This morning during the reading from Nitzavim I saw the extra dots over a couple words in D'varim 29:28 and tried to remember what that meant. I found Rashi's commentary on [t deut 29:28 lr], which says in part:

There is a dot placed over [each letter of] the words לָנוּ וּלְבָנֵינוּ here, to teach us homiletically that even for open sins [which were not brought to judgment, God] did not punish the whole community-until Israel crossed the Jordan. For then, they accepted upon themselves the oath at Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal, and thereby [formally] became responsible for one another (Sanh. 43b). [When dots are placed over letters of the Torah, this denotes an exclusion of some sort. In our context, our Rabbis teach us that the exclusion refers to the period prior to the crossing of the Jordan.]

My question is about that (unsourced) editorial note at the end saying that dots over letters denote an exclusion of some sort. I wanted to look at the other places where these dots appear to see what's being excluded in those cases. I looked up Sanhedrin 43b, which talks about this passage but doesn't generalize.

Where are all the places that the torah uses these dots?

  • You should know dotting letters like that is a common old scribal technique for striking out mistakes. >700 years ago this would have been obvious to anyone who could read.
    – Double AA
    Sep 29 '16 at 15:03
  • Hi Monica. Avot Derabbi Natan, ch. 34 Mishnah 5 lists the 10 places in the Torah that have dotted letters / words. One advantage of reading this source is that it gives a reason, as well as the location. I assume that your Hebrew is good. (It shouldn't be to hard to understand this one, anyway, as the main purpose is to cite the location.) Here is a link to an online Hebrew version: daat.ac.il/daat/mahshevt/avot/34-2.htm. Shanah Tovah.
    – DanF
    Sep 29 '16 at 17:00
  • @DoubleAA Fascinating. Any source for this or similar ideas? Shanah Tovah.
    – DanF
    Sep 29 '16 at 17:03

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