havu lakhem (Deut.1:13) Rashi (10th century) comments 'Prepare yourselves' and Rabbi Eliyahu Mizrahi (16th century) expounds on this Rashi 'For the word hava is always an expression of preparing for something; that is to say take counsel or help, There is no difference between havu and hava in the phrase "Come let us deal wisely with him" (Exod. 1:10) even though hava has its stress on the penultimate syllable, and in havu the stress is on the ultimate syllable. In Sifri (a commentary on Deuteronomy written early in the Talmudic era) it says "havu is always an expression of advice as we find havu lakhem - advice on what to do, and we find hava - come let us deal wisely with him (Mizrahi, Deut.1:13).'
Rabbi Avraham ibn Ezra (11th century) writes 'havu is an irregular word; the He should be articulated with a shwa and a patah' (Deut.1:13). In the opinion of Rabbi A ibn Ezra this word is an imperative like benu (build!) and because the He does not accept a vocal shwa one would expect it to be vocalized with a hataf-patah. As it is not, Rabbi A ibn Ezra calls it irregular. However, Rabbi David Kimhi (13th century) writes this word hava is often used in connection with advice or help to do something, but it is not a real imperative, only something like an infinitive or a noun. Therefore the word can occur both in the feminine form and the plural form' (Gen.11:3).
What is the opinion of Rashi regarding the dispute between Rabbi A ibn Ezra and Rabbi D Kimhi? According to the exposition of Rabbi E Mizrahi that there is no difference between havu and hava, it would seem that Rashi concurs with Rabbi A ibn Ezra for he wrote 'Prepare yourselves' using the imperative form. There are many places where, in Rashi's opinion, there is a verb in the infinitive and he points this out as in the case of hahrem (infra 3:6) and zakhor (Exod.20:7).
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vayaketu (Deut.1:44) Rabbi A ibn Ezra comments 'Elsewhere I have explained this word as being from the same root as vekhatoti (Psalms 89:24).' This is a reference to his comment on the word vayaketum (Num.14:45) where he says 'As I see it, it is one of the verbs with a double-lettered root [that is to say the second letter of the root is repeated] and it is irregular.' The root of vekhatoti is khaf tav tav and there is a dagesh (a dot) in the first tav in vekhatoti. The second tav is not part of the root ' it is a suffix. This is a standard form of double-lettered verbs where a dagesh in the second letter of the verb indicates the doubling of that letter. We have the same form in daloti (there is a dagesh in the lamed) (Psalms 116:6) and the root is dalet lamed lamed. Double-lettered roots have their own peculiar manner of conjugation. Nevertheless, vayaketu and vayaketum are irregular.
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Note Last Thursday, in Meshech Chochma Synagogue in Kiryat Sefer, an expert reader led the services. He concluded the Psalm for the day correctly by reading umitzur followed by a pause. Then he completed the last two words of the reading (Psalms 81:17). There is no question as to an alternative to this and it is only worthy of mention because many readers err here. In the Psalms there is a special set of tunes known as taamei emet (emet is an acrostic of the initial letters of the Hebrew names of the three books of the Bible - Job, Ecclesiastes, Psalms - where these tunes are used). The tune on the word umitzur is a pausal tune in the third level of the four levels of pausal tunes. The emet tunes are set out in a table at the end of Weinfeld's book Taamei HaMikra (Eshkol, Jerusalem 1981). The meaning of the verse also indicates this pause. Read with the pause, the verse means that G-d will satisfy you with honey from the rock. Read without the pause it sounds as though the rock itself was made of honey! Rashi's commentary also implies this pause. He says 'He satisfied them with honey when they followed His path as it says And He nursed them with honey from the rock' (Deut. 32:13). Rabbi A ibn Ezra has the same opinion. He commented 'He satisfied them with water from a rock as sweet as honey'. Publishers should ensure that their prayer books have a comma inserted after umitzur.
I will be happy to receive comments on these
notes in English on Hebrew grammar related to the week's Parasha.
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