A Drop Of Dikduk

Rabbi Mordechai Terebelo

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Parshas Naso

The Statement: Perek 7:72 "Byom Ashtay Asar Yom" On the eleventh day.

The Problem: It would seem more appropriate to say Achad Asar Yom for the eleventh day.

The Solution: Let us examine the root of the word Ashtay. The Ebn Ezra brings theexplanation of Rebbe Yona HaSephardi that explains the word as a composition of the words Al and Shtay Asar. This is to mean the number that is close to Shtay Asar.

The Ebn Ezra rejects this explanation for a number of reasons. The first of his reasons is the word Al usually means the number that is after the mentioned number. For instance when we say Meben Esreem VaMalah it means from twenty years and older. If that is the case then Al Shtay Asar should mean the number after twelve and not the number before twelve. The Second reason for his rejection of the explanation is the fact that it should use the word Al Shnaym Asar in the masculine form. Just as the word Asar is masculine form and Shnaym Asar is masculine if the word is a composition of Al Shtaym Asar it should also be masculine form.

The Ebn Ezra understands the word not to be a composition of two words but rather a single word whose root is Eshtonos which means thought. The thought after ten. This is to say that the number that a person thinks about once he reaches to ten. Once he reaches ten he immediately begins to think of the next number which is eleven.

To reach Rabbi Terebelo you can email him at the following address: mterebelo@juno.com

Courtesy of JewishAmerica (www.JewishAmerica.com)

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