Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Oh, Deer!

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 [תשע"ו] 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.

Friday, August 19, 2022

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

Friday, August 12, 2022

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.)

נצי"ב and the Missing יו"ד

דברים ז:ג
וּבִתּ֖וֹ לֹא־תִקַּ֥ח לִבְנֶֽךָ...

A friend of mine showed me this intriguing piece in the העמק דבר this past שבת. I was left shrugging my shoulders. This same friend triggered the discussion that led to this post regarding יחיד ורבים. So this was somewhat of a continuation. But based on what we had previously discussed, I was certain that this word was indeed singular. Nevertheless, העמק דבר goes on to explain why it is plural
לא תקח לִבְנֶךָ. לְבִנְךָ מיבעי. ובא לרמז דהנושא גויה בכרת והיינו מיתה לפני זמנו. ונישאת לבנו השני. שהרי איסור אשת אח אין כאן. משום שאין קידושין תופשין בה:
I brought this up on the דקדוק WhatsApp group and a very knowledgeable member pointed out that this is part of a pattern with העמק דבר and pointed to three other instances where נצי"ב goes out of his way to explain the plurality of what would seem to be a singular noun:
שמות ז:כח וּבְעַמֶּ֔ךָ
שמות לג:יג  דְּרָכֶ֔ךָ
דברים לג:ח חֲסִידֶ֑ךָ
In some of these other instances, he declares that these words in fact have a "missing יו"ד, according to the מסורה." Intriguing, indeed.

To further the intrigue, a reader pointed out that נצי"ב would always sign his name נפתלי צביהודה, clearly omitting an obviously necessary יו"ד. Perhaps there is some connection to his position that the יו"ד doesn't have to be there, even it belongs there. Finally, this fascinating story illustrated how this bizarre practice might have actually saved his life!

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.