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Parashat VaYakhel-Pekudei from 5762

Whence Importance?

kara Hashem besheim (Exod. 35:30) Here Onkelos translates the word kara which he regularly translates as 'called', by the term 'raby', apparently meaning 'made great' (yes, it is related to the word for 'Rabbi' and could have been transliterated that way, but that would not have been helpful). So why here did he translate kara differently than usual? There may be a clue in the phrase yedaticha besheim (Exod. 33:12) where he also translates the word yedaticha as'raby' apparently meaning 'made great'. What we might have translated 'G-d called you by name' (Exod. 35:30), and 'I knew you by name' (Exod. 33:12) Onkelos translates the same way 'made you great by name'. It would seem that being 'known' or 'called' is the same thing! Perhaps Onkelos is teaching that Divine acknowledgement of the individual by name makes a person significant. Moshe has a name that distinguishes him from the rest of mankind. Indeed perhaps Onkelos' term 'raby' should be seen as closer to the English 'distinguished'. If so Onkelos is translating both these phrases as meaning 'distinguished you' with the multiple nuance of meaning that can be read into 'distinguished'.

However with regard to the phrase vayikra besheim Hashem (Exod. 34:5) Onkelos uses his usual translation 'called'. There is a dispute among the classical commentaries as to whether it was G-d or Moshe who called. Either way it was G-d who was being 'called'. G-d does not need to be distinguished. Hence here, there is no place for Onkelos' other translation.

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When does a Chaf receive a Dagesh at the beginning of a word?

hu kema'aseyhu (Exod. 39:5) ('it was made in the same manner') al-shetei chitfot (ibid. 20) ('on the two shoulders') Normally the letters Bet, Gimmel, Dalet, Kaf, Pe, Tav receive a Dagesh (kal) at the beginning of a word. However when they follow a word ending with a vowel, this Dagesh may be dropped, meaning that the letter is softened instead of being hard. The technical name for these hard letters is 'plosive' (created by blocking the air flow and then releasing it suddenly), while soft letters are called 'fricative' (created by partially blocking the air flow and releasing it slowly so that there is friction at the point of articulation). It takes less movement to go from the open position for the vowel to the semi-closed position for the fricative, than to move to total closure. However the influence of the vowel does not flow on if the word that it concludes is in a stop position. We therefore have a sub-rule that excludes the stopping 'trop' from the rule.

The trop of hu is 'zarka', a stopping tune. Hence the influence of the vowel does not flow on and the Kaf at the beginning of kema'aseyhu has a Dagesh. On the other hand the trop of shetei is Telisha ketana, a 'non-stop' tune. Hence the influence of the vowel does flow on and the Kaf at the beginning of chitfot does not have a Dagesh.

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What is the root of mincha?

velakevasim mincha matat yado (Ezek. 46:5) ('and for the lambs a meal offering as he is able to give') Menachem ben Saruk (the first Hebrew lexicographer, 10th century, Spain) in his Machberet, listed it under the root Nun Chet. Rashbam (11th century, France) wrote 'in Genesis I explained that it means 'a gift', from the root Nun Chet Heh (Nechei 'lead' i.e 'bring something to someone' Exod. 32:34)' (Levit. 2:1). This assumes that Mem is frequently added as a prefix to form a noun e.g. mikveh 'a pool', mizbe'ach 'an altar', matanah 'a gift' (roots: Kuf Vav Heh; Zayin Bet Chet; Nun Tav Nun respectively). Ramban (13th century, Spain and elsewhere including Eretz Israel) points out that there are verses where the word mincha is used for a period of time during the morning (2Kings 3:20) as well as during the evening (Ezra 9:4-5). Hence he explains that it refers to the time when the light is not so bright and the Sun is, so to speak, at menucha ('rest'). Accordingly the root is Nun Vav Chet. Mandelkern's Concordance suggests that the root is Mem Nun Chet and that it is close to Mem Nun Heh ('a portion') pointing out that there is a similar root in Arabic.

In response to my writing last week that I had found no commentaries distinguishing between he'eleiti and he'eliti it was pointed out that Yonatan ben Uziel translates he'eleiti physically ('took out'), and he'eliti spiritually ('raised').

These comments have been put into book form for publication in English and Hebrew. Dedications are available for both books.

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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