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Parasha Chaye Sarah 5763

A complex family of roots
lo yichleh
(Gen. 23:6) The last letter is Heh indicating that the root is Kaf Lamed Heh/Yud and Rashi explains that it means ‘will not withhold’ and he then gives two examples which he maintains have the same meaning ‘lo tichla rachamecha  (Psalms 40:12) (‘do not withhold Your mercy’); vayikale hageshem (Gen. 8:2) (‘the rain was withheld’)’; in both of these examples the last letter is an Alef indicating that the root is Kaf Lamed Alef.  The difference between the third letter of the root being Heh or Alef does not seem to bother RashiR’ A. ibn Ezra also writes that it means ‘withhold’ and adds ‘for it can be found both with a Heh and with an Alef at the end’ thereby endorsing Rashi’s opinion.  Ramban and Radak also explain the word as meaning ‘withhold’ and Radak adds an example asher kilitini hayom (I Sam. 25:33), ‘that you withheld me today’ (about the word kilitini the Masorah (Mikra’ot Gedolot haKeter, Bar Ilan University) says Lamed vechas. i.e. let dechevatei vechaser.  The words let dechevatei mean that there is no other word like it in Scripture, and vechaser means that it is deficient i.e. lacking a letter.  The implication of the vowel pointing of the Lamed in kilitini, which is Chirik, is that the letter following should be Yud, which as is well known, interchanges with Heh as the third letter of many roots.  Hence the missing letter is Yud and indeed it is spelled with Yud in the quotation in Rashi, presumably quoting the kere), and the root of kilitini is Kaf Lamed Heh/Yud.  This is consistent with the root of yichleh in our pasuk.  R’ Yona ibn Janah in Sefer haShorashim (Arabic, trans. R’ Yehudah ibn Tibon, ed. W. Bacher, Berlin, 1896) entry Kaf Lamed Heh writes ‘asu kala (Gen. 18:21) that is to say they all did together’ (relating kala to ‘all’); ‘asher kilitini hayom etc. (I Sam. 25:33), lo yichleh (Gen. 23:6), … kale’u shamayim mital, veha’aretz kale’a yevulah (Hagai 1:10) (‘the heavens withheld dew, and the earth withheld its crop’), and others like them - of those which occur similarly with Alef  - and I maintain that this Alef is interchanged with Heh.’  We can see that Rashi, R’ A. ibn Ezra, and R’ Yona ibn Janah all consider the roots Kaf Lamed Heh/Yud and Kaf Lamed Alef as identical, while Ramban and Radak do not disapprove.

It is interesting to note that R’ Yona ibn Janah deals with the word kol both in the entry for the root Kaf Lamed Heh and also under the entry for the root Kaf Lamed Lamed.  Mandelkern in his Concordance lists kol in the entry for the root Kaf Lamed Lamed but writes that this root is close to the root Kaf Vav Lamed and that in turn he connects to the four letter root Kaf Lamed Kaf Lamed.  R’ Yona ibn Janah writes in the entry Kaf Vav Lamed vechol bashalish afar ha’aretz (Isai. 40:12) (‘and measured with a large measuring instrument the dust of the earth’) treating vechol as a verb.       

He also includes here ru’ach ish yechalkel machalehu, veru’ach neche’ah mi yisa’ena (Prov. 18:14) which he explains to mean ‘If a person has a strong mind/spirit it will help against an illness of the body, but a disease of the mind/spirit won’t be helped by a strong body but it will be lost, for even though the strength of the mind/spirit follows the type of body, the mind/spirit can cope with disease of the body, more than the body can cope with disease of the mind/spirit.’   

[This may explain why we precede prayer for health of the body with prayer for the health of the mind/spirit.]

From the above we can see that the following roots may be regarded as part of a family: Kaf Lamed Alef, Kaf Lamed Heh/Yud, Kaf Vav Lamed, Kaf Lamed Kaf Lamed, Kaf Lamed Lamed.  Perhaps Yud Kaf Lamed can also be added to the list!

 *  *  *  * 

When we read Hebrew from previous eras we must take care not to impose current meanings
(Until 150 years ago mispar meant only ‘a quantity’; in current Hebrew the word mispar means both ‘cardinal number’ (a quantity), and ‘ordinal number’ (position in a series).

asor (Gen. 24:55) (‘a [block of] ten [months]’)  Radak writes ‘asor is an adjective including the entire mispar (quantity), not so be’asor lachodesh (Levit. 23:27) (‘tenth of the month’) for there it is an adjective denoting the tenth day of the month (position in series of days)’.  In current Hebrew we often use the word mispar in connection with a street number or a telephone number.  However *donations of money for building particular houses in the 19th century neighborhoods of Jerusalem are recorded in beautiful Hebrew excepting for the Yiddish or German word ‘number’ prior to the number identifying the house. They would not use mispar to indicate a position.  Therefore when studying Tenach, Mishna and even later writings, one must take care not to impose the ordinal meaning on mispar as this is a new meaning that the word only acquired in recent generations.  This is why Radak writes on our pasuk that asor is an adjective including the entire mispar (quantity), that is to say it indicates the total number of months, but when he writes about the date in the month he does not use the word mispar (as it meant quantity) at all, and instead he writes ‘it is an adjective denoting the tenth day of the month.’

*My thanks to R’ David Stone for showing me the record of his great-grandfather’s donation.

I will be pleased to have comments on these notes on the Parasha.
Wishing all readers Chag Same'ach ('a happy festival.') Good Shabbos, Meshullam Klarberg, 35/4 Meshech Chochma, Kiryat Sefer, Israel 71919
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