Friday, May 22, 2015

Knowing when to speak up and when to shut up

In honor of the upcoming holiday of Shavuot, this piece by the Vilna Gaon about the difference between taam elyon and taam tachton in the Aseres HaDibros.

Let me preface this with a peshat explanation of any and all differences between the two sets of trup. In one version -- the taam elyon, each of the Ten Commandments is given its own pasuk, except for the short ones. Here is an image, though in general (without looking carefully at this), there are many corruptions in the elyon and tachton so one should get it from a better source:

As you can see, Anochi starts the first pasuk, and there is no silluq or sof pasuk until Mitzvotai, five lines down. Interestingly, though, the short Lo Tirtzach until Ed Shaker are grouped together.

Meanwhile, the taam tachton has regular pasuk divisions, without real regard towards separating the Dibros. See here in in a Mikraos Gedolos.

Here is an interesting image, which I think shows the elyon / tachton with variations alongside one another:

This image appears to have (as the elyon variant) pasuk terminations pauses at the end of Lo Tirtzach alone and Lo Tinaf alone, and the dagesh kal / refeh and patach / kametz variations to match.

A natural consequence of this difference in approach to division is a difference in both trup and nikkud. There is a mechanical (though also probabilistic) process, based on logical and syntactic division, number of words in the current phrase or subphrase, and distance from the end of the next disjunctive trup mark, which defines what trup marks go where. And this will in turn define nikkud because certain trup marks (such as etnachta and silluq, and sometimes zakef) will transform the pronunciation of the word into its pausal form (where e.g. a patach will become a kametz). The trup will also affect the presence or absence of dagesh kal in the letters bet, gimel, daled, kaf, peh and tav. Following a disjunctive trup mark, there will be a dagesh kal even if the previous word ended in aleph, heh, vav or yud. Following a conjunctive trup mark, there will not be a dagesh kal if the previous word ended in alephheh, vav or yud

In sum, this is a mechanical process set in motion by the choice in pasuk length.

The Vilna Gaon says, in Kol Eliyahu on parashat Yitro :
"Lo Tirtzach: Behold, in the taam elyon it is read with a kametz and in the tachton it is read with a patach under the tzadik.
And there is to say that this hints to that which our Sages za'l said in the gemara in Masechet Avodah Zara (daf 19b)[1] upon the pasuk [in Mishlei 7:26] כי רבים חללים הפילה - This is a student who has not reached the level of ruling yet rules [from the language of nafal indicating that he will not fill out his days], ועצומים כל הרוגיה - this is a student who has reached the level of ruling yet does not rule [from the language of otzem einav], see there in Rashi's commentary. And Chazal referred to both of them as murderers, this one by opening [petichat] his mouth to rule and this one with the closing [kemitzat] his mouth and averting his eye from the people of the generation, such that he does not give them the benefit of his ruling. And to this the kametz and patach hint, for they indicate that both the opening [petichat] of the mouth and its closing [kemitzati] are within the realm of lo tirtzach."
I don't have the kamatz in the taam elyon picture above, but he must have had it in this way -- it is one of the alternates given in the second image.

Avodah Zarah 19b
אמר רבי אבא אמר רב הונא אמר רב מאי דכתיב (משלי ז, כו) כי רבים חללים הפילה זה תלמיד שלא הגיע להוראה ומורה ועצומים כל הרוגיה זה תלמיד שהגיע להוראה ואינו מורה 

1 comment:

Avi said...

I don't have the kamatz in the taam elyon picture above, but he must have had it in this way -- it is one of the alternates given in the second image.

In טעם עליון, each of the two-word phrases starting with לא have a טעם מפסיק after each word. This means that a) the second word should have a דגש in the ת, and b) תרצח should end in a קמץ.

The second half of the text you quoted seems very confused, mixing up the טעם and the נקודות between עליון and תחתון.


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