Monday, June 13, 2011

An explanation for that cryptic Minchas Shai on ובאו

Summary: If marking a telisha on the place of stress is so rare, why does Minchas Shai note its absence? This on Naso.

Post: In a previous post, I considered a cryptic Minchas Shai. He notes that on the word uva'u, there is a telisha on the leading vav but not placed on the veis. Since in most instances, the telisha sign was not repeated on the stressed syllable by punctuators, why does he bother noting this? Why should we think otherwise? Does this then indicate that it is milera?

First, let us examine why uva'u in all these cases, both in the other instances in Naso and throughout Tanach, are mile'eil. I explained in a comment on the previous post, but MG put it more nicely, so I will cite him:
I tried to post a reply on the Leining blog but it didn't take.

This word is always mileil throughout Tanach.

Nachei-ayin ("hollow") verbs have their accent on the first root letter (with the exception being s/f 3rd-person present tense (BaAH vs. BAah) to differentiate it from past tense.

Vav Hahipuch does not operate on nachei-ayin verbs in the pl 3rd-person past tense, so this remains mileil even though there is a vav hahipuch here and it is in future tense. 
Indeed, this is a distinction between hollow verbs like בוא and ones which otherwise look like them. See my earlier post on SHAtu vs. shaTU, and Minchas Shai.

If so, this particular word is correctly mele'eil, meaning with stress on the penultimate syllable. There are words that fit a more general pattern of either milera, having stress on the ultimate syllable (e.g. regular vav hahipuch), or that fit a more general pattern of having stress on the penultimate syllable (e.g. segholates, like beged). This penultimate stress is correct, and fits a pattern, but a sort of exceptional pattern based on knowledge of the specific root (בוא instead of באה), such that a reader might make an error.

Luckily, in most instances, the trup symbol is placed on the stressed syllable. Unluckily, in case of a telisha, we usually do NOT put a repeated telisha on the stressed syllable, but rather at the head or tail of the word.  This is the usual case; rarely, the trup sign is indeed repeated.

I will cite myself from the previous post:
Indeed, looking at Dr. William Wickes, he makes the following point:

Thus, 'rarely' but not never. Why rarely? Because early on, the trup symbol was just a simple circle without the tail. The stylish tail, facing one direction or the other, was a later addition. And this simple circle looked the same as a masoretic note.

If so, they were reluctant to repeat the sign, because of the possibility of confusion.

Competing with this reluctance is this other possibility of reader confusion / error, that it is penultimately stressed because of the hollow root, even as most vav hahipuchs will be ultimately stressed.

What won out? It seems that the general reluctance won out. Thus, I will cite one somewhat early chumash, from 1491:

תנ"ך. תורה. רנ"א. ליסבון
(אשבונה : דפוס אליעזר [טולידאנו], אב רנ"א).


Note the two masoretic notes. The first on uva'u and the second on hame'arerim. The first one, on uva'u is not found in other chumashim I have seen. It states the same as the later Minchas Shai and Or Torah:

That is, אין בבית תלשא. The second note is on the word המאררים, and it says האלפ בקמץ.

I can understand why they would not want to put a second telisha on the beis. After all, there already is a masoretic note written on the side, on the word המאררים. And that masoretic note was about putting a kamatz in the aleph, and the word uva'u has an aleph. People might well get confused, at least momentarily.

Such confusion only is really possible when telisha was a simple circle. Later on, including in the manuscript above, the telisha gedolah has a tail. If so, who is going to make such a mistake, of telisha for masoretic note?! But even though batla taam, lo batla hagezeira. Especially if you are not really certain of the reason for the gezeira, you don't want to start messing with it. My guess is that some wanted to put a second telisha on the stressed syllable, for the reason above, and perhaps one or two even did so. And so was born the need for this masoretic note on uva'u, to preserve the tradition of not putting on a second telisha. And since there are now disjoint symbols for telisha, putting such a masoretic note does not defeat the purpose; and since there are now two separate things to say on the side, one for each masoretic note, no one should be confused which footnote goes on which circle -- the first, referring to telisha, on uva'u, and the second on the second, on hame'arerim.

Then, Or Torah and Minchas Shai saw this masoretic note in a text or two, and faithfully recorded it, since there was a tradition not to put a second telisha on the beis.

I still want to look into who is responsible for the trup in the Rav Shamshon Refael Hirsch Chumash, which puts the second telisha on the aleph.

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