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Parasha Pekudei 5763

Soft Peh

eleh fekudei (Exod. 38:21) ('these are the accounts') The letters Bet Gimmel Dalet Kaf Peh Tav (Begad Kefat) normally take a Dagesh Kal at the beginning of a word. }This indicates that the air which flows up the vocal tract is to be stopped and then suddenly released. Without the Dagesh the letter is to be articulated by releasing the air slowly, thereby causing friction.{ An ancient rule states that if the previous word concludes with one of the letters Alef Heh Vav Yud (Ehevi or Yehu) then, subject to certain conditions, the Dagesh is omitted. Indeed the Dagesh is even omitted if there is a 'virtual' Ehevi letter there. That is to say if the previous word concludes with a long vowel, which might have been followed by a Heh, the rule also applies. The conditions that qualify the rule are complex and only the first two will be given here. (The others are obscure. See Prof. Aron Dotan Levayat Dachik Ve'ate Merachik 4th World Jewish Studies Congress vol. 2, Jerusalem 1969; Rabbi Sh. Dwelaicky, Chok Yehu umVatelav Benei Brak, 1982 who deal with them at length.) The first qualification is that the Ehevi letter has to be functioning as a vowel. If it is used as a consonant as in the word elav ('to him') the rule doesn't apply. The second qualification is that if there is a trope indicating a pause the rule doesn't apply. {The underlying feature of the qualifications is that when a vowel is sounded at the end of a word it leaves the vocal tract open and therefore it is easier to pronounce the first letter of the following word without total closure, thus softening that sound. This may be described as partial assimilation.} Here eleh concludes with a vowel and the qualifications don't apply, leaving the ancient rule to soften the letter Peh operating. (The traditional rules deal with the written text. The above passages {in these parentheses} translate them into actual speech behavior.)

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Some Points on Megillat Esther (preferably read before )

(For the purpose of this discussion Kamatz will be indicated by [aa] and Patach by [a].) Breuer; Torah Nevi'im Ketuvim proofread according to Mesorah of Keter Aram Tzova and like manuscripts, Mordechai Breuer, Mossad HaRav Kook, Jerusalem, 1989;

Dotan; Torah Nevi'im Ketuvim proofread according to Mesorah of Aharon ben Moshe ben Asher in the Leningrad manuscript, Aron Dotan, Edi B.M. Tel Aviv, 1999;

Koren; Torah Nevi'im and Ketuvim proofread by D. Goldschmidt, A.M. Haberman, & M. Medan, Koren Publishers Jerusalem Ltd., Jerusalem, 1979;

Ri'ahi; Tikun Sofrim "Simanim" ed. & author S. M. Ri'ahi, published by the author, POB 41067, Jerusalem, 1996; Shilo; Mikra'ot Gedolot Chamesh Megillot, Shilo, Israel, n.d.

nichtaav venechtaam (Esther 3:12; 8:8; Breuer, Dotan, Koren, Ri'ahi) ('is written and signed'); nichtaav venechtam (ibid. Shilo) ('was written and signed'); niv'at (ibid. 7:6 Breuer, Dotan, Shilo) ('was frightened'); niv'aat (ibid. Koren, Ri'ahi) ('is frightened'); R' Tzvi Freund pointed out these discrepancies on the internet, adding that they are all in the Nif'al conjugation, but there is a need to establish whether the past tense or the participle is intended.

Although the difference between passive past tense and present is slight (One of my teachers demonstrated this by breaking a piece of chalk and said "It was broken; it is broken." - Of course, if it was broken yesterday it may have been repaired by today.), it has long been accepted that in the Nif'al conjugation, the second letter of the root has a Patach in the past tense and a Kamatz for the present participle (see e.g. R'A. ibn Ezra, Exod. 5:11; Rashbam, ibid. verse 16 and Ramchal, Sefer HaDikduk Sha'ar 2, Chelek 2 Ch. 3 - Conjugations). If so we have here a difference in meaning, and for those traditions that distinguish between Patach and Kamatz (including Bet Yosef see Shulchan Aruch O"Ch 25:7) there is also a difference in reading-pronunciation. This makes the question one of significance in Halacha.

Rabbi Breuer is widely regarded as the most eminent living authority on the Masorah. Clearly one can rely on his opinion. Rabbi Breuer writes in the name of M. Medan (one of the abovementioned Koren proofreaders) that Koren follows Heidenheim (Breuer Mikra'ot Sheyesh Lahem Hechre'a, n.23) whom the Chatam Sofer accepted. This gives authority to Koren. These authorities agree nichtaav venechtaam is correct. With regard to niv'at/niv'aat they disagree. This may be a disagreement in both meaning and pronunciation. If the past tense Nif'al occurs in a position where the trope indicates a pause in the sentence, a Kamatz replaces the Patach of the second syllable. This reduces the Halachic significance of the problem. The Zakef Katan is a pausal trope and indeed it is the major pause in the section of the verse following the quotation. This may upgrade it and justify the Kamatz while keeping the verb in the past tense.

Rabbi Breuer writes that Minchat Shai was written to correct the errors of Mikra'ot Gedolot (Venice 1524-1526). It follows that the lack of comment in Minchat Shai here provides support for the version in the Venice edition.

The same problem applies to venikdash bichvodi (Exod. 29:43, Breuer, Dotan, Netziv: Ha'amek Davar) venikdaash bichvodi (ibid. Koren, Ri'ahi; Netter ed. Chamisha Chumeshei Torah) Minchat Shai writes 'Some Sefaradi manuscripts have the Dalet with a Kamatz and the Masorah there states let kamatz and so I have seen in an old print.' Now let means there is none other like this (R' Eliyahu Bachur, Masoret Hamasoret Gutman ed. p. 113). Netter's expanded Masorah states 'The Dalet has a Patach contrary to the opinion of the Minchat Shai' (Netter ed. Chamisha Chumeshei Torah) and contradicts its own text.

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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