Monday, March 09, 2009

Interesting Posts and Articles #127 (Purim edition)

  1. At DovBear, Rafi G. on the curse of Purim weather, and whether it exists. Is this for real?
    Personally I have heard the curse as having been wrought by the Hazon Ish, the Steipler, Rav Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld and the Brisker Rav. Maybe others have heard other names as the source of the curse.
  2. Lion of Zion on women reading parshat Zachor, and the mappik heh. Without looking into any of the sources, I wonder if enough people have the practice of not pronouncing mapik hehs that it has become a dialect, and would be no different from someone not pronouncing ayins, or a tet distinct from a tav, or even a tav distinct from a thav.

    Rafi G. at Life In Israel notes something in honor of Purim, a notice that you should
    make sure you do not listen to Parshas Zachor beinmg read by a yeshiva bachur/kollel guy who learns full time.
    Just like it says that a woman should not read Zachor but a man should because only a man is part of the commandment of goign to war and wiping out Amalek, so also with yeshuva boys who learn full time - they are exempt from participating in "milchemes mitzva".
    The image of the notice is there.

  3. Hirhurim discusses the origin of Taanis Esther. His theory:
    It seems to me that the source of our fast is that of Esther. Probably there were individuals who were following the minhag of fasting for 3 days in Adar and some of them ended up behind. They had fasted two days and they needed one more fast day before the next day of Purim. They knew that they could not fast and they asked a question of what to do on the 13th.
  4. Is an Orthodox woman going to be appointed a rabbi? Apparently not. But see Rabbi Joshua Maroof's comments there.

  5. Balashon has a nice post on the word birah. One important point that I've seen in the past, the ir of Shushan is different from Shushan haBirah, the citadel of Shushan. This makes major differences in peshat in the megillah.
    The idea that bira meant some kind of fortress (either one building or a compound) seems to have been universally accepted by both commentaries and translations until relatively recently. For example, Ibn Ezra on Esther 1:2 distinguishes between the city of Shushan and the bira of Shushan (see here for an extensive discussion of the Ibn Ezra in English, along with diagrams). This distinction seems quite necessary, since we see twice (3:15, 8:14-15) that both the city and the bira are mentioned - indicating two separate entities. This article by Avraham Korman (based partially on Reuvein Margolies in HaMikrah v'Hamesorah, which is also quoted here) points out a number of difficulties that our distinction helps resolve...
    Read it all, but for the aforementioned Google book marked in red, go to the direct page, here.

  6. MOChassid on the unintended consequences of the ban on many shalach manos.


Lion of Zion said...


omission/addition of mapik heh essentially means the omission/addition of a letter, which is the most basic type of mistake one can make. (certainly correctable)

this is not a problem with tet/tav, and certainly not with tav/thav (when does tav/thav even change the meaning of a word?)

but i guess according to my logic aleph/ayin should also be a big problem when it has a sheva nach.

joshwaxman said...

but people generally do not pronounce the mappik heh, in large part because it is hard to pronounce. That is, in a specific phonological context (heh at the end of a syllable), the *typical* pronunciation is as null. For example, heh with shva nach, as in uvahem nehge yomam valayla.

it is perhaps parallel to how many Israelis pronounce heh as aleph (and thus null). or, as you point out, ayin at the end of a word or syllable, such as Yehoshua'.

In terms of tav/thav changing the meaning of a word, off the top of my head, what about in Vezos Habracha? וְאָתָה מֵרִבְבֹת קֹדֶשׁ. As Asa, it means "and came." With the dagesh, it means "and you." (Where there is a pausal form of ata with kametz.) In the general case, though, we would need to find dagesh chazak vs. raphe distinctions, because those would be where the difference lies. Of course, these would most often be accompanied by vowel changes, but t/th often does not distinguish between patach and kametz either, or in Israel, between tzeirei and segol.

the chassidic rav of my shul pronounces his vowels differently (kametz as oo vs ah depending on if the vowel is closed), and is medakdek in this. He does not pronounce mapik heh, but still modifies the vowel as if a closed syllable. When asked why, he says that it is because it is a mapik heh and thus a closed syllable. Thus, he knows full well that the mapik is there, and that it is thus a consonant, but his accepted way of pronouncing the consonant is as null.

I would guess that this is indeed how the pronunciation has strayed in general, even for the non-medakdekim. And the question then becomes whether this becomes an acceptable pronunciation of Hebrew within the Jewish community, on a halachic basis. Certainly there are several changes our community, and other communities, have made since Mishnaic times, and these have been accepted.

(I also like to point out the Yerushalmi about variants in pronunciation between Galil and Bavel, with certain letters dropping out of pronunciation, with the gemara saying that surely a psilos (one with a speech impediment) can become a nazir. The question is do we apply this to krias haTorah and Shema, or would we say that the Tannaim and Amoraim of Eretz Yisroel would not have fulfilled Shema or parshat Zachor. And if we are not ready to say that, how do we make the distinction from our case? (Perhaps because of the presence of people who do know how to make the distinction...)



Blog Widget by LinkWithin