To be read with a Kamatz Katan (for those communities which have a distinct pronunciation for Kamatz Katan)
me'oddamim (Exod. 25:5) ('reddened') Minchat Shai (16th cent.) writes that the Alef has a real Kamatz and it is short because of the Dagesh [in the letter] following, and all similar occurrences of this word. This means that one should read the Alef with an [o] (even in communities which read most occurrences of Kamatz as [a] or [aa]). There is a Dagesh Chazak in the Dalet, and Dagesh Chazak doubles the pronunciation of the letter making it sound as though there were two Dalet-s (without any other sound between them). The first Dalet completes the first syllable 'me'od-' and the second Dalet opens the following syllable. A syllable with a consonant at its end is called a 'closed syllable.' The stress in this word occurs on the last syllable '-mim,' as a result 'me'od-' is a closed unaccented syllable. A closed unaccented syllable takes a short vowel (battim 'houses' is an exception). Therefore the Kamatz 'me'od-' must be a short vowel - that is to say a Kamatz Katan.
The accurate translation
veshachanti betocham (Exod. 25:8) Onkelos translates ve'ashre shechinati benehon ('and I will cause My presence to dwell among them' - in the Aramaic the form of the word 'among' is plural - Onkelos adds the words 'cause my presence to' as part of his practice of distancing the text from anything which could be interpreted as attributing physical existence to G-d.). Similarly the Arabic translation, by R' Saadya Gaon, has the plural form of the word for 'among,' (R' Y. Kapah Chumash Torat Chaim, Mosad HaRav Kook). R' O. Sforno comments 'I will dwell benehem ("among" - plural) them.' Even though the word betoch has a singular form the authorities have preferred to translate it as plural. This is because the Hebrew word betoch does not have a plural form and so the singular form serves both singular and plural (like 'sheep' in English); in this case the beginning of this verse states 'And they will make a sanctuary for Me,' the context is plural, so to maintain consistency the plural meaning is preferred. The correct translation of the verse then is 'And they will make a sanctuary for Me, and I will dwell among (plural) them.'
What were the windows of the Temple like?
chalonei shekufim atumim (I Kings 6:4) In The Holy Scriptures (Koren Publishers Jerusalem, Jerusalem, 1982) and in other translations, this phrase is translated 'windows wide without, and narrow within.' What is the source of this translation? The Targum 'Yonatan ben Uziel' states 'windows open on the inside and closed on the outside.' The correct reading of the Gemara which deals with this passage (Menachot, 86b), is subject to dispute. The Vilna edition states shekufin [mibifnim] ve'atumim [mibachutz] lo le'ora ani tzarich (Rashi - 'with a beam [on the inside] (making it narrower there) - I (G-d) have no need for lighting!'). This follows Rashi but is the opposite of the Targum. R' Shemuel Eliezer HaLevi Eidels (Maharsha) points out that according to this reading the meaning of the word atumim remains unexplained. Maharsha has shekufin mibachutz - accordingly the word shekufin is taken to mean 'visibility' and atumim means 'sealed;' hence wide outside and narrow inside. The underlying assumption of both readings is that to accommodate the spreading of light normal windows are narrower on the outside and become wider inside. However here the opposite was true; the Temple radiated light to the whole world.
In his commentary on the Tenach on this verse, Rashi quotes the above Gemara. On the same verse R' David Kimche (Radak) points out that the Targum is opposite to the Gemara. R' Levi ben Gershom (Ralbag) quotes the Gemara and states that it is drash - an explanation intended to teach a lesson rather than a literal examination of the words. He adds that it has been demonstrated by geometric study that windows wider on the outside provide better light inside! He goes on to say that it seems to him that these may have been windows built only for decoration and sealed. He then suggests another possibility: the windows may have been sealed by sapphire-like material which does not prevent the light from entering, that is to say lass (glass?) in Loez.
The above English translation follows the Gemara. However using ideas from Maharsha and Ralbag it may be suggested that shekufim means 'transparent' and atumim means 'sealed' so that 'windows transparent and sealed' would provide a very attractive solution to this obscure phrase.
I will be
pleased to have comments on these notes on the Parasha.
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