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Parashat Mishpatim 5762

Phonetics and Semantics

shelosh-eile (Exod. 21:11) ('these three') Generally speaking the word shalosh has the first Shin with a Kamatz (this is a Kamatz which occurs before an accented syllable) and the Lamed with a Cholam in the last and accented syllable. Here however shelosh is tied to eile with a Makaf (as part of the Masoretic accent system, it is a little line joining words similar to the English 'hyphen'; are they connected historically?) so that the accent on eile serves both and it does not require an accent of its own. As a result there is no place for the Kamatz (as the following syllable is unaccented) and the last syllable being unaccented (and closed) the Cholam is replaced by its equivalent short vowel. This is a Kamatz katan. We have a manifestation of the same change from long vowel to short vowel, in titen-li (infra 22:28). Here because of the Makaf and the absence of an accent, the second Tav, which would ordinarily have had a Tzeirei, has its equivalent short vowel Segol.

ein kasef (ibid.) 'leit la kisufa' - she is not disgraced. I heard this translation from R' Moshe Sherer a"h who was quoting Zohar (Exod. 97b). Surprisingly, it is not referred to in any of the well-known commentaries. Indeed it may well be that this is the plain meaning of the phrase, as the core meaning of the root is 'paleness,' indicating shame. The other two meanings for which the root is used, 'silver' and 'desire', are both related to the paleness of shame (Mandelkern - Concordance). Nevertheless in the Concordance the phrase is grouped with the words meaning silver.

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Sacred or not?

E*lohim lo tekalel (Exod. 22:27) Onkelos and Yonatan ben Uziel translated this into Aramaic, and Saadya Gaon into Arabic, as 'you shall not curse a judge'. The Zohar comments on the verse 'and E*lohim created Man in His image' and says 'He called him by His Name. When he produces truth and justice in the world he is called E*lohim as is written E*lohim lo tekalel (Zohar Levit. 104a) indicating that when man judges he is called by the Name of the Holy One B"H.' Nevertheless it would seem that when a man is called so, the name is non-sacred. The Rashbam, R' A. ibn Ezra, Hizkuni, and Seforno, all interpret it as meaning 'judge'.

However in the Gemara there is a dispute about this.

E*lohim is non-sacred says R' Yishmael; R' Akiva says E*lohim is sacred. It has been learnt that R' Eliezer ben Yaakov says 'Where do we find the prohibition for blessing [using the word for its opposite] G-d? It is learnt from E*lohim lo tekalel. According to the one who maintains E*lohim is non-sacred the sacred, can be derived from the non-sacred, and according to the one who maintains E*lohim is sacred, the non-sacred can be derived from the sacred.

It is clear that according to the one who maintains E*lohim is non-sacred the sacred can be derived from the non-sacred, but according to the one who maintains E*lohim is sacred, can the non-sacred be derived from the sacred? Isn't it possible that there is a prohibition for the sacred [G-d], but none for the non-sacred [human judge]?

To this the Gemara responds

Then let it say lo tekal why does it say lo tekalel? [From the doubling of the Lamed] we can see that two matters are to be understood (Sanhed. 66a).

It emerges that both according to he who says this name is sacred and according to he who says this name is non-sacred we derive both prohibitions (of cursing) from this verse, and so ruled Rambam. Similarly Rashi comments on the verse 'This is a prohibition against the blessing of G-d, and a prohibition against the cursing of a judge.' It would seem therefore that the ancient translations, the Zohar, and the commentators, were all following the opinion of R' Yishmael who said E*lohim is non-sacred and therefore the prohibition regarding the sacred is derived from the non-sacred.

In the expanded Mesora (Chamisha Chumeshei Torah, Schoken 1959, facsimile of Vienna 1859) it states in parenthesis [The name is both sacred and non-sacred see Rashi, and the scribe should sanctify the pen conditionally.] We have seen that deriving both prohibitions from this verse is no indication as to whether one sees the name as sacred or not. The author of the note should have referred to the Gemara as evidence for his assertion.

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
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