What does a person who is ayef (Ayin Yud Peh) lack?
After asking for food Esav explains that he is ayef. It is
widely believed that ayef and ya’ef (‘tired’)
are the same word with the order of the letters changing, similar to
and to simla (‘frock’)
and this may be correct. Indeed Rashbam seems to think so. He indicates
that the hunger is implied by the request for food, and ayef
has a separate meaning – presumably tiredness. However this view raises a
difficulty. If Esav was tired why did he ask for food? He should have gone
to sleep! This may be why R’ A. ibn Ezra writes ‘Similar to be’eretz
(‘in a parched land’) [Esav was] hungry and thirsty’, thereby R’ A. ibn Ezra
explains why Esav needed to eat and drink. In R’ A. ibn Ezra’s example the
order of the letters is the same as in our verse. According to R’ A.
ibn Ezra, in Biblical Hebrew, the person who is ya’ef lacks
sleep, the person who is ayef lacks nourishment
* * * *
Dagesh at the beginning of a
ma-zzot asita llanu (Gen. 26:10) (‘what is this that You have done to us?’) There is a Dagesh (Chazak) both in the Zayin and in the Lamed. The Dagesh in the Zayin of ma-zzot is a clear example of the third exception to an ancient rule, which states that the letters Bet Gimel Dalet Kaf Peh Tav (Begad Kefat) following Yud Heh Vav Alef (Yehu) are soft. This exception is known as Dachik (‘closely pressed’). This is because the word ma consists of an unaccented syllable, having a short vowel (a Patach) and concluding with a silent Heh. However why is there a Dagesh in the Lamed of asita llanu? Here the grammarians invoke the doctrine of ‘virtual Heh.’ In light of this we can re-word the exception of Dachik to say that if a word concludes with an unaccented syllable (though not Nasog Achor) and has a short vowel or Kamatz (which according to Sefer Maslol will also be short - a Kamatz Katan!) and is connected to the next word by the trope, the first letter of the following word will have a Dagesh – apparently closing the last syllable of the previous word.
* * * *
Is Mem with a Chirik necessarily a prefix?
veyiten … mital hashamayim umishmanei ha’aretz (Gen. 27:28) (‘may Hashem give you of the dew of the heaven and [of] the fat of the earth’) Usually after a prefix Mem which means ‘of’ or ‘from’ there is a Dagesh in the following letter to compensate for the missing Nun of the word Min (for which the prefix Mem with a Chirik is an abbreviation). Here according to the Masorah there is no Dagesh in the Shin (Minchat Shai writes that professional vocalizers who put a Dagesh in the Shin are in error). Onkelos includes ‘from’ in his translation, but as we will see there another approach to include ‘from’ without this Mem being the prefix Mem. R’ A. ibn Ezra writes that the Mem of mital serves mishmanei too, as though it said mimishmanei. Radak makes the point more explicitly writing ‘the Mem of mital serves in place of two as though it said mimishmanei or it may be without a prefix as we find hinei mishmanei ha’aretz (Gen. 27:39).’ According to both these interpretations the Mem is not a prefix, rather it is part of the word like it is in michtav. Chizekuni explains it to mean ‘of’. The word appears a number of times in the Tenach and in each case the Shin is without Dagesh.
* * * *
How do we determine the correct vowel-points?
machalat/maachalat (Gen. 28:9) Does the Mem of this name have a Kamatz or a Patach? Sometimes people ask how do the rules of grammar determine this question. The answer is that rules of grammar are abstractions of the observations of the Masorah (including the vowel points), and if the Masorah is not clearly determined there cannot be rules of grammar to help. So the determining question here is ‘What does the Masorah say?’ The answer turns out to be that this is a matter of dispute, but the most widely accepted authority on the correct text of the Tenach, Minchat Shai states ‘The version in accurate books [manuscripts] and in an early print have the Mem with a Kamatz and Torah Or also wrote so.’ Chumash Ha’amek Davar of Netziv, Tenach of Rabbi Breuer, and Mikra’ot Gedolot HaKeter of Bar-Ilan University, all follow Minchat Shai. However in Tenach Koren the Mem has a Patach. Tenach Koren generally follows R’ Wolf Heidenhiem, who is also regarded as an authority though he did not have access to the ancient manuscripts which we now have.
I will be
pleased to have comments on these notes on the Parasha.
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