Thursday, February 04, 2010

The kamatz and the patach at the end of panay

Summary: In the phrase לֹא-יִהְיֶה לְךָ אֱלֹהִים אֲחֵרִים עַל-פָּנָי, the last vowel is written as both a kamatz and a patach. Grappling with this variation. The true answer is that one is a pausal form, and that it intersects with taam elyon and taam tachton. The Gra also has a drasha based on this.

Post: There are a few seemingly strange markings on the aseret hadibrot. For example, a tav with a dagesh within it but with a raphe stroke above it to note that it is fricative. Or multiple trup markings above certain words. Or, as in the case at hand, the word panay written with both a kametz and a patach. 

From an old Tanach:

Note how on the word panay, at the bottom left corner, there is both a kametz and a patach. Also, there is both a revii over the word and a silluq under the word.

Note how on the word tirtzach, there is both a tipcha and a silluq, and how
the tav is both a sav and a tav, a plosive and a fricative. Also, it has the same feature as above, that under the tzadi are both a patach and a kametz.

On the word panay, in his masoretic work Or Torah, Menachem de Lunzano writes the following story:

That is, a group of chachamim were discussing Torah, and they discussed the patach in panay. Someone suggested that the patach and kamatz were the result of a masoretic dispute between Ben Asher and Ben Naftali. He rejects this, and makes the question momentarily more difficult by asking why there is both a revia and a silluq on the word.

Rather, the answer is that there are two sets of trup on the aseret hadibrot. One is the taam tachton and the other the taam elyon. Here is taam tachton, as it is read privately. And here is taam elyon (although this looks to me like there are errors in it), as it is read betzibbur. In the taam tachton, there are pasuk separators just about where you would expect them. But in taam elyon, as is read in public, each Commandment is separated into a separate entity, which sometimes means that many pesukim become one, and sometimes means that one pasuk becomes many.

In the taam elyon, we would not end at the word panay, and so we would not have a silluq there. Rather, we would have a revia, and the pasuk would continue. Where there is silluq or etnachta, the word assumes pausal form, and the patach turns into a kametz. And that is the reason for the variation.

The same goes for the kametz and patach on lo tirtzach. And the dagesh vs. raphe is also a function of the trup. Since the preceding word ends in a vowel, if the trup on that preceding word is a conjunctive trup, a mesharet, then the tav would be raphei, a sav. If the trup on that preceding word is a disjunctive trup, a melech, then the tav would have a dagesh qal, and be a tav.

The Gra makes a derasha on this kametz / patach alternation in lo tirtzach. In Kol Eliyahu:

Kametz means to close, while patach means to open. And so the Vilna Gaon takes this as a remez to the idea, mentioned by Chazal, that two different people are deemed as if they have committed murder. One is a talmid who should not be teaching (law) and does so; the other is one who is capable in this and yet refrains. Both kameitz pumeih and patach pumeih thus (figuratively) violate lo tirtzach.

Note that he labels this a remez. And also note that as discussed earlier, this is entirely mechanical on the basis of the differing trup, which is in turn entirely mechanical based on the number of words and the location of the present word in the pasuk. This is something we have discussed before -- whether something purely mechanical such as this is good and valid basis for derasha. This in the context of how the Gra darshens trup.

See also the Gra darshening trup on Shemot, Vayigash, Ki Tisa, Reeh, Megillat Esther.

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