Tuesday, March 9, 2010


Resh is common.It is not grammatical. If it is part of the word, it is part of the root. While it occurs frequently in Ruth, it is the first letter of only a few words, Ruth, famine, see, empty, wash, Ram. Curious, eh?

So if you see that you are empty and hungry, wash and anoint yourself...
אִם רֵיקָם וְרָעֵבָה תִּרְאֶה רָחַצְתְּ וָסַכְתְּ

(that is still all feminine singular - should the adjectives agree with the subject of the verb (you singular feminine)? Empty appears to be indeclinable. Hungry can take a feminine ending e.g. Psalm 107:9, נֶפֶשׁ רְעֵבָה).

We begin with Ruth 1:1
וַיְהִי רָעָב בָּאָרֶץ
famine in the land,

And we have empty twice, once in Ruth 1:21 and once in Ruth 3:17
רֵיקָם אֶל-חֲמוֹתֵךְ
empty to your mother-in-law
Wash is in Ruth 3:3
וְרָחַצְתְּ וָסַכְתְּ
so wash yourself and anoint yourself
פרק spells chapter - three of our most recent letters. And resh occurs many times as second and third letter of a root. So land / earth אָרֶץ above. And שאר bereft (also Ruth 1:5), אשר, the relative pronoun (anagram of bereft), עֶשֶׂר ten (also Ruth 4:2), said (frequent and part of the backbone of the story) e.g. וַתֹּאמֶר נָעֳמִי and Naomi said. Resh has a sad sound - so bitter קְרֶאןָ לִי מָרָא call me Mara, and after אחר. Resh and Dalet are easily confused, especially at lower point sizes. (Test yourself with the lower point sizes on this word.)

But resh is also in the blessing of Ruth 2:4, the origin of our liturgical greetings - how well can you read this without translation? After many grammar and reading lessons, I can do it. My hit rate for a random scriptural passage is about 50% after 3 years. I mean, about half the words I will have to look up - and I still need to stop and read and think. There is no auto-recognition yet.

וְהִנֵּה-בֹעַז בָּא מִבֵּית לֶחֶם
וַיֹּאמֶר לַקּוֹצְרִים
יְהוָה עִמָּכֶם
וַיֹּאמְרוּ לוֹ
יְבָרֶכְךָ יְהוָה

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