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In the final b'racha of sh'monah esrei the phrase "תורת חיים - (Toras chayim)" appears. In some sidurim [that denote that kind of thing] the accent is placed on the first syllable and in others on the second. I believe there is even some intra-Artscroll inconsistency in this regard.

Where should the accent be placed? If on the first syllable, why?

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I've opened סידור ווילנא, and there it is accented as ToRAS chayim. –  jutky May 14 '11 at 21:39
Ditto for the Artscroll siddurim I've checked, including their very first English siddur (printed 1985). –  Dave May 15 '11 at 5:40

2 Answers 2

up vote 7 down vote accepted

I have never seen a siddur that has TOras. The correct pronunciation, as far as I know, is toRAS.

In general, the only reason a mil'ra word, such as toRAS, would become mil'ail, is if the word following it had its accent on its first syllable. For example, if the term was "toras chesed", it would be "TOras CHEsed", as the accent in "chesed" is on the first syllable. This rule is called "nasog achor". [Note: This rule only applies if the word following it is "connected" to the first, i.e. the two words form a phrase, like is the case with "toras chayim" and "toras chesed". The signifying factor for this in Tanach would be if the ta'am (trop) of the first word was of the "connecting" type.] See Mishlei 31:26 and Tehillim 119:72.

Here, however, the following word is "chayim", which is mil'ra. Therefore, it remains "toRAS chaYIM".

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Just to clarify: There are reasons the nasog achor rule is cancelled besides the first word's having a connecting trop. –  msh210 May 13 '11 at 23:57
@msh210, yes. Such as if changing the accent would change the meaning of the word. I saw the Minchas Shai discuss this somewhere. –  jake May 14 '11 at 0:09
Actually, the correct pronounciation would be "toRAT". Other than that, this is correct. –  AviD May 14 '11 at 18:42
@AviD I say "toRAT" too, but that pronunciation is no more valid than "toRAS" or "toRATH." –  Isaac Moses May 15 '11 at 2:26
@AviD, For the purpose of modern Hebrew, Ben Yehuda chose one of the above three over the others, so when speaking modern Hebrew, that one is correct. For ritual purposes, the religious sources tend to advise people to use whatever pronunciation their forebears do, which, coincidentally, is how natural languages tend to work. FWIW, people who study the history of Hebrew tend to believe that the Yemenite pronunciation, in this case 'th', is closest to what early Hebrew speakers used. –  Isaac Moses May 15 '11 at 15:56

I don't know.


From my limited but not negligible knowledge of grammar, there's no grammatical reason it should be "TOras". Thus, the only reason it should be that is if the b'racha is quoting a pasuk that has it that way according to the m'sora. Is there such a pasuk? If not, I'd say it's for sure "toRAS" — but, as always, CYLOR for a practical ruling.

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