udvarav chayyim vekayamim (emet veyatziv) ('His words are alive and firm')
chayyim (Num. 16:21) ('alive') According to the program 'Chalamish' this word occurs independently 85 times (with affixes more frequently) in Scripture and each time the Chet has a Patach and the first Yud a Dagesh. It appears mostly as a noun but sometimes it is clearly an adjective, e.g. be'er mayim chayyim (Gen. 26:19) ('a well of fresh water'). In the opinion of Menachem ben Saruk (10th cent. - before the *triliteral root revolution had taken place) the root is Chet Yud (Machberet, entry 'Chet Yud').
Because R' A. ibn Ezra (12th cent. - after the triliteral root revolution had taken place) prefers to find three letter roots, he discusses whether the root of chayyim is Chet Yud Heh or Chet Yud Yud, concluding that it is Chet Yud Heh for, he argues, it is not appropriate for Yud to be the third letter of a root. With reference to the word chaayot (Exod. 1:19), which is an adjective, he writes that the Kamatz with no Dagesh in the following Yud, is correct. However he explains that the masculine form of the same adjective, chayyim, is not parallel to chaayot. Although one would expect the Chet to have a Kamatz and no Dagesh in the following Yud, the adjective chayyim takes the same form as the noun where, as we have seen, the Chet has a Patach and the first Yud has a Dagesh (R' A. ibn Ezra, Exod. 1:16).
R' D. Kimchi (Radak) disagrees. He writes that the adjective chaai (Gen. 43:27; ibid. 3:20; Sam. I 20:14) has a Kamatz and similarly its plural form is chaayim with no Dagesh in the Yud [This idea is novel. The three examples that Radak provides in the singular can all be explained as having a Kamatz because they are in a pausal position.]. He seems to maintain that the root is Chet Yud Yud for the past, and Chet Yud Heh for the future (Michlol, Shaar Dikduk HaPe'alim, entry Chet Yud Heh). It would appear that Radak is the original authority for those Siddurim that have udvarav chaayim vekayamim, (the Chet with Kamatz and the first Yud without Dagesh).
MH"R Shabetai Sofer quotes the above Radak and comments that most of our (Ashkenazi) Siddurim have the Chet with Kamatz and the first Yud without Dagesh but Siddurim written on parchment and in Sefaradi Siddurim the Chet has a Patach and the first Yud a Dagesh as is found in the verse chayyim kulechem hayom (Deut. 4:4) [where chayyim is an adjective]. In Siddur Maharshal both forms are justified. The correct form is with the Chet having a Patach and the first Yud a Dagesh as in the above verse. Nevertheless he continues that he who says the Chet with Kamatz and the first Yud without Dagesh has lost nothing, both versions are correct as he had written (Siddur Mh"r Shabetai Sofer, General Intro.Ch. 6:4).
Reference should also be made to the Yemenite Tikle'eil that follows the Biblical vocalization: the Chet having a Patach and the first Yud a Dagesh. Today too, both versions can be found in Siddurim.
*Up to the time of Menachem ben Saruk only those letters that appeared constantly were regarded as part of the root. Hence the root of kum was regarded as being Kuf Mem. Yehudah ben David Hayyuj (late 10th cent.) a student of Menachem adapted the Arabic 'triliteral root theory' to Hebrew. This postulated Vav as the middle letter of many roots, Nun as the first letter of others etc. The theory spread quickly throughout the Diaspora and revolutionized Biblical studies. Because the triliteral root theory was so widely accepted Menachem's Machberet, based on the previous assumptions came to be neglected and was not published until 1854.
vahashikoti (Num. 17:20) ('I will rid') Rashi refers to shachacha (Esther 7:10) indicating the triliteral root. However only R' A. ibn Ezra has a term, Poalei haKefel, for verbs which have the same second and third letters of the root.
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I will be
pleased to have comments on these notes on the Parasha.
This article is provided as part of Shema Yisrael Torah Network
For information on subscriptions, archives, and