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Parasha Vayishlach 5763

The development of the word shel

lemi ata … ulmi ele (Gen. 32:18) (‘to whom do you belong … and whose are these’) Rashi re-writes the Hebrew phrases with the word shel (‘of’ or possessive ‘s’) in place of the prefixes le-, and says that at the beginning of words le- means shel, giving further examples of the prefix le- with this meaning (Gen. 31:43; Psalms 24:1).  In the Torah asher le- is usually used for this meaning; Rashi is saying here that on occasion le- can carry this meaning by itself.  In the Torah shel does not occur.  In the Neviim and Ketuvim it occurs (infrequently) but only when bound to other elements as in mishelanu (2 Kings 6:11), and similar combinations (Jonah 1:7; 1:12; Song 1:6).  In the Mishna on the other hand shel occurs freestanding 1999 times (Program Chalamish) indicating that shel is Mishnaic Hebrew.
This provides background to the discussion in Halacha whether the correct wording of the blessing for lighting Chanuka lights is ‘lehadlik ner chanuka or ‘ner shelechanuka’ or ‘ner shel chanuka
(Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim, 676:1).  There is no suggestion of ‘lehadlik ner lachanuka’ as found in our verse and explained by Rashi.  Perhaps this is because le- is only used in this sense at the beginning of a phrase.  Elsewhere in the Torah Semichut (or asher le- ) is used - hence ‘ner chanuka’ is recommended by some authorities.  The preference of ‘ner shelechanuka’ is in accordance with examples found in the Neviim and Ketuvim, while ‘ner shel chanuka’ is the usage of the Mishna.

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What is kapara?

ki amar achapera panav (Gen. 32:21) Onkelos translated anichineh lerugze (‘I will put his anger to rest’) and following Onkelos Rashi explained it as meaning ‘I will annul his anger.’  Rashi shows similar use of the term in verses and in the language of the Sages, suggesting that whenever kapara is used in conjunction with ‘sin’ or ‘face’ it is an Aramaic term meaning wiping away.  R’ A. ibn Ezra and Radak concur.  Ramban refers to Onkelos, Rashi, and R’ A. ibn Ezra and argues that if this were so we would have to say that this phrase is not part of the message which Yaakov sent to Esav but rather that the Torah is telling us that Yaakov told his servants that the reason that he was sending the gift was to ‘annul his anger.’  Ramban points out that if this were so it would be unnecessary for Yaakov to say this to them as all carriers of gifts understand this.  Therefore Ramban argues that it was indeed part of Yaakov’s message to Esav, for in the opinion of Ramban kapara means ‘atonement’ and it was appropriate for Yaakov’s messengers to ask Esav for forgiveness on his behalf.

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The disappearing Tav

vehittaharu (Gen. 35:2) (‘and purify yourselves’) The Tet has a Dagesh, indicating the elision of the Tav of the Hitpa’el; so that instead of vehit-taharu we have vehittaharu as pointed out by R’ A. ibn Ezra elsewhere (Levit. 14:7).
chittat (Gen. 35:5) (‘fear of’) The Tav has a Dagesh, indicating the elision of the Tav which is the second letter of the root (Chet Tav Tav) so that instead of chit-tat (3 Tav-s, the last Tav indicating Semichut), for if standing alone the word would be chittah,.and in Semichut chittat.
vechattu (Obad. 1:9) (‘and they will fear’) This verb is of the same root as chittat (Chet Tav Tav) and here too the Tav has a Dagesh because it absorbs the other Tav of the root.  In both places Rashi explains the meaning as ‘fear.’

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Further to the meaning of Vav HaHipuch

Rabbi M. Eisemann of Kiryat Sefer pointed out that in SeferHaRechasim LeVik’ah’ by Yehudah Leib Shapira which was first published in Altona in 1815, and is well-accepted, it says ‘These Vavi”n mostly add a statement to the statement before it, as is well-known (Gen. 18) i.e. that Vav HaHipuch (Vav conversive) is also Vav HaChibur (Vav consecutive).  Rabbi Eisemann added that this point of view guides common practice in teaching translation of Chumash.

The past and future -  masculine?

A Talmid Chacham who wishes to remain anonymous suggested that as the past and the future are equal before Him while the present is fleeting, it receives the future and it becomes past.   As events actually exist in the past and the future, it is appropriate that words for male – Zachar and Atudim – should have connotations of past and future.

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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