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Parasha Vayetze 5763


vatikra shemo yissachar (Gen.30:18) (‘and she called his name Yissachar’) What is the correct reading for this name?  In well-edited Chumashim  (e.g. Ha’amek DavarTorat Chaim) the second Shin has neither vowel-points or any other points at all.  As a result the reader has no guidance for the reading of this letter.  Is it to be read as a Shin (which has a point at its right head) or as a Sin (which has a point at its left head)?  Should it be read as though it has a Sheva (‘Yisaschar’), or as though it has a vowel (which?), or perhaps, not at all (Yissachar’)?   Not reading it at all is based either on the assumption that the Masora that does not mark it is taken to mean that it is silent; or on a note in the Masora which says that it is not to be read.  Indeed in the Masora printed alongside Mikra’ot Gedolot HaKeter (Bar Ilan University, 1999- ) there is no note at this point, and the reader has to decide what the lack of vowel-points means.
However the Masora printed in Chamisha Chumeshei Torah
(Schocken, 1958, facsimile of Vienna, 1859), which frequently includes later additions, states that in every occurrence the two Sins are written but not read, even this one is soMinchat Shai quotes the Masora without the final (highlighted) phrase.  R’ Yaakov Kamenetsky quotes it in full as given above and explains:

For there are localities where the first ‘Yissachar’ is read with two Sins, here it [the Masora] tells us that even this one, that is to say the first, should also be read with only one Sin.  These localities [which read the first occurrence with two Sins] have a reliable source, for on the [High Priest’s] breastplate Yissachar was written with two Sins as is explained in the tractate Sotah (36a) where the Gemara states that the word ketoledotam (‘as they were born’) implies that the spelling reflected the way their father called them [at birth], it follows that their father called them as spelled – with two Sins, so we too should read it with two Sins.  However the Masora counters this approach by saying they [the two Sins] are written but not read.  I saw in Torat Moshe by the Chatam Sofer where he wrote a reason why it is read with two Sins on the first occasion, indicating that in his place, that [reading it with two Sins] was the custom (Emet LeYaakov p. 172).

It should be noted that a letter with a Dagesh Chazak has the status of a double letter and the first of the doublet has a Sheva Nach (M. Ch. Cheshin, HaMesoret HaShalem LeTashbar Jerusalem, 1992 p. 158N, the grammatical notes in this primer are worthy of study by adults).  According to this the kerei (‘Read!’) form here is Yis-sachar.  Similarly when two letters articulated in the same part of the vocal tract (see: Sefer Yetzira 2:3) are next to each other and only a Sheva Nach is between them, the first is sometimes absorbed in the second (which then receives a Dagesh); e.g. mit-taher>mittaher (R’A. ibn Ezra, Levit. 14:4).

It seems to me that the above Mesora and Gemara which refer to reading two Sins may be referring to a reading where one emphasizes the double nature of the letter with the Dagesh Chazak and reads: yis-sachar .

The interpretation of the Radak supports this suggestion.  On the abovementioned verse where Leah names Yissachar Radak writes ‘That is to say yesh sachar (‘there is reward’) for my activity’.  The reasons for the names of all the other tribes are explained in the text.  According to Radak this name is also explained in the text.  ‘Leah said God has given my reward … and she called his name yesh sachar> yis-sachar’(‘there is reward’) thereby declaring one of the fundamentals of the faith.  This is the ketiv (‘the written’) form and the kerei (‘Read!’) form is very close to it.  We have seen above that a letter can be absorbed.  We should also note that Tzerei in a stressed syllable tends to become a Chirik when the syllable loses its stress (e.g. shesh>shishi; sefer>sifri; and also ben>binyamin).  When the words yesh and sachar merge to create the name yissachar the Shin of yesh is absorbed by the Sin of sachar and there remembered by way of the Dagesh that appears in the Sin.  As the merger of the words removes the stress from yesh the Tzere becomes a Chirik thus the kerei is yissachar (the double Ess represents the Sin with the Dagesh).  Those who wish to read the ketiv might want to read yis-sachar (and this may be the intention of the Chatam Sofer) or even yish-sachar.

In the years 5727-5728 there was correspondence in the journal HaMa’ayan about the various customs of reading this name.  These were summarized and commented on by Rabbi J. David Bleich, Rosh Yeshiva at Yeshivah University in his book Contemporary Halachic Problems Ktav Publishing House, Inc & Yeshiva University Press, New York, 1977.

I will be pleased to have comments on these notes on the Parasha.
Wishing all readers Chag Same'ach ('a happy festival.') Good Shabbos, Meshullam Klarberg, 35/4 Meshech Chochma, Kiryat Sefer, Israel 71919
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