Sunday, April 04, 2010

Does "trup" trip us up?

Sometimes I think that trup, trope, or cantillation--pick your preference--is more likely to trip us up than to help us understand the divrei kodesh/sacred texts with which it's used.

The third paragraph of the Sh'ma is, to my way of thinking, an excellent example. (You can see the text, Bemidbar/Numbers chapter 15, verses 37-40 here, but, unfortunately, the Mechon Mamre website's text does not include the cantillation marks.) Here's the way the "trup marks" break up the last verse: "I am HaShem your G-d, who took you out of the land of Egypt, to be your G-d, I am HaShem your G-d." (That's my translation--other versions may be better, of course.) But suppose one ignores the trup and just reads the text directly? I think it could just as easily be read "I, HaShem, am your G-d, who took you out of the land of Egypt, to be your G-d--I, HaShem, am your G-d." For those of you who may not see much difference between the translations, it's a question of how we name G-d. Is HaShem just another of the several names for the sole G-d (KElokim being another), or is HaShem (or, to be precise, the real name for which HaShem is a substitute) a proper name, like Chaim, Chananya, Howard or Harold? If HaShem is a proper name and is read as such in that paragraph of the Sh'ma, that changes the meaning of the text. It's not, "I am HaShem your G-d," it's "I, the one named HaShem, I'm your G-d, the one who took you out of Egypt to be your G-d"---that dude named Baal is not your god, and don't you forget it!

Feel free to agree or disagree, and/or to mention, in the comments, any other text in which you think that the trup might be tripping us up by changing the meaning.


Anonymous Too Old to Jewschool Steve said...

Here's where you can find the same pasukim with the trope:

Sat Apr 03, 11:26:00 PM 2010  
Anonymous Too Old to Jewschool Steve said...

Sorry. It truncated. Here it is again:

Sat Apr 03, 11:27:00 PM 2010  
Anonymous Aviya said...

Well that's true, isn't it...interesting! Shalom!I'm a tzitzit wearing woman (the only one I know!) and I just stumbled across your site. I was reading the levush & getting aggravated. Then I searched some more and found it here in one of your older posts. It was "good" to know that. being women we were "a nation unto ourselves" and exempt from G-d's mitzvot making it arrogant to wear tzitzit, no? *huff* Women have always born the consequences of breaking G-d's commands. What would men feel differently? I posed this tzitzit question to a rabbi once and he actually told me that men are tempted more than women so we don't need them despite the clear mitzvah. It was hard not to laugh right out loud!

Mon Apr 05, 06:09:00 AM 2010  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Aviya, welcome aboard! You might find this old post of mine, ”Nothing to help us pray: Women and the Sh’ma—davenning in the abstract”, interesting. I do wear a tallit and tefillin, but I decided a few years ago not to wear a tallit katan--I have neither the nerve nor the desire to offend, so I don't "advertise" my personal religious practice when I'm any place where it might be controversial.

Wed Apr 07, 10:37:00 AM 2010  
Blogger The Reform Baal Teshuvah said...

I dropped you a note on this.

Wed Apr 07, 01:27:00 PM 2010  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Er, Reform BT, next time you send me an e-mail under your real name, you'd better include "from Reform BT" in the subject line. Is yours the e-mail with the subject line "More than you wanted to know, I'm sure"? It's in the trash, at the moment--I deleted it because I won't open an attachment unless I know who the sender is. Please confirm or deny that that's your e-mail, so that I'll know whether it's safe or a virus-carrier.

Wed Apr 07, 10:13:00 PM 2010  
Blogger The Reform Baal Teshuvah said...

Yes, that would have been mine; Since we've exchanged emails before, I assumed you'd recognize it. I will resend if you emptied your trash.

Wed Apr 07, 10:17:00 PM 2010  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Okay, I now have your name saved in my contacts list as RealFirstName "Reform BT" RealLastName. And your e-mail has been moved from the trash to the inbox. I opened the attachment, but didn't have time to read most of it because we're still putting the house back together after Pesach. :)

Thu Apr 08, 11:22:00 AM 2010  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Too Old to Jewschool Steve, I'm sorry to say that neither of those URLs works. :( I appreciate the effort, though.

Thu Apr 08, 11:29:00 AM 2010  
Anonymous Too Old to Jewschool Steve said...

You're right, it won't work if you try and click on the url, since I'm insufficiently familiar with blogger to post the url as a hotlink. However, if you copy the whole link and paste it in your browser address bar (i.e., wherever you would type in "www. ..."), it will take you to the appropriate place, which happens to be my bar mitzvah parashah.

Thu Apr 08, 04:39:00 PM 2010  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Sorry, Steve, but it doesn't work by pasting, either--I can't see the whole tzitzit paragrah.

Thu Apr 08, 04:52:00 PM 2010  

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