## Tuesday, January 30, 2007

### Beshalach: Is vaEd in Hashem Yimloch LeOlam vaEd Spelled With a Patach or Kametz?

A curious Rashi on a pasuk in Az Yashir. Shemot 15:18:

 ה יִמְלֹךְ, לְעֹלָם וָעֶד 18 The LORD shall reign for ever and ever.
The word וָעֶד, as spelled above and in our Chumashim, is with a kametz. Yet, Rashi states:
to all eternity Heb. לְעֹלָם וָעֶד. [This is] an expression of eternity, and the “vav” in it is part of the root. Therefore, it is punctuated with a “pattach.” But in “and I am He Who knows, and [I am] a witness וָעֵד” (Jer. 29:23), in which the “vav” is a prefix, it is punctuated with a “kamatz.”
This is strange. Rashi appears to have a version of the word in which vaEd is spelled with a patach! Thus, the fact that it has a patach here shows that the vav is part of the root, equal to yud ayin daled, and means eternity. If so, perhaps we should pronounce the pasuk similarly.

Is this really so? Well, I got the following from the Mossad haRav Kook Rashi Peirushei HaTorah (an important sefer to have, IMHO, even though I think they got this particular instance wrong):
והוי"ו בו יסוד: ר"ל בעבור שהוי"ו אינה שימושית רק היא תמורת יו"ד אות ראשונה מן השורש "ועד" נקראת אצל רש"י מן היסוד -- באר רחובות
לפיכך היא פתוחה: העיקר הוא כנוסחת חומשים גדולים דפוס באזיל דמילת "ועד" פתח תחת היו"ד -- באר רחובות

I would say that even if the vav is not of the shoresh, it makes sense in context. "Ad" means "until," and it appears to form a hendiadys with leOlam, thus meaning "forever."

(Digression to define hendiadys: "A figure of speech in which two words connected by a conjunction are used to express a single notion that would normally be expressed by an adjective and a substantive, such as grace and favor instead of gracious favor." Think of tohu vavohu.)

We would expect a kametz, sure, but remember that this is Biblical poetry and is thus either preserved ancient pronunciation or deliberately archaic forms for stylistic purposes. Thus, we need not explain the patach instead of the aleph. But that seems to be arguing with Rashi (while even taking his girsa, which is recommended by the principle of lectio difficilior, the rule of choosing the more difficult word as original).

The other strong possibility is predicated on the knowledge that a segol was called a patach katan in certain communities, and the tzeirei was called a kamatz katan. (Not to be confused with the homonym kamatz katan, which has the orthographic symbol of kamatz but represents a reduced cholam. If so, Rashi would not be saying that there is a patach under the vav but rather that there is a segol under the ayin rather than a tzeirei under the ayin. Thus, we have no evidence of an alternate girsa in Rashi, even though that one chumash appears to have it. Indeed, that Chumash perhaps has that because of misunderstanding this Rashi!