Tuesday, July 16, 2024

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.

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.

Friday, July 5, 2024

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

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?

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.

Friday, June 28, 2024

What's different about אפרים?

This has bothered me for many years. The פסוקים enumerating the names of the spies are almost all identical in structure with the obvious exception of מנשה for whom it says למטה יוסף למטה מנשה. As such, the טעמים on the פסוקים are identical as well with the curious exception of אפרים. Instead of the זקף קטון as with the others, למטה אפרים has a מרכא-טפחא. Why?

I have heard a suggestion that perhaps the different tone is meant to indicate יחושע's ענוה. But I am not convinced. In pondering this issue I did come to an interesting discovery which may somehow be connected to the reasoning behind this. Of all of the sons of יעקב, the only one whose name is pronounced with the accent not on the last syllable is אפרים! Perhaps this affects how the פסוק needs to be noted.

As is often the case here, MG comes to the rescue:



MG said...
I've seen two answers for this. I'll leave out one of them because it has a more "Chasidish"/Drush slant.
Basically, this posuk is an exception because "Bin-Nun" is a "short" word (all the other names have more syllables). Because of that, we don't want to place a tipcha (pause/melech)immmediately prior, since that presents a slightly difficult flow of words. So we must have a mercha there, as that is the only possible meshares for a sof-posuk. Thus the tipcha (which is required to be in every single posuk at least once) gets moved to the word "Efroyim".

Thursday, June 20, 2024

In my Humble Opinion...

Technically, this pet peeve is not connected to any פרשה in particular but for obvious reasons, it becomes more prevalent for פרשת בהעלותך. It's very simple - ענִווּת - the word simply does not exist, at least not in any authoritative source that I know of. The real word for humility found everywhere that counts, for example, the very end of משניות סוטה, is ענווה. Yet you will hear people everywhere use this word, even people who are normally careful to use proper דקדוק. Unfortunately, Google Translate does not agree with me. But that's probably because it has managed to slip into the language. How? My guess is that might be a sort of Yiddishism. Just like we have טליתים, שבתים and תעניתים when the real words are טליתות, שבתות and תעניות, many descriptive words tend to end with ות such as חסידות and התנגדות so it is assumed that the word for humility should as well. But... it doesn't.
If this word does exist somewhere and I simply haven't seen it, please correct me.

... and so MG has done in the comments. He cites two examples where the word is used by מהרש"א:

:מועד קטן ט"ז


.סוטה מ


So this is still a curious matter. Let's say the word is not used through the ראשונים and suddenly appears. Where did it come from? Indeed, לשון הקדש is an evolving language as seen throughout תנ"ך and history. We find new words arise that haven't been used before. But what makes this more puzzling is that there already exists a perfectly sufficient word in the language. Why create a new one?