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Parashat Vayeira 5762

Divine or Mundane?

a'donai (Gen. 18:3; 19:18 and elsewhere) In the first verse referred to, Rashi quotes the Sages who disagree as to whether this noun is the sacred (Divine) name or a mundane noun meaning 'my masters'. The Ramban's opinion cannot be determined as there are a number of versions of his commentary on this point. In the second verse referred to, Rashi quotes the opinion of the Sages (Shavuot 35b), that the name is sacred, whereas R' A. ibn Ezra maintains that it is mundane and the Nun has a Kamatz simply because it is at the end of a verse. It should be noted that in what is known as the 'pausal form' Patach frequently is replaced by Kamatz. (R' Chavel in his notes to Rabbeinu Bechayah Gen. 18:3 S.V. vehu chol indicates that there is also an early source for the opinion of R' A. ibn Ezra - Pesikta Zutreta 19:2.) It may be thought that the implication of the explanation by R' A. ibn Ezra is that the Kamatz either is the pausal form or somehow turns the word into the Divine name. However this raises the difficulty that we find a parallel to the pausal form elsewhere; e.g. Yishma:el as a verb the Mem has a Patach but here a Kamatz; Nata:n as a verb the Tav has a Patach but here a Kamatz; Yitzcha:k as a verb the Chet has a Patach but here a Kamatz. Perhaps, as this phonetic peculiarity occurs only in proper nouns and the Adnut name, we can say that it indicates proper nouns (which denote a particular entity and not a class), and occurs in Adnut to give it the character of a proper noun (the Divine being a particular entity and not a class) in addition to its mundane meaning 'my masters'.

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A Family of Roots?

himaleit (Gen. 19:17) Rashi explains that this is 'an expression of release' and words of this root have a similar meaning throughout the Tanach such as vehimlita zachar (Isaiah 66:7)'the embryo was released from the womb', ketzipor nimleta (Psalms 124:7) 'as a bird escaped', lo yachelu malet masa (Isia. 46:2) 'they could not release the load'. It is clear that Rashi maintains that there is a similarity of meaning between the roots Mem, Lamed, Tet and Shin, Mem, Tet. We have noted elsewhere that in his Dictionary, Jastrow (entry Shin, Mem, Tet) relates the root Shin, Mem, Tet to the root Mem, Vav, Tet. Following Rashi it is possible that we now have three roots in the Mem-Tet root family: Mem, Lamed, Tet; Shin, Mem, Tet; and Mem, Vav, Tet.

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va:mati (Gen. 19:19) ('I will die') - Why does the Vav have a Kamatz and the Tav a Dagesh Chazak?

The Vav changes this verb from past tense to future and one might have expected the same points as in veshavti (Gen. 28:21) ('I will return') where the Vav has a Sheva. However here, because va:mati is at the end of the verse, the pausal form causes the position of the stress to return to its original syllable (the second last, rather than the last to which the Vav conversive pushed it). As a result the Vav is before the stressed syllable. When Vav comes before the stressed syllable its Sheva is replaced by a Kamatz.

The root of the word is Mem, Vav, Tav and if we follow the pointing of the word veshavti we would have a Tav in the position of the Bet [v] giving us a cluster of two Tavs with a silent Sheva between them. What happens in this and in similar cases is that the two Tavs merge, and the Dagesh indicates that the pronunciation is equivalent to two Tavs.

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How is vayatzeiv (Gen. 21:28) ('put') formed?

Let us compare vayatzeiv to vayaksheiv (Malachi 3:16) ('He listened'). The root is Kuf, Shin, Bet and it is in the Hiph'il conjugation with Vav conversive (yakshiv>vayaksheiv). In our case the root of vayatzeiv is Yud, Tzade, Bet, which is one of a small group of verbs sometimes called Chasrei Pei-Yud-Tzade (This name means that the first letter of the root is a Yud, which is sometimes dropped, and is followed by a Tzade.) When the Yud is in a position in the verb where one would expect a Sheva nach the Yud is dropped and there is a Dagesh in the Tsade (just as in Chasrei Pei-Nun). According to the example vayaksheiv we obtain vayaytzeiv but the Yud of the root is absorbed in the Tzade and the Tzade has a Dagesh Chazak (forte) so we obtain yaytziv> vayaytzeiv> vayatzeiv, or one can derive it yaytziv> yatziv> vayatzeiv.

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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