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What is the reason for the patach under the vuv in וַיִּקְרָא, the first word of the third book of the Pentateuch?

I would expect a schva, which, at least in modern Hebrew, is what sits under a vuv that means "and," like this.

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1 Answer 1

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This is the standard "Vav ha-hipuch" of Biblical grammar, which reverses the future tense to the past.

"Yikra" == "he will call."

"Ve-yikra" == "and he will call."

"VA-yikra" == "[and] he called."

(It's actually unclear whether the vav hahipuch also functions as an "and." Most translators include the "and", though Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan's Living Torah doesn't.)

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Perfect answer, as this question teetered, IMHO, on being off-topic as a Hebrew grammar question, albeit biblical. Your tying it to a mainstream religious text brought back from the brink. –  Seth J Jun 4 '12 at 1:19
    
I understand your comment regarding the relevance of this question to the aims of this website. However, I do not know of a better forum for a question like this. This includes this site's constitution of Torah Observant Jews that contribute with an accuracy that is not to be found anywhere on the web. If I am in error in such reasoning, please share. –  EEE Jun 4 '12 at 2:21
    
I agree with EEE about why this question is relevent and appropriate here. But in addition EEE's reasoning that this site is one of the best forums available for Torah obsernat Jews, I feel that questions about Hebrew grammar in Tanach and liturgy are automatically appropriate because, as Shalom's answer demonstrates, understanding grammar is essential to understanding Tanach and liturgy. –  Shemmy Jun 4 '12 at 11:07
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@Seth -- When you say that Shalom was able to tie his answer to a "mainstream religious text" I assume you are refering to Tanach. Just to be clear: I'm a huge fan of Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, but this question concerns grammar that is necessary to know in order to understand Tanach itself. I fail to see why some people felt it was teetering on the brink of being off-topic. Why would someone think that understanding Tanach is off-topic in this forum? –  Shemmy Jun 4 '12 at 11:12
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And @EEE, no offense intended. A simple edit to demonstrate why, as a religious person, this concerned you, would have made it more obviously in scope. (Ie., Does this Pataḥ change the meaning of the Pasuk? Is it addressed by any commentators?) The Vav HaHipuch is a signature grammatical feature of the Torah. If you are just curious about the vowel, though, it seems like a grammar question more than anything else. Just my opinion, but I think others have shown that they agree with me. –  Seth J Jun 4 '12 at 14:00

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