In Mishlei (Proverbs) 28:17, the letter dalet is small in the word "adam". Why is this?
The go-to sefer for this is Sefer Katan v'Gadol by R. Zvi Ron (which I discovered via this answer). Your case is on page 258. The author brings four commentaries on this small dalet, as follows (in brief):
- Midrash R. Akiva — the dalet represents the gematria of 4 people "killed", who besides for the victim themselves are the victim's wife, their sons, and their daughters.
- R. Avraham Bick — the killer is reduced and diminished by the act.
- R. Nehemia Friedman — the dalet represents דם (blood), and the killer is diminished by the act (based on a drasha in Sota 5a).
- R. Pinchas Wolf — without the dalet (which again represents דם (blood)), the killer is no longer a person (אדם), and the remaining letters spell אם (if), so: if the sin of murder is on a person, then they are no longer considered a person (אדם). (I think that was what he's getting out of "אם", but it still works without that.)
See inside for (slightly) more details.
According to the authoritative sefer on Masores Mincas Shai, the dalet is not small after all.