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What is the difference between the words zachor and pakad?

They are used with what seems like very similar meanings throughout the Rosh HaShanah davening, as well as in the Chumash.

Here are some uses to consider:

  • Noach and Rochel is recalled with zachor (Bereishis 8:1, 30:22)
  • Sarah is recalled with pakad (Bereishis 21:1)
  • It seems like covenants are remembered with zachor (e.g. promise to the Patriarchs to redeem Jews from Egypt in Shemos 2:24 or promise to rescue the Jews from the exile at the end of the curses in Vayikra 26:42)

All explanations I've seen relate pakod to tafkid (purpose, function, task), for example, someone tried to say that zachor is focusing on generic ideas and pakod - on what is a particular person's task in realizing these ideas. This seems to fit Sarah, but does not explain how Rochel could be recalled for childbirth (just like Sarah was) with pakod.

Would someone be able to connect these for me? Thank you very much for your help.

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gt6989b, welcome to Mi Yodeya and thanks for the interesting question. I hope you stick around and enjoy the site. – msh210 Sep 20 '12 at 1:09
up vote 3 down vote accepted

Malbim (Bereishis 21:1) explains that זכר means to remember as it is normally used, and פקד means to remember in order to do something for the person for whom you פקד-ed.

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So how do you learn that Sarah and Rochel were remembered with different words for the same purpose (conception of a child)? – gt6989b Sep 19 '12 at 22:11
Another problem would be from Yirmeya 2:2 -- "I remembered (zacharti) for you the chessed of your youth" -- it would sound that G-d's rememberance for us is in order to end the exile, so pakadti would fit better according to this understanding, no? – gt6989b Sep 19 '12 at 22:13
@gt6989b Malbim explains there that the "zechirah" by Rachel was that he remembered her good deeds – b a Sep 19 '12 at 22:14
@b_a: But it just seems both rememberances were for the sake of doing something for the object of rememberance. Acoording to Malbim's take, wouldn't then pakod fit better? By te way, thank you for an answer with a source, it's very helpful. – gt6989b Sep 19 '12 at 22:19
@gt6989b The way I understood Malbim, the פקד is the actual start of the doing the thing for the person, while זכר in both of your objectionable cases is the reason for the doing – b a Sep 19 '12 at 22:28

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