Wednesday, July 19, 2023

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.


estee said...

va'atzaveh is with a kametz as well, how does that fit in with your theory

Shtikler said...

Why, it fits rather perfectly. As I explained, ואשימם is future tense. Everything else that follows including ואקח and ואצוה are in the past and that's why there is a קמץ.

Bezalel said...

The reason it's tricky is as follows. Normally the ו"יו החיבור has a שוא but when it is followed by a letter that has a חטף it changes to the תנועה of the חטף. In the case of ואשימם where there is a חטף פתח under the א the וי"ו החיבור gets a פתח. Also, normally the וי"ו ההיפוך gets a פתח and the next letter gets a דגש חזק. However if the next letter cannot get a דגש then the ו"ו ההיפוך gets a קמץ (which is a תנועה גדולה) instead of a פתח. So the וי"ו ההיפוך in the following words, such as ואקח and ואצוה, get a קמץ instead of a פתח.