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And, as a follow-up, does having the answer to this question dictate how we should say it?

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I don't think it really matters how we pronounce his name. As long as we are doing it with the proper level of respect that a great Torah scholar deserves. –  Ken Mar 21 '10 at 0:41
Related: judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/1172 and comments thereon. –  msh210 May 25 '11 at 3:20

4 Answers 4

up vote 6 down vote accepted

He pronounced it the way any Jew of Lithuanian or Russian origin would have pronounced it back then: "Feinshtain". Being that this is not our natural pronunciation of such names, it would appear to me to be disrespectful to mimic his European pronunciation. His own children and grandchildren do not use the old pronunciation unless they are among people who still speak that way.

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He pronounced it "fajnʃtajn", as in both "ei"s sounding like "eye" and the "s" like an "sh". I am reporting a firsthand account of Rav Moshe using this pronunciation regularly.

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As a shin-challenged Litvak, it is likely that R. Moshe personally pronounced it with the /s/ as we Americans do, and not the Yiddish /sh/.

Re Isaac's point about pronouncing it as they did as a mark of respect, if so then we'd be obliged to pronounce his first name "Mayse."

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S., Welcome to mi.yodeya, and thanks very much for your contribution to this discussion! Please consider clicking "register," above, to create your account. This will give you full access to mi.yodeya's features, and will allow you to take full credit for your contributions. –  Isaac Moses Mar 28 '10 at 15:27
@S. (O.T.M.L.?): I don't think R Moshe was Lithuanian, he was Russian. Yes, he was a Litvak as he wasn't a chassid, but I don't think Russians had that pronunciation. Recently heard a speech by R Kaminetzky, author of M.O. a Gadol, that R' Elya Svei's name was the hebrew word Shvo, one of the gems from the kohens breastplate. It was said as "Svei" because of their Lithuanian way of speaking. The "SH" became "S" and the "O" became "AY". –  Azi Mar 29 '10 at 1:20
Even the shin-challenged Litvaks pronounced their shins slightly differently then their samechs, sins, or savs. –  Yahu Apr 1 '10 at 15:03
"Litvak" does not mean "Misnaged". There are many chasidim who come from and there are chassidic dynasties that that flourished in the part of Eastern Europe known to Jews by the general name "Lita". "Litvak" meaning a "Misnaged" is a new Israeli-Hareidi perversion of the true terminology. –  Yahu Apr 1 '10 at 15:08
"@S. (O.T.M.L.?)" Yes, its the same S, check out his profile. –  Yirmeyahu Apr 9 '10 at 20:26

I'm pretty sure that almost every time I've heard rabbis mentioning R' Moshe's last name, it was with a long "e" sound. The pronunciation (of anything) in this video is by no means authoritative.

I think that we should, indeed, pronounce people's names as they'd pronounce them, to the best of our knowledge and ability. For one thing, universal pronunciation is good for clarity, and there's no better canonical pronunciation of a person's name than that person's own pronunciation. For another thing, it seems to me that pronouncing people's names as they'd pronounce them is an act of respect.

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