In Tehillim 127:2, the author spells the word for sleep as שנא:

Aleppo Codex

Source: Wikisource

I found this unusual, as the word is usually spelled שנה in Tanach (Tehillim 90:5, Mishlei 6:4, and Mishlei 20:13).

As far as I can tell, these four pesukim are the only ones in which the word appears alone (i.e. not the more common משנתו, "from his sleep," but rather simply שנה, "sleep"), and only in Tehillim 127 is it spelled with a trailing א instead of a ה. Why?

  • Why do you think this word means sleep and not something else. It is spelled differently after all. – Double AA Mar 26 at 14:54
  • @DoubleAA Because in the targum it is written as דמכא? – Kazi bácsi Mar 26 at 20:30

As @Double AA wrote, Minchat Shai on the pasuk writes:

שנא. כל שנה כתוב בה"א בר מן חד כתיב אל"ף כן יתן לידידו שנא מלמד שת"ח שמשכימין ומעריבין בבתי כנסיות ובבתי מדרשות ומנדדין שינה מעיניהם בעוה"ז לעסוק בתורה הקב"ה נותן להם נחת רוח לחיי העוה"ב וישנים שינה אחת וממנה מקיצים לחיי העוה"ב כמו שנאמר על זאת הקיצותי ואראה ושנתי ערבה לי:

Translation: Shena - every sleep (shena) is written with a Heh except for this one time, spelled with an Alef, "He provides as much for His loved ones while they sleep", which teaches that sages (Talmidei Chachamim) that rise early and stay late in synagogues and study halls and keep sleep from their eyes in This World in order to study Torah, Hashem will give them pleasure (Nachat Ruach) in the life of The World to Come, and they sleep one sleep, and awake from it to life in The World to Come, as it is said on this "At this I awoke and looked about, and my sleep had been pleasant to me".

Both Radak and Metzudat Tzion state simply that Shena with Alef is like Shena with Heh, without further explanation.

Torah Tmimah brings the Gemarot in Ketubot 62a and Yoma 77a that say:

כן יתן לידידו שנא מאי כן יתן לידידו שנא א"ר יצחק אלו נשותיהן של תלמידי חכמים שמנדדות שינה בעולם הזה וזוכות לעולם הבא וכו':

Translation: What does “for He gives His beloved sleep” mean? Rav Yitzḥak said: These are the wives of Torah scholars who disturb their sleep in this world by staying up waiting for their husbands, who rise early and return late from learning Torah, and they thereby merit the World-to-Come.

Ben Yohayadah on the Gemara in Yoma writes:

ואלו הנשים שהם כן לבעליהם יתן להם שכר נדנוד שינה. ונרמז נדנוד זה בשביל התורה דכתב שֵׁנָא באלף ולא בה"א לרמוז דנדנוד זה הוא בשביל לימוד התורה שלומדין בעליהם ואלף לשון לימוד כמו (תהלים נה, יד) 'אַלּוּפִי וּמְיֻדָּעִי', (איוב לג, לג) 'וַאֲאַלֶּפְךָ חָכְמָה'.

Translation: "...And these are the wives that are so to their husbands, [Hashem] will give them the reward for [causing] lack of sleep. And this [causing] lack of sleep in order to study Torah is hinted in that he wrote Shena with an Alef and not a Heh to hint that this [causing of] lack of sleep is for the study of Torah that their husbands study, and Alef is a term of study, like (Psalms 55:14) "my companion, my friend" (Alufi u'Meyudai), (Iyov 33:33) "and I will teach you wisdom." (V'Aalefcha Chochma).

Shitah Mekubetzet writes on the Gemara in Ketubot:

שנא כמו שנה בה"א אל"ף מתחלפת בה"א דכתיב והאיש משתאה לה כמו משתהה והיינו דמתרגמינן וגברא שהי.

Translation: Shena (with Alef) like Shena (with Heh) as Alef is interchangeable with Heh as is written "The man, meanwhile, stood gazing" (Mishta'eh) like [Waiting? - unsure how to translate] (Mishtaheh), and as is translated (in the Targum) "V'Gavra Shahi".

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