Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Come on, People! Part II

[5772] This past  שבת, after the shul's official מנחה, I was sticking around to learn a little when a group from a בר מצוה came in and started another מנין. They didn't really have someone to lain. I happen to know the first עליה of ויצא but there was someone else who "offered" so I let him do it. He definitely ran into some difficulty which I do not fault him for. But then he said וַיִּיקַץ יַעֲקֹב מִשְּׁנָתוֹ וַיֹּאמַר  - instead of וַיֹּאמֶר. Yes, imagine the horror! Unfortunately, someone in the crowd had the audacity to call out the correction - and he was quite adamant about it. I tried my hardest to drown him out and assert that it made no difference and he should just go on. But he actually went back and repeated the entire פסוק. It's bad enough to make such a correction under normal circumstances. But certainly, when the בעל קריאה is already nervous because he does not know it so well and is up there as a last resort - these corrections are more than unnecessary. I really wanted to go up to the "correcter" afterwards and kindly explain that the difference between וַיֹּאמַר and וַיֹּאמֶר is about the same as the difference between מִצְרָיִם and מִצְרַיִם. But I could not gather the courage.

Addnedum 5780: Someone actually asked me why it is not וַיֹּאמַר. We do sometimes see words take on the pausal form, even if not on an אתנחתא or סוף פסוק. (Incidentally, the actual trop on this word is a matter of dispute.) It turns out it's not so simple. Maybe I can cover it in another post.

A reader recently (5781) contacted me and provided a very clear analysis of different used of וַיֹּאמַר and when it might actually be מעכב:

My own observation is that one of the uses of  וַיֹּאמַר rather than וַיּאמֶר is stylistic, namely when an additional verb is assigned to the subject. Here are some examples:


בראשית יד:יט  וַיְבָרְכֵהוּ, וַיֹּאמַר:  בָּרוּךְ אַבְרָם 

בראשית יח: כג  וַיִּגַּשׁ אַבְרָהָם, וַיֹּאמַר

 במדבר כג:יב  וַיַּעַן, וַיֹּאמַר:  הֲלֹא, אֵת אֲשֶׁר יָשִׂים

שופטים כ:ד  וַיַּעַן הָאִישׁ הַלֵּוִי, אִישׁ הָאִשָּׁה הַנִּרְצָחָה--וַיֹּאמַר


This style is not followed, however, when ויאמר is followed by an infinitive, such as ל... or לו or אליו, as in:


 בראשית כז:לז  וַיַּעַן יִצְחָק וַיּאמֶר לְעֵשָׂו


 I found only one exception to this rule in Chumash, where even though there is another verb, plus no infinitive after the ויאמר, the nikud is וַיּאמֶר:


בראשית מ:יח  וַיַּ֤עַן יוֹסֵף֙ וַיֹּ֔אמֶר זֶ֖ה פִּתְרֹנ֑וֹ שְׁלֹ֙שֶׁת֙ הַסַּלִּ֔ים שְׁלֹ֥שֶׁת יָמִ֖ים הֵֽם:


(In the rest of Tanach, my Concordance tells me that there are 32 more instances of ויען...ויאמר, but I have not gone through them to see whether in those cases the ויאמר is always followed by an infinitive.)


But another use of vayoMAR vs. vayoMER might warrant correction in instances where וַיֹּאמַר occurs. When ויאמר is followed by a name, וַיֹּאמַר makes it very clear, by the pause, that the one named is not the one speaking, but part of the quote. This happens often when it’s Hashem or Elokim that is the word following ויאמר:


 בראשית יח:ג 

וַיֹּאמַר  ה' אִם-נָא מָצָאתִי חֵן בְּעֵינֶיךָ


Viz., it should not be understood as "And Hashem said, "If I have found favor in your eyes...". It should be read and understood as, "And he said, "Hashem, if I have found favor in your eyes...".


Another example:

בראשית טז:ח וַיֹּאמַר הָגָר שִׁפְחַת שָׂרַי אֵי-מִזֶּה בָאת


וַיֹּאמַר tells you not to read the verse as saying, “And Hagar said, ‘Servant maid of Sarai, from where are you coming?” but rather, “And he said, “Hagar, servant maid of Sarai…’ ”


This example also shows that scripture uses וַיֹּאמַר for this purpose even when other indicators already make it clear. After all, the masculine ויאמר rather than the feminine ותאמר already makes it clear that it is not Hagar speaking.


In the pasuk you write about, וַיִּיקַץ יַעֲקֹב מִשְּׁנָתוֹ וַיֹּאמֶר אָכֵן יֵשׁ ה' במקום הזה, there is apparently no fear that one would think that "אכן" is the name of a person, so writing וַיֹּאמַר  would be unnecessary.

In conclusion, I stand by my assertion that the correction in this case was clearly unwarranted. However, my assertion that the difference between the two is universally insignificant was also equally faulty.


Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, you can't win in these situations. Shouting out "It's not me-akev" makes you look like a know-it-all, and giving someone a post-leining dikduk lesson is an exercise in futility.
I once heard someone try to build an elaborate dvar Torah in Parshat Vayigash around the "difference" between katon (with a cholam) and katan (with a kamatz). I told him afterwards, privately, that the difference was due to pausal forms, nothing more. He looked at me like I was from Mars.

ELIE said...

נדמה לי שיש כאן טעות

לפעמים יש קטֹן או קטון בחולם
ולפעמים בקמץ
לא קשור לאצמע פסוק או סוף פסוק או טעם מפסיק או מחבר

Anonymous said...

Nice! Your theory also seems to apply to Breishit 33:5