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Friday, April 4

The Weekly Shtikle - Tazria

    The beginning of this week's parsha contains many instances of the "mapik heh," indicating the female, third-person possessive. The proper pronunciation of these is more critical than usual as we find the word "taharah" both with and without. The absence of an expected "mapik heh" would certainly change the meaning. There is another such instance later on. In the discussions of the various laws of Tzara'as, there a number of references to hair. In 13:20, when the Kohein observes the white hair, the word "us'arah" has a "mapik heh" as expected, indicating that its hair turned white. However, earlier on, (13:4) in reference to hair that has not turned white, we find the very same word without a "mapik heh." Most chumashim go out of their way to call attention to this apparent anomaly.
    I had originally thought that this was simply another one of the many grammatical anomalies found in the Torah, such as the missing dageish in the sin of the last word of pasuk 10 in this very perek. However, I found a very logical explanation for this in Meshech Chachmah. In the later reference to the hair, rewinding to the beginning of the paragraph reveals that the subject is "basar," flesh. That is why "us'arah" is punctuated in the possessive form, because the hair emanates from the flesh. However, the subject of the earlier pasuk is "or," the skin. Although the hair appears to be coming from the skin, in truth, it comes from the flesh underneath it so the non-possessive form without the "mapik heh" is used.
Good Shabbos and Chodesh Tov!
Mishenichnas Adar Marbim beSimchah!
Eliezer Bulka


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