Morsels of Hebrew Grammar  
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Parasha Shelach 5763

Why the extra word?

ufigrechem atem (Num. 14:32) (literally 'your bodies - you'): It would seem that either 'your bodies' or 'you' would have been sufficient. Onkelos reproduces the same form ufigrechon dilechon (literally 'your bodies - you') and Rashi comments 'as its Targum' and explains 'as (in the previous verse) he mentioned that he would bring the children into the land and wanted to say "but you will die" adding 'you' is appropriate' (to mark the contrast). Rashi's editor, R' Chavel quotes Sefer HaZikaron by R' Avraham Bokrat of Tunis as interpreting Rashi to mean contrast (Rashi Perusshei Hatorah, Mossad HaRav Kook). However R' A. ibn Ezra interprets the phrase differently. He writes 'Your bodies, which is you' suggesting that the intention is emphasis rather than contrast.

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Can diba be good?

vayotzi'u dibat ha'aretz (Num. 13:32) ('and they put out the diba of the land'); lehotzi diba al ha'aretz (Num. 14:36) ('to put out diba on the land'): Rashi writes 'Every expression of diba indicates guidance through words, that they teach people to speak that way - it is similar to dovev siftei yeshenim (Song, 7:10) ('causing the lips of sleepers to speak'); it may be well-intentioned or evil-intentioned and therefore it states here motzi'ei dibat ha'aretz ra'ah (Num. 14:37) ('who propagate the evil diba of the land'), for well-intentioned diba exists (Rashi, Num. 14:36).

Ramban quotes this passage of Rashi and then writes 'However we find written umotzi diba hu kesil (Prov. 10:18) ('he who expresses diba is a fool') clearly here the word does not mean anything well-intentioned, and similarly lehotzi diba al ha'aretz and also vedibatecha lo tashuv (Prov. 25:10) ('and your diba will not return') but all diba is evil- intentioned and the verse mentions evil with diba to magnify it.'

R' Chavel in his notes refers the reader to Divrei Sha'ul p. 100. Saying that he wishes to explain Rashi, Divrei Sha'ul points out that Rambam (De'ot 7:2) distinguishes between motzie shem ra and leshon hara; the former being false and the latter, though true, nevertheless forbidden speech as it is denigrating of his fellow even though true. It follows, he argues, that all diba that one speaks of ones fellow is evil-intentioned; however it may be that the words that he says of his fellow are true, nevertheless this is diba because what he says denigrates his fellow. However the spies said denigrating things and also falsehood, for with their smooth talk they made out that all the benefits of the land were faults, as explained in Sotah and quoted by Rashi in his commentary, therefore their speech is described as motzi'ei dibat ha'aretz ra'ah. This makes the following verse very fitting vayalinu alav kol ha'edah lehotzi diba al ha'aretz (Num. 14:36) ('and they caused the whole congregation to complain so as to put diba on the land'): that is the congregation who heard all the exaggerations which the spies spoke and [the members of the congregation] spoke to one another about the faults which they heard, and for this they are called motzi'ei diba but not diba ra'ah for they said no lies. Their fault was that they accepted falsehood. However the spies were called motzi'ei dibat ha'aretz ra'ah, because they aimed at twisting that which was straight, casting poison on all the benefits that they had seen and arguing that they were bad.

An interesting piece, but does it support Rashi or Ramban?

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What does hi ('it' fem.) refer to?

vehi lo tizlach (Num. 14:41) ('and it will not succeed'): Rashi writes 'this that you are doing will not succeed.' R' A. ibn Ezra writes 'the climbing to the top of the mountain will not succeed, or, the defiance of G-d's word has no success.' Both commentators are providing a feminine reference for hi as is required by grammar. In the booklet Yad Yemini (comments on Rashi by R' Nachum Hoffman in honor of the Yartzeit of his grandfather Yitzchak Michael Klarberg z"l, Bene Brak 2002), he quotes Siftei Chachamim as explaining the word 'this' in Rashi as meaning pe'ula ('activity') that is feminine.

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The position of the stressed syllable

The default position for stress in Hebrew is the last syllable. In the third paragraph of the Shema (Num. 15:37-41) all the words have their stress on the last syllable except the following: vayomer, techelet, taturu, lema'an, hotzeti, me'eretz mitzrayim. The words el- (twice), et-kol- (twice), velo-, and asher-, are hyphenated to the following word and have no stress of their own.

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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