Questions about the Hebrew letters, or aleph-bet.

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15
votes
2answers
777 views

Is the winding פ in this sefer torah kosher?

Leaving aside all other issues with the text as displayed, are the pehs acceptable, or do they actually need an inverted vav on the inside (instead of these whirls).
32
votes
6answers
3k views

Which alphabet were the original Torah scrolls in?

I've assumed that the Torah scrolls we read today as the same that Moses wrote. I always assumed it's been the same alphabet. However lately I came across documents explaining the evolution of the ...
8
votes
2answers
262 views

How could the numerals יה and יו be used irreverently?

I was told that in the sequence of numerals with Hebrew letters, the numbers 15 and 16 are rendered with טו and טז instead of יה and יו to prevent the tetragrammaton from being formed irreverently. ...
8
votes
6answers
500 views

Different Size Letters in the Torah

I've often wondered if someone has compiled anything about the "special letters" in the Torah: All the letters that are either big or small. Together, do they read as something special? One or more ...
6
votes
1answer
225 views

Learning the shapes of the letters as a Baal Koreh

I would have thought that the shapes of the letters would be a good thing for Baal Koreh to know, but I was told that since Sefrie Torah are not invalidated until they are declared as such, this would ...
6
votes
1answer
130 views

Psalm 145: Which Person?

Psalm 145 makes up the bulk of the oft recited prayer known as Ashrei. It is an alphabetic acrostic (missing the letter nun) about the greatness of God. The verses beginning with Alef, Bet, Dalet, ...
17
votes
2answers
2k views

Why does the Hebrew alphabet not have letters representing vowels?

(Re-asking this question in a way more suited to SE.) The Hebrew alphabet is actually an abjad rather than a "true" Western-style alphabet, in that every letter represents a consonant, and vowels, if ...
8
votes
1answer
127 views

Why is the hey in Elo-* replaced with a kuf?

As we know when we write Hashem's name, we replace the hey with a kuf. Why davka a kuf? For example: Elokai, Elokeinu, Elokah, or "Yud-Key-Vav-Key". And in "Yud-key-vav-key", why is it pronounced ...
6
votes
2answers
775 views

Tehilim HaChida - in the order of the Aleph Bais

I recently came across the Tehilim HaChida which is the entire Tehilim with the Pesukim rearranged in the order of the Aleph Bais by first letter. From the introduction it seems like it is a special ...
5
votes
1answer
169 views

Why is it “Beiz”?

I understand the Ashkenazi pronunciation of Hebrew is that the letter 'ת' with no דגש is an 's' sound. So why do (many) Ashkenazim pronounce the name of the letter 'ב', which is normally spelled ...
5
votes
4answers
355 views

Is there a Possuk in Tanach that starts with a Samech ס and ends with a Aleph א?

I have a relative with the name סימא and she has been unable to find a Possuk in Tanach that starts with a Samech ס and ends with a Aleph א. Is there such a Possuk?
3
votes
1answer
237 views

What letter is not found in Bentching [closed]

Which letter of the alef-beis isn't found in bentching and what is its significance?
13
votes
2answers
248 views

Aleph with a Dagesh

In four places in Tanakh, our text has an aleph with a dagesh: Gen 43:26, Lev 23:17, Job 33:21, and Ezra 8:18. What is the significance of this, and for the first two examples, how would you indicate ...
7
votes
2answers
508 views

What is the significance of the two letter shins (ש) on tefillin?

What is the significance of the two letter shins (ש) on tefillin? One side of tefillin has a regular shin (ש) and the second has four-prongs.
6
votes
2answers
299 views

Why is one permutation of the name of God backwards?

If you spell out each letter that makes up the name of God, then add up the gematria (numerical value) of each letter of each fully spelled out letter you get various values. The value depends on how ...
5
votes
1answer
90 views

What's the significance of בי״ה שמ״ו סימן, espcially on Dt. 31:28?

In most sifre Tora (Torah scrolls), 240 columns of text each start with the letter vav (ו), and five do not. The first of those five exceptional columns, of course, is the first column of the Torah, ...
4
votes
2answers
301 views

Spouses in Tanach whose names start with the same letter?

This is one of those parsha sheet trivia questions: There are six couples in Tanach where the names of the spouses start with the same letter. Who are they? I've got five of them, but I can't think ...
3
votes
1answer
283 views

Was the Hebrew Alphabet also given with the Tablets and Law?

My research for my answer to Which alphabet were the original Torah scrolls in? gave me an idea--Since the Early Alphabetic alphabet is also called Sinaitic, and the timing seems about right, maybe ...
12
votes
1answer
658 views

What does the /shin/ marker (like Petucha/Setuma) at the end of Torah books mean?

I've been reading about details of Torah sofrut, and after learning about the paragraph markers peh / פ (petucha) and samekh / ס (setuma), I noticed some similarly placed shin markers (mostly at the ...
12
votes
1answer
949 views

Relationship between Samekh and Sin

What is the relationship between the letters samekh and sin? Did they ever have distinct sounds? Why do they exist as separate letters?
11
votes
8answers
429 views

How do you extend the sound of a daleth in Shema?

How does one extend the sound of the daleth in the echod of the shema as prescribed in OC 61 (6)?. The letter as we say it does not seem to allow extension. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dalet ...
11
votes
1answer
487 views

Does one choose one or two pesukim for names?

What posuk does one choose at the end of shmonei esrei if one has two names? do you use two pesukim? or take the posuk that starts with the first initial of the first name and ends with the last ...
8
votes
1answer
190 views

Eicha - why are the Pesukim with the פ before the Pesukim with the ע?

The first 4 Perakim of Eicha are written in the order of the Aleph Bais. However in Perek 2, 3, & 4 the Pesukim for פ are written before the Pesukim with the ע. Why? And then why in Perek 1 is it ...
7
votes
2answers
118 views

What is the reason for “stretched” letters in the Torah?

I noticed that in many Sifrei Torah, Sofrim prefer to "stretch" certain letters. It seems that these letters are stretched to end a line if there wouldn't be enough space to start a new word. That's ...
7
votes
3answers
298 views

Resources for learning Hebrew from scratch?

I was raised as a Jewish identifying secular child, and it's only in my adolescence/adulthood I've really become at all observant. One of the problems is, of course, I've never had a Hebrew class! ...
6
votes
2answers
120 views

Why are Chazal asking if words are spelled with א or ע?

In Shabbos 77a-77b, Chazal ask about the spelling of a series of words, questioning whether the words are spelled with an alef - as in גראינין - or with an ayin - as in גרעינין. Wasn't ayin vocalized ...
5
votes
2answers
86 views

What happens if a sefer torah might have a mistake?

If a sefer torah has a definite mistake, it cannot be used, and the reading must be done again from a kosher torah. (SA OC 143:4) But what if it only might have a mistake? For example, if it's ...
5
votes
2answers
107 views

Is a Torah that does NOT have the (rabbati) large and small letters (keti'ah) still kosher?

I have a Torah in my shul that does not have any large or small letters where required (e.g. - the 1st letter in the Torah, "Breishit", is written larger than the rest.) Is this Torah still considered ...
5
votes
1answer
200 views

What is the correct pronunciation of last letter in the Hebrew alphabet?

I have heard mixed answers as to how to pronounce the letter תּ Is it taf or tav? (I'm referring to the halachic pronunciation not the common street way.) Is there a difference between Ashkenazi or ...
5
votes
0answers
146 views

Good resource for learning vowel pronunciation

In trying to improve my leyning, I'm trying to get the finer points of vowel pronunciation down. What is a good resource to learn, e.g., the difference between a patach and chataf-patach or a ...
5
votes
1answer
264 views

how do you pronounce the soft reish?

from the sefer yetzirah it seems that there is both a hard and soft letter reish (see 4th perek, aryeh kaplan edition). How do you pronounce the soft reish?
4
votes
1answer
224 views

How do I pronounce “yod” when there is a dot inside of it?

I'm trying to brush up on my Hebrew. As an American Jew, it is still important to me to be able to recite my prayers from the siddur in their original Hebrew. How do I pronounce "yod" when there is a ...
4
votes
2answers
213 views

Correcting tav/sav

If someone who usually pronounces the letter "ת" without a dagesh as "sav" is leining Torah, and he accidentally says "tav" in a place where he would normally say "sav", should the gabbai correct him? ...
4
votes
1answer
182 views

Meaning of Mappik in יה

One more question about mappik (I don't know what happened to me, but this topic somewhat disturbs me lately :)) What is the meaning of the mappik in the following Hebrew words: יָהּ הַלְלוּיָהּ ...
4
votes
6answers
175 views

Why was the letter “Hai” added to Avraham's name?

Avarham Avinu was originally Avram - and Hashem added the letter Hai to his name and changed it to Avraham. Why from all letters was the letter Hai added?
3
votes
1answer
51 views

Why does the Machzor Rabba sometimes have an א at the bottom of the page?

My Machzor Rabba, nusach Ashkenaz, sometimes prints a dot, and sometimes an א at the bottom of the page. Anyone know why? I've included pictures of a double page with two dots, one with two alephs, ...
3
votes
1answer
147 views

פ in German Sta"M Script

Does anyone know the German custom for the letter pey in Sta"m sofer? I know that the shape in Litvisch Bet Yosef is influenced by the Mekubalim of Tzfat (The Ari in particular) who said that the ...
3
votes
2answers
124 views

What is the problem with writing שט as a number?

In Hebrew, numbers are represented by letters. When these letters spell out something unpleasant or undesirable, they are moved around. An example is שד which means “demon” becomes דש in the Mishna ...
2
votes
2answers
192 views

Why werent Rashi letters changed back

What is the basis of the change in Rashi's letters from the standard Hebrew ones? And if it was something that was dependent on a specific factor then, why weren't they changed back?
2
votes
2answers
135 views

Mappik in Kaddish

What is the meaning of mappiks in Kaddish. ...יִתְגַּדַּל וְיִתְקַדַּשׁ שְׁמֵהּ ...כִרְעוּתֵהּ... ...מַלְכוּתֵהּ... Isn't a mappik in the word שְׁמֵהּ (for example) would mean her name. So who is ...
1
vote
0answers
32 views

How to pronounce the name שימי

There's an amora (or at least one) in the Bavli named שימי. I think I've always heard this pronounced with an initial letter sin. However, I saw recently that the Koren-Steinsaltz edition has a ...
1
vote
1answer
91 views

Which letters can be exchanged in a gematria/notarikon?

So, for instance, the rabbis would sometimes count hei (ה) as if it were chet (ח) (as in, yShabbat 7:2). Are there other letters that you are allowed to switch when computing a gematria or deriving a ...
1
vote
0answers
29 views

May the Jewish year be abbreviated in legal documents?

In conjunction with this question I would like to know if the popular abbreviation for the Jewish year 5774 commonly written as תשע״ד may be used in legal documents and if so why.
1
vote
1answer
66 views

Why do we abbreviate the Jewish year to the hundreds column?

The current Jewish year is 5774 however it is popularly abbreviated as 774 - תשע״ד. I would like to know why this abbreviation was adopted. I realize that to write out the number 5,000 would require ...