In re-reading parashat Emor in preparation for writing this musing, I kept coming back to one particular bit of Hebrew in 24:8
ביום השבת ביום השבת יערכנו לפני יהוה תמיד מאת בני־ישראל ברית עולם
He shall arrange them before the L"rd regularly every Sabbath day-it is a commitment for all time on the part of the Israelites (JPS)
This is referring to the twelve loaves of bread spread out in two rows that is to be presented as a gift to G"d. This is a great example of where reading the Hebrew points out something not obvious in the English. The English word "every Sabbath day" appear in Hebrew as "on the Shabbath day, on the Sabbath day" (b'yom HaShabbat, b'yom HaShabbat.) There are plenty of simpler and more common ways to say this in Hebrew rather than rely upon the well-known fact that in Hebrew repetition can be a way of expressing regularity. Yes, this is not the only example in Torah, nevertheless I still find myself asking why, in this particular case, this particular way of saying "every Shabbat" was used, as opposed to using simpler Hebrew words meaning "every" (b'khol being the most common.)
Maybe the comparison doesn't work as well in English, but let's try it. Imagine yourself an actor. What are your reactions to these different ways of saying it? (You can even try different inflections and emphases.)
On every Shabbat you will.... Each Shabbat you will On each and every Shabbat you will On Shabbat, on Shabbat On Sabbath day, On Sabbath day They all essentially mean the same (or similar) things yet I find myself reacting quite different to them. Of course, there's no way for us to know how our ancestors might have heard the Hebrew "b'yom HaShabbat, b'yom HaShabbat" as opposed to, for example, "b'khol HaShabbat."
I'm really caught here. Part of me wants to really figure out why the Torah uses "b'yom HaShabbat, b'yom HaShabbat" here. After all, every little thing in Torah is meaningful (or so we are taught.) Part of me just wants to say "sometimes a cigar is just a cigar." There's no special and underlying meaning here, this is just how the author (whoever that might be) chose. Right now, the latter impulse is winning, and so I'm going to stop this musing. I have a feeling, however, that, during this Shabbat, the former impulse will ascend to dominance and I'll spend time on it again. Perhaps you might do the same. After all, that's what I do b'yom HaShabbat, b'yom HaShabbat.
©2011 by Adrian A. Durlester
Emor 5770 - G"d's Shabbat II
Emor 5767-Redux and Revised 5761-Eternal Effort
Emor 5766 - Mum's the Word (Redux 5760 with new commentary for 5766)
Emor 5765-Out of Sync
Emor 5764-One Law for All
Emor 5763-Mishpat Ekhad
Emor 5758-Gd's Shabbat
Emor 5759-Lex Talionis
Emor 5760-Mum's the Word
Emor 5761-Eternal Effort
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