Friday, February 25, 2011

The pesik in Et | Mizbach HaOlah

Summary: Should we indeed darshen the trup in this way?

Post: In the recently published Birkat Avraham, by R' Avraham Albert, on Vayakhel:

He is trying to darshen the following pesik, which I underlined in red:

to refer to this special covering mentioned by Rashi (and earlier, Rabbi Yehuda in Yerushalmi Yoma 4:6 and in Bemidbar Rabba), which they used to cover the fire as they traveled with the Mishkan so that it would not go out.

I like considering cases when people darshen the trup to mean various things. Why one would darshen the pesik specifically to indicate something extra, as opposed to an attempt to separate one concept from another, I don't know. Perhaps he has a consistent theory about this which I'll understand after reading more of his sefer. (Indeed, he does seem to. See here about the function of azla geresh.) I would say that we could just darshen as Chazal often darshen, that et is leRabbot, to include something else. I suppose we could say that be introducing the slight pause of pesik, it highlights the et even more, giving us reason to treat it as more that the simple grammatically required object-marker.

However, I would take issue with this. First, this is not a pesik. It certainly shares the same sign, but it is not a pesik, which is the lightest of all possible divisions. Rather, the symbol combines with the munach under the word et to mark et with a munach legarmeih, which is a disjunctive, pausal accent, rather than a simple munach which is a mesharet. The reason the munach legarmeih appears is the reason given by William Wickes -- there is a continuous dichotomy, dividing and dividing again phrases into two parts, and it operates so long as there are at least three words in a phrase. And et mizback ha'olah is a phrase of three words, and the trup which subdivides a phrase ending in revia (which appears on the word haOlah) is the munach legarmeih.

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