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Parashat Chayei Sarah 5762

What does anah (Ayin, Nun, Heh) mean?

Avraham arose … and spoke to the children of Het … vayaanu ('and they answered') (Gen. 23:3-5) Here it seems clear that the word vayaanu means a response to something someone else has said, an 'answer'. However elsewhere we find vayaan (Job 3:1) and Rashi comments: 'and he shouted' for all words related to Ayin, Nun, Heh, in the Torah mean raising the voice, and the prototype verse for them all is ve'anu halvi'im … kol ram (Deut. 27:14) 'and the Levi'im shall speak … loudly' (Rashi, Job 3:1). On the verse ve'anita (Deut 26:5) Rashi comments 'an expression of raising the voice' and Siftei Chachamim comments that Rashi is saying that it is not an expression denoting response, and it does not mean response unless it follows someone calling or asking; here, who called or asked? Rashi makes the same point in his commentary to the Gemara (Gittin 83B). Elsewhere (Chulin 43A) Rashi refers to the pasuk, vayaanu (Ezra 3:11) as an expression of song as it says 'vataan lahem Miriam (Exod. 15:21) 'Miriam sang for them'. This indicates that according to Rashi there is yet a further meaning to Ayin, Nun, Heh.

Onkelos translated vaativu (=veheishivu 'responded' in Hebrew, as Tav in Aramaic is often equivalent to Shin in Hebrew) and Rabbeinu Bechayei followed Onkelos writing veheishivu (Gen. 23:5).

R' Saadia Gaon's Arabic translation has been translated into Hebrew with comments. There it explains that it means 'and after that, begin and speak' so that the word ve'anita is regarded as opening speech; and this too is the meaning of va'yaan Iyov (Job 3:1) at its first occurrence, and there are many like it. See Sefer HaShorashim by ibn Janah (Neve Shalom, R' Amram Korach in Chumash Keter haTorah ed. R' Yosef Kapah, Jerusalem, 1960). In Sefer HaShorashim under the entry Ayin, Nun, Heh Ibn Janah writes "this word occurs in the Bible serving two purposes: as a response, and as an opening to speech…"

R'A. ibn Ezra commented according to both meanings: "It is possible that the priests ask the bearer of the first fruits 'What have you brought?' and therefore the bearer responds; or it may be a form of opening speech as we find va'yaan Iyov in its first occurrence." However, Onkelos here also translated vetativ. It might be thought that Rashi's interpretation 'raising the voice' means the same as opening of speech as used by R' Saadia Gaon and those following him. However the source of Rashi is in Sotah (32B). 'We have learnt Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai says "man says his praise in a low tone … and his disgrace (according to the conclusion of the Gemara 'his pain') in a raised voice - this is known from the reading for the first fruits."' Because 'raised voice' there is used to contrast with 'low voice', it seems clear that it is not a reference to the beginning of speech.

It is possible that in Onkelos one may interpret each occurrence as in the verse itself.

* * * *

Another Family of Roots?

sheteih …ashkeh (Gen.24:14) Words which indicate the absorption of liquid by humans, animals or vegetation are derived from the root Shin, Tav, Heh and are in the Kal conjugation. However, words which indicate the provision of liquid for the absorption by humans, animals or vegetation are derived from the root Shin, Kuf, Heh and are in the Hiph'il conjugation. For example:

Kal past tense shatiti, shatita, shatit, shata, shat'ta, shatinu, shetitem, shetiten, shatu.
Hiph'il past tense hishkeiti (hishkiti), hishkeita (hishkita), hishkit, hishka, hishketa, hishkeinu (hishkinu), hishkeitem (hishkitem), hishkeiten (hishkiten), hishku.
Kal present tense shoteh, shotah, shotim, shotot.
Hiph'il present tense mashkeh, mashkah, mashkim, mashkot.
Kal future tense ashkeh, tashkeh, tashki, yashkeh, tashkeh, nashkeh, tashku, tashkena, yashku, tashkena.
Kal imperative sheteih, sheti, shetu, shetenah.
Hiph'il imperative hashkeh, hashki, hashku, hashkenah.
This demonstrates that the roots have a complementary distribution. They are also phonetically similar. The first letter of both roots is Shin and the last is Heh. Though the middle letters of the roots Kuf and Tav are articulated at different points in the vocal tract (Kuf, tongue touches hard palate, Tav, tongue touches alveolar ridge), they have important articulatory similarities - both are voiceless, (not accompanied by a buzz in the larynx as are Dalet and Bet), and both are plosives (they are produced by blocking the flow of air and then releasing it suddenly).

I will be pleased to have comments on these notes on the Parasha.
Good Shabbos, Meshullam Klarberg, 35/4 Meshech Chochma, Kiryat Sefer, Israel 71919
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