Monday, December 19, 2022



טָרֹף טֹרַף יוֹסֵף

This advisory is much more relevant for the oh-ers than the oy-ers. It is very important to make sure the vowel on the ט is a חולם and not a קמץ. If you pronounce it טָרַף it is the third-person active, I.e. he tore. With the proper pronunciation, however, it is the passive form, I.e. he was torn.

Sunday, October 9, 2022

הרחמן הוא יקים

According to the comment by Elie on this previous post, the proper pronunciation of the last word of the addition at the end of ברכת המזון for סוכות is הַנֹּפֶלֶת, and not the customary הַנֹּפָלֶת. I'd be interested to hear of what sort of funny looks you get when you sing the popular R' Shlomo Carlebach tune with the apparently proper pronunciation. Please post any interesting stories in the comments.

חג שמח

Friday, September 9, 2022

Shva vs. Kamatz?

In this week’s Parsha, the pasuk states (Devarim 24:6),

"לא יחבל רחים ורכב וגו'"

Tosefos discuss how there are actually two separate prohibitions, one for the רחים and one for the רכב. In the course of their discussion Tosefos mention that there was a possibility that some opinions could have thought that there was actually only one prohibition for the two, but since ורכב is written with a חטף it shows that these words are somewhat separated and are to be considered as two independent prohibitions. (Tosefos Menachos 58b) The Yaavetz mentions that Tosefos are referring to the lack of a שוא when they say חטף. (Yaavetz Menachos 58b)

The Rashash questions Tosefos’ assertion based on Targum Lashon Ivri (chapter 34). The rule as mentioned there, is that when the trop under the last word of a list of two or more items has a hard pause then the ו takes a קמץ instead. Based on this rule the lack of a שוא is not something that connotes a separation in our pasuk since וָרָכֶב clearly has an esnachta beneath it. Rather, it shows that the items are separated and that this is the last of the list. (Rashash Bava Metziah 115b)

I was wondering if one could possibly answer on Tosefos’ behalf that even though linguistically the pasuk does not demonstrate that two as being separate, on a level of drush one can see that they are. The Torah was given with an esnachta in this place instead of another trop formulation from the pasuk. The pronunciation conjures up the idea of the words being separate even if the actual reading does not mean that. Therefore, one can assume the words have a level of separation to the point that they can be considered independent prohibitions.

Friday, July 22, 2022

A name that took ME by surprise

Having yahrtzeit this week, I had the opportunity to lain  the הפטרה for בהר this past week - not a very common occurrence. I checked with my trusty ספר אם למקרא ולמסורת to see what I should be looking out for. I found quite an interesting tidbit on the name ירמיהו. There is a tendency to pronounce the name Yir-mee-ya-hu. However, it should be noted that the vowel under the מ is a שוא, not a חיריק. Therefore, it should be pronounced Yir--ya-hu. I have to say, I was practicing it for quite a while and it is difficult on the tongue.

Friday, June 10, 2022

Reader Question

כתוב בסי' עבודת ישראל (בתפילת יהי רצון שבברכת כהנים לפני אמירת תיבת "שלום") "בהתר ולא באיסור". "התר" נכתב עם פת"ח תחת הה"א וקמ"ץ תחת הת"ו. איזה מילה היא זו?

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Clarification of a שוא נע rule

As the Shabbos before my mother's yahrtzeit, I will lain this הפטרה from time to time. In 2014 was actually my first time laining הפטרת במדבר. (It did fall out this way three years prior but there was a בר מצוה in shul.) I came across something I thought odd and eventually discovered an interesting nuance of which I was not previously aware. Going through my other stuff on במדבר it appears Elie's post addresses almost the exact same issue. But I found it a little difficult to follow (probably my fault, not his) and so I thought I'd lay out in simpler English:

There are a number of reasons a שוא would be נע. There is a well-known mnemonic - א ב ג ד ה ו where each letter stands for a different rule. The ג stands for תנועה גדולה. If the שוא is preceded by a קמץ, for example (except if it's a קמץ קטן,) the שוא should be נע. However, I recalled that there is an exception to this rule. If the letter with the קמץ has a trop on it, it does not make the שוא נע. I was therefore puzzled when I saw in my תיקון:
  וְעָ֤נְתָה שָּׁ֙מָּה֙ כִּימֵ֣י נְעוּרֶ֔יהָ
The שוא under the נ of וענתה was shown to be נע. But what about the note on the ע?

I have the big monster of a תיקון סימנים which has a thorough discussion of the rules in the front. He goes into detail about this exception. Indeed, there is an exception to the exception. Not surprising in the world of דקדוק*. The trop only prevents the שוא נע if it is in its natural position. If the word were on its own, where would the note be? We see from דברים כ"ה:ט וְעָֽנְתָה֙ וְאָ֣מְרָ֔ה  that the natural accent is מלרע. In our case, it is pushed forward by the מלעיל accent on שמה and the rule of נסוג אחור. Since the מהפך on the נ is not its natural position, the שוא remains נע, just as it does in בראשית ל:ל"ג וְעָֽנְתָה־בִּ֤י צִדְקָתִי֙.

* I recently heard a great quote from R' Yaakov Kamenetsky: "In דקדוק, there are no exceptions. There are simply more rules."

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Don't sell the goat

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.

הגיענו - הגדה vs יגיענו

כן ה' אלוקינו יגיענו למועדים ולרגלים אחרים

In just about all the הגדות I've seen, the נוסח of the ברכה at the end of מגיד is as above. However, in אבודרהם and רבינו סעדיה, as well as the הגדות מדויקות you will find the word יגיענו substituted with הגיענו. This version seems more correct considering the context. The entire ברכה is in the second person. Why would we change to the third person with יגיענו? Furthermore, it seems this portion of the ברכה is meant as a request. The word הגיענו is certainly לשון בקשה whereas the word יגיענו seems to be merely a statement of fact. Why is it that almost all הגדות have this version?

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

הגדה של פסח - שירת הלויים

Have you ever wondered which הגדה would provide the most authentic text along with clear דקדוק guidance? I used to. But a newly re-published הגדה solves it all - שירת הלויים - מבית בריסק, authored by Rav Aryeh Leib Lopiansky. The text of the הגדה has been combed through and edited by none other than Rav Nissan Sharoni, author of the renowned אם למקרא ולמסורת. Accents and שוא נע's are indicated and you will find corrections to some of the more common textual mishaps found in most הגדות, such as דְזַבִּין אבא, as we have discussed.

This is a rather large volume. The הגדה portion is at the front with commentary from various Brisker גדולים followed by a larger section filled with longer shtiklach on various ענינים related to the סדר. I just picked up my copy locally. 

As a visual aid, this is what you should be looking for:

Friday, March 11, 2022

Zachar Amaleik? What was he smoking?

In the portion read for Parshas Zachor we find the commandment תמחה את זכר עמלק, wipe out the remembrance of Amaleik. The gemara (בבא בתרא כא) relates a rather bizarre incident where Yoav, David HaMelech's general was sent to destroy Amaleik. He returns, having wiped out all of the males. When he is confronted by David HaMelech as to why the others were allowed to live, he declares that he was taught "Timcheh es zachar Amaleik," wipe out the males of Amaleik. Needless to say, Yoav was not very happy when he found out he had been taught wrong.

It is indeed quite difficult to understand how the mesorah could be so skewed as to totally misunderstand and misrepresent this pasuk. I heard an interesting insight into this mistake from the footnotes of the מעשה רב. Yoav's rebbe never thought that the word was pronounced "zachar." Rather, this error was a result of a misunderstanding of the possessive form of zachar."

The word for smoke is "ashan." The vowelization of this word is the same as "zachar." However, when the Torah describes Har Sinai and describes how its smoke rose like the smoke of a furnace, the term used is "eshen hakivshan." Clearly, when the word "ashan" is used in the possessive, both kamatzim are converted to segolim. Yoav's rebbe read the pasuk "timche es zecher Amaleik," and understood that zecher was the possessive form of zachar. He therefore mistakenly taught Yoav that the commandment is to wipe out only the males of Amaleik.

Thursday, February 17, 2022

Minimizing Sin

ל"ד:ט וְסָלַחְתָּ לַעֲו‍ֹנֵנוּ וּלְחַטָּאתֵנוּ וּנְחַלְתָּנוּ 

As per a comment in this other post, it is important to be careful to not pronounce it וּלְחַטֹּאתֵנוּ, with a חולם on the ט. This would change it from singular to plural. As I've mentioned elsewhere, in situations like this, I appreciate the "oy-ers." It makes it much easier to discern if it has been pronounced properly or not.