Thursday, September 11, 2014

Minchas Shai on parshat Ki Tavo, pt i

Minchas Shai on parashat Ki Tavo begins as follows:

1) He writes that the sidra of Ki Tavo begins with a petucha gap.

2) He writes that אשר has a pashta. As opposed to what? Since this is often a response to Bomberg's Mikraos Gedolos, correcting the multiple errors, we should examine it, just to be sure that there is not something else there. Looking at Bomberg's first Mikraos Gedolos (pg 252), it has a pashta:

So too in Bomberg's second Mikraos Gedolos (pg 441), the word אשר has a pashta:

Presumably, then, the reason to note that אשר in the first pasuk has a pashta is that one might have made a mistake. That mistake would be to confuse it with a kadma. In the second pasuk of Ki Tavo, there are two instances of אשר, and each is marked with a kadma. The pashta and kadma look alike, but the pashta always appears on the very last letter of the word, while the kadma appears over the letter starting the stressed syllable. So, for a kadma, the symbol appears on the ש while for a pashta the symbol appears on the ר.

3) He also notes that in the phrase וְיָשַׁ֥בְתָּ בָּֽהּ, there is a dagesh in the bet. This too appears in Bomberg's Mikraos Gedolos correctly.

The purpose of pointing the dagesh out is that we might have erroneously thought that the dagesh should not appear there. After all, the previous word ended in a vowel (thus, an open syllable) and the trup symbol on that previous word, a mercha, was a joining, conjunctive, trup. While in the general case, the letters בגת כפת receive a dagesh kal  at the beginning of a word or after a sheva nach, the exception is where the previous word ended in an open syllable (usually the letters אהוי, but a kamatz under a ת also works) and there in a conjunctive trup. So we would expect no dagesh here.

An example of this from Ki Tavo is in this perek, pasuk 11:

וְשָֽׂמַחְתָּ֣ בְכָל־הַטּ֗וֹב

There is no dagesh in the ב because of the kametz under the ת, and because the trup symbol on that previous word is a munach, a conjunctive trup.

So why is there a dagesh placed in the ב in the first pasuk? The critical difference is that in וְשָֽׂמַחְתָּ֣ בְכָל־הַטּ֗וֹב, the trup symbol and thus the stress is on the very last syllable. However, in the וְיָשַׁ֥בְתָּ בָּֽהּ the trup symbol and thus the stress is on the penultimate (second to last) syllable.

That is, in וְיָשַׁ֥בְתָּ בָּֽהּ, the trup symbol and stress was moved from its normal place on the last syllable so as to prevent two stressed syllables in a row (veyashavTA BAH). That is called nasog achor. In such a case, the rule of dechik is that the first letter of that following word gets a dagesh chazak, which geminates (doubles) it.

So that means that the dagesh in the ב is a dagesh chazak, which both geminates it and renders it a plosive (bet) rather than fricative (vet), rather than being merely a dagesh kal, which would have also rendered it a plosive.

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