Showing posts with label nikkud. Show all posts
Showing posts with label nikkud. Show all posts

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The bare sheva in קהת

Summary: Why should Minchas Shai take pains to point it out? It turns out that some sefarim had a chataf kamatz.

Post: Minchas Shai on parashat Korach leads off:
ויקח קרח -- petucha.

This presumably because it is of masoretic interest that the sidra opens with a petucha.

קהת -- the kuf has only a sheva, and so wrote the author of Mikneh Avraham, that the name Kehat is with a sheva, after the pattern of Dedan.

That is, Dedan mentioned several times in Tanach, including:
בראשית פרק כה
  • פסוק ג: וְיָקְשָׁן יָלַד, אֶת-שְׁבָא וְאֶת-דְּדָן; וּבְנֵי דְדָן, הָיוּ אַשּׁוּרִם וּלְטוּשִׁם וּלְאֻמִּים. 

So too Or Torah:

But why is he taking pains to point this out? Because apparently there is a bit of a conflict. In the Leningrad Codex we indeed have with a plain, unadorned sheva.

And many chumashim have the same. (You can look at my source round-up to see a bunch.) Still, a few have a chataf kametz instead.

Thus, here is one from 1491:

תנ"ך. תורה. רנ"א. ליסבון
(אשבונה : דפוס אליעזר [טולידאנו], אב רנ"א).

Interestingly, while the Torah text has the chataf kamatz, the Onkelos text has the bare sheva. Also, Bomberg's first Mikraos Gedolos:

תנ"ך. רע"ח. ונציה
ויניציאה : דניאל בומבירגי, רע"ח.

And second Mikraos Gedolos:

תנ"ך. רפ"ה. ונציה
שער יהוה החדש : ... החומש עם תרגום ופי' רש"י ון' עזרא והנביאים ראשונים עם פי' רש"י וקמחי ורלב"ג והנביאים אחרונים ישעיה עם פי' רש"י ואבן עזרא. ירמיה ויחזקאל עם פי' רש"י וקמחי, תרי עשר עם פי' רש"י ואבן עזרא, והכתובים תולים עם פי' רש"י ואבן עזרא, משלי עם פי' אבן עזרא [ר' משה קמחי], ורלב"ג, איוב עם פי' אבן עזרא ורלב"ג, דניאל עם פירוש אבן עזרא ורבינו סעדיה גאון, עזרא עם פי' אבן עזרא [ר' משה קמחי], ורש"י, דברי הימים עם פי' מיוחס לרש"י, חמש מגילות עם פירוש רש"י ואבן עזרא ... / נערך בידי יעקב בן חיים מטוניס עם הקדמה ממנו.
ויניצייא : דפוס ד. בומבירגי, (רפ"ה-רפ"ו).

And so on. Minchas Shai, indeed, often writes to correct error, or to differ with, this Mikraos Gedolos.

Why would we put a chataf kamatz there. An explanation of the chataf phenomenon in general, from a post on Avodah:

In some words, especially with gutturals, letters and sounds may be elided, slurred or distorted by sloppy speakers. To prevent this, Ben Asher (or others before him as well) saw a need to point out when the sheva'im in syllables in danger of elision  were na'im.  This was done by placing an appropriate vowel sign next to the sheva na'.  In most words the sheva had a slight "a" sound. Hataf-patach is, therefore, the most common reminder that the sheva is na'.  In the fewer cases where the sheva had a tint of e or o vowel sounds, they put a hataf segol or hataf-kamatz.  Although hataf-hiriks are not usually marked, there are five of them marked in the Keter. I don't remember ever reading of a hataf shuruk in a text but remember that one is shown in a written mesorah, I think the chet in hamechulal.  Also, a shortened  or weak shuruk often becomes o as when Uziel becomes ha-ozieli (accent on i not on the oz).

There is a following guttural, heh, in Kehat. Maybe some masoretes saw the need to mark it as sheva na? I don't know for certain.

Aside from this, try saying Kehat or listen to someone saying it, masiach lefi tumo, and I think you will likely hear a sort of short /u/ sound, of a chataf-kamatz. So they were quite likely encoding what they heard.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Darshening El Yisrael as Eil Yisrael

The Twelve Sons of Yaakov. Much Younger, of course.
Summary: Is this a revocalization for the sake of derash, or does it reflect their actual vocalization?

Post: Minchas Shai notes an interesting midrash on parashat Vaychi. In Bereishit 49:2:

2. Gather and listen, sons of Jacob, and listen to Israel, your father.ב. הִקָּבְצוּ וְשִׁמְעוּ בְּנֵי יַעֲקֹב וְשִׁמְעוּ אֶל יִשְׂרָאֵל אֲבִיכֶם:
According to our Masoretic text, the word אֶל  has a segol under it, and it means "unto". This makes good sense, for this is the start of a section of Biblical poetry, which works on poetic parallelism, and we can establish a nice parallelism here. Looking at Targum Onkelos, we see endorsement of this vocalization. We have testimony in its favor, as well, from the Samaritan Targum and the Septuagint,

Yet, there is a somewhat strange midrash in Bereishit Rabba upon this word אֶל, where it is read with a tzeirei. Thus:
ושמעו אל ישראל אביכם רבי יודן ורבי פנחס
רבי יודן אמר:
שמעו לאל ישראל אביכם.

ורבי פנחס אמר:
אל הוא, ישראל אביכם. מה הקב"ה בורא עולמות.
אף אביכם בורא עולמות.

מה הקדוש ברוך הוא מחלק עולמות,
אף אביכם מחלק עולמות. 

There is a dispute between Rabbi Yuda and Rabbi Pinchas (two Amoraim of Eretz Yisrael). According to Rabbi Yudan, it seems, the juxtaposition makes for the extra word el, "to", but of course El, "God", is already in place. And so it is "Listen [to] the God of Yisrael your father".

In contrast, according to Rabbi Pinchas, it is to be read thusly: "Listen: A God, is Yisrael your father". Then, he explains how Yaakov is parallel in various aspects to Hashem.

It seems as though both take for granted that the word is El, God, but that they offer different means of interpreting the slight awkwardness. The first, that juxtaposition creates an implicit "unto", and the second, that the apposition of the two nouns creates an implicit "he is".

There are then two possibilities in understanding the nature of this dispute. Either reading אֵל instead of אֶל is derash, is which case it is a revocalization -- an al tikra; or else it stands in the background as assumed peshat, and the substance of the dispute is what to do with the juxtaposition. If the former, then this should not indicate how we should read it, for revocalization is common, but if the latter, then we are in the awkward position in which Chazal argue against the Masorah.

Some meforshim explain Rabbi Yudan as saying that we will read aleph lamed both as is pronounced and as this revocalization. Thus, we get אֶל אֵל, "unto God". If this is so, then it is evidence that a revocalization may well be in place. On the other hand, we need not say this. The juxtaposition alone may be enough to trigger this implicit "unto".

How could the tzeirei turn to a segol, or vice versa? Well, recall that while there were traditions of how to pronounce various Biblical texts, the orthography of nikkud, that is, the specific signs designating the vowels, were not invented until post-Talmudic times. And so the Masoretes wrote down what they heard. There is a distinction between tzeirei and segol in both Tiberian and Palestinian nikkud, but I would note that in texts with nikkud Palestini, it is fairly common to have different segol / tzeirei values than what we have in texts pointed with Tiberian nikkud. And compare with modern Israeli Hebrew, in which tzeirei and seghol are pronounced identically, as segol. And recall that אֵל is a closed syllable and that, phonologically speaking, a closed tzeirei is much closer to a segol than is an open tzeiri. (Try saying Eir from Eir veOnan, for the closed syllable, and then try saying Benei, sons of.) As such, perhaps this correct pronunciation was lost.

The midrash actually continues with something relevant:
אלעזר בן אחוי אמר:מכאן זכו ישראל לקריאת שמע.
בשעה שהיה יעקב אבינו נפטר מן העולם קרא לשנים עשר בניו.
אמר להם: שמעו אל ישראל, שבשמים אביכם, שמא יש בלבבכם מחלוקת על הקב"ה!
אמר לו: (דברים ושמע ישראל אבינו כשם שאין בלבך מחלוקת על הקדוש ברוך הוא, כך אין בלבנו מחלוקת, אלא ה' אלהינו ה' אחד. אף הוא פירש בשפתיו ואמר: ברוך שם כבוד מלכותו לעולם ועד. 

I don't know that I like this punctuation, particularly the comma after Yisrael, but at any rate, look at this line in the above midrash:
אמר להם: שמעו אל ישראל, שבשמים אביכם, שמא יש בלבבכם מחלוקת על הקב"ה
"He said to them: Listen to the God of Israel who is in Heaven, your Father. Perhaps there is in your hearts a dispute with Hakadosh Baruch Hu?"

That is, I would read this midrash by Eleazar ben Achoi as saying that avichem does not modify Yaakov, but rather modifies God. See Etz Yosef, who appears to agree with my reading: 'This is its explanation -- and listen that the God of Israel who is in heaven is your Father.'

There are presumably other ways of reading this, in which שבשמים אביכם means that Yaakov is (or perhaps soon will be) in Heaven, but it feels more awkward to me. And we already have this setup of El as God from the immediately preceding discussion. If we read it the former way, then Chazal consistently argue on our Masorah (and perhaps we should change it). If the latter, then it might be evidence that el means unto rather than a shem Hashem. Although we could still say that the word El there is what sparks the later part of Yaakov's statement, שמא יש בלבבכם מחלוקת על הקב"ה.

It is difficult, IMHO, though not impossible, to maintain a masorah against unanimous Chazal. (Unless someone knows of another source in Chazal that takes it another way...) Is masorah the encoding written down in a set period, and a kept tradition since then, such that we should not deviate, but rather preserve this? Or is it supposed to reflect the true meaning of the pasuk, as understood by Chazal, such that we should consider this evidence of a corrupted tradition in our Masorah along the way, and so correct it?

I will close with a neat resolution of the problem which I was saving for the end. We can assert that even Chazal had a segol in place yet understood it as God. How so? Well, here is the pasuk again:

ב  הִקָּבְצוּ וְשִׁמְעוּ, בְּנֵי יַעֲקֹב; וְשִׁמְעוּ, אֶל-יִשְׂרָאֵל אֲבִיכֶם.2 Assemble yourselves, and hear, ye sons of Jacob; and hearken unto Israel your father.

Note the makef -- the horizontal stroke -- connecting el to Yisrael. This indicates that there is no trup, and no independent stress, on the word el. Let us assume for a moment that the word means  אֵל, God. When the stress shifts on other words in this pattern, the tzeirei changes to a segol. For example, the word for "son", bein, has a tzeirei when it stands alone, but if adjoined to the next word (and this can happen if it is the construct), then it would become a segol. Thus:

ו  לְשִׁמְעוֹן, שְׁלֻמִיאֵל בֶּן-צוּרִישַׁדָּי.6 Of Simeon, Shelumiel the son of Zurishaddai.

So too the word leich. With the makeif, it can become lech. Thus:

א  וַיֹּאמֶר ה אֶל-אַבְרָם, לֶךְ-לְךָ מֵאַרְצְךָ וּמִמּוֹלַדְתְּךָ וּמִבֵּית אָבִיךָ, אֶל-הָאָרֶץ, אֲשֶׁר אַרְאֶךָּ.1 Now the LORD said unto Abram: 'Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto the land that I will show thee.

If so, perhaps everyone, including Chazal, agree it should be pronounced with a segol. However, they have either an understanding or a tradition that this word  אֶל  is kodesh, and that it refers to Hashem. This could have halachic ramifications in terms of kavana that a sofer or baal koreh must have.

Monday, May 31, 2010

The trup on kol

Summary: The trup, and nikkud, on the word kol of kol nasi bahem is evidence for Rashbam of the expression's meaning. He is right, but it is the words in the pasuk which determine this trup and nikkud.

Post: This is one of these posts which state the obvious, yet there is something to be said for speaking it out. The pasuk at the start of Shelach describes those chosen to be scouts:

ב  שְׁלַח-לְךָ אֲנָשִׁים, וְיָתֻרוּ אֶת-אֶרֶץ כְּנַעַן, אֲשֶׁר-אֲנִי נֹתֵן, לִבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל:  אִישׁ אֶחָד אִישׁ אֶחָד לְמַטֵּה אֲבֹתָיו, תִּשְׁלָחוּ--כֹּל, נָשִׂיא בָהֶם.2 'Send thou men, that they may spy out the land of Canaan, which I give unto the children of Israel; of every tribe of their fathers shall ye send a man, every one a prince among them.

In the phrase which ends this pasuk, there is a cholam in the word kol instead of a kametz katon.

This is appropriate, for according to the trup, which puts the disjunctive accent of tipcha, there is a pause here. If there were no pause, the nikkud would be to have the kametz under the kaf and the disjunctive accent -- probably tipcha, under the word nasi which follows.

For Rashbam, this trup is dispositive.
כל נשיא בהם - הטעם שתחת כל מוכיח פירושו. 
כל אלה הי"ב הנה יהיה נשיא באותם המתנדבים ללכת, כמו: 
כל שתה תחת רגליו. 
"Every nasi among them" - the trup {of tipcha} under the word kol proves its meaning -- all of these 12 are a nasi {elevated} from those who offered to go, just as in  Tehillim 8:7:

ז  תַּמְשִׁילֵהוּ, בְּמַעֲשֵׂי יָדֶיךָ;    כֹּל, שַׁתָּה תַחַת-רַגְלָיו.7 Thou hast made him to have dominion over the works of Thy hands; Thou hast put all things under his feet:

The bit about those who offered to go fits in to a different portion of his understanding of this pasuk. See inside Rashbam.

The nikkud and trup indicate that kol here is not a construct, but rather an absolute noun. If so, it means "all" rather than "all of". Thus, all, meaning all of them, those 12 spies, were nesiim {whatever that means}.

If instead there were different nikkud and trup, then kol would be construct. And then it would mean "every nasi among them" went. If we assume the typical meaning of nasi, and further assume that at this time, these were the princes, nesiim, of the tribes, then it is possible for it to mean that all of the nesiim were sent. (If nasi means volunteer, as I think Rashbam claims, then it is more awkward and much less likely, for then everyone who offered would constitute precisely 12 people, one from each tribe.) Even so, semantically, it makes more sense to say that each of those who were sent had a specific quality, namely being a "nasi". And the trup and nikkud are in accord with this meaning as well.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

The kamatz and the patach at the end of panay

Summary: In the phrase לֹא-יִהְיֶה לְךָ אֱלֹהִים אֲחֵרִים עַל-פָּנָי, the last vowel is written as both a kamatz and a patach. Grappling with this variation. The true answer is that one is a pausal form, and that it intersects with taam elyon and taam tachton. The Gra also has a drasha based on this.

Post: There are a few seemingly strange markings on the aseret hadibrot. For example, a tav with a dagesh within it but with a raphe stroke above it to note that it is fricative. Or multiple trup markings above certain words. Or, as in the case at hand, the word panay written with both a kametz and a patach. 

From an old Tanach:

Note how on the word panay, at the bottom left corner, there is both a kametz and a patach. Also, there is both a revii over the word and a silluq under the word.

Note how on the word tirtzach, there is both a tipcha and a silluq, and how

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Shemot: An exciting yet possibly nonexistent variant in the spelling of "amatah"

Summary: Gur Aryeh come up with a variant masorah in order to defend the tradition, and so perhaps confuses Minchas Shai. I investigate, and take a tour of Rav Saadia Gaon's translation, Dunash Ibn Labrat's attack, Ibn Ezra's defense as well as commentary, and Mizrachi and Gur Aryeh's suggestion. Then an analysis, as to why I think Gur Aryeh's suggestion is rather unlikely.

Post: When reading through Minchas Shai on the parsha, I saw a short yet extremely exciting note about a variant spelling of vatishlach et amatah. That is, the pasuk in Shemot reads:

ה  וַתֵּרֶד בַּת-פַּרְעֹה לִרְחֹץ עַל-הַיְאֹר, וְנַעֲרֹתֶיהָ הֹלְכֹת עַל-יַד הַיְאֹר; וַתֵּרֶא אֶת-הַתֵּבָה בְּתוֹךְ הַסּוּף, וַתִּשְׁלַח אֶת-אֲמָתָהּ וַתִּקָּחֶהָ.
5 And the daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe in the river; and her maidens walked along by the river-side; and she saw the ark among the flags, and sent her handmaid to fetch it.
Amatah: In the first perek of Sota, Rabbi Yehuda and Rabbi Nechemia argue. "One said 'her hand' and one said 'her maidservant', etc." And so it is in Shemot Rabba. And according to the one who darshens it as the language of 'hand', the aleph has to be with a patach  and the mem has to have a dagesh, in accordance with the girsa of Rabbenu Saadia, and so {must have been} the girsa of the Targum. And according to the one who darshens it as a language of 'maidservant', the aleph is with a chataf-patach and the mem is without dagesh, just as it is in our own sefarim. And so wrote Rashi, Ibn Ezra, and Chizkuni {who discuss how the chataf-patach compels this interpretation}. And see Mizrachi and Shorashim.

I was familiar with the grammatical point, and have discussed it in the past. But this is the first I heard of an alternative girsa.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Ibn Caspi and nikkud, pt ii -- What does the nikkud on HaNimtzah indicate?

Summary: In a previous post on Miketz, I discussed Ibn Caspi on nikkud, and how he felt that a particular kamatz on a word indicated the position of the Anshei Knesset HaGedolah. Though we do not have that particular kamatz, this is an important assertion, especially when combined with what we have in this post, that the Anshei Knesset HaGedolah got this meaning from Moshe. And combine that with what we saw in an earlier comment regarding trup, that since it reflects original intent, it makes no sense to argue with it.

Here, we consider Ibn Caspi's comment about the kamatz in hanimtza, whether it is dispositive, and whether it really means to preclude the first person plural verb.

Post: First, read the summary, above. Now, to continue...

Bereishit 41:38:

לח  וַיֹּאמֶר פַּרְעֹה, אֶל-עֲבָדָיו:  הֲנִמְצָא כָזֶה--אִישׁ, אֲשֶׁר רוּחַ אֱלֹהִים בּוֹ.
38 And Pharaoh said unto his servants: 'Can we find such a one as this, a man in whom the spirit of God is?'
On this pasuk, Rashi says:

Will we find [anyone] like this: Heb. הִנִמְצָא כָזֶה [Onkelos renders:] הִנִשְׁכַּח כְּדֵין, will we find such as this? If we go and seek him, will we find [anyone] like him?- [from Gen. Rabbah 90:1] הִנִמְצָא is an interrogative expression, as is every “hey” used as a prefix and vowelized with a“chataf pattach.”

הנמצא כזה: הנשכח כדין, אם נלך ונבקשנו הנמצא כמוהו. הנמצא לשון תמיהה, וכן כל ה"א המשמשת בראש תיבה ונקודה בחטף פתח:

where the implication of all the "we" verbs is that this is a plural verb, with the nun designating "we".

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Ibn Caspi, and the overwhelming authority of nikkud , pt i -- whether, or that, you had yet a brother

Summary: I saw two interesting comments in Ibn Caspi on Mikeitz which reference how nikkud determines meaning, such that of course one cannot argue on nikkud. Because this was encoded by the Anshei Knesset HaGedolah based on the received tradition from Moshe Rabbenu. Compare with the approach of other meforshim, as discussed by Shadal in his Vikuach. Here, I analyze one of the two comments. I wonder at the particular applications he gives, for his nikkud appears different from our nikkud. Then, I turn to consider his parallel case in Kohelet, where he is certainly right as to the meaning of the nikkud, even as it truly seems that the meaning of the pasuk should be otherwise.

Post: I have a particular interest in how the classic meforshim regarded nikkud and trup. Was it received tradition MiSinai, in which case one cannot argue on it, or was it simply a very ancient (and therefore important) commentary / interpretation? Shadal discusses this in his Vikuach, in terms of many of the classic commentators, where he claims that they all reserved the right to argue on both nikkud and trup. But I saw some interesting comments by Ibn Caspi, in which he maintains that trup and nikkud are from the Anshei Knesset HaGedolah, yet based on received tradition from Moshe Rabbenu. And therefore the trup and nikkud are definitive when it comes to peshat. I discussed his position this last week on Vayeishev in terms of tzadeka mimeni, where he appears to say that the lack of disjunctive trup dividing tzadeka mimeni means that the Divine intent in that pasuk is one statement, "she is more righteous than I."

One interesting comment in this realm is as regards an apparent heh heshe'eilah, which he claims is not one at all. In Miketz, in Bereishit 43:6:

ו  וַיֹּאמֶר, יִשְׂרָאֵל, לָמָה הֲרֵעֹתֶם, לִי--לְהַגִּיד לָאִישׁ, הַעוֹד לָכֶם אָח.
6 And Israel said: 'Wherefore dealt ye so ill with me, as to tell the man whether ye had yet a brother?'
Ibn Caspi writes:
ה(ו) העוד לכם אח, אין הה"א בכאן לתמה ושאלה, וכן
ה"א העולה היא למעלה (קהלת ג׳ כ"א), ופרשו לנו זה אנכה״נ כי
•שמו תחתיו קמץ:
haOd lachem ach -- the heh here is not for astonishment and query, and so too the heh of haOlah hi leMaalah (Kohelet 3:21). And the Men of the Great Assembly explained it to us, for they placed under it a kamatz.
However, a simple examination of the word haOd reveals that there is a patach there! Maybe he has different names for these nekudot? He does not,

Monday, February 25, 2008

The Age of Trup -- part xxviii

Shadal continues his Vikuach al Chochmas HaKabbalah. (See previous segment.) He concludes that the Anshei haMasoret are not the same as the authors of the nikkud. Then he turns to the issue of the location the trup and nikkud was invented. He also discusses the type of dispute between Ben Naftali and Ben Asher.

The author: It is true that the early scribes, the Sages of the second Temple era, established the reading in all of Tanach with the vowels and the trup, and therefore its reading was called "mikra Soferim {the scribes}"; but from the days of the scribes until that days of the authors of the nikkud, many generations passed, and we have already seen beforehand, in the days of the Sages of the Mishna and the Talmud that many doubts were born and many disputes in the reading and in the separation of the trup, and in these the authors of the nikkud did not have a support or director except for their intellect and wisdom, and in these I see their impressive understanding and their extremely deep intellect.

The guest: You have spoken correctly.

And behold, it is made clear to us that the Anshei HaMasoret were one entity and the authors of the nikkud were a different entity. And if the Sages of Teveria were the Baalei HaMasoret, they were not those who brought out the nikkud.

And now, please listen to the investigation which I came up with, and judge upon it with your understanding.

Do we not know (and it is spelled out in sefer Tzemach David, 3118) that because of the sufferings, the Yeshivot were nullified in Eretz Yisrael, and the Nesiim {Princes} were nullified, after Hillel the son of Rabbi Yehuda Nesia, and those with semicha were nullified in Eretz Yisrael, and yet the closing of the Talmud was 150 years after that time. And at the time of the closing of the Talmud, and from then on, there were not Sages of renown in Eretz Yisrael, and the hand of the residents of Eretz Yisrael was not any more strong over the residents of the Diaspora, but rather all those in the Diaspora were subject to the the Sages of Bavel, since by them the yeshivot and Exilarches continues, and the Geonim, more than 500 years after the closing of the Talmud.

If so, how could it be that the nikkud was made in Eretz Yisrael? Amd who will believe that in those bad time, when the yeshivot and Princes were nullified, there was made in Eretz Yisrael a great work like the work of the nikkud, which requires clarity of thought, wondrous diligence, and deep investigation?

And even if it arises in the mind that there were already there a small number of men whose wisdom was great to perform such as this matter, how was it such that all of Israel agreed to rend their heads under these men, whose hand was not strong at all, and to accept upon all of themselves to read the Tanach as these particular men designated the nikkud, and to abandon at times also the words of the Talmud because of this nikkud?

And how was it that the Sages of Bavel did not arise against this new matter and against the reading which at times opposed the Talmud? And at the least, how did they not send out from under their hands a table of corrections and alternate readings? For even the difference of readings between those of the West and those of the East, all of them are in matters of the letters, and krei and ketiv, not in the matters of the nikkud and the trup, and all of them preceded the nikkud.

Also, Ben Asher and Ben Naftali never differed on the authors of the nikkud, but rather the dispute between this one and that one was in the matters of the makef and the meteg, and the other minor matters which do not impact the body of the reading of the words and the cutting up of the statements (*).

And behold, the work of the authors of the nikkud are always left with no dispute upon it -- no one opens his mouth to it and no one dares to speak out; what is not understandable at all if it was made in Eretz Yisrael at a time that there were not therein Princes and yeshivot of renown. And quite the opposite, the matter is much accepted by the intellect, if we say that not in Eretz Yisrael but rather in Bavel was the nikkud instituted, in a place that the great yeshivot whose dread was cast upon all of Israel in the four corners of the earth.

(*) Only one switch have I found between Ben Asher and Ben Naftali, which seems to touch on the body of the reading of the word and its meaning, and this is in the word תְּרָצְּחוּ כֻלְּכֶם (in Tehillim 62):
ד עַד-אָנָה, תְּהוֹתְתוּ עַל-אִישׁ-- תְּרָצְּחוּ כֻלְּכֶם:
כְּקִיר נָטוּי; גָּדֵר, הַדְּחוּיָה.
4 How long will ye set upon a man, that ye may slay him, all of you, {N}
as a leaning wall, a tottering fence?
see the Minchat Shai.
However, in my opinion (as I wrote in my book Prolegomeni folio 24) the matter is not as he thought it, but rather according to everyone the word is from the "poel" construction, like וְעַתָּה מְרַצְּחִים {in Yeshaya 1:21:
כא אֵיכָה הָיְתָה לְזוֹנָה, קִרְיָה נֶאֱמָנָה; מְלֵאֲתִי מִשְׁפָּט, צֶדֶק יָלִין בָּהּ--וְעַתָּה מְרַצְּחִים. 21 How is the faithful city become a harlot! She that was full of justice, righteousness lodged in her, but now murderers.
but rather the dagesh was removed from a letter which carries it, and specifically where the afterwards is a guttural letter {in this case the chet after the tzadi}, such as vayise`u {with the dagesh in the sin removed because of the aleph after it}, vayikechu {with the chet taking away the dagesh in the kuf}, vayise'u {the same, with a samech and ayin}. And so we find in a few manuscripts and old printings תרצחו without a dagesh in the tzadi.

And behold, in the opinion of Ben Naftali, the resh needs to have a patach in accordance with its rule, but Ben Asher made a distinction, so that it would be known that it {the sheva/the letter} is na even though there is no dagesh {chazak}, and so he put the nikkud of תרצחו with a kametz, and there is no doubt that he extended the kamatz with a meteg, so that it would be known that it is a broad kamatz {kametz rachav, as opposed to a kamatz katon, which would be a reduced cholam}. And in the pattern of this dispute, the nakdanim argued in the word מְאַסְפָיו (in Yeshaya 62:9)
ט כִּי מְאַסְפָיו יֹאכְלֻהוּ, וְהִלְלוּ אֶת-ה; וּמְקַבְּצָיו יִשְׁתֻּהוּ, בְּחַצְרוֹת קָדְשִׁי. {ס} 9 But they that have garnered it shall eat it, and praise the LORD, and they that have gathered it shall drink it in the courts of My sanctuary. {S}
that the samech is without a dagesh, and some place the nikkud of the aleph with a patach, and some with a kametz, and there is no doubt that this too is a kametz rachav.

The author: The matter is correct in my eyes.

And based on this, it is also understandable how the Anshei haMasoret were so much drawn, like slaves, after the authors of the nikkud and trup, to appoint all sorts of strangeness, without lifting a head to differ from them in a single matter, and even to indicate which way their thoughts leaned: All this is understandable if they were from Eretz Yisrael, at a time where there were no yeshivot and Sages of renown, and the nikkud came to them from Bavel which had great yeshivot, and Exilarches, and heads of yeshivot whose dominion was over the entire earth.

Friday, February 22, 2008

My Objections to the Rabbi Chanina ben Teradyon Proof

A famous proof of lack of nikkud presented by Shadal is this prior post. Perhaps read that post first before reading this.

Basically, he proves, from the fact that Rabbi Chanina ben Tradion pronounced the name in order to teach it to his students, that they must not have had nikkud. Otherwise, he could have utilized a nikkud-based solution, before turning to a method that is so serious that Abba Shaul says that (in other situations) one who does this loses his share in the World to Come.

The gemara in question, from Avodah Zarah 17b-18a:
They then brought up R. Hanina b. Teradion and asked him, 'Why hast thou occupied thyself with the Torah?' He replied, 'Thus the Lord my God commanded me.' At once they sentenced him to be burnt, his wife to be slain, and his daughter to be consigned to a brothel.

(The punishment of being burnt came upon him because he pronounced the Name in its full spelling. But how could he do so? Have we not learnt: The following have no portion in the world to come: He who says that the Torah is not from Heaven, or that the resurrection of the dead is not taught in the Torah. Abba Saul says: Also he who pronounces the Name in its full spelling? — He did it in the course of practising, as we have learnt: Thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations, but thou mayest learn [about them] in order to understand and to teach. Why then was he punished? — Because he was pronouncing the Name in public. His wife was punished by being slain, because she did not prevent him [from doing it]. From this it was deduced: Any one who has the power to prevent [one from doing wrong] and does not prevent, is punished for him. His daughter was consigned to a brothel, for R. Johanan related that once that daughter of his was walking in front of some great men of Rome who remarked, 'How beautiful are the steps of this maiden!' Whereupon she took particular care of her step. Which confirms the following words of R. Simeon b. Lakish: What is the meaning of the verse, The iniquity of my heel compasseth me about? — Sins which one treads under heel in this world compass him about on the Day of Judgment.)
I have two issues with this proof.

Firstly, even without nikkud, he could have told them Orally the words. He could have told them what the consonants were. Then, he could have told them another word with matching vowels. Or said, e.g., the Yud has a vowel as in the word Yerachmiel, or Yahalom, or Yom, and so on for the other letters. This is true whether or not they have orthographic signs.

Secondly, we might fight "kefirah" with "kefirah." Is all of this Amoraic? Or is some Savoraic or Setammaic? There are certainly signs of Savoraic influence here. (I'll put some other of my insights in the gemara in another post, beEzrat Hashem.) Specifically, "But how could he do so? Have we not learnt: The following have no portion in the world to come: He who says that the Torah is not from Heaven, or that the resurrection of the dead is not taught in the Torah. Abba Saul says: Also he who pronounces the Name in its full spelling? — He did it in the course of practicing" and all of this anonymous back and forth based on other sources certainly reads like stama digmara. If so, we might say that in fact he did not do it to "practice," or as Shadal reads it, "to teach his students." Rather, in general he pronounced Hashem's name.

But what about Abba Shaul? The answer is that Abba Shaul felt compelled to say this because people were doing it, and furthermore this is his opinion which he is adding on to the opinion of the Tanna Kamma. Say that Abba Shaul is a Tanna himself, and argues! And perhaps held like the Tanna Kamma. The problem with that if so, why is this a basis for punishment? Perhaps we might adopt the stama's answer that it was in public. Or perhaps we might say that he thought this, but he was wrong, and was punished for this.

If so, no one was talking about teaching to students, so no artifice was necessary, and no proof can be drawn from this story about the early or late origin of nikkud.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Age of Trup -- part xxvi

Shadal continues his Vikuach al Chochmas HaKabbalah. (See previous segment.) Here, Shadal decides on a time for the introduction of nikkud and trup, namely the time of the Savoraim.

The author: If so, what do you wish to learn from this, that we see that the masters of nikkud argued with Chazal?

The guest: It appears to me that this is a proof that the authors of nikkud were not much later than Chazal; for if it was a long time after the closing of the Talmud, the would not have filled their hearts {=dared} to argue upon it. And even if you find to say that they did dare to do this, all of Israel would not have set aside the Talmud and agreed to read in the Torah and Neviim based on the masters of nikkud. And behold, it is clear to us that the time of the beginning of the nikkud is close to the time of the closing of the Talmud, in the days of the Savoraic Sages, in approximately the year 4260.

The author: This is also the position of Rabbi Elijah Bachur, even though he erred in the calculation, and wrote "3989 years to the Creation, which is 436 years after the destruction of the second Temple." And in truth, 436 years after the destruction is only the year 4264, and the two calculations he mentions are distant from one another 275 years!! And yet, the fact that nikkud was started close to the time of the closing of the Talmud seems to be correct and compelling. And not like a few of the wise one of the nations of make its date late, unyil the year 4500. And the bordering of the time of the beginning of nikkud close to the closing of the Talmud arises as well to find an answer to two great questions.

For the first one there is to ask: How is it that such a great and new matter like the bringing out of the nikkud and the trup did not leave its mention explicit in one of the books, to say, "in year such-and-such in place such-and-such, the Torah was pointed {with nikkud}.

For behold, if this was in the days of our Rabbis the Savoraim, one need not wonder at this, from from that time we do not have a single sefer.

And the second there is to ask: If the nikkud was brought out anew, how did the Karaites accept it and did not reject it? For behold, the sect of the Karaites began about 200 years after the closing of the Talmud, and within this was already lost (in the many days and the lack of books) the memory of the beginning of nikkud, and the populace though that the Holy Books had nikkud from the beginning of their existence, and therefore the nikkud was accepted by the Karaites.

And still, what is to be said about the place of the beginning of nikkud? Behold, the opinion of Rabbi Elijah is that they were innovated in Tiberias, and yet the great grammarian the Razah, om sefer Binyan Shlomo (page 32) he brings a proof against this position, from that which we know (Michlol, page 108 and 109) that the men of Teveriah had their resh by them of the doubled letters which accept plosives and fricatives {that is, they had beged kaparet, rather than beged kefet} and the opposite of this are the baalei nikkud, who placed the resh among the letters which do not accept a dagesh {even a dagesh chazak - thus among the gutturals}. Behold it is clear that the nikkud is not from the Sages of Teveriah.

Monday, February 18, 2008

The Age of Trup -- part xxv

Shadal continues his Vikuach Al Chochmat HaKabbalah. (See previous segment.) Here he discusses whether the nikkud and trup, while not agreeing with the Talmud Bavli, consistently agrees with the Yerushalmi.

The guest: You have said correctly.

And behold, we have already seen that the nikkud and trup do not always agree with the opinion of Chazal, the Tannaim and Amoraim, and the authors of Targum.

The author: Perhaps they did not rely on the words of the Talmud Bavli because the authors of nikkud were Sages of Tiberias, and they are residents of Eretz Yisrael, and perhaps they attached themselves to the words of the Talmud Yerushalmi. And I have already found a support to this in the verse {Shemot 30:23, in Ki Tisa}:
כג וְאַתָּה קַח-לְךָ, בְּשָׂמִים רֹאשׁ, מָר-דְּרוֹר חֲמֵשׁ מֵאוֹת, וְקִנְּמָן-בֶּשֶׂם מַחֲצִיתוֹ חֲמִשִּׁים וּמָאתָיִם; וּקְנֵה-בֹשֶׂם, חֲמִשִּׁים וּמָאתָיִם. 23 'Take thou also unto thee the chief spices, of flowing myrrh five hundred shekels, and of sweet cinnamon half so much, even two hundred and fifty, and of sweet calamus two hundred and fifty,
that even that the opinion of the Talmud Bavli is against the trup, still in Yerushalmi (Shekalim perek 6) we find the explanation which accords with the trup.

The guest: Do not say that the trup with Talmud Bavli specifically, for still the explanation which disagrees with the trup is not the words of a Babylonian Amora, but rather the words of a brayta (tno Rabanan), and every brayta is the words of the Sages of Eretz Yisrael. If so, the Sages of Eretz Yisrael themselves were divided in the matter, and the masters of the trup chose for themselves one of the two opinions (the one which sat better upon the simple meaning of the Scriptures).

And know that we also find that the masters of Nikkud argue on the words of the Yerushalmi, for in Ovadiah, they place the end of the pasuk after the word mikatel. {That is, in Ovadiah 1:9-10:
ט וְחַתּוּ גִבּוֹרֶיךָ, תֵּימָן, לְמַעַן יִכָּרֶת-אִישׁ מֵהַר עֵשָׂו, מִקָּטֶל. 9 And thy mighty men, O Teman, shall be dismayed, to the end that every one may be cut off from the mount of Esau by slaughter.
י מֵחֲמַס אָחִיךָ יַעֲקֹב, תְּכַסְּךָ בוּשָׁה; וְנִכְרַתָּ, לְעוֹלָם. 10 For the violence done to thy brother Jacob shame shall cover thee, and thou shalt be cut off for ever.
and in Yerushalmi (Peah perek 1) they read מִקָּטֶל מֵחֲמַס אָחִיךָ יַעֲקֹב. And so too in the West {=Eretz Yisrael} they divided this verse into three verses: {Shemot 19:9, in Yitro}
ט וַיֹּאמֶר ה אֶל-מֹשֶׁה, הִנֵּה אָנֹכִי בָּא אֵלֶיךָ בְּעַב הֶעָנָן, בַּעֲבוּר יִשְׁמַע הָעָם בְּדַבְּרִי עִמָּךְ, וְגַם-בְּךָ יַאֲמִינוּ לְעוֹלָם; וַיַּגֵּד מֹשֶׁה אֶת-דִּבְרֵי הָעָם, אֶל-ה. 9 And the LORD said unto Moses: 'Lo, I come unto thee in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with thee, and may also believe thee for ever.' And Moses told the words of the people unto the LORD.
and even so, the masters of nikkud only made it a single verse. And more than this, we find in the Mechilta that they would read {in Shemot 15:8, in Beshalach}
ח וּבְרוּחַ {ר} אַפֶּיךָ נֶעֶרְמוּ מַיִם, {ס} נִצְּבוּ כְמוֹ-נֹד {ר} נֹזְלִים; {ס} קָפְאוּ תְהֹמֹת, בְּלֶב-יָם. {ס} 8 And with the blast of Thy nostrils the waters were piled up--the floods stood upright as a heap; the deeps were congealed in the heart of the sea.
{reading nod} and the masters of nikkud made the vowel points neid with a tzeirei.

And also in Torat Kohanim they attached {in Vayikra 15:23, in Metzorah} בְּנָגְעוֹ-בוֹ יִטְמָא עַד-הָעָרֶב and the masters of trup separated בְּנָגְעוֹ-בוֹ with an etnachta.

{That pasuk is:
כג וְאִם עַל-הַמִּשְׁכָּב הוּא, אוֹ עַל-הַכְּלִי אֲשֶׁר-הִוא יֹשֶׁבֶת-עָלָיו--בְּנָגְעוֹ-בוֹ: יִטְמָא, עַד-הָעָרֶב. 23 And if he be on the bed, or on any thing whereon she sitteth, when he toucheth it, he shall be unclean until the even.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Age of Trup -- part xxiv

Shadal continues his Vikuach Al Chochmat HaKabbalah, continuing his analysis of Jerome's words. (See previous segment.) Here he shows proof that Jerome did not have nikkud available to him.

The guest: And you, now know for yourself that it is a known and publicized matter by the wise men of the nations of the world, that the wise man Hieronymus {=Jerome} never mentioned the nikkud in a single one of his books. And greater than this I will inform you, that I have found by Hieronymus one statement which teaches with the finger, that there was no nikkud in his days at all.

For behold, he admits and is not embarrassed, that he feared to approach the work of translating the sefer of Divrei HaYamim, from his fear lest he err in the reading of the many names which are in it. And he already knew the holy tongue, for he already learned it during nights from a Jewish man -- bar Chanina was his name -- and he already had translated many books of the Holy Books. And with all this, he did not stretch forth his hand to translate the sefer of Divrei haYamim until he read it from its beginning until its end with one of the Chachmei Teveriah.

And if the nikkud were known in his days, how did they not put nikkud in the book of Divrei haYamim, which because of the many names within it it requires nikkud to a great extent? And why was he compelled to learn its reading Orally, and did not find for himself a sefer with nikkud? And after he found one to teach him the reading, there is no doubt that he would have been able to find a sefer with nikkud, if there were a sefer with nikkud found in his days. And if there was no nikkud found in Divrei haYamim, I do not know where it would be found.

The author: And this statement of Hieronymus, where is it found?

The guest: It is in the letter to Domenion and Dogacianos, which begins (Quomodo) and is recorged as well in the book Biblia, in the introduction to the recording of Divrei HaYamim.

{I do not see it in this introduction, but that is because Shadal is here referring to the preface to Jerome's translation of the Septuagint text of Paralipomena/Divrei HaYamim, rather than to the Vulgate. Thanks to Kevin P. Edgecomb for this clarification. We can find reference to this text here and here.}

And I took the Biblia, and the man found the aforementioned epistle, and so was written in it:
Denique, cum a me nuper litteris flagitassetis, ut vobis librum Paralipomenon latino sermone transferrem, de Tiberiade quemdam Legis Doctorem qui apud Habraeos admirationi habebatur assumpsi: et contuli cum eo a vertice, ut ajunt, usque ad extremum unguem: et sic confirmatus, ausus sum facere, quod juhebatis. Libere enim vobis loquor, ita in Graecis et Latinis codicibus hic nominum liber vitiosus est, ut non tam Hebraea quam barbara quaedam et Sarmitica nomina conjecta arbitrandum sit.
{which in English would be, as taken from here:


I said to him: This is a proof which has no nitpick after it. And behold, my mind has rested {concluded} in this matter that which is sufficient.

Except, to the completion of this investigation, it appears to me that it is fitting to us now to investigate who the Masters {=authors} of nikkud were, and at what time and at what place they were.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Age of Trup -- part xxiii

Shadal continues his Vikuach Al Chochmat HaKabbalah. Shadal turns to proofs from non-Jewish sources as to the earliness of nikkud, and whether or not they say what people think they say. This proof is based on a statement from Jerome. (See previous segment.)

The author: And now, after the matter has been made clear by us that which is sufficient with proofs taken from the Sages of Israel, we will place our hearts also towards the wise men of the nations of the world; and this I say because I recall that I saw to the author of the Meor Einayim that he brings (in perek 59) a proof on the earliness of the nikkud from the words of Hieronymus {=Jerome} the translator of Scriptures to the Latin language, who was in the days of Rav Ashi, for he found in one of his letters that he said that the Jews were few who made use of vocal signs to the letters, and therefore this one says like this and that one says like that in the reading of the Hebrew words; and he (the author of Meor Einayim) explains that the intent is that the nikkud {orthography} existed in his days, but that the Jews did not make use of it, except a little.

The guest: The author of Meir Einayim was of enlightened eyes {this is lashon sagi nahor -- Shadal means "blinded"} at the time that he wrote this thing, for Hieronymus wrote in Latin, and in Latin, the signs of the vowels are letters, and not points; if so, it stands to reason that when he said "the signs of the vowels," his intent was on the letters yud, heh, vav, and aleph which inform about the vowels, and upon them he said that the Jews use them a little. And this is truth, for most of the words in the holy books are deficient, not plene; and if his intent was upon nekudot, he would have mentioned the nekudot, not the signs of the vowels, for by his saying "the signs of the vowels," the gentiles who would read his book would only possibly understand letters, for they did not have nekudot by them.

And all this I say according to the language with R' Azariah bring, who said in his translation of Hieronymus that there were few Jews who made use of vowel signs for the letters.

However, what would you say if you saw that Hieronymus did not say this. Rather, he explicitly mentions the vowel letters, and in the place that R' Azariah translated "vowels to the letters," which would convey that the vowel signs were a matter separate from the letters, he only said "vowel letters," and he said that "in the middle" -- that is the say in the middle of the words -- the Jews make use a little of the vowel letters. And he says well, since in the beginning of a word or in its end, the vowel letters are always written, such as אדם {which has an aleph in the beginning}, Avraham, Sarah {with a heh at the end, not pronounced but conveying the kametz}, Rivkah. But in the middle of the words, the vowel letters are mostly missing.

And this is the language of Hieronymus, according to what is preserved in my memory, for I have sought it and have found it days and years ago, and I have preserved it in my heart:
Vocalibus in medio litteris perraro utuntur Hebraei, et pro voluntate lectorum et varietate regionum eadem verba diversis sonis atque accentibus proferuntur.

{J: I don't know Latin, but here is my rough translation:
Vowel letters {vocalibus litterus} the middle are in exceptional case made use of by the Hebrews, and according to the purpose {/desire} of the reader and the difference of locale {perhaps he means geographic, but most likely he means context}, the same word turns to be pronounced contrariwise with difference accent advances.}

The author: I am astounded, upon R' Azariah {de Rossi}, how he did not understand that the meaning of vocalibus litterus without doubt were vowel letters, and not vowel signs to the letters, and he did not understand the words in medio whose meaning is the middle of the word.

And until how many times with those who profess the earliness of the nikkud pervert the words of the early ones, which they bring to support their opinion?

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

The Age of Trup -- part xxii

Shadal's Vikuach al Chochmat haKabbalah continues. (See previous segment.) Here, Shadal interprets a gemara to mean that children spent a full five years, from the age of 5 until 10, just memorizing the trup on verses. My objections are inserted in {}s. He also gives the now-famous proof from Rabbi Chanina ben Teradyon, who pronounced the Divine Name with its letters. I will give my objection to this proof in another post.

The author: The matters appears so, that the nikkud was brought out new after the closing of the Talmud, as a time that the sufferings and the scatterings brought about the need to write in a book that which had previously been Oral; and that before this, they would read in books without nikkud points, either because of their knowledge of the ways of language, or because they learned by their teachers the reading of Scriptures from beginning to end, just as is apparent from that which we learn "from 5 years old to Scriptures; from 10 years old to Mishna," which implies that they were engages for 5 years in Scripture. And the Scripture which they spoke of, its intent was not the explanation of the Scripture, for this is what they called by the name midrash. Rather, it is the separation of the cantillation, as they say in Nedarim: "One who vows off benefit from his friend may not teach him Scripture, but he may teach him midrash, halachot and aggadot." And they said that the reason is that it is forbidden to accept wages for teaching Torah, but they may accept for teaching Scriptures. And they say "what is the reason?" Rav said: Wages for watching, that is to say that since those who learn Scripture are young lads, the one who teaches them is able to accept wages for the aspect of what he guarded them from harm, if not from the aspect of what he taught them. And Shmuel {J: actually, Rabbi Yochanan. Shmuel does not subscribe to this, and presumably learns the exemption of mikra and Targum from a gezeirat hakatuv, as is laid out explicitly in the parallel Yerushalmi} said the wages for the divisions of the trup, which {Shadal elaborates} is something which is not from the main of the Torah {J: at least according to Rabbi Yochanan, but quite possibly not according to Rav, as is perhaps evident from the gemara}.

And behold it is evident that those who taught did not do anything with their students from the age of 5 until 10, except watch them and teach them the divisions of the trup. {J: This is not evident to me. Rather, just as Rav held that they could be paid for that aspect of watching, Rabbi Yochanan held that they could be paid for that aspect of teaching trup. But that does not mean that they did not also learn the meaning of the Mikra and so on, just that this was not the excuse for payment.}

And how could they have engaged in this for 5 years, if not that they learned the vowels and the trup of all of Scriptures by heart?

However, with all this,, I do not see entirely that the nekudot were not known also by the early ones {kadmonim}, such that they could make use of them when it was necessary.

The guest: Incline your ear and listen. In masechet Avodah Zarah daf 18, they said that Rabbi Chanina ben Teradyon was punished to die by burning, because he pronounced the Divine Name with its letters. And they asked how he could have done this, when they learn {tnan}, "Abba Shaul says, 'Also one who pronounces the Divine Name, he has no portion in the World to Come?'" And the answered that he did this in order to teach this.

And behold, Rashi explained "pronounced the Divine Name with its letters" as "he expounded it with its 42 letters and did with it {=practical wonders} that which he desired." But Tosafot and all the {other} commentators explained that he would read it out, pronouncing the letters of the Unique Name{= shem hameyuchad, =YKVK} like the letters of other words, and they have already said, "Not as I am written am I read"; And in truth, the language of "pronouncing the Name with its letters" implies "with its four letters" with which it is written, and if it were like the words of Rashi, they would have said "with 42 letters" and not "with its letters," for the name of 42 letters is not the Unique Name, and its letters are not the letters of the Name; besides for the fact that if he expounded with 42 letters and did with it that which he desired, how did the fire rule over him {when he was burned}? Does it make sense that he would not desire to be saved, if he were able via the expounding of the name with 42 letters?

And that which they said "he did it to be taught it," its intent is not to teach to himself, but rather so that others would be taught it, just as they said (Yoma 37), "they write a megillah for a child {tinnok} to be taught from it -- such that the child would be taught from it. And so too (Sanhedrin 68), "to be taught is different," the intent is to say that Rabbi Eliezer did this so that Rabbi Akiva would be taught it. And so too (Gittin 24) "scribes who learning to write," the intent is to teach to students. And so too (Rosh haShana 24), "he did it to educate," the intent is to teach to the witnesses. And like this in this language thet spoke about a piece fit to be honored, not that they honor the piece, but rather that the one who gives it as a gift it honored.

{In other words, he is saying that this is not reflexive, but rather a sort of transitive.}

The author: And what comes out from all these careful analyses {of language}?

The guest: That Rabbi Chanina ben Tradion did not know the nikkud {orthography} at all, and since he did not find some trick to teach to his students the way of reading the Honored and Awesome Name, without uttering it with his lips; and how did he not choose to write the Name with its nikkud points?

And if he did not wish to write it, lest the paper be lost, or lest is come to the hands of the corrupt people, or because Oral matters you are not permitted to state them in writing; is it not possible for him to say to them that the vowel points of the Name are the same of the vowel point of some other known word, such as leOlam, tzedaka, ahava, or yir`ah, and the like; Or that he would say to them: The yud has the vowel such-and-such; and the heh with the vowel such-and-such.

Should he not have taken the trouble to do like this or that, before he violated the prohibition of lo tisa, which is so grievous that Abba Shaul said that one who violates it does not have a share in the World to Come, and they said that the entire world shook at the time it was said at Sinai?

The author: This appears in my eyes to be a complete proof.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

The Age of Trup -- part xxi

Shadal's Vikuach Al Chochmat haKabbalah continues. The guest finished saying, in the previous segment, that the Chachmei Teveria considered the trup and nikkud to have not been written down from the time of Ezra, but was transmitted orally and was thus susceptible to corruption; and therefore felt free to offer a different trup or nikkud, which was at odds with the trup or nikkud which Chazal must have had, as evident from certain gemaras. Now, in the present segment, they turn to the fact that commentators felt free to disagree with the nikkud, and further, that those who established the nikkud did so at odds with Targum Onkelos and Targum Yonatan.

The author: If the matter is indeed so, behold, as they did, so was paid in kind to them, for after them came Sages, commentators of Scriptures, and they leaned upon it in all that appeared to them to agree with the simple meaning of Scriptures, and in every place that it appeared to them that the nikkud did not rest with the implication of Scriptures, they turned from it and did not heed it; and all this from their opinion that nikkud is only the work of men.

The guest: Still return and see that those who established the nikkud which is our hands also did not heed Targum Onkelos and Yonatan.

Do you not see that the vocalized
{in Shemot 2:5
ה וַתֵּרֶד בַּת-פַּרְעֹה לִרְחֹץ עַל-הַיְאֹר, וְנַעֲרֹתֶיהָ הֹלְכֹת עַל-יַד הַיְאֹר; וַתֵּרֶא אֶת-הַתֵּבָה בְּתוֹךְ הַסּוּף, וַתִּשְׁלַח אֶת-אֲמָתָהּ וַתִּקָּחֶהָ. 5 And the daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe in the river; and her maidens walked along by the river-side; and she saw the ark among the flags, and sent her handmaid to fetch it.
וַתִּשְׁלַח אֶת-אֲמָתָהּ in a way that it only teaches "her maidservant," and Onkelos translates "and she extended her arm {amata}," and the language of "extension" does not fall upon a maidservant but rather upon the hand; And behold, according to the opinion of Onkelos, it would have been fitting to vocalize it ammatah with a dagesh in the mem {and a full patach under the aleph rather than a chataf-patach}.

And so too they made {Zechariah 14:5}
ה וְנַסְתֶּם גֵּיא-הָרַי, כִּי-יַגִּיעַ גֵּי-הָרִים אֶל-אָצַל, וְנַסְתֶּם כַּאֲשֶׁר נַסְתֶּם מִפְּנֵי הָרַעַשׁ, בִּימֵי עֻזִּיָּה מֶלֶךְ-יְהוּדָה; וּבָא ה אֱלֹהַי, כָּל-קְדֹשִׁים עִמָּךְ. 5 And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azel; yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah; and the LORD my God shall come, and all the holy ones with Thee.
from the root nos {flee}, and Yonatan made it the language of closing {setima, with root STM}, as if the reading was venistam, just as also the 70 elders who translated for Talmay made it {=the Septuagint, LXX}, and also as Yosef ben Guryon {Yosippon?} made it.

And how did the Sages of Teveriah fill their hearts the argue on that which Ezra made, and also which afterwards no dispute fell therein? Or how did Onkelos and Yonatan, and the other translators fill their hearts to argue on the nikkud, if it was the work of Ezra, or the work of the Prophets themselves? And if we turn to the Tagum of the Writings {Ketuvim}, we will see quite a number of verses where their Targum differs from the nikkud, such as (Mishlei 20:4)
ד מֵחֹרֶף, עָצֵל לֹא-יַחֲרֹשׁ; ישאל (וְשָׁאַל) בַּקָּצִיר וָאָיִן. 4 The sluggard will not plow when winter setteth in; therefore he shall beg in harvest, and have nothing.
is translated {in Targum} as if it was written m'choraf atzeil lo yecherish {?"the blasphemous sluggard will not be silent"?}.

And so too (Mishlei 20:14)
יד רַע רַע, יֹאמַר הַקּוֹנֶה; וְאֹזֵל לוֹ, אָז יִתְהַלָּל. 14 'It is bad, it is bad', saith the buyer; but when he is gone his way, then he boasteth.
is translated as "friend, friend." {reia', reia'}

And so too (Mishlei 26:10):
י רַב מְחוֹלֵל-כֹּל; וְשֹׂכֵר כְּסִיל, וְשֹׂכֵר עֹבְרִים. 10 A master performeth all things; but he that stoppeth a fool is as one that stoppeth a flood.

וְשֹׂכֵר עֹבְרִים is translated as {if vocalized} veshikor oveir yam {? and the drunkard who passes over the sea ?}


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