What does it all mean?
ufkudav asher tziva hashem et moshe (Num. 4:49) (‘ufkudav asher G-d commanded Moshe’): We note three problems 1) Last week we saw that Peh Kuf Dalet has many nuances of meaning. What does it mean here? 2) The Yud of ufkudav indicates plurality of the noun, the Vav indicates third person singular masculine of the possessor of the noun (‘his pekudim’), whose pekudim are referred to? 3) What does asher mean? In his commentary Ramban outlines Rashi and R’ A. ibn Ezra’s views on these questions and then gives his own. Here we follow the Ramban as explained by his editor R’ Ch. D. Chavel (Perush haramban al hatorah – Mossad HaRav Kook):
ufkudav asher tziva hashem et moshe Masora – There are five occurrences of asher (‘which’) to be understood as ka’asher (‘as’); [thus the phrase means] and those appointments were by commandment for those aged between 30 and 50. These [writes Ramban] are Rashi’s words. It follows that in ufkudav (‘his appointments’) the suffix Vav (‘his’) refers to Moshe. But R’ A. ibn Ezra explained that ish ish (same verse) (‘each man’) refers to Gershon, Kehat and Merari, each of whom, the three of them, Moshe appointed to his particular task and burden ka’asher (‘as’) mentioned above, and that is the meaning of ufkudav (‘his appointments’), relating to each man mentioned.
According to this, both Rashi and R’ A. ibn Ezra maintain that: 1) Peh Kuf Dalet means ‘appointment,’ 3) asher means ka’asher. They only differ in the interpretation of 2) the suffix Vav. Rashi holds that it refers to Moshe and R’ A. ibn Ezra maintains that it refers to Gershon, Kehat and Merari. Ramban continues:
However, it is possible that asher tziva has its plain meaning, saying that he appointed these three brothers each one to his particular task and burden as explained above, ufkudav [taken to mean] (‘and his numbers’) of each of them asher tziva hashem et moshe (‘whom G-d commanded Moshe’) [to do a head count of them]. He appointed [each] to his particular task and burden, mentioning that he appointed them family by family, and he appointed each of the individuals to his particular task and burden.
Ramban goes on to say that the Halacha is in accordance with this interpretation. It follows that:
Rashi maintains 1) Peh Kuf Dalet means ‘counting,’ 2) the suffix Vav refers to Moshe, 3) asher means ka’asher;
R’ A. ibn Ezra maintains 1) Peh Kuf Dalet means ‘appointment,’ 2) the suffix Vav refers to Gershon Kehat and Merari, 3) asher means ka’asher; and
Ramban’s own view is that 1) Peh Kuf Dalet means ‘counting’ and ‘appointment,’ 2) the suffix Vav refers to Gershon Kehat and Merari, 3) asher means asher (‘whom’).
Note: According to R’ Chavel (both here and in his edition of Rashi) the above passage commencing ‘Masora’ is part of Rashi quoted by Ramban, though not found in commonly printed editions of Rashi. In Torat Chaim (Mossad HaRav Kook) R’ M. L. Katzenellenbogen re-edited R’ Chavel’s editions of Ramban and Rashi. He deletes R. Chavel’s notes on this point and, by quotation marks, indicates that the Rashi quotation commences after the word ka’asher
Heh with Patach Genuva (Furtive Patach)
milifne adon etc. (Psalms 114:7) (‘before Master … before the G-d of Ya’akov’): The Hebrew for ‘G-d’ at the end of this verse is the singular version of Elokim. Here is a statement about its pronunciation by R’ Shabetai Sofer in his siddur which is authoritative at least for Ashkenazim. When this siddur was republished (1994), R’ Ya’akov Kaminetzky wrote, ‘Having seen the haskamot of the world famous: Council of the Three Lands with the signatures of our Rabbis the Maharsha, Bach, Keli Yakar, etc., and the haskamot of our Rabbi the Shela, Sema, Mas’at Binyamin, Megallei Amukot etc., I feel desecration of the sacred to turn to rabbis of our generation for haskamot. …’
Cantors … read the Heh [followed] by Patach and emphasize its pronunciation to fulfill the requirement of the Mappik [in the Heh] and they do this daily in the morning prayer in the words mashpil gei’im umagbi’ahh shefalim, reading the Heh emphatically and the Patach following [and similarly in the above verse in Hallel] and they do not know or understand what they pronounce. The Mappik means ‘express’ - that is to say the reader should pronounce the Heh with a Nach Nire [that the letter is pronounced without a vowel following]. Their error is clear, for if the Heh is moved (pronounced) by way of Patach then it is not ‘nacha’ and Nach Nire means that the letter at the end of a word is pronounced as a consonant without a vowel following. … The sage R’ A. ibn Ezra wrote ‘in the reading one should add an Alef with a Patach, and that is why [scribes] write the Patach between the letter before the Heh and the Heh. … (General introduction Ch. 6, section 8). [The publishers ‘Koren’ in their Tenach have re-introduced this practice.]
R’ Shabetai Sofer proceeds to explain that there is a slight consonant sound between the previous vowel and the Patach.
R’ S. Y. Mandelbaum suggests that people learn the correct pronunciation from someone who is knowledgeable (Dikdukei Shai Ch. 9, Note 17).
I will be
pleased to have comments on these notes on the Parasha.
This article is provided as part of Shema Yisrael Torah Network
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