Shema

  Morsels of Hebrew Grammar  
This Week's Parsha | Previous Issues


Parashat Ha'azinu 5762

A difficult word

kasita (Deut. 32:15) the word is spelled with a Sin and Rashi writes that it is the same as if it were spelled with a Samech. Accordingly Rashi proceeds to explain the meaning of the word to be 'you covered' and goes on to say that it means being very fat 'like a man who is fat inside and his flanks fold over outside'. However according to this interpretation one would have expected the form of the verb to be in the Piel: kisita, but the form of kasita is Kal. Rashi deals with this problem by pointing out that it occurs in the Kal form (Prov. 12:16) and furthermore in the Piel it means 'to cover another', while here it means 'to cover oneself.' Therefore the Kal form is more appropriate.

R' A. ibn Ezra here refers to Rashi's interpretation (elsewhere he refers to Rashi by name as 'Rabbenu Shelomo' but not here) and goes on to report that 'others say' that it is a verb derived from kaseh 'like a sheep.' There are two readings in R' A. ibn Ezra's response to this interpretation. According to one he states that this is possible; according to the other reading he states that this is not possible. He then goes on to say that his opinion is that there is no word known which is analogous to this word, and its meaning (from the context) is like ba'at'ta (earlier in the same verse) ('you rebelled'). Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan in his translation 'The Living Torah' seems only to have looked at the first part of R' A. ibn Ezra's comment.

* * * *

An easy word

teshi (Deut. 32:18) ('you will forget') Rashi explains the plain meaning with one word tishkach ('you will forget') but he does not tell us how this meaning is derived. For this we have to resort to R' A. ibn Ezra. R' A. ibn Ezra explains that the root is Nun, Shin, Heh as in lo tenashe (probably referring to Isaiah 44:21). The stressed Segol creates an open syllable (nach ne'elam, an invisible silent sheva) replacing the Dagesh (in the Shin which in turn compensates for the missing Nun) and the Yud is in place of the Heh (this is common for roots where the third letter is a soft or non-Mappik Heh) (generally following R' Asher Weiser, Mosad HaRav Kook).

* * * *

Can two words have the same meaning?

imadi (Deut. 32:34) ('with me') What is the difference between this word and the word imi ('with me')? They mean the same, but in the Tenach only imi is found in second and third person and in the plural, imecha, imo imanu ... In the Mandelkern Concordance there is the suggestion that imadi is derived from im yadi ('with my hand/extension').

* * * *

Changing styles

moshi'i mechamas toshi'eni (Sam. 2, 22:3) ('my Savior save me from violence') Sixty years ago children were taught (or should have been) that when a letter having a Cholam precedes a Shin the one dot serves both as the Cholam and as the right side 'diacritic' mark identifying the Shin. Thus in the Mikraot Gedolot which follow the Venice/Warsaw editions, there is only one dot in moshi'i and in toshi'eni for both the Cholam and the diacritic mark for the Shin. The same is true of the haftara for Ha'azinu in the Schocken edition of the Torah, (Tel Aviv, 1959) which is a photo-print of the Vienna (1859) edition. (A similar practice coalesces the Cholam of a Sin and its own left side diacritic mark.)

In the same haftara for Ha'azinu in Torat Chaim (Mosad HaRav Kook) where the text follows the edition of Rabbi M. Breuer, and in the Koren Tenakh, there are two distinct dots in each position. In the introduction to the Koren Tenakh it states that this enables the reader 'to distinguish without having to guess or depend on the context '. In previous generations it was possible to teach children that every letter (except the letters at the end of the word in addition to Alef and Yud) must have vowel points or a sheva. This determines whether the dot is required to serve one or two purposes and there is no need to guess. Eliminating guessing is not a reason for introducing the extra dot.

However there is a good reason to do so. In the days before print the scribes used to put in both dots and the early printers coalesced them for reasons of convenience. With improved printing technology the old style can now be restored. In this connection it is worth pointing out that in the Keter Aram Tzova, edited by ben Asher (and followed by Rambam) -parts of which are photographed at the back of the Tenach edited by Rabbi Breuer - one can clearly see in Isaiah 40:10 moshelah two dots: one for the Cholam for the Mem and the other for the diacritic mark for the Shin.

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

Shema

This article is provided as part of Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Permission is granted to redistribute electronically or on paper,
provided that this notice is included intact.

For information on subscriptions, archives, and
other Shema Yisrael
Classes, send mail to parsha@shemayisrael.co.il

http://www.shemayisrael.co.il

Jerusalem, Israel

732-370-3344