In shacharit, we recite the 13 middot (already a strange word) through which a piece of Torah text is explained (explicated?) This comes from Braita d'Rav Yishma'el and, admittedly, I haven't look at this in the original; I am basing myself on the text in the Artscroll siddur.

The opening statement introduces the middot and the first item picks up on the language of the introduction saying "mikal vachomer" -- FROM a kal vachomer. The second says "umi'gezeirah shava" -- and FROM a gezeirah shava.

This makes syntactical sense because the intro said "these are the ways:" (paraphrase mine) so he list says "from x..."

But at item 6, the list omits the mem (from) so the item is not connected to the introduction. Number 7 resumes the mem but 8-13 do not begin with it. Aside from inconsistency, does this affect the way in which the item is understood or applied to a Torah text? Is it an arbitrary linguistic quirk or does it mean that the middah is used differently or understood as categorically different from the other items?


I don't think that this is anything more than language / grammar. In the first 5, the rules are stated in noun or "title" form - like headlines. It is like saying, "These are the rules from which we can derive..." From A, From B... etc. - They are not describing how these rules work; they are just telling you the name of the rule, and assuming that you know how it works.

Beginning from rule 6 and rules 8-13, they are describing how the rule works. The phrasing is in a style stating - "something that has these characteristics ...". It doesn't seem grammatically correct, to follow the pattern of the other ones to start with the "mem", because in these cases you are not just using the title form or the name of the rule, on its own.

I can't say why these rules are ordered this way, and there is a break in the pattern with rule 7. I also can't state why titles were used for the other rules without describing them. I surmise that the ones having titles occur more frequently that, perhaps, people understood how they worked so that the title sufficed.

  • But isn't the mem saying "from a case in which"? We call a "kal vachomer" a "kal vachomer" so we can think of it as a title, but it is a description of what happens. – rosends Dec 16 '14 at 18:21

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