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Parashat Chukat 5762

Does the second syllable of the Pi'el, 3rd person, past, sing., have a Segol or a Tzere?

vechibes begadav (Num. 19:7) ('and he shall launder his garments') vechibes looks very much like a Pi'el, 3rd person, past, singular verb. Except for one thing: in tables of verbs (both that of R' M. Ch. Luzzato (Sefer HaDikduk leRamchal, ed. Brieger N.Y. 1994) and those published as school texts nowadays) we find the second letter of the Pi'el, 3rd person, past, sing. has a Tsere. However, in the Tenach it is not always so. As a free-standing word chibes occurs twice in the Tenach, once where the trop indicates a pause, and once where it does not, and in both cases the Bet has a Tsere. However, it occurs 12 times with the prefix Vav, once where the trop indicates a pause, and 11 times where it does not, and in all cases the Bet has a Segol. In diber the Bet usually has a Segol, in some occurrences when it has trop indicating a pause there is a Tsere (which is a long vowel - sometimes a pause generates a long vowel), but it requires further study.

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What do mishkan and mikdash mean here?

et mishkan hashem timei (Num. 19:13) ('he defiled the Tabernacle of G-d'); o be'etzem adam o bekever (ibid. verse 16) ('or a bone or a human or a grave'); et mikdash hashem timei (ibid. verse 20) ('he defiled the Sanctuary of G-d'). Rashi (11th cent.) queries 'If it says "Tabernacle" why does it say "Sanctuary"' and answers by referring the reader to Gemara Shevuot (16b).

R' A. ibn Ezra (12th cent.) does not mention this problem. Quoting the second and third of the above verses he argues that in the third we are told about the defilement of 'bone' and 'grave'. According to R' A. ibn Ezra there is no reference to two separate places. As both Onkelos and Yonatan ben Uzziel translated mikdash as 'mikdesha' (not bey mikdesha or bet mikdash - terms for the Temple used by both of them elsewhere), and R' Saadya Gaon translates it mikdas (the Arabic is virtually the same as the Hebrew), and even Rashi only implied Temple in a reference, it seems that till that time the meaning 'Temple in Jerusalem' was not regarded as plain meaning.

Ramban (13th cent.), the first to raise the question explicitly, provides two answers: 1) in the opinion of our Sages the two terms detail the prohibition of [a defiled person] entering either the Tabernacle in the desert or the Temple in Jerusalem (as Rashi and Hizkuni below). 2) the plain meaning of et mikdash hashem is the sacred sacrifice, for the punishment was already decreed in Leviticus (7:20), and here it is decreed for one who has not been 'sprinkled on the third day and the seventh day' even though they have immersed [in a mikveh]. mikdash hashem means the sacred things of G-d Ramban says that he thinks the plain meaning is correct (as R' A. ibn Ezra). He then proceeds to discuss esoteric aspects of the issue.

Hizkuni (13th cent.) complements Rashi's commentary providing the quotation. He explains 'If "he defiled the Sanctuary of G-d" by entering it while impure'; [and quotes the Gemara] 'If it says "Tabernacle" why does it say "Sanctuary" and if it says "Sanctuary" why does it say "Tabernacle"? If it had said "Tabernacle" and not "Sanctuary" I would have thought one is guilty with regard to the "Tabernacle" which was anointed by the oil, but for the [permanent] Sanctuary [i.e. the Temple] there would be no guilt, therefore it is included by "Sanctuary". If it said "Sanctuary" and not "Tabernacle" I would have thought one is guilty with regard to the Sanctuary [i.e. the Temple] as its sanctity is everlasting, but for the "Tabernacle" there would be no guilt, therefore it says both "Tabernacle" and "Sanctuary".' Most of the translators and commentators regard the Gemara referred to by Rashi and quoted by Hizkuni, explaining "Tabernacle" as Tabernacle in the desert, and "Sanctuary" as the Temple in Jerusalem as a Drasha. Many modern translators have accepted this as plain meaning.

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
E-mail address: fredit@zahav.net.il

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