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Parashat Tazria-Metzora 5761

Correct reading

devotah (Levit. 12:2) Rashi, R' A. ibn Ezra, and Ramban disagree as to the meaning of this word. How it is to be read is indicated in the transliteration, but how is it indicated in Hebrew? The Sheva under the Dalet means that the Dalet does not have a vowel (Sheva itself does not indicate any sound of full vowel value). Vowels in Hebrew are normally pronounced after consonants. As the Dalet is unavailable because of the Sheva, the Holam must be the vowel attached to some other consonantal letter. That letter is the Vav, a consonant with its own vowel - the Holam. The Sheva under the Dalet is a Sheva-na ('a sounded Sheva').

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It Depends on the Root

yimol (Levit. 12:3) Does this mean 'it [the foreskin] will be circumcised' or 'he will circumcise'? Elsewhere R' A. ibn Ezra explains that there are many cases of pairs of roots both of which have the same meaning, one of them starting with Nun and the other having the same two other letters plus a medial Vav (Gen. 6:3). One of these pairs of roots is Mem, Vav, Lamed, and Nun, Mem, Lamed (R'A. ibn Ezra, Gen. 17:10-11). On the basis of these ideas we can understand R'A. ibn Ezra's comment here.

yimol It is in the Niphal conjugation, like lo yikon (Psalms 101:7), and belongs to the group of mulim hayu (Josh. 5:5) [i.e. the root is Mem, Vav, Lamed, this conforms with the first meaning suggested above]. It may also belong to the group of verbs that lose their initial Nun together with unmaltem (Gen. 17:11) similar to ish ki yidor neder (Num. 30:3) [i.e. the root is Nun, Dalet, Resh and in the future tense the Nun is dropped: 'yidor;' similarly here the root is Nun, Mem, Lamed, and in the future tense the Nun is dropped: yimol; which conforms with the second meaning suggested above], who performs the circumcision, such as the father or the court, is not explicit in the verse (R'A. ibn Ezra, Levit. 12:3).
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Tahora (silent He) and Tahorah (sounded He)

Hebrew has words which occur both in the masculine form and in the feminine form such as shir, shira; shevah, shevaha. Hence Rashi explains tahora (silent He) (Lev. 12:4) "without a Mapiq he* and it is a noun, like the word tohar." That is to say, we have here a word that has both a masculine and a feminine form - tohar and tahora. Rashi goes on to say yemei tahorah (sounded He) - it has a Mapiq He* the days of her tohar ('purity'). The Mapiq in the He indicates that this is not the feminine form of tohar, but is tohar with the feminine possessive suffix -ah and means 'the days of her purity.'

R' A. ibn Ezra maintains that this is an irregular form like vayiqra la novah (Num. 32:43) ('and he called it/her novah') where la does not have a Mapiq and the meaning is as though it has one. *Note Mapiq He is a point that appears in a He at the end of a word. Mapiq means 'brings out'. This Aramaic word occurs frequently in the Gemara e.g. mapiq meireshut hayahid lirshut harabim (Shabbat 8b). In the system of Nikud it means that that the He is to be pronounced ('brought out') just like a He at the beginning or middle of a word. Otherwise when He occurs of at the end of a word it is a silent letter.

Responses on origin of Davenen

Jonathan Sheink suggests that it is dovev siftei yesheinim (Songs 7:10) ('bringing sleeping lips to speech').

Yisroel Israel refers to the sefer 'Avrohom Yogel Yitzchok Y'ranen,' by Rav David Cohen where he gives d'avunon ('of our Patriarchs') as the origin. This is based on the Gemara, which says 'the Patriarchs instituted prayers' (Brachot 26b) - although the form d'avunon does not appear there. Rabbi M.D. Singer suggests derivation from daf that means 'need' in Yiddish (as [f] and [v] are phonetically similar), davenen would mean 'to express ones needs.'

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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