Thursday, December 5, 2019

21st Century Bible Hebrew -- perfect aspect examples 2


The uses of perfect aspect are as follows.
1.         normally in SV order, it bounds the start and end of narratives, and is used for most cases of the pluperfect.
2.         vav plus perfect in VS order, especially when the subject is expressed, may be an oblique modality, a term I will explain later.
3.         vav plus perfect in the 2nd singular or plural in commandments are the required details in carrying out the commandment.
4.         in 3rd person, in ritual, it expresses actions that must be completed for the ritual to be acceptable, hurtsah. These are the details according to which one must judge in a k’lal u-prat [u-k’lal] structure.
5.         In a separate clause and following the ki or im plus imperfect clause in a tort law, something that has to go to completion before sanctions apply.
6.         as part of a parallel structure, the following part of which is in imperfect, in poetry and prophecy.
7.         in a separate clause and following an imperfect aspect verb which indicates a future action, indicating something that must go to completion before the future action takes place.

You saw an example of usage #5 in Exodus 22:4.

An example of #7 is Leviticus 9:4.

ד כְּתֹֽנֶת־בַּ֨ד קֹ֜דֶשׁ יִלְבָּ֗שׁ וּמִֽכְנְסֵי־בַד֘ יִהְי֣וּ עַל־בְּשָׂרוֹ֒ וּבְאַבְנֵ֥ט בַּד֙ יַחְגֹּ֔ר וּבְמִצְנֶ֥פֶת בַּ֖ד יִצְנֹ֑ף בִּגְדֵי־קֹ֣דֶשׁ הֵ֔ם וְרָחַ֥ץ בַּמַּ֛יִם אֶת־בְּשָׂר֖וֹ וּלְבֵשָֽׁם:
He [by definition] puts on a holy linen coat, linen trousers are on his flesh, he girds himself with a linen belt, and mitres himself with a linen mitre; these are the holy garments, he washes his flesh in water and puts them on.

The priest has to be wearing this clothing when conducting a ritual: yilbash.  BUT before any of that he has to complete the action of washing in water: rachats, then he puts them on l’vesham.

This has been called the perfect used in a future tense but that’s not what it is. Priests getting dressed happens all the time; they don’t sleep in the linen clothing and they don’t wear it while taking out the ashes of a sacrifice beyond the camp for deposit. They have to put it on every time they do a sacrifice. BUT before they do that, they have to completely wash in water.

This is not an issue of cleanliness. He has to put the linen trousers on his skin. He washes to get things off his skin that would intervene between him and the garments. On the Fact-Checking page, I talk about the “cleanness” issue, which is actually a problem of translation that starts with the horrible Septuagint. The idea that hygiene was familiar to the people of the Torah and Mishnah periods is a case of Historian’s Fallacy. Don’t go there.


Sunday, December 1, 2019

DIY -- gluten free

So I have some new family members, thanks to a wedding, and some of them are gluten sensitive.

For T-day I undertook to bake gluten free cookies. I asked for flour recommendations and used the one I could get most of, Bob's Red Mill, since I have used lots of Bob's other products in the past. Like, I use their Dark Rye flour to make sourdough starter for all my sourdough bread.

I used five traditional recipes, three of which I had never made before. One, the madeleines, I had made for my nieces before so it was a good test of whether the recipe worked out. The answer was, the texture seemed a little different, but it tasted OK. The others were: shortbread; snowballs aka Mexican wedding cookies or Russian tea cookies; sand tarts, which are Amish, and I used a family recipe; and Viennese honey cookies, a recipe that probably came from my ancient Jewish festival cookbook.

So we got to talking about pasta; gluten free pasta is supposed to be gummy. I've heard the same complaint about Passover noodles (which are mostly egg so Passover noodle soup is actually more like egg drop soup, but it might also happen if they have potato starch in them) and I had the same experience with commercial dairy free English muffins, but not with my scratch homemade English muffins made without milk.

I still had some of the flour left and made a half batch this morning, then cooked it with chicken cacciatore. Just-cooked, the noodles are gummy.  Put into the sauce, they turn out very soft. That's sad. If I had used xanthan gum for a binder, instead of the egg which is in the normal recipe, it might have been different. I'm not going there. My heart goes out to you who can't tolerate normal pasta.

Now, if you are Jewish, you must be wondering if this is ok for Passover. The answer seems to be that matzah has to be made out of a grain that CAN become leavened, which applies to the five standard grains. Of those five, oat has the lowest gluten, and it can be heated into inactivity. But that makes it impossible to leaven so you're going around in circles. There seems to be a new breed of oats so low in gluten it really doesn't matter, and that is good enough for the requirements of the seder -- but only when there's a medically diagnosed health risk. If gluten-free is a personal lifestyle choice with no underlying medical problems, you are still responsible for eating normal matzo.
https://www.chabad.org/holidays/passover/pesach_cdo/aid/1814200/jewish/Can-I-Have-Gluten-Free-Matzah-on-Passover.htm

So cookies, yes. Pasta, not really. Pie dough -- my new nephew wasn't happy with what he turned out. Cake, IDK. Some of these things, there's probably zero health complications if you can't get them.

Chemistry is chemistry. Mind over matter will not change how molecules interact; if it could, people with Crohn's and similar disorders could just ignore all the horrible effects on their bodies of eating gluten and we wouldn't be here. Trying to manufacture a substitute that behaves exactly like what you're replacing probably will chew up a huge amount of carbon footprint in development. Unless it's necessary for survival, I would say just fuhgeddabout gluten free pasta. There is plenty of great tasting food out there anyway.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

21st Century Bible Hebrew -- perfect aspect examples


The uses of perfect aspect are as follows.
1.         normally in SV order, it bounds the start and end of narratives.
2.         vav plus perfect in VS order, especially when the subject is expressed, may be an oblique modality, a term I will explain later.
3.         vav plus perfect in the 2nd singular or plural in commandments are the required details in carrying out the commandment.
4.         in 3rd person, in ritual, it expresses actions that must be completed for the ritual to be acceptable, hurtsah.
5.         In a separate clause and following the ki or im plus imperfect clause in a tort law, something that has to go to completion before sanctions apply.
6.         as part of a parallel structure, the following part of which is in imperfect, in poetry and prophecy.
7.         in a separate clause and following an imperfect aspect verb which indicates a future or repeated action, indicating something that must go to completion before the imperfect verb takes place.

You saw an example of usage #1 in Genesis 4:1:

ד  א וְהָ֣אָדָ֔ם יָדַ֖ע אֶת־חַוָּ֣ה אִשְׁתּ֑וֹ וַתַּ֨הַר֙ וַתֵּ֣לֶד אֶת־קַ֔יִן וַתֹּ֕אמֶר קָנִ֥יתִי אִ֖ישׁ אֶת־יְהוָֹֽה:

Yada is the 3rd masculine singular perfect aspect of yada, “to know”. It’s the opening of the narrative about Qain and his descendant Lemekh.

I’m going to skip #2, as I said, until I discuss the whole field of modality.

The examples of 2nd and 3rd person commandments are legion. Possibly one of the most famous examples of #3 for Jews is:

ה וְאָ֣הַבְתָּ֔ אֵ֖ת יְהוָֹ֣ה אֱלֹהֶ֑יךָ בְּכָל־לְבָֽבְךָ֥ וּבְכָל־נַפְשְׁךָ֖ וּבְכָל־מְאֹדֶֽךָ:

Love the Lord your Gd: with all your heart and with all your soul, and through all your means.

An example of #4 is Leviticus 1:2-9, with its klal envelope.

ב דַּבֵּ֞ר אֶל־בְּנֵ֤י יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ וְאָֽמַרְתָּ֣ אֲלֵהֶ֔ם אָדָ֗ם כִּֽי־יַקְרִ֥יב מִכֶּ֛ם קָרְבָּ֖ן לַֽיהוָֹ֑ה מִן־הַבְּהֵמָ֗ה מִן־הַבָּקָר֙ וּמִן־הַצֹּ֔אן תַּקְרִ֖יבוּ אֶת־קָרְבַּנְכֶֽם:
ג אִם־עֹלָ֤ה קָרְבָּנוֹ֙ מִן־הַבָּקָ֔ר זָכָ֥ר תָּמִ֖ים יַקְרִיבֶ֑נּוּ אֶל־פֶּ֜תַח אֹ֤הֶל מוֹעֵד֙ יַקְרִ֣יב אֹת֔וֹ לִרְצֹנ֖וֹ לִפְנֵ֥י יְהוָֹֽה:
ד וְסָמַ֣ךְ יָד֔וֹ עַ֖ל רֹ֣אשׁ הָֽעֹלָ֑ה וְנִרְצָ֥ה ל֖וֹ לְכַפֵּ֥ר עָלָֽיו:
ה וְשָׁחַ֛ט אֶת־בֶּ֥ן הַבָּקָ֖ר לִפְנֵ֣י יְהוָֹ֑ה וְ֠הִקְרִ֠יבוּ בְּנֵ֨י אַֽהֲרֹ֤ן הַכֹּֽהֲנִים֙ אֶת־הַדָּ֔ם וְזָֽרְק֨וּ אֶת־הַדָּ֤ם עַל־הַמִּזְבֵּ֨חַ֙ סָבִ֔יב אֲשֶׁר־פֶּ֖תַח אֹ֥הֶל מוֹעֵֽד:
ו וְהִפְשִׁ֖יט אֶת־הָֽעֹלָ֑ה וְנִתַּ֥ח אֹתָ֖הּ לִנְתָחֶֽיהָ:
ז וְ֠נָֽתְנ֠וּ בְּנֵ֨י אַֽהֲרֹ֧ן הַכֹּהֵ֛ן אֵ֖שׁ עַל־הַמִּזְבֵּ֑חַ וְעָֽרְכ֥וּ עֵצִ֖ים עַל־הָאֵֽשׁ:
ח וְעָֽרְכ֗וּ בְּנֵ֤י אַֽהֲרֹן֙ הַכֹּ֣הֲנִ֔ים אֵ֚ת הַנְּתָחִ֔ים אֶת־הָרֹ֖אשׁ וְאֶת־הַפָּ֑דֶר עַל־הָֽעֵצִים֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר עַל־הָאֵ֔שׁ אֲשֶׁ֖ר עַל־הַמִּזְבֵּֽחַ:
ט וְקִרְבּ֥וֹ וּכְרָעָ֖יו יִרְחַ֣ץ בַּמָּ֑יִם וְהִקְטִ֨יר הַכֹּהֵ֤ן אֶת־הַכֹּל֙ הַמִּזְבֵּ֔חָה עֹלָ֛ה אִשֵּׁ֥ה רֵֽיחַ־נִיח֖וֹחַ לַֽיהוָֹֽה:

Verses 2 and 3 define the type of sacrifice with the imperfect verbs. Verses 4-9 use a series of perfect aspect verbs to show how this sacrifice has to be processed. Each of these steps has to be completed correctly (documentation in Mishnah) for the sacrifice to be hurtsah, a term I will come back to later.

Notice that in verse 5 it has v’shachat and the next perfect aspect verb switches to the priests. Up to that point in verse 5 we have things incumbent on an individual bringing an olah. The rest of the ritual, the priests have to perform.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

21st Century Bible Hebrew -- imperfect aspect examples part 5


The uses of imperfect aspect are as follows.
1.                  vav plus imperfect in VS order is “narrative past”, used within an episode to track the progress of the plot.
2.                  vav plus subject plus imperfect is a relative or coordinate clause.
3.                  without vav in SV order is possibly a true future tense usage.
4.                  without vav may also be an imperfect of process; this first turns up in Leviticus and may be a clue to the relationship between imperfect and progressive aspects.
5.                  vav plus imperfect in the 2nd singular or plural define the generalized or definitional envelope of commandments or refer to a known cultural feature.
6.                  in the 3rd person, in portions about sacrificial ritual, imperfect provides the framework for the ritual actions like the generalization envelope for a k’lal u-prat [u-k’lal] structure.
7.                  Preceded by ki or im is the “if” clause in a law, usually a tort. Again, this is an envelope to a klal uprat [uklal] structure.
8.                  part of a parallel structure in poetry and prophecy following a perfect verb as a parallel. They will not use the same verb root and sometimes not the same binyan.

Number 8 is probably more common in Psalms and the prophetic books, but here’s one example in Genesis 49:9.

ט גּ֤וּר אַרְיֵה֙ יְהוּדָ֔ה מִטֶּ֖רֶף בְּנִ֣י עָלִ֑יתָ כָּרַ֨ע רָבַ֧ץ כְּאַרְיֵ֛ה וּכְלָבִ֖יא מִ֥י יְקִימֶֽנּוּ:

Yehudah is a lion cub, from the carcass, my son, you rose up; you stooped crouching like a lion and like a lioness who will raise him?

So alita and ravats in this verse are perfect aspect, and the final imperfect aspect coordinates with alita but contrasts with the other two verbs in the same clause – notice there’s an etnach in there.

This is an actual future use of imperfect aspect in the correct SV order: mi is the subject of y’qimenu.

Aside from this, the “permissive/prescriptive” is based on imperfect, mostly as tokhelu which you saw in the Gan Eden narrative.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

21st Century Bible Hebrew -- imperfect examples, part 4


The uses of imperfect aspect are as follows.
1.                  vav plus imperfect in VS order is “narrative past”, used within an episode to track the progress of the plot.
2.                  vav plus subject plus imperfect is a relative or coordinate clause.
3.                  without vav in SV order is possibly a true future tense usage.
4.                  without vav may also be an imperfect of process; this first turns up in Leviticus and may be a clue to the relationship between imperfect and progressive aspects.
5.                  vav plus imperfect in the 2nd singular or plural define the generalized or definitional envelope of commandments or refer to a known cultural feature.
6.                  in the 3rd person, in portions about sacrificial ritual, imperfect provides the framework for the ritual actions like the generalization envelope for a k’lal u-prat [u-k’lal] structure.
7.                  Preceded by ki or im is the “if” clause in a law, usually a tort. Again, this is an envelope to a klal uprat [uklal] structure.
8.                  part of a parallel structure in poetry and prophecy following a perfect verb as a parallel. They will not use the same verb root and sometimes not the same binyan.

Number 7 is possibly the most important use of imperfect aspect in the legal section. Here is Exodus 22:4.  See how the imperfect aspect with ki is followed by perfect aspect verbs. If a case does not match the definition in imperfect, there’s no case to try. If the individual elements that are expressed in perfect aspect don’t apply, the defendant cannot be convicted.

ד כִּ֤י יַבְעֶר־אִישׁ֙ שָׂדֶ֣ה אוֹ־כֶ֔רֶם וְשִׁלַּח֙ אֶת־בְּעִירֹ֔ה וּבִעֵ֖ר בִּשְׂדֵ֣ה אַחֵ֑ר מֵיטַ֥ב שָׂדֵ֛הוּ וּמֵיטַ֥ב כַּרְמ֖וֹ יְשַׁלֵּֽם:

If a man lights a fire in a field or vineyard, and the fire gets out and burns in another [person’s] field: From the best of his field or the best of his vineyard he pays.

People used to burn off weeds; that’s the ki yaver.  The v’shilach and u-vier in the middle are perfect aspect. The final yishalem is another imperfect aspect.

So the definition of the tort is a field on fire; what the court can try is whether that fire got out and burned up somebody else’s property; if the firestarter is convicted, the definition of the damages he pays is funded by his best land.

The first imperfect aspect verb is a generalization, something that people ordinarily do for neutral reasons. The perfect aspect verbs are specifications of possible consequences and I will come back to them in another post about binyan use. The final imperfect aspect is another generalization: the firestarter has to pay damages if he is convicted. Notice that this is the only sanction of what happened; nobody is allowed to come burn his field in revenge. That’s the lesson of the imperfect klal at the end.

This is a structure formally identfied about 100 CE, attributed to Rabbi Yishmael and documented in the introduction to Midrash Halakhah Sifre (on Leviticus). It’s called klal u-prat u-klal and what it means is if anything else happens except the fire burning somebody else’s field or harvested produce, there’s no court case. That includes limiting the sanctions to paying a fine.  

The klal u-prat [u-klal] is a fundamental structure of Torah, even in the narratives, except that narratives may reverse things and have the first or last verses in perfect aspect. The narrative verbs will tend to be in something called “narrative past”, which is an imperfect verb with a vav prefix. All narratives are past to the narrator, but to the characters in them, they are incomplete until the denouement of the narrative is reached. Neat, huh?

Thursday, November 7, 2019

21st Century Bible Hebrew -- imperfect examples, part 3


The uses of imperfect aspect are as follows.
1.                  vav plus imperfect in VS order is “narrative past”, used within an episode to track the progress of the plot.
2.                  vav plus subject plus imperfect is a relative or coordinate clause.
3.                  without vav in SV order is possibly a true future tense usage.
4.                  without vav may also be an imperfect of process; this first turns up in Leviticus and may be a clue to the relationship between imperfect and progressive aspects.
5.                  vav plus imperfect in the 2nd singular or plural define the generalized or definitional envelope of commandments or refer to a known cultural feature.
6.                  in the 3rd person, in portions about sacrificial ritual, imperfect provides the framework for the ritual actions like the generalization envelope for a k’lal u-prat [u-k’lal] structure.
7.                  Preceded by ki or im is the “if” clause in a law, usually a tort. Again, this is an envelope to a klal uprat [uklal] structure.
8.                  part of a parallel structure in poetry and prophecy following a perfect verb as a parallel. They will not use the same verb root and sometimes not the same binyan.

We’re up to #6, rituals.  Imperfect aspect commandments in 3rd person usually are followed by perfect aspect verbs. The imperfect aspect verbs are about an action that happens to a specific sacrifice: yaqriv/u, taqriv.

The earliest of these are Leviticus 1:1-3. 

א  א וַיִּקְרָ֖א אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֑ה וַיְדַבֵּ֤ר יְהוָֹה֙ אֵלָ֔יו מֵאֹ֥הֶל מוֹעֵ֖ד לֵאמֹֽר:
ב דַּבֵּ֞ר אֶל־בְּנֵ֤י יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ וְאָֽמַרְתָּ֣ אֲלֵהֶ֔ם אָדָ֗ם כִּֽי־יַקְרִ֥יב מִכֶּ֛ם קָרְבָּ֖ן לַֽיהוָֹ֑ה מִן־הַבְּהֵמָ֗ה מִן־הַבָּקָר֙ וּמִן־הַצֹּ֔אן תַּקְרִ֖יבוּ אֶת־קָרְבַּנְכֶֽם:
ג אִם־עֹלָ֤ה קָרְבָּנוֹ֙ מִן־הַבָּקָ֔ר זָכָ֥ר תָּמִ֖ים יַקְרִיבֶ֑נּוּ אֶל־פֶּ֜תַח אֹ֤הֶל מוֹעֵד֙ יַקְרִ֣יב אֹת֔וֹ לִרְצֹנ֖וֹ לִפְנֵ֥י יְהוָֹֽה:

He called to Mosheh; the Lord spoke to him from the tent of notice saying
Speak to the Israelites and say to them The man among you in the situation of offering a qorban to the Lord -- bring your qorbans from the domestic animals, from the cattle or from the flocks --
If his qorban is a whole offering from the cattle, a perfect male he offers; at the door of the tent of notice he offers it for its acceptance, before the Lord.

Verse 3 defines this offering as an olah so it has to be performed in the same way as the tamid in Exodus 29:38-42 which is also called olah. 

The ki-yaqriv phrase with the hyphen is crucial here. That shows this is not an “if” or a “when” statement. We’re already past the “if” or “when”, we already decided that this is an offering. Now we’re up to how it has to be processed. How it has to be processed depends on what kind of offering it is. Verse 3 defines it as an olah, defines that he has to bring an unblemished male, defines that he has to bring it to the door of the tabernacle (not perform it somewhere out in the camp), l’r’tsono for the purpose of accepting it at his hands.

It’s important that these are all definitions, the klal. A Jewish court can’t start a case unless the klal applies. But it can’t convict somebody on the klal, only on the prat, the details which are probably in perfect aspect. This is crucial in Exodus 21-22.

What this means for offerings is that what the individual does when bringing a sacrifice is not punishable. Until his offering meets the definition, which starts with min-ha-behemah in verse 2, what he does is not defined as bringing a sacrifice. Fix your mind on seeing imperfect as a definition for whether a case exists, and perfect aspect as an action that a court can rule on, and you will see how few cases came into court about sacrifices.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

21st Century Bible Hebrew -- imperfect aspect, examples 2


The uses of imperfect aspect are as follows.
1.                  vav plus imperfect in VS order is “narrative past”, used within an episode to track the progress of the plot.
2.                  vav plus subject plus imperfect is a relative or coordinate clause.
3.                  without vav in SV order is possibly a true future tense usage.
4.                  without vav may also be an imperfect of process; this first turns up in Leviticus and may be a clue to the relationship between imperfect and progressive aspects.
5.                  vav plus imperfect in the 2nd singular or plural define the generalized or definitional envelope of commandments or refer to a known cultural feature.
6.                  in the 3rd person, in portions about sacrificial ritual, imperfect provides the framework for the ritual actions like the generalization envelope for a k’lal u-prat [u-k’lal] structure.
7.                  Preceded by ki or im is the “if” clause in a law, usually a tort. Again, this is an envelope to a klal uprat [uklal] structure.
8.                  part of a parallel structure in poetry and prophecy following a perfect verb as a parallel. They will not use the same verb root and sometimes not the same binyan.

We’re up to #5, commandments.  Imperfect aspect commandments in 2nd person usually are followed by perfect aspect verbs. It’s part of a rule called klal u-prat, a generalization followed by detail. Legally, it’s the definition of what has to happen for there to be a court case at all, followed by what consequences are actionable in court.

Probably the earliest such commandments in Torah are – not the Big Ten – but the laws of Pesach in Exodus 12 after the plague of darkness. 

ט אַל־תֹּֽאכְל֤וּ מִמֶּ֨נּוּ֙ נָ֔א וּבָשֵׁ֥ל מְבֻשָּׁ֖ל בַּמָּ֑יִם כִּ֣י אִם־צְלִי־אֵ֔שׁ רֹאשׁ֥וֹ עַל־כְּרָעָ֖יו וְעַל־קִרְבּֽוֹ:
י וְלֹא־תוֹתִ֥ירוּ מִמֶּ֖נּוּ עַד־בֹּ֑קֶר וְהַנֹּתָ֥ר מִמֶּ֛נּוּ עַד־בֹּ֖קֶר בָּאֵ֥שׁ תִּשְׂרֹֽפוּ:
יא וְכָ֘כָה֘ תֹּֽאכְל֣וּ אֹתוֹ֒ מָתְנֵיכֶ֣ם חֲגֻרִ֔ים נַֽעֲלֵיכֶם֙ בְּרַגְלֵיכֶ֔ם וּמַקֶּלְכֶ֖ם בְּיֶדְכֶ֑ם וַֽאֲכַלְתֶּ֤ם אֹתוֹ֙ בְּחִפָּז֔וֹן פֶּ֥סַח ה֖וּא לַיהוָֹֽה:

Translation: Don’t eat any of it soaked or cooked in water; but only roasted in fire, its head on its organs and its innards.
Don’t leave any of it until morning; what is left of it in the morning you shall burn with fire.
Thus you eat it: your loins girded up, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hands; eat it in a hurry, it is pesach l’****.

I’ll bring up verses 9 and 10 again when I discuss negation.

Verse 11 may not match how you run your Passover Seder at home, or a communal one you might go to. For example, right in the Haggadah it says that everybody reclines to eat, and that some rabbis stretched the party out until midnight, no matter how early it started (such as early in March when the sun sets sooner). That’s not exactly eating quickly in fear, as the second part of the verse has it.

There are discussions throughout rabbinic literature about which commandments in Exodus 12 applied only in Egypt, and which apply now. This detail (prat) in perfect aspect does not apply now. But the commandments for matso, maror, and finishing by midnight all still apply today.

Use of the imperfect for all the other verbs shows that they are the definition of the Passover observance. For all time. That’s why we still do things this way today.

Exodus 29:38-42 is a long stretch of imperfect commandments which define the tamid offering. It’s one long definition of what the tamid is. There are no perfect aspect verbs in it. If somebody went to court to claim that a priest did the tamid wrong, the court could ask which pratim did the priest violate. The person bringing the case would have no answer. As you read the rest of Torah, when you come to statements of ritual, notice what features if any are expressed in perfect aspect. Those are the only issues an earthly court can try.

And that is how BH grammar is the basis of Jewish law.