Sunday, April 25, 2010

The tipcha on tisperu

The Torah appears to tell us to count 50 days,
טו  וּסְפַרְתֶּם לָכֶם, מִמָּחֳרַת הַשַּׁבָּת, מִיּוֹם הֲבִיאֲכֶם, אֶת-עֹמֶר הַתְּנוּפָה:  שֶׁבַע שַׁבָּתוֹת, תְּמִימֹת תִּהְיֶינָה.15 And ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the day of rest, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the waving; seven weeks shall there be complete;
טז  עַד מִמָּחֳרַת הַשַּׁבָּת הַשְּׁבִיעִת, תִּסְפְּרוּ חֲמִשִּׁים יוֹם; וְהִקְרַבְתֶּם מִנְחָה חֲדָשָׁה, לַה'.16 even unto the morrow after the seventh week shall ye number fifty days; and ye shall present a new meal-offering unto the LORD.

Yet seven complete weeks are 49 days, and we count that, not 50. There are several good approaches to resolving this apparent contradiction, but I do not believe that the following is one of them.

The trup on the pasuk is:

Note the tipecha on the word tisperu. Minchas Shai writes about it as follows:

There is a tippecha on the word tisperu. And it is written in Hagahot Semak that there is to prove from this that the חמשים יום does not go on תספרו, see there, siman 145. And so wrote Tosafot in Menachot 86 that this is what the verse means to say: "Until the morrow after the seventh week, which is the 50th day, you shall count." Alternatively, חמשים יום goes on והקרבתם {the next phrase} which is after it, and this is what it means to say: "Until the morrow of the seventh week shall you count, and not inclusive; and on the fiftieth day, you shall offer a new meal-offering, etc." And so writes the Semag, in Positive Commandments, 200.
And Minchas Shai continues, comparing it to other cases. Yet, I do not find this idea in Hagahos Semak, that one can prove these parsings from the existing trup, in any way convincing.

He is correct that the tipcha is a disjunctive accent. And were it the only disjunctive accent in the entire pasuk, then this would indeed indicate that we should parse it in one of the two ways indicated. But it is not so. The tipcha is a disjunctive accent in the context of other disjunctive accents.

I will respond to the second suggestion first, not because I am a golem, but because it is the easiest to debunk. That suggestion was that one should bind chamishim yom to vehikravtem. However, this ignores the existence of a much stronger disjunctive accent which would separate them. Namely, there is the etnachta on the word yom which severs chamishim yom from that which comes after it.

That is, taking yom as the point of the major dichotomy in the verse, it is separated as:

 עַד מִמָּחֳרַת הַשַּׁבָּת הַשְּׁבִיעִת, תִּסְפְּרוּ חֲמִשִּׁים יוֹם || וְהִקְרַבְתֶּם מִנְחָה חֲדָשָׁה, לַה

at the point of the ||, such that we have
 עַד מִמָּחֳרַת הַשַּׁבָּת הַשְּׁבִיעִת, תִּסְפְּרוּ חֲמִשִּׁים יוֹם
וְהִקְרַבְתֶּם מִנְחָה חֲדָשָׁה, לַה

That is the function of the strong break indicated by the etnachta, and so any pause caused by the tipcha is secondary to it. You cannot say this since chamishim yom is separated from tisperu, you should read past the much stronger break formed by the etnachta and read it chamishim yom vehikravtem!

The first suggestion was that, because of the tipcha, we would consider the pasuk up to the etnachta as two separate statements, broken up at the word tisperu. That is,
עַד מִמָּחֳרַת הַשַּׁבָּת הַשְּׁבִיעִת תִּסְפְּרוּ 
חֲמִשִּׁים יוֹם

The "problem" with this is that there is another disjunctive accent which precedes the tipcha, namely the zakef katon on the word hasheviit:

The zakef katon and the tipcha both subdivide clauses which end in etnachta. In order for this to happen, the zakef katon must function first, splitting the clause into a first clause which now ends in the zakef katon, and a second clause which still ends in the etnachta. After this, the second clause, which still ends in etnachta, can be further subdivided by the tipcha.

This means that the zakef katon functions at an earlier, and higher up in a tree-structure hierarchy of the verse, and thus is a bit "stronger". Thus, because of the zakef katon, would take

עַד מִמָּחֳרַת הַשַּׁבָּת הַשְּׁבִיעִת, תִּסְפְּרוּ חֲמִשִּׁים יוֹם

and divide it into

עַד מִמָּחֳרַת הַשַּׁבָּת הַשְּׁבִיעִת 
תִּסְפְּרוּ חֲמִשִּׁים יוֹם

Then, we would apply the tipcha split, and take

תִּסְפְּרוּ חֲמִשִּׁים יוֹם

and split the clause into
חֲמִשִּׁים יוֹם

Thus, this earlier zakef katon words to bind  תִּסְפְּרוּ חֲמִשִּׁים יוֹם into a single phrase, separate from the earlier part of the verse. And the division caused by the tipcha cannot counteract that. If we really wanted to separate the chamishim yom from what was earlier, we could have to encode the trup as follows. We would need to move the zakef katon one word to the left, to appear on the word tisperu, instead of hasheviit. Of course, the particular trup symbol which appears is partly based on the distance, in words, from the end of the clause. And so that zakef katon would become a tipcha, based on distance. But then, there would be no zakef katon which preceded it. Rather, it would be a disjunctive accent which works to subdivide a clause that ends in tipcha, namely a tevir, or the like.

Thus, because there is a zakef which precedes the tipcha, rather than a tevir, the tipcha does not function as suggested by Minchas Shai and the Hagahot HaSemak. It is true that, as Minchas Shai cites, these matters are from the darkei Torah veSodoseha, but one has to do this correctly, in accordance with the true operation of the sod.

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