Sunday, August 31, 2014

The spelling of פְצוּעַ-דַּכָּא

In Ki Teizei, in Devarim 23:3, we read the law of the petzua daka. The following is from Mechon-Mamre, which records the Yemenite tradition:
ב  לֹא-יָבֹא פְצוּעַ-דַּכָּא וּכְרוּת שָׁפְכָה, בִּקְהַל ה.  {ס}
2 He that is crushed or maimed in his privy parts shall not enter into the assembly of the LORD.{S}
This spelling of דַּכָּא is in line with the Ashkenazic texts here, but differs from the Sefardim Masoretic texts (as noted here:

Here we first present Minchas Shai. Then, many of the sources he cites. Then, some other Masoretic texts (Leningrad Codex, Lisbon Codex, Codex Hilleli). Finally, we discuss how we would decide, if it were up to us.

Minchas Shai writes:
"פְצוּעַ-דַּכָּה -- I am feeble and sore crushed[1] that I should know how to sustain with words him that is weary[2] if it is written דַּכָּא with an aleph or with a heh. And I asked the scribes and there was none who could relate it to me[3]. And in the printed texts, as well as many early manuscript texts, it is written דַּכָּא with an aleph. And in all of there, there is an associated Masorah of: 'דַּכָּא, there are three. And as a sign: פְצוּעַ-דַּכָּא; and וְאֶת-דַּכָּא וּשְׁפַל-רוּחַ; and תָּשֵׁב אֱנוֹשׁ עַד-דַּכָּא. [That is, Devarim 23:2Yeshaya 57:15, and Tehillim 90:3, and all spelled with an aleph.]
And so is the position of the Radak, for in Shorashim, shoresh דכה, with a heh, there is not a single one of them, while in shoresh דכא with an aleph, he brings all three of them.
However, in Codex Hilleli, it is written דַּכָּה, with a heh. And this [variation] was the intent of the author of Meir Netiv [R' Yitzchak ben Kelonomus Natan, author of the first Hebrew Concordance],  who brings the latter two in the shoresh of דכא and this one [in Ki Teitzei] he writes with a heh in the shoresh דכה.
And so did I see in a quite old and precise manuscript, and the Masorah upon it was as follows:
 דכה ג' ב' כתיב ה"א וחד כתיב באל"ף וסימן לא יבא פצוע דכה. ואת דכה ושפל רוח. תשב אנוש עד דכא. חד בתורה חד בנביאים חד בכתובים.
[That is:] דכה, there are three. Two are written with a heh and one is written with an aleph, and the sign is לא יבא פצוע דכה. ואת דכה ושפל רוח. תשב אנוש עד דכא. One in Torah, one in Neviim, and one in Ketuvim. [Note this one has two with a heh.]
And in the very same language was the Masorah as well in that same sefer, in Tehillim.
And the author of Or Torah brought the two positions and did not decide between them. These are his words:
דכה with a heh is written in all Sefardic sefarim, and so wrote the Rama [Rabbi Meir Abulafia] za'l. And I was astonished at the Meiri who does not mention it, but in three early ones [sefarim?] I found דכא with an aleph, and in two of them there was an explicit Masorah of
 ג' וכתיבין א',  
'there are three and they are written with an aleph.'
End quote [from Or Torah].
And if I were fit to decide, I believe that I would hold like the Rama za'l [that it is with a ה], for in all matters of this sefer we act like him, for he is a man upon whom to rely, he is certainly precise and one can find to establish the matter upon him [...]. And all the more so that the Sefardim sefarim support him. I as well endeavored and found this [with a heh] in several good and reputable sifrei Torah. And so wrote Rav Yosef haCohen in Simanei HaMasorot, that דכה in the Torah is with a heh, and a sign is לא יבא פצוע דכה.
Some time after I wrote all this, the sefer Masoret Seyag LaTorah from the Rama za'l came to my hands. And since all his words, written in judgement and straightforwardness [?] are dear to me, I will record them here, and these are they:
לא יבא פצוע דכה -- in most precise nuschaot, there is a heh written at the end of the word, and the Masorah which is given upon it is: 'there are three, three written with an aleph and one written with a heh. And the sign is פצוע; ושפל רוח; תשב אנוש. The middle one is written with a heh.' We may deduce that where the Torah has written with an aleph?! It is a scribal error, and the Masorah is not that such is in the מציעא (middle one) but rather the פציעא [the case of פצוע], and it was the scribe who messed it up. And such is logical, for all of them have thenusach of ואת דכא ושפל רוח, written with an aleph, and if the middle [מציעא] is with a heh, well this is the middle one! Rather, we may certainly deduce as we said. And we have found a precise Masorah which states about it: 'three, one written with a heh and two with an aleph; of the Torah is written with a heh.' And in another Masoret it is implied that all of them are written with an aleph, and it is an error.
End quote [of Rama].
He who saved those of crushed [דכאי] spirit from darkness to light, to revive the spirit of the low and the hearts of the crushed, Amen."
End quote of Minchas Shai.
We can now examine some of the sources which Minchas Shai quoted. First off, here is the Rama, entry דכה, in Masoret Seyag LaChachma:
Here is Radak, in Sefer Shorashim. Look in the second column, at the top, where I have underlined in red all three pesukim spelled with an aleph.
Here is the Concordance, that is, Meir Netiv, by R' Yitzchak ben Kelonomus Natan. I've underlined in red the two examples of דכא in Nach, spelled with an aleph, as well as the דכה in Torah, spelled with a heh.
Here is Or Torah:
Here is Codex Hilleli, pg 489:
The Masorah Gedolah, on the bottom, reads:
דכא -- There are three. One is written with a heh and two written with an aleph. And their sign is לא יבא פצוע דכה, which is written with a heh. ואת דכה ושפל רוח. תשב אנוש עד דכא. [I can’t make out the text further at this point, but I assume it states ‘is written with an aleph’.]
Here is the Lisbon Codex, page 376:
The Masorah Gedolah on top reads:
There are three, one written with a heh and two written with an aleph. And their sign is
לא יבא פצוע דכה. ואת דכה ושפל רוח להחיות רוח שפלים. תשב אנוש עד דכא.
The first one is with a heh.
And here is the Leningrad Codex, page 229:
The Masorah Gedolah, up top, reads:
דכא -- there are three: לא יבא פצוע דכא. ואת דכה ושפל רוח. תשב אנוש עד דכא.
Looking at the Samaritan text of the Torah, we find the following (pg 222):
The text on the left is the Samaritan and the text on the right is the Masoretic text. Since they have דכה on the right and the text on the left has simply dashes, that means that the Samaritan text here agrees with דכה as the spelling.
At the bottom of the page, he has a write-up of variant texts. There are no Samaritan texts, but there are a bunch of Masoretic variants, and some discussion:
Hac voce דכה vel דכא (unà eum ויהי vel ויהיו Gen. 9,29)  distinguunt quidam Rabbini codices MStos Hispanicos a Germanicis. Ait Rabbi Menachem de Lonzano, in Or Torah (658) se invenis דכה omnibus libris Hispanicis. Et in prolixa annotatione Bibl. 300, variae pro lectione utraque adducuntur auctoritates: adeo ut pie precetur editor, Rabbi Yedidya Solomon Norzi, המושיע דכאי רוח ישים מחושך לאור, etc.
Finally, if it were up to me, what would I decide would be the proper version? I would lean heavily towards דַּכָּה with a heh. This even though the Leningrad Codex and the Teimanim have with an aleph. This because I am a strong believer in the entropy of the Masoretic text. That is, spelling the word with an aleph and with a heh are both perfectly fine, from a spelling perspective. There are numerous items under both roots in the Concordance. And with these three words scattered across Tanach, I would be suspicious of a regularization of the spelling. Sure, some words are spelled regularly, but if given the choice, a variation in spelling seems more likely. It is a scribe impelled by a harmonizing instinct who would, quite understandably, change דַּכָּה into דַּכָּא. This would be a movement away from the seemingly-incorrect original. However, there is no such motivation for a scribe to change it in the opposite direction.
I would add that I am suspicious of Rama’s emendation of the Masoretic note, where he changes מציעא into פציעא. It is quite a clever sevara. However, we see that contrary to Rama’s assertion, some texts indeed, have the דכה in Yeshaya with a heh -- see the beginning of Minchas’s Shai’s discussion, where he brings such a masorah:  דכה ג' ב' כתיב ה"א וחד כתיב באל"ף וסימן לא יבא פצוע דכה. ואת דכה ושפל רוח. תשב אנוש עד דכא. חד בתורה חד בנביאים חד בכתובים. And furthermore, see how in the Lisbon Codex, the Masorah talks about the first, קדמ’ ש. In such context, we see that talking about the first, middle, or last, makes sense. But if so, we could have such entropy while maintaining an aleph in the pasuk in Devarim.

[1] a reference to Tehillim 38:8, which makes use of the root דכא
[2] a reference to Yeshaya 50:4

[3] a reference to Bereishit 41:24


yaak said...

For years, I've always heard that this was the one difference between a Sepharadi Torah (דקה) and an Ashkenazi Torah (דקא).

joshwaxman said...

sounds right. (i've heard the same.) i guess the Ashkenazic follows Leningrad Codex in this. And there is reference in Minchas Shai to how the Sefardic sefarim have this, in line with what the Rama writes.

i should add some text at the top noting this. thanks for pointing it out.

joshwaxman said...

now corrected. thanks.


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