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Parashat Haazinu 5763

The correct reading of the Divine Name

ve'al kulam alo'ah selichot (refrain in Confession of Yom Kippur) ('and for all of them G-d of forgiveness') One must take care to read the Patach under the Heh of G-d's name before the Heh and not after. The Aramaic equivalent of this Divine Name has a Kamatz and an Alef at the end. To the best of my knowledge reading with the Patach after the Heh produces no Hebrew word at all although it is very close to the pronunciation of aloha - the greeting of Hawaiian natives.

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One or two words and other problems

ha-ladonaai (Deut. 32:6) There are a number of problems here. Is this one word or two? What does it/they mean? What are the correct vowel points?

The Masorah in the Chumash edited by R' S. Z. Netter (Vienna 1859, republished Schocken, Tel Aviv 1959) states 'The Heh is large and is written separately and is written below the lower joint of the Lamed, and the Lamed has a Sheva Nach and the rest of the Name is read with its regular vowel points Sheva Cholam Kamatz.' In a number of places R' Netter expanded on the Masorah adding information from latter authorities. Here the only part which is to be found in other versions of the Masorah, is 'The Heh is large'. Most of R' Netter's information here, is taken from Minchat Shai.

Targum Onkelos renders ha-ladonaai 'There is before G-d' translating the letter Heh at the beginning of the word as the Aramaic word Heh Alef ('there is'). (R' N. Adler* of London, in Netina laGer, treats Heh Alef as interrogative but he does not produce any further example of such usage. The single Heh in the Hebrew text may have influenced him. Jastrow* of Philadelphia, in his Dictionary of Aramaic, translates Heh Alef as 'there is' and quotes many examples.) R' Y. Kapach in an editorial note (to Helek haDikduk, Maharitz, Yemen 18th cent.) refers to a passage in the Yerushalmi (Megilla 1:9), which also translates it as two words.

Yonatan ben Uziel translates ha-ladonaai 'ha'efshar ' ('is it possible ?') Clearly he regards the letter Heh at the beginning of the word as interrogative and as a prefix. It is then all one word.

This dispute may be related to a further dispute as to the correct reading of the word(s). According to Maharitz (Helek haDikduk, Yemen 18th cent.) the Heh has a Gei'a (a small upright line below it indicating secondary stress), which means that the following Sheva under the Lamed must be a Sheva Na. There is no vowel mark under the Yud for, he explains, it (the Alef which we read in place of the Yud) is pronounced 'with the Lamed'. That is to say that the Sheva Na, which in the Yemen tradition is quite vowel-like, is read straight through to the Dalet, giving no pronunciation to the Alef. This is in not line with the vowel pointing elsewhere for Adnut with a prefix of Bet, Chaf or Lamed. It seems to me that his editor, R' Y. Kapach understands him as saying that we have two words here. Yemenite reading tradition disagrees with me. Yemenites follow Helek haDikduk by Maharitz closely and read ha-ladonaai as one word. (We must assume that they understand Maharitz!) Interestingly, Rabbi Wolf Heidenheim (Ravva) who lived in Germany, and was a younger contemporary of Maharitz, explicitly claimed that it was to be read as two words.

The most widely accepted view, that of Minchat Shai, is that though it is written as two words it is to be read as one with the Heh having a Patach, the Lamed having a Sheva Nach, and the rest of the word having the standard Adnut reading. This is supported by the 'Keter' which has a Sheva under both the Lamed and the Yud. This is the manuscript of Ben Asher and the authoritative text of the Masorah. It should be noted that Radak and R' Bachya already present this vowel pointing followed by Minchat Shai. Maharitz was aware of them and writes that his point of view opposes theirs.

* An orthodox 'Doktor Rabiner' leading a less than fully orthodox community

Responses

Rabbi Yitzchak Lisitzin pointed out that Tishri/Tishre is an Aramaic word meaning 'beginning'. For 'tachel lispor' (Deut. 16:9) ('you shall start counting') Targum Onkelos says 'tishare lmimne' ('you shall start counting'). Rabbi A. Levine states that only Tishri is correct and that many versions of Targum are inaccurate.

I will be pleased to have comments on these notes on the Parasha.
Wishing all readers Gemar Chatima Tova ('may you all have your judgment for a good year finalized') Good Shabbos, Meshullam Klarberg, 35/4 Meshech Chochma, Kiryat Sefer, Israel 71919
E-mail address: fredit@zahav.net.il

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