Monday, October 24, 2011

The revii on דשא

Summary: Minchas Shai and Shadal weigh the merits of a zakef or a revia on the word דֶשֶׁא, in parashat Bereishit. Shadal gives some good evidence

Post: Consider Bereishit 1:11:

Note the revii on desheh.

Minchas Shai writes of a variant:

"דשא, in a few sefarim, have zakef katon. And so it seems, for so is the way, for a zakef katon to come after a pashta. However, in the Sifrei Sefarad and in the first printing, it is with a revii. And so is correct in accordance with the melody of the trup, and so suggests the Radak in the sefer Et Sofer."

My thoughts are that either a revii or a zakef can appear in that position. They would yield different parses, as with a zakef, the clause would end at the etnachta, while with a revii, the clause would end at the zakef on zera. Pashta can appear before the revii, since just like revii it divides a clause ending in zakef. However, doing a simple word count, desheh appears a full eleven words before the etnachta. At such a distance from the etnachta, of nine words or more, I would expect the zakef to appear as a segolta. That it does not is a point against it.

Shadal writes about the meaning of the verse, and brings the trup into it:

"תדשה הארץ דשא -- what is correct is that what is called דשא is the small and soft grass, where the seed is not seen and recognizable in it (and therefore it did not say דשא מזריע זרע {but has the intervening word עשב}). And עשב is bigger than it. And Rav Ovadia Sporno says that דשא is animal food while עשב is human food. But that which the מבאר wrote to Nesivos HaShalom, that דשא encompasses also the trees, is not possible, for behold we find it an many places close to עשב and ירק, and not a single time juxtaposed to a tree.

And even so תדשא הארץ encompasses also the trees, for even the trees at the start of their flourishing are small and soft like דשאים. (My student, R' Avraham Chai Minster.) Behold, תדשא is like תצמיח. And afterwards it elaborates with דשא, which is the smallest; and afterwards adds עשב מזריע זרע which is larger than the דשא, and afterwards adds the עץ פרי. 

And therefore, the revii upon the word דשא is correct, for it divides less that the zakef upon זרע, for דשא and עשב are a single thing. And the pashta upon הארץ divides more than the revii which is after it, in the manner of every revii which is after a pashta, for it is only that one should not repeat the pashta three times in a row, such as {Bereishit 27:37}
הֵ֣ן גְּבִ֞יר שַׂמְתִּ֥יו לָךְ֙ וְאֶת־כָּל־אֶחָ֗יו נָתַ֤תִּי לוֹ֙ לַֽעֲבָדִ֔ים

{where each subdivides the clause ending in the zakef on laavadim, such that we would expect a pashta on each, but where the middle pashta transformed to a revii; and so they are all pashtas really, where the earlier pashta in line subdivides more strongly, or rather, first.}

And it is known that the yetiv under the word עשב is only in place of the pashta, because of the smallness of the word. But the nuschaos which have the word דשא with a zakef, there is no doubt that they are erroneous. And the trustworthy witness is in the following verse, 
 יב וַתּוֹצֵ֨א הָאָ֜רֶץ דֶּ֠שֶׁא עֵ֣שֶׂב מַזְרִ֤יעַ זֶ֨רַע֙ לְמִינֵ֔הוּ וְעֵ֧ץ עֹֽשֶׂה־פְּרִ֛י אֲשֶׁ֥ר זַרְעוֹ־ב֖וֹ לְמִינֵ֑הוּ וַיַּ֥רְא אֱלֹהִ֖ים כִּי־טֽוֹב׃

for the word דשא does not have a zakef but rather a telisha gedolah, and the words ותצא הארץ with a kadma ve'azla, which is not possible if דשא was with a zakef. And the corruption was born in the first verse, for it is easy to switch a revia with a zakef {since in early texts, the revii was not a diamond but just a single dot, while a zakef katon consists of two vertical dots}, besides {the influence} that there is a pashta before it, which is accustomed to come before a zakef; and the error was not born in the second verse, for it is distant to switch a telisha with a zakef, besides for the fact that there is not before it a pashta."

The point about the telisha ketana is that it is not a zakef, where we would have had a zakef at the end of each break between the three items in the list (desheh, eisev... lemineihu, etz ... lemineihu) just as on the previous pasuk. Rather, the telisha is subdividing the zakef of zera and so they are linked together. This matches the link between the two formed by the revia before the zakef on zera.

See, by the way, Wickes, making the same point about the pashta being a greater disjunctive than the revia which follows, since it is a transformation to avoid a running of three pashtas.

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