Wednesday, February 28, 2024

יעשה vs. תעשה

From Ephraim Stulberg:
שֵׁשֶׁת יָמִים יֵעָשֶׂה מְלָאכָה

In the above פסוק, where we are told that "for six days shall work be performed." The passive "יֵעָשֶׂה" is of course masculine, in spite of the fact that its subject is the feminine "מְלָאכָה". And so follows the question: What's up with that?

R, Yaakov Kamenetsky observes that in many instances in which the word "כל", or "all", is used to modify a noun, the gender of the verb/adjective used to describe even a feminine noun will be masculine. Thus, in פרשת בא, we have the phrase (כָּל מְלָאכָה לא יֵעָשֶׂה בָהֶם" (י"ב:ט"ז", where the masculine "יֵעָשֶׂה" refers back to the word "כל" more than it does to the feminine "מְלָאכָה". R' Kamenetsky suggests that the verse in כי תשא is to be read as though the word "כל" were present. R' Kamenetsky also quotes the opinion of a certain R' Nathan, who appears to have been some sort of confederate of his back in Lithuania, who explains the incidence in בא by positing a rule in which the gender of passively constructed verbs does not necessarily correspond to the gender of their related nouns. R' Kamenetsky is somewhat dismissive of this suggestion, though it clearly solves the question in כי תשא much more effectively.The truth is that R' Nathan's suggestion had already been anticipated by an earlier authority, namely רד"ק, in his comments on מלכים א ב:כ"א:

וַתּאמֶר יֻתַּן אֶת אֲבִישַׁג הַשֻּׁנַמִּית לַאֲדנִיָּהוּ אָחִיךָ לְאִשָּׁה

He explains that when the passive voice is employed, it creates a sort of gap between noun and verb. רד"ק reads the verse in מלכים as follows: "It shall be given, namely Avishag the Shunamite, to Adoniyahu". Likewise, we would read: "For six days it shall be done, namely 'work'". Actually, this is not very different from the explanation given by R' Kamenetsky. R' Kamenetsky makes the important point of noting that the phenomenon is not limited to the נפעל, and that it really applies in any case where a neuter noun is employed. However, R' Nathan's point is also crucial, for it recognizes that this phenomenon will be much more prevalent in cases in which the נפעל is utilized, thus creating an implicit break between subject and verb which is filled by the invisible neuter.

No More Drinking

Another episode of You Make the Call:

One time, the בעל קריאה, when laining ל"ג:ד וְלֹא שָׁתוּ אִישׁ עֶדְיוֹ עָלָיו put the accent on the last syllable of שתו rather than the first. Usually, I am not a real stickler for accents and I let them fly when it isn't a glaring change of meaning. But here it would seem to completely change the word from "put" to "drink." So, I corrected it on the spot.

As per MG in the comments, I believe it was the right call.

קול ענות

וַיּאמֶר אֵין קוֹל עֲנוֹת גְּבוּרָה וְאֵין קוֹל עֲנוֹת חֲלוּשָׁה קוֹל עַנּוֹת אָנכִי שׁמֵעַ

The pronunciation of the דגש חזק is an art which has fallen largely out of practice. Even amongst the best of בעלי קריאה I have heard few who actually still do. More often the not, the דגש does not change the meaning of the word in and of itself. However, one of my Rebbeim in ישיבת אור ירושלים once pointed out to me that in the above פסוק, the דגש diffrentiates between two words in the very same pasuk!

משה רבינו is answering יהושע that he does not hear the sound of the (victorious) outcry of the mighty, nor the (defeated) outcry of the weak. In those first two instances, the word ענות is from the verb לענות, to answer or to exclaim. Rather, says משה רבינו, it is the call of blasphemy, as רש"י explains, which afflict the souls of those who hear them. Here, the word ענות is from the word ענוי, affliction. Clearly, there are two different words in this pasuk and the only to diffrentiate between the two is with the pronunciation of the דגש.

Whys and Wherefores

The following thorough and intriguing write-up was submitted by a Dikdukian reader:

It is difficult to research a rule that apparently has no name.

I refer to what some colloquially refer to as the "למה" rule, because it is perhaps best illustrated with a handful of examples in which למה is used twice in close succession, once מלעיל and once מלרע (e.g., Shemot 5:22; Shemot 32:11-12 -- you know it from ויחל on a תענית צבור). The rule is that an otherwise מלעיל word becomes מלרע before a word that begins with an א, ה, or ע (of course, HaShem's name spelled with a י is pronounced with an א and therefore triggers the rule).

R. Yaakov Kamenetsky refers to the rule often in his ספר אמת ליעקב but generally as "that rule I have cited many times." Paul Jouon, in his well-regarded grammar written with T. Muraoka, calls it "hiatus" (a not uncommon grammatical process) but admits the name is less than ideal.

None of this sheds much light on the details of the rule itself. Jouon does mention that the word in question must end in an open syllable, but are there any other environmental factors?

Consider these examples (or nonexamples): 

  1. Bamidbar 11:8: שָׁטוּ֩ הָעָ֨ם וְלָֽקְט֜וּ... There is some disagreement about this one, as indicated in many חומשים that mark it as מלעיל but other sources, including מנחת שי and אמת ליעקבthat say it follows the rule and is מלרע. Those who say it is מלעיל claim that that is true to the meaning of the word, but we see other instances where the rule overrides that consideration (e.g., זָד֖וּ עֲלֵיהֶֽם Shemot 18:11). Nevertheless, it is unusual to see Koren and others mark מלעיל if it should be מלרע. My thought was that perhaps the rule is blocked with a תלישה (big or small), as seen in ...
  2. Bamidbar 16:7: וְשִׂימוּ֩ עֲלֵיהֶ֨ן קְטֹ֜רֶת where ושימו is marked (in every חומש I've seen that double-marks the תלישה in such a case) as מלעיל. But is טעם part of the environment that blocks the rule? Consider also ...
  3. Shemot 25: 24: וְצִפִּיתָ֥ אֹת֖וֹ זָהָ֣ב טָה֑וֹר... R. Kamenetsky says it is מלרע because of "that rule." Conveniently, the word doesn't show up elsewhere (without an א afterward) for comparison, supporting R. Kamenetsky's view by default. But what of other ל-ה verbs that don't trigger the rule, such as the very common ועשית? I had surmised merely that a ל-ה verb doesn't trigger the rule, and thus that the שורש of וצפית is not צפה as otherwise expected. And, in fact, other ל-ה verbs like וראית are still מלעיל before an א (Shemot 33:23, Devarim 4:19, the latter with a תלישה, fwiw). Further, the problem for the other view is that is doesn't explain why ועשית is often followed by an א and yet remains מלעיל (as in Shemot 27:1וְעָשִׂ֥יתָ אֶת־הַמִּזְבֵּ֖חַand we see וצפית as מלרע followed by את in 26:29). The other question here is possible interaction between this rule and that of וי"ו ההיפוך in עתיד/צווי -- but clearly R. Kamenetsky is saying the rule occurs here without saying why it doesn't in other seemingly like situations.

So what are the other environmental conditions that trigger/block the rule? I might like to write down each instance the rule shows up to see what's missing, but perhaps someone has done that already or has the software to find out quickly...?

Need to bring this up

ל"ב:ז אֲשֶׁר הֶעֱלֵיתָ מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם
ל"ג:א אַתָּה וְהָעָם אֲשֶׁר הֶעֱלִיתָ מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם 

There was a בר מצוה laining and he said הֶעֱלֵיתָ with a צרי the second time and I corrected it as a knee-jerk reaction. However, looking at the two words, I can't tell that there is any actual difference between the two. The תרגום is essentially the same. So, as I always do in these situations, I ask: If there is a difference, what is it? And if there is no difference, why are they different?

Minimizing Sin

ל"ד:ט וְסָלַחְתָּ לַעֲו‍ֹנֵנוּ וּלְחַטָּאתֵנוּ וּנְחַלְתָּנוּ 

As per a comment in this other post, it is important to be careful to not pronounce it וּלְחַטֹּאתֵנוּ, with a חולם on the ט. This would change it from singular to plural. As I've mentioned elsewhere, in situations like this, I appreciate the "oy-ers." It makes it much easier to discern if it has been pronounced properly or not.

Friday, February 23, 2024

נר תמיד

There is a custom to include a light in every shul which is on constantly, called a נר תמיד. Most people are aware of this. So what's the problem? I think that is what leads to a very popular misreading of a פסוק at the beginning of תצוה which is also found in אמור.

 לְהַֽעֲלֹ֥ת נֵ֖ר תָּמִֽיד

I think people automatically group the two words נר תמיד together in their minds and thus read it with a טפחא on להעלות and a מרכא on נר which is incorrect. It does change the meaning ever so slightly but I would never correct that on the spot. Maybe after the fact, I would point it out.

תרשיש ושהם

והטור הרביעי תרשיש ושהם וישפה

In the listing of the stones on the חושן there is a difference between the last row and the other three. The last row is "תרשיש ושהם וישפה" There is a וי"ו before the second stone as well as the third. In the other three rows, the וי"ו appears only before the last stone. משך חכמה points out that the reason for this is as we find in קריאת שמע, that certain groups of words have the first word beginning with the same letter as the next word like "על לבבכם" and therefore must be very carefully differentiated. So, too, here תרשיש and שהם have the same problem. Therefore, in order to differentiate between the two, told Moshe "תרשיש ושהם" so he would not get mixed up.

The difficulty is, however, that in (פקודי (ל"ט:י"ג the list does not contain a וי"ו before שהם. Although משך חכמה does make mention of this fact he does not clearly indicate why that is. ר' ברוך אפשטין, in ברוך שאמר, gives an answer. In ה', תצוה is talking to משה. Therefore, it was important there to differentiate between the two so that there is no confusion. In פקודי, however, the Torah is merely giving a recount of events so it was not imperative to place a וי"ו in the middle.

One of the members of the חבורה where I heard this brought up an interesting point. At the beginning of שמות we seem to find a similar phenomenon. When listing the sons of יעקב a וי"ו is only used for the last name in each פסוק. Except for א:ד, where there is a וי"ו before נפתלי. It would seem that this is to differentiate between the נו"ן at the end of דן and the נו"ן at the beginning of נפתלי. However, here it seems only to be giving a recount and there is no one speaking to anyone. I do not know an answer to that problem.
Any suggestions?

שם and שמה

ונתת שמה מים
ויתן שמה מים
ונתת שם מים
All three of the above פסוקים refer to the setting up of the כיור. The simple question is: What is the difference between שם and שמה?

As the comments below indicate, there doesn't seem to be any difference between the two. But this is always what I ask when I encounter things like this: "If there's a difference - what is it? If there's no difference - why are they different?"

Friday, February 16, 2024

ונהפוך הוא

This week's פרשה contains many commands and thus, many instances of a וי"ו ההיפוך which changes the accent on the word. There seem to be a number of instances where the accent is not changed due to the נסוג אחור rule. Additionally, it seems the word ועשית, which appears numerous times, can never have the accent on the last syllable. As some have mentioned in the comments, this is due to the נחי ל"ה rule, which is discussed briefly here in אם למקרא ולמסורת.

In general, I do not correct misplaced accents for reasons I would like to discuss another time. (See אמת ליעקב on שו"ע הלכות קריאת התורה.) However, I don't think it would be unreasonable to do so. Nevertheless, in those cases when the accent is not changed for circumstantial reasons, like ועשית, (I.e. if someone said ve-a-see-SA instead of ve-a-SEE-sa) I find it very hard to justify a correction.

ככר זהב

כִּכַּר זָהָב טָהוֹר יַעֲשֶׂה אתָהּ

When I first read this פסוק I thought I would be writing this post as an advisory. The first word of this pasuk seems to be connected to the following word. Therefore it should be pronounced as written above so that it means, "a block of pure gold" and not "a block, pure gold." תרגום אונקלוס seems to support this with his clear indication of סמיכות in translating ככרא דדהב.

However, the חומש I use which attributes its editing to Rabbi Mordechai Breuer, זצ"ל, has a קמץ under the כּ"ף. I must therefore assume that this is a matter of dispute.

This issue becomes more intriguing with the פסוק in (פרשת ויקהל (ל"ז:כ"ד. Whereas the פסוק in פרשת תרומה was rendered by אונקלוס as ככרא דדהב, in ויקהל it is ככרא דהב. Why would they be different?

Anonymous said...
בדפוס סביוניטה אין הבדל בין תרומה לויקהל
March 23, 2007 3:01 AM

Please see further informative comments by MG. Essentially, it appears the קמץ is more correct.

Also, please see the following extensive discussion from the fabulous weekly publication, תורת הקורא:

Watch out for that קמץ

אֲשֶׁר אַתָּה מָרְאֶה בָּהָר

The severity of this possible mistake is spelled out clearly in רש"י. Again, this is an easy mistake to make and a difficult one to catch. מָרְאֶה is a strange word you don't see very often. The natural inclination will be to read it מַרְאֶה but that completely changes the word from meaning "shown (by another)" to "show (to others.)" Be aware!

The Lord and the Rings

If you can give me a consistent explanation for this, I just might consider bringing your clothes to the bathhouse for you (:סנהדרין ס"ב). I noticed a very intriguing discrepancy in the תורה's description of the rings that were affixed to the various vessels that required them. In some instances, no specific purpose was given for the rings but in most cases, it was stated that the purpose of the rings was to house the staves. I have constructed a table (without rings) detailing the exact wording for each vessel for both the commandment and the actual manufacturing.

עשיה צווי
(ל"ז:ג)-- (כ"ב:י"ב)-- ארון
בָּתִּים לַבַּדִּים (ל"ז:י"ד) לְבָתִּים לְבַדִּים (כ"ה:כ"ז) שלחן
לְבָתִּים לְבַדִּים (ל"ז:כ"ז) לְבָתִּים לְבַדִּים (ל:ד) מזבח הזהב
בָּתִּים לַבַּדִּים (ל"ח:ה) (כ"ז: ד)-- מזבח החיצון

I have accentuated the problematic portion of the word, namely the vowel underneath the למ"ד which seems to change inexplicably. Any ideas?

Wednesday, February 7, 2024

האשה וילדיה

האשה וילדיה תהיה לאדניה

In בבא קמא נד., the גמרא discusses the use of a singular verb in reference to plural subjects as acceptable in תנ"ך. However, in all of the examples discussed there the verb precedes the subjects. However, the above פסוק demonstrates that it can occur in the reverse as well. One would have expected the פסוק to read האשה וילדיה יהיו לאדניה but apparently תהיה suffices.

Three strikes and you're out

... well, one strike, really. Saw this in the דקדוק WhatsApp group recently:
👍👍👍דבר יפה שראיתי בתיקון קוראים סימנים:
שארהּ - מפיק הא.
כסותהּ - מפיק הא.
ועונתהּ - מפיק הא.
ואם שלש אלה לא יעשה להּ - כלומר: מי שלא יבטא את שלשת המפיקים, אז - ויצא חינם אין כסף - לא ישלמו לו משכורת על הקריאה...

The Ox and his Friend

One of the laws dealt with in this week's פרשה is that of damages incurred when one's animal gores another. The פסוק says אבן עזרא .כ"א:ל"ה - וכי יגף שור איש את שור רעהו explains these words as follows: And if the ox of a man gores the ox of his (this man's) friend. However, he brings an alternative explanation from קראי by the name of בן זוטא. He interprets: And if the ox of a man gores his (the ox's) friend - another ox. אבן עזרא rejects this ridiculous interpretation based on the trop of the פסוק which clearly indicates that it should be read otherwise. Besides, adds the אבן עזרא sharply, an ox has no friends - except for בן זוטא!

It is not often that a pshat in a ראשון on חומש will have one rolling in laughter but this one did it to me. However, אבן עזרא's sharp attack on בן זוטא is not so clear. Daniel Scarowsky, ז"ל, once pointed out to me that we find in the 'משניות בבא קמא פרק ה (bottom of :מח):
"...שור שהיה מתכון לחברו" an ox that had intention to gore 'his friend.' It seems the ox is not the social outcast the אבן עזרא had perceived him to be. But Daniel explained that the answer must be that there is a difference between the term רֵע used in our פסוק, and the term חבר used in the חבר .משנה comes from the root meaning connection. A חבר is merely one who has a specific connection with the other. This connection may be as simple as both being oxen. A רֵע, a term used to denote a more serious friendship, implies a deeper connection which an ox does not have. Except, of course, with בן זוטא.

Answer vs. Torture

אִם עַנֵּה תְעַנֶּה אתוֹ

וְלא תַעֲנֶה עַל רִב לִנְטת

If the two פסוקים above are read without vowels, it appears the same word appears both times. However, they are clearly two separate words. תְעַנֶּה means to torture. תַעֲנֶה means to answer. Keep an ear out for this one - it's easy to miss.

Thanks to ba in the comments, here is a nice list of words in תנ"ך that are the same but different.

Give it to me

בַּיּוֹם הַשְּׁמִינִי תִּתְּנוֹ לִי

The above bolded word, when pronounced correctly, is translated, "you (singular) shall give it to me." If mispronounced תִּתְּנוּ it means, "you (plural) shall give to me." Certainly correctable!

Tricky Vowels

כ"א: כ"ט וְאִם שׁוֹר נַגָּח הוּא
כ"א:ל"ו אוֹ נוֹדַע כִּי שׁוֹר נַגָּח הוּא

The vowels here are very important. If the קמץ and פתח are flipped, the word takes on a totally different meaning. נָגַח, the incorrect pronunciation, is a verb, gored in the past tense. But the proper pronunciation, נַגָּח, is a noun meaning a goring ox. We find this construct in numerous other places such as גַמָל meaning not a camel but one who rides camels.

It just so happens that my son is now learning the סוגיא of שור מועד in school so this observation was particularly on my mind.

Jewish Milk

I once saw an article about חלב ישראל and decided to post this. A friend of mine pointed out to me once that the common pronunciation of this term, Cholov Yisroel, is actually incorrect. Due to סמיכות (which I'm not 100% certain of, see comments) it should be chaleiv Yisrael as in לא תבשל גדי בחלב אמו. I've always wanted to try some funny "proper דקדוק" social experiments - like have everyone use that term in public and see what kind of reactions you get, and the one I suggested on another occasion.