Thursday, May 16, 2019

נר תמיד

There is a custom to include a light in every shul which is on constantly, called a נר תמיד. Most people are aware of this. So what's the problem? I think that is what leads to a very popular misreading of a פסוק at the beginning of תצוה which is also found in אמור.

 לְהַֽעֲלֹ֥ת נֵ֖ר תָּמִֽיד

I think people automatically group the two words נר תמיד together in their minds and thus read it with a טפחא on להעלות and a מרכא on נר which is incorrect. It does change the meaning ever so slightly but I would never correct that on the spot. Maybe after the fact, I would point it out.

Monday, May 6, 2019

סוכת דוד

I'm sure everyone will notice the reference in this week's הפטרה to the phrase we insert in ברכת המזון for סוכות - (actually, it's the other way around, the phrase is a reference to the פסוק)

הרחמן הוא יקים לנו את סכת דויד הנופלת

I'm probably not the only one, however, to notice the slight anomaly in the פסוק. We are accustomed to saying הַנֹּפָלֶת, with a קמץ under the פ. I believe it is this way in most, if not all ברכונים. But in the עמוס ט:י"א ,פסוק, it is written with a סגול, even though it is on an אתנחתא.
This therefore begs two questions:
  1. Why would it not change to הַנֹּפָלֶת on an אתנחתא?
  2. Seeing as it does not in the original biblical text, why would we change it in ברכת המזון?

    Please see Elie's comment.

Friday, May 3, 2019

Stand up, goat

(ט"ז:י)
וְהַשָּׂעִיר אֲשֶׁר עָלָה עָלָיו הגּוֹרָל לַעֲזָאזֵל יָעֳמַד חַי

The above bolded word is translated "shall be made to stand." However, if it is mispronounced יַעַמֹד it would mean simply that the goat "shall stand" (on its own.) Beware.

מטמאת - Watch that plural!

(ט"ז:ט"ז)
וְכִפֶּר עַל הַקּדֶשׁ מִטֻּמְאֹת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל
(ט"ז:י"ט)
וְטִהֲרוֹ וְקִדְּשׁוֹ, מִטֻּמְאֹת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל
With these and any other instances, it is of utmost importance that it is not pronounced מִטֻּמְאַת, which would change it from plural to singular.
(It should also be noted that while the שוא under the מ is a שוא נח, it is important to create a separation between the מ and א so that the א doesn't disappear and it is pronounced as if it is מטמות, i.e. it should be mitum-os, not mitu-mos.)

A Revealing Note

This seems to have come up fairly often so I should probably address it in a post. Every now and then, a בעל קריאה will mix up תְגַלֶּה (with a סגול) and תְגַלֵּה (with a צירי.) This comes up many times in אחרי מות and again in קדושים as well. I have seen people get rather antsy about this. However, (please correct me if I'm wrong) there is absolutely no difference whatsoever. The only factor that determines the נקוד under the ל is that it will get a צירי if it is at the end of a פסוק or on an אתנחתא. Otherwise, it will be a סגול. This should never be corrected by anyone on the spot.

Qualification of the אהוי rule

I have recently been asked on a number of occasions regarding apparent exceptions to the אהוי rule which is that if a word ends with one of those letters, it will remove an expected דגש at the beginning of the next word. This is provided that the first word is connected to the second by means of a טעם משרת such as a מרכא, rather than a pausal note like an אתנחתא or טפחא.

The first example was in ויצא:
ל:טז ...וַתֹּ֨אמֶר֙ אֵלַ֣י תָּב֔וֹא
The י does not remove the דגש from the תּ even though it has a מונח which functions as a משרת.

Another example on which this question was raised was in אחרי מות:
יח:ה ...וָחַ֣י בָּהֶ֑ם
Again, the דגש remains in the בּ.

This phenomenon is interestingly observed in בחוקתי. The first mention of the word בחוקתי is on a טפחא which is a מפסיק anyway. But when it is mentioned in the negative portion, we find:
כו:טו וְאִם־בְּחֻקֹּתַ֣י תִּמְאָ֔סוּ
The מונח is a משרת but the תּ keeps its דגש.

It is important to forget about the actual letters for a moment. The essence of this rule is that it is applied when the first word ends with a vowel. This best way to understand this apparent anomaly is to observe a similar paradigm we find the English language with the letter Y. It can function as a consonant, as in yes or year, but can also be used as a vowel, as in the word gym or psychology. When the י extends a vowel sound, which would seem to be only after a צירי or חיריק, it functions as a vowel. However, after any other vowel, the function of the י is clearly a consonant, closing the syllable. Therefore, the אהוי rule would not apply. 

(Now, this applies to צירי and חיריק because they both end with a י sound. That is why the י is said to extend or fill the vowel. If one pronounces a חולם "oy," shouldn't it apply there, too, whereas if you pronounce it "oh," it would not. As per the comments below, דברים ד:ח וּמִי֙ גּ֣וֹי גָּד֔וֹל is a good example. If this theory is correct it would prove the "oy" pronunciation to be incorrect. But I'm not fully convinced myself.)

Thursday, April 18, 2019

חד גדיא

I don't usually cover Aramaic דקדוק and I cannot claim to know terribly much about it but it seems the entire world sings חד גדיא pronounced thusly: חד גדיא, חד גדיא דְזַבִּין אבא בתרי זוזי It's a tricky word because almost the same word is used for buying as for selling. However, it seems from the הגדות מדויקות that the proper pronunciation is in fact דִזְבַן. I haven't done too much research on this but I know someone who has. The Haggada of Rabbi Jonathan Sacks by Koren Publishers also has דִזְבַן.