“The midwives said to Pharaoh, “Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women: they are vigorous” (Exodus 1:19)
The letter nun of vatomarnah (“the [midwives] said”) is final and has akomatz vowel. In Genesis (31:14), “And Rachel and Leah answered and they said to him,” it is written with a regular nun and a hay. Similarly, there is otchawith a final chaf and komatz or with a regular chaf and a hay (Exodus 29:35), and yadecha with a final chaf and komatz or with a regular chaf and a hay(Exodus 13:16), and other instances.
To explain these differences you must know that the issue of language and speech, as well as script and letter forms are things which change with time, places, and people. This is in complete opposition to those who blindly believe in the sanctity of each word and letter in the Torah, as though the Torah we have is absolutely the same as that which was given, as it were, to Moshe at Sinai. The student who wishes knowledge and truth will learn and quickly see that there are many changes in the language of the Torah in each generation for over two thousand years.
And since we do not say things without proof, we will bring proof for the change of language and script from the words of the sages themselves. The Gemara in Hulin 137b, “As Rav Aisi the son of Hini immigrated [from Babylon to Israel], Rabbi Yochanan found him teaching his son [the word] rachelim (ewes). He told him, ‘teach him rachelot (which, according to the Gemara in Hulin, is correct).’ He answered that it was written rachelim ma’atayim (two hundred ewes–Genesis 32:15). He said to him, ‘the language of the Torah is one thing and the language of the sages another’.”
It is also explained in the Tosfot on Yoma 25a that the mitznefet written about in the Torah is the hat of the High Priest while the mitznefet written about in the Gemara is the hat of a regular priest, that the language of the Torah is one thing and the language of the sages another.
That is, the Torah calls things by one name and the sages call them by another. If that’s so, who will tell us that the Torah’s totafot and g’dilim are the sages’ tefillin and tzitziot?
Even in the same language there are differences from locality to locality, as the Tosfot writes on Baba Kama 83a, on the words “the Sursi language”: “The Sursi language is Aramaic…and it has become something of a foreign language, as it is spoken more purely in some places than inothers. The convert Onkelos translated “until this monument” as sahid d’gura hadin and Laban called it yagir sahadota.” The Tosfot differentiates between two languages, both Aramaic. One is the Aramaic of Syria and the other the Aramaic of Aram-Naharayim.
And just as language changes with time, so do the letter forms and writing change, as brought in the Gemara in Sanhedrin 21b. “At first the Torah was given to Israel in Hebrew script [almost identical to Canaanite script] and the Holy Tongue. It was once again given to them in the days of Ezra in Ashuri script [our modern day script] and the Aramaic language.” Go and think about how many changes would occur in basic things and their implications after both the language and the script in which it was written changed to a completely different language and script.
You should know that changes in language and script were made in the Holy Writings, and this from the Yerushalmi, Megillah chapter one, halacha nine: “The men of Jerusalem would write Yerushalem as Yerushalaymah and they were not precise–[they’d write] tzafon as tzafonah, tayman as taymanah.”
And so, too, with the letter forms, as brought in the Yerushalmi, Megillah chapter 1, halacha nine, “In the Torah of the early ones neither the hay nor themem were closed,” that is, the actually form of the letters was different.
Now we will clarify something amazing; not only are the script, the language, and the letter forms different, even the relationship to the holiness of the Scriptural text has changed. If the men of Jerusalem would write tayman astaymanah and were not careful to be at all precise as long as the meaning did not change. In Tractate Shabbat 104a they related to a small change great significance, to the point of an addition to the commandments of the Torah. “Rabbi Jeremiah said — and some say, Rabbi Chiya said: The doubled letters [those with terminal forms] were said by visionaries. Can you credit it? The Scriptures write, ‘And these are the commandments.’ The prophets are not allowed to innovate anything…but they forgot them and once again established them.” Using the method of “they forgot them and once again established them” everything can be excused. Therefore you will understand why, in our days, we are exacting, even about the point of a yud.
After we have proven, from the words of the sages themselves, that the language and the script in the Torah text has changed, we will go to the public library to check how the Scriptural scrolls found in the Judean desert, written during the Second Temple period and now located in the Israel Museum, were written. We will also bring citations from those who research these scrolls. Abraham Meir Haberman, in his book “Dead Sea Scrolls,” pg. 31, wrote, “Of the doubled letters only the simple nun is found in all the scrolls. For the other four letters there is still no absolute determination, and there are differences from scroll to scroll between closed and open, bent and simple.”
You should know that the Aramaic script which the Assyrians adopted, from which our modern square script is derived (called ktav Ashuri) has only 22 letters and no doubled letters at all. In the Encyclopedia Mikrait, in the entry “alphabet,” it is written, “In all ancient scripts, during all their evolutions, the Canaanite, Hebrew, Aramaic, each letter was written on its own and therefore all the letters were terminal letters, even if they were in the middle of the word.” If you go to the Israel Museum you will see for yourself these Torah scrolls. Notice that most of the words end with the letter hey–the letters chaf-heyinstead of a terminal chaf (yadecha with a chaf-hey instead of a terminal chaf),taf-hey instead of a taf (amatecha with a taf-hey instead of a taf), and this explains why once it is written tomanrnah with a terminal nun and another time with a nun-hey.
And if you should wonder how the Gemara learns from what is written, “and it shall be a sign on your hands (yadecha with a chaf-hey)” in Menachot 37a, “Lay it [the arm tefillin] on your left arm–where do we learn this? Rav Ashi said from yadecha which is written with a hey, dim.” Rashi made two comments on this. “From yadecha with a hey, meaning the feminine form which has no strength, as the woman does not; another reason is yadecha, the dimmer arm which lacks power.” There are other interpretations which rely on the endingchaf-hey instead of the terminal chaf. Yet we have shown and proven that it is merely a linguistic change which contains no hint nor meaning. The Rambam wrote about this sort of interpretation in his book “Moreh Nevuchim,” part three, chapter 43: “Though they have already mentioned about the four species in thelulav that there is some small reason based on interpretation whose ways are known to those who know their ways, that for them it is as the imagery of the song’s phraseology, the matter is not the issue of that verse…they choose the phraseology of the song which will not satisfy an intelligent person and they publicize that way at that time and make it everything, as do the poets who sing the songs.” Know from the words of the Great Eagle that in every place where it is written “do not read…but rather read…” these are matters of phraseology alone, fine-tuning the melody and games which have in them no hints, no meaning nor secret, and the simple meaning gets ruined. Most assuredly we do not learn any halacha or its reasons from them.
Words of True Knowledge.