Thursday, November 08, 2007

anochi vs. Anochi

Sorry for the lack of posting this week... I have a bad cold.

The Berdichiver brings a kabbalah from AR"I that women who are tzidkaniyos suffer no pain during childbirth because they are excluded from the onesh of Chavah. The word Anochi is representitive of the 1st dibra of Aseret haDibrot, which (as R' Tzaddok writes in many places) subsumes within it all positive good and mitzvos that Hashem desires of us. Rivka complained of her pain, "Im kein lamah zeh Anochi", if I am suffering from the onesh of Chavah, what in my relationship to that ideal of Anochi is missing?

My wife noticed that aside from its mention at the opening to the parsha, "anochi" is a recurring theme. Eisav's constantly uses the term "anochi" in describing his shortcomings - "ayef anochi", "hinei anochi holeich lamus". Ya'akov on the other hand is "anochi ish chalak", and has to disguise his "anochi" to become Eisav - "anochi Eisav bechorecha".

There is also an interesting contrast later in 28:15/16 - Hashem reveals to Ya'akov "hinei anochi imach"; Ya'akov replies"v'anochi lo yada'ti". Does Ya'akov's anochi refer to himself, or is Ya'akoiv perhaps saying that he has not been aware of the presence of Hashem as revealed through Anochi, capital A for that first dibra and its middos?

(For the pashtanim who have grimaced through reading this, a question - I am not aware of a rule as to where the term "ani" is used and where the term "anochi" is used. Any sources?)


  1. >(For the pashtanim who have grimaced through reading this, a question - I am not aware of a rule as to where the term "ani" is used and where the term "anochi" is used. Any sources?)


    The modern "rule" is that Anochi is the archaic form and Ani is later biblical Hebrew. While this may sound wacky, words often 'degenerate,' which is why the nominative singular pronoun in Old English was "Ic" (pronounced "itch") and gradually turned into "I" (which shifted from "ee" to "eye").

    Obviously this is a position rooted in source criticism, so let's put that aside.

    Shadal discusses this (in the context of Yaakov and Esav, actually) and his view was that Ani was the simple nominative singular pronoun and Anochi was used in instances where the speaker or writer wanted to say something new or establish some kind of division between oneself and something else. I guess the idea is that Yaakov launched into a mini-speech and said Anochi, while Esav just answered that it was him, so said "Ani." He also said that "Anachnu" is the plural of "Ani" and "Nachnu" of "Anochi."

    Malbim, by the way, concurs with Shadal, quoting him in his sefer on Hebrew synonyms Ya'ir Or (pg 13).

  2. thanks for both comments

  3. Anonymous3:24 PM

    Great explainations for "words" like anochi.

    I was sure that the simple meanings had a sound base in phonetic sounds that have been in the collective consciouness of mankind throughout history.

    Keep on explaining the great source of this little known, or "used", segment of our common knowledge


  4. Shalom aleichem,
    My rabbi (Chabad) tells me that Hashem says "Ani" when He is 'defining' Himself through an attribute or action. "Anochi", then, refers to His etzem, His essence or Self....
    Tzarich iyyun.

  5. Yossie in L.A.10:43 AM

    Further to IYYUNify:

    Please see this:

  6. Anonymous11:13 AM

    B"H, Thanks!!