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Parashat Ki Tisa 5762

he'eleita or he'elita?

he'eleita (Exod. 32:7) In the Mesora (the 8th to 9th century notes which preserve the accurate text of the Bible) it states that this word has a Tzeirei while the second one has a Chirik. The passage is quoted by Chizkuni (France, 13th century), Minchat Shai (Italy, 16th century) and Chelek Hadikduk (Maharitz of Yemen, 18th century). The phrase 'the second one' in the passage is a reference to he'elita (Exod. 33:1); on this word there is a single letter annotation in the Mesora, a Gimmel. This means that there are just three occurrences of this exact form in the Tenach. It then adds in brackets ['here the Lamed has a Chirik']. This too is in Minchat Shai. The two other occurrences are Numbers (14:13), and Psalms (30:4). I have not found any discussion in the commentaries on a difference of meaning.

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How do you parse tizachar?

vechol miknecha tizachar (Exod. 34:19) We do not find mikneh ('flock') as anything but a masculine noun (e.g. Exod. 9:6); hence Rashi writes 'the Tav of tizachar indicates that the word is [3rd person] feminine [Nif'al] referring to she who gives birth'. Rashi is saying that miknecha is not the subject of tizachar. 'She who gives birth' is the implied subject of the verb and the phrase means 'She who gives birth to a male'.

R' A. ibn Ezra agrees that we do not find mikneh as anything but a masculine noun, but argues that in this context it is nonetheless feminine like other words which can be found to be both masculine and feminine, and he gives a list of these elsewhere (Gen. 49:20). Accordingly the Tav of tizachar indicates that the word is 3rd person feminine Nif'al and the phrase means 'your flock [she] will be emptied of her males which are first born.'

Seforno writes 'It will be remembered in the part of the sacrifice called "azkarah" ('remembrance') as the verse says "the first born of the oxen, of the sheep, or of the goats you shall not redeem, they are holy, you shall sprinkle their blood and you shall burn their choice parts" (Num. 18:17). He thus interprets the Tav as the masculine second person future prefix ('you'), and allows the word miknecha to be understood as masculine in the standard manner. Seforno adduces further evidence to his interpretation by quoting the beginning of the following verse, "But you shall redeem the first born of the donkey with a lamb" (Exod. 34:20). Elsewhere (Ezek. 32:28) R' D. Kimche (Radak) refers to our verse and others as evidence that the expected Tseirei in the last syllable of Nif'al future is not uniform, thus tizachar is the equivalent of tizacheir.

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Where are the Dageshim?

veyikchu eleicha farah (Num. 19:1) ('they shall take for you a heifer') This is the Vav copulative ('and') which takes a Sheva (distinct from the Vav conversive which has a Patach followed by a Dagesh and affects the tense) and therefore there is no Dagesh in the following letter.

Because the root of veyikchu is Lamed, Kuf, Chet and the Lamed is ellipsed, we would expect a Dagesh in the Kuf to compensate for it. However this Dagesh is sometimes omitted when the Kuf has a Sheva, particularly before a guttural letter.

Last week we had furim (Esther 9:26) without a Dagesh in the Peh, and this week we have farah without a Dagesh in the Peh! The 'default' rule is that the letters Bet, Gimmel, Dalet, Kaf, Peh, Tav, receive a Dagesh at the beginning of a word. This Dagesh indicates that the letter is to be read as a plosive; that is to say it is created by blocking the stream of air and releasing it suddenly. (Without a Dagesh all of these letters originally were fricative - created by releasing the air slowly while holding the point of articulation almost, but not quite, closed.) However the Alef, Heh, Vav, Yud (Ehevi or Yehu) rule states that if the previous word concludes with a vowel and certain other conditions are met, the Dagesh is omitted. The simplest explanation for this phenomenon is that with the vocal tract being open for the articulation of the vowel, it is easier to move to the semi-closed position required for fricative consonants than it is to move to the closed position required for plosive consonants. It should be noted that one of the conditions for the Ehevi rule is that the word concluding with the vowel is not in a 'pausal' position. This condition is met as the tune on eleicha indicates a close flow-on between it and farah.

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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