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Parashat Terumah 5762

Grammatical and other analysis

venissa vam et-hashulchan (Exod. 25:28) Rashi points out that the word nissa is of the Nif'al conjugation. He writes, 'That is to say "the table will be carried on them".' In (the 'long' version of) his commentary R' A. ibn Ezra states, 'It is of the Nif'al conjugation like venikka hamakeh (Exod. 21:19), for the Dagesh [in the letter Sin in venissa and in the letter Kuf in venikka] indicates the absorption [of the Nun] of the first letter of the root.' That is to say the root is Nun Sin Alef and the Nun is absorbed in the Sin by way of the Dagesh (indicated in our transliteration by the double 's'). Though Rashi and R' A. ibn Ezra agree, R' A. ibn Ezra adds the additional explanation of the role of the Dagesh.

The reason that Rashi and R' A. ibn Ezra see the need to explain that nissa here belongs to the Nif'al conjugation, is because there are three possible analyses for this word in this instance as pointed out in Leshon Chaim. 1) It may be Kal, future, 1st person, plural. If so the Vav is copulative and the phrase means 'And we will carry the table on them'. 2) It may be Nif'al present, 3rd person, singular. Here too the Vav is copulative and the phrase means, 'And the table is being carried on them'. 3) It may be Nif'al past, 3rd person, singular. If so the Vav is conversive and the phrase means, '(and) the table will be carried on them'.

The Be'er Rechovot (in Dikdukei Rashi) writes, 'One can take the Nun of venissa to be an indication of the plural [possibility 1) above]. This is against His honour, may He be blessed, for He certainly would not join in carrying a load. Therefore Rashi wrote that it is Nif'al; that is to say the Nun is the Nun of the Nif'al conjugation.' Leshon Chaim (which similarly deals principally with Rashi) adds that according to Rashi it may be Nif'al past or Nif'al present. However it is clear that according to R' A. ibn Ezra who compared it to venikka it must be Nif'al past, with Vav conversive.

In addition to the concern of 'His honour', one may ask why should G-d carry the table together with the people? It seems a most unlikely scenario. As in this verse it is G-d who is speaking, it is simply unlikely that He should group Himself with haulers. Hence Rashi and R' A. ibn Ezra negated this possibility.

Nevertheless two difficulties remain. 1) If venissa is a passive verb we have an unusual construction here of a passive verb followed by the word et (venissa et-hashulchan). 2) Why not say that there is a change of voice in the middle of the verse? Such a Midrash is offered on the verse 'and we will see what will happen to his dreams' (Gen 36:21). It is reinterpreted that at that point the voice changes from Yosef's brothers to that of G-d and is read as 'and it will be seen what will happen to his dreams'. In our verse we can read that the voice changes from that of G-d to that of the Levi'im the carriers who say 'and we will carry the table on them'. This would solve the problem of who does the carrying, and also the problem of the word et, which would then follow an active verb.

It may be that Meshech Chochma reads venissa as an active verb. He writes 'It is a Mitzva to carry the table even when there is no need'

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asher ata mor'eh bahar (Exod. 25:40) ('That you are shown on the mountain') The Mem has a Kamats. Rashi explains 'As its Targum, 'that you are shown'. If [the Mem of mor'eh] were pointed with a Patach it would mean, "that you show to others;" now that it is pointed with a short Kamatz it means, "that you are shown". i.e. that others show you (for the points distinguish between doing and being done.)' R' A. ibn Ezra agrees, writing that it is the passive form of the Hif'il conjugation.

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Might the Beit haMikdash have had glass windowpanes?

shekufim atumim (1 Kings 6:4) Yonatan ben Uziel translates here that the windows were 'open inside and closed outside' (i.e. the aperture was narrow outside and widened as it came in); according to the Gemara (Menachot 86b) they were 'open outside and closed inside' (i.e. the aperture was wide outside and narrowed as it came in, 'to teach that it did not require light'); Rashi quotes the Gemara, Radak refers to both views, and Ralbag says that the Gemara is derush, and after some discussion, suggests that the windows were sealed with a transparent material.

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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