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Parasha Vayikra 5763

Searching for roots and their meaning

venimtza damo (Lev. 1:15) Rashi writes ‘Related to umitz apayim (Prov. 30:33) (‘the result [lit. ‘the squeezing’] of anger’); ki-afes hametz (Isai. 16:4) (‘the squeezing is completed’); [our phrase means] he presses the slaughtered part [of the bird] against the side of the altar and the blood is squeezed and [drips] down.’ It seems that Rashi (following the two letter root system of Menachem ben Saruk) regards the root as being just Mem Tzade.

R’ A. ibn Ezra writes ‘venimtza damo: Of the conjugation Nif’al, and [the root is] of the same group as [the root of] matzit’ (Isai. 51:17) (‘drained’) and there he writes ‘Of the same group as lema’an tamotzu (Isai. 66:11) (‘in order that you be drained’) even though they are two different conjugations (i.e. types of roots), and the meaning [of matzit by analogy] is “complete evil”.’ On the phrase lema’an tamotzu (Isai. 66:11) R’ A. ibn Ezra comments ‘like mitz chalav (‘extract of milk’) (Prov. 30:33), even though they are derived from two distinct roots’ i.e. he regards the root of mitz as Mem Vav Tzade and the root of tamotzu as Mem Tzade Tzade indicating that he accepts the possibility that commonality of two letters in roots may have significance in meaning! As R’ A. ibn Ezra is known as a three-letter-root grammarian, it is worthy of note that here he comes so close to the opinion of Rashi.

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Why do the Lamedin have Dageshin?

ya’aaseh-llo (Lev. 4:20); kanita-lli (Isai. 43:23) Generally at the beginning of a word the letters Bet Gimmel Dalet Kaf Peh Tav (beged kefet) have a Dagesh Kal while other letters (except Alef Heh Chet Ayin Resh) at the beginning of a word may have a ‘virtual’ Dagesh Kal (R’ Z. Hanau Tzoha Hateva Tevat Dagesh 14, referring to Radak Michlol, see R’ S.Y. Mandelbaum Dikdukei Shai p. 59). A Dagesh Kal indicates a slight change in the pronunciation of the letter. All letters (except Alef Heh Chet Ayin Resh) receive a Dagesh Chazak if they straddle two syllables closing one and starting the next. A Dagesh Chazak indicates a doubling of the pronunciation of the letter (‘gemination’).

There is a rule that states that after a word concluding with the letters Yud Heh Vav Alef (Yehu, a hint at the Tetragrammaton – the four lettered name) the letters beged kefet at the beginning of the following word are soft – without Dagesh. There are four (or five) exceptions (called mevatelin ‘annulers’) to this rule. Two of these (or one?) are known as the Dachik and the Atei merachik. These generate a Dagesh in the first letter of the following word. It is a Dagesh Chazak and must be seen as closing the final syllable of the previous word. (In the Masorah the notion of word-boundaries is different to that which is commonly understood today.) There are two excellent studies of these complex rules (Dotan, Aharon Leva’ayat Dachik ve’Atei merachik, Proceedings of the fourth World Congress of Jewish studies vol. 2, Jerusalem 1959; Dwelaicky, Sraja Chok Yehu uMvatelav Benei Berak 1982). A sub-rule states that when a word concludes with Heh preceeded by Patach, Kamatz or Segol and is connected to the following word by a hyphen it generates a Dagesh Chazak in the first letter of that word. This explains ya’aaseh-llo. If we add that the underlying rules are phonetic we can also explain kanita-lli. The. One does not actually require a Heh for the above rule to operate. The ‘virtual’ Heh at the end of kanita is sufficient. This explains the Dagesh Chazak in the Lamed of kanita-lli.

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Patach Genuva (‘Furtive Patah’)

re’ach nicho’ach (Lev. 1:17) (‘appeasing fragrance’); hamashi’ach (Lev. 1:17) (‘the anointed’); tagi’a (Lev. 1:17) (‘afford’); here we have one vowel following another without a consonant in between. There are recorded traditions that tell us that there is a slight consonant-like Alef, Vav or Yud sounded between the vowels but those who maintain these traditions, pronounce these sounds very softly. This Patach comes after all the long vowels other than Kamatz – i. e. Cholam, Tzere, Shuruk, and Chirik malei at the end of a word under the letters Heh, Chet, Ayin and is pronounced BEFORE THE CONSONANT. Examples with Heh at the end are gavo’aH and the divine name Elo’aH. R’ Zalman Hanau (1687-1746) summarizes the discussion of earlier grammarians in his Tzohar haTeva (Mesilat haNikud, netiv 4, ot 23) and explains that as every long vowel is ‘virtually’ followed by one of the imahot hakeriah (vowel consonants Alef, Vav, Yud) the Patach belongs to that consonant and is a continuation of the long vowel which precedes it. It would seem that he is describing what we call a diphthong.

The example near the end of Vayakhel should have been av (nach nireh) ra (nach nistar) ham (nach nireh). Thank you R' Yosef Kramer for pointing this out.

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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