In Mishlei (Proverbs) 28:17, the letter dalet is small in the word "adam". Why is this?

  • judaism.stackexchange.com/a/57000
    – DonielF
    Oct 28, 2018 at 15:55
  • Possible duplicate judaism.stackexchange.com/q/9510/759
    – Double AA
    Oct 28, 2018 at 15:58
  • 2
    @DoubleAA How? That talks about anything significant in the letters as a group; this talks about one particular instance. An answer to your proposition probably won’t address this at all.
    – DonielF
    Oct 28, 2018 at 16:48
  • His daled has become small so he will return to the em.
    – pcoz
    Jan 11, 2022 at 4:21

3 Answers 3


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.

  • Im satisfied with this answer
    – ezra
    Jan 12, 2022 at 8:49

As a tentative answer, I would posit that if you read the word without the dalet - it becomes Eim - as in a mother. This admonishment applies equally to both men and women, whether a woman has children or not.

  • Why by this particular admonishment is it necessary to say this?
    – DonielF
    Oct 28, 2018 at 16:49
  • Because it says adam the implication that this only applies to men and not women.
    – user18155
    Oct 28, 2018 at 16:55
  • 2
    I think אדם as used in Tanach typically refers to humankind in general, as opposed to איש/אנוש or גבר which refer to men specifically. I could be wrong, but that seems to be the case.
    – DonielF
    Oct 28, 2018 at 16:56
  • Adam refers always to man in his pristine state. In Bereishis it is used in contradistinction to Chava.
    – user18155
    Oct 28, 2018 at 16:59
  • 2
    You have to look at Chazal and see the deroshos applied in those instances. There are other factors that lead one to read a pasuk. Since, in general, we can't make derashos, we look to chazal to help us. Nonetheless, as I said, my answer was tentative, since I have not seen this anywhere and I have not seen a comment on it.
    – user18155
    Oct 29, 2018 at 7:48

According to the authoritative sefer on Masores Mincas Shai, the dalet is not small after all.

  • I'm not sure this is true, but anyway even if it was the question still stands according to the other opinions
    – Double AA
    May 16, 2021 at 2:19

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