A Drop Of Dikduk

From
Rabbi Mordechai Terebelo

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Parsha Toldos

The Statement: As Yakov presents the food that he has prepared for Yitzchok in order to receive the blessings, he says, "I am Eisav your first born." Rashi comments that what Yakov was really saying was: I am the one who is bringing the food to you, and Eisav is your first born.

The problem: From where did Rashi derive this interpretation? What led Rashi away from the more simpler and obvious interpretation that Yakov was saying "I am Eisav your first born" in order to trick Yitzchok so he may receive the brochos.

The solution : The Taamim (cantillations) are divided into two groups. One that warrants a pause after them and another that lead intos and connects the current word to the following word. The Taam on the word "Anochi" is a Pashta which is a cantillation or Taam that places a pause or comma after it. The following two words "Eisav Bechorecha" Eisav your firstborn, is punctuated with the Taam of Zakef Koton a Taam that joins the two words together as if there is no pause between them.

In essence the Taam divides these words into two statements. The words following the punctuation of the Taam are saying I am, followed by an independent statement "Eisav your first born" with a comma or pause after the word I. The words Eisav your first born are also according to the Taam to be read as a statement on it's own. Therefore Rashi, following the Taam, understood Yakov to be saying two statements " Anochi" I am, meaning: I have brought the food, and a second statement that "Eisav Bechorecha" Eisav is your first born.

Mordechai Terebelo is Rav of Congregation Young Israel of Lawrenceville New Jersey He is also a Rebbe in Bezalel Hebrew Day School of Lakewood New Jersey and a memeber of the Kollel of Beth Medrash Govoha


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