶת-שַׁבַּת קָדְשְׁךָ".
Similarly in Parshat Emor "מִשְׁפַּט אֶחָד יִהְיֶה לָכֶם".
Just a Masoretic quirk.

מלבד

 I have, on many occasions, lauded the  ספר אם למקרא ולמסורת by Rav Nissan Sharoni as the quintessential encyclopedia that is a must have for any בעל קריאה. Aside from methodically going through every single aspect of דקדוק in an easy-to-read manner, he goes through every פרשה and הפטרה listing the various nuances that one needs to be careful of. Essentially, it just about renders this blog obsolete 😀. And as an added bonus, I just discovered that the ספר was made available on Hebrew Books.

Every now and then, he will offer a very useful mnemonic to help navigate some tricky words. This week's was so cute that I had to share it. The קרבנות of each יום טוב contain a phrase beginning with the word מלבד. The problem is that the trop varies between instances. This is the trick Rav Sharoni offers to remember the proper notes:

  • פסח: We lean to the left so the note on מלבד is a פשטא - like so מִלְּבַד֙
  • שבועות: We received the לוחות so it is a גרשיים which looks like two tablets: מִלְּבַ֞ד
  • ראש השנה: The תלישא looks like an apple dipped in honey: מִלְּבַד֩
  • יום כפור: We received the second לוחות so, as with שבועות we find מִלְּבַ֞ד
  • סוכות: We wave the לולב which looks like a פשטא, therefore מִלְּבַד֙
  • שמיני עצרת: We use the same note as סוכות since there is still תשלומים for the חגיגה
You can read it for yourself here.

A name that took ME by surprise

[תשס"ט]
Having yahrtzeit this week, I had the opportunity to lain  the הפטרה for בהר this past week - not a very common occurrence. I checked with my trusty ספר אם למקרא ולמסורת to see what I should be looking out for. I found quite an interesting tidbit on the name ירמיהו. There is a tendency to pronounce the name Yir-mee-ya-hu. However, it should be noted that the vowel under the מ is a שוא, not a חיריק. Therefore, it should be pronounced Yir--ya-hu. I have to say, I was practicing it for quite a while and it is difficult on the tongue.

Friday, July 15, 2022

The Dead of the Plague

The following was apparently told over in a dream to his son by R' Shraga Feivel of Smargan. The last pasuk of this week's parsha (25:9) gives us the devastating death toll of the plague that followed B'nei Yisrael's intermingling with the Midyanites. There is an odd structure to the trop, notes, on this particular pasuk. The esnachta, which somewhat resembles a wishbone, indicates the primary stop in the middle of a pasuk. It usually concludes a thought. Take, for example, a few pesukim earlier (25:3) "Vayitzamed Yisrael leVa'al Pe'or, vayichar af HaShem beYisrael." And Yisroel clung to Ba'al Pe'or, and HaShem's wrath glowed upon Yisroel. The esnachta is used to separate the two distinct thoughts. However, our pasuk seems to be one single thought. In fact, a very similar pasuk earlier on (17:14) seems to classify such a statement as one thought. Why, then, is there an esnachta on the word bamageifah?

R' Feivel answers that this pasuk has in it a hidden meaning. Because of the terrible sin at Ba'al Pe'or, it was necessary to wipe out 24,000 of B'nei Yisrael. However, the gemara (Sanhedrin 105b) tells us that the period from the Shittim to the Gilgal (which encompasses this period,) was a period of goodwill during which HaShem did not become angry with B'nei Yisrael. Therefore, in order to lessen the blow of this plague, HaShem made it so that included in the 24,000 would be those who had reached their time to die anyway. This is expressed by the complete thought "Vayihyu hameisim bamageifah," and the dead ones, i.e. those who had reached their time to die, were in the plague. The pasuk then finishes off with a separate thought, tallying the total number of deaths in the plague.

I thought that perhaps this interpretation of the word meisim as those who were to die rather than those who died is in accordance with Rashi in parshas Ki Seitzei. Without getting into detail as to the meaning of Rashi, the pasuk warns to put a fence around one's roof so that you should not bring blood upon your house, "ki yipol hanofeil mimenu," if a faller were to fall from it. Rashi comments "Ki yipol hanofeil - ra'ui zeh lipol," the faller - one who deserved to fall. Here, too, we see a noun referring not to one to which something happened but one to whom this was destined to happen.

I Say Yericho, You Say Yereicho

The city we know of us Jericho is commonly pronounced יְרִחוֹ. This is, in fact, how it is written in נ"ך*. However, in last week's פרשה and this week's, and in all other examples in the תורה it is written יְרֵחוֹ (with a צרי). Anyone have an explanation for the change?

*As per Anonymous' comment: It is written this way in יחושע, שמואל and מלכים (with the exception of מלכים ב כ"ה:ה) but in ירמיהו, עזרא, נחמיה and דברי הימים it is יְרֵחוֹ as well.

Friday, July 8, 2022

Watch out for that חיריק

(כ:י"ג)
הֵמָּה מֵי מְרִיבָה אֲשֶׁר רָבוּ בְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶת ה' וַיִּקָּדֵש בָּם

The difference between וַיִּקָּדֵש and וַיְּקַדֵש is tremendous - to be sanctified or to sanctify. This is an easy mistake to make and an easy mistake to miss and should definitely be corrected. En garde!
(Note that there is an additional significant difference in the vowel underneath the ק. But for ספרדים, that might be insignificant.)

What land was Sichon king of?

Sound like a silly question? I'm not so sure it is.We find numerous references throughout the תורה to the אמורי. In פרשת חקת, we are introduced to סיחון מלך האמורי. It would seem, from the structure of the word, that אמורי is the name of the nationality - Canadian, American, אמורי. But what is the name of the land? Canada, America ... Is it אמור? Is it possible that אמורי was also the name of the land and the word simply stays as is? We see a similar situation with the families listed in the census: לְיִשְׁוִי מִשְׁפַּחַת הַיִּשְׁוִי

Am I missing something obvious on this? Anyone see anything that might answer this question? It is similar to our discussion of יהצה.

Just do it! ... again

As we have discussed in פרשיות מקץ and ויגש, it is of utmost importance that the word עֲשׂוּ is pronounced with the חטף-פתח and not a קמץ which would change the word from a command to a past tense verb. The same is true, of course, in this week's פרשה in ט"ז:ו.

בעלי קריאה I have heard in the past are very careful to get this right. I also heard extra emphasis put on the פתח in תַלִּינוּ in פסוק י"א. It occurred to me that if mispronounced with a קמץ, the meaning would change there too from the root of תלונה, complaint, to לינה, sleeping.

I know the critics will probably jump on this and say that the דגש would disappear if it were קמץ and therefore it does not change the meaning. However, I have stated my opinion on this before. For a בעל קריאה who is actually careful with the דגש, perhaps that is a valid point. However, for the large majority who are not, the vowel is clearly the more dominant indicator.

Flee Market

A number of years ago, I let a mistake go which I have been wondering about. In ט"ז:ל"ד, the word נָסוּ should be pronounced NA-su with the accent מלעיל. However, it was mispronounced na-SU, מלרע. My compunctions are based on the possibility that moving the accent to the end would make the word derive from the root נסיון. However, I can't recall ever seeing such a word in form. It would be נִסוּ (with a חיריק.)

Thoughts?

ויקח קרח






Chuck asked...
Someone asked my sister the first word of parashat Korach (va yi KACH) has its stress on the third syllable. He thinks the stress should be on the second syllable (va YI kach) based on tropp reasons or something.
Any thoughts? (We can start with if he's correct, and if so why.)
MG said...
He's wrong. He thinks that the word "vayikach" should be "nasog achor" because the stress on "korach" is on the first syllable and we often push back a prior word's stress so as not to conflict with the second word. However, one exception to the rule is that nasog achor does not "jump" over a sheva nach or a dagesh chazak. Here the "kuf" has a dagesh and thus the stress remains on the last syllable. Happy to elaborate or give similar examples