Questions about the Hebrew letters, or aleph-bet.

learn more… | top users | synonyms (1)

29
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 ...
17
votes
2answers
1k 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 ...
12
votes
2answers
649 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).
12
votes
2answers
138 views

Why does almost every pasuk in Megillat Ruth start with a vav?

Every single pasuk except 8 in megillat Ruth starts with the letter vav. Is there any reason for this or is it just a quirk of how it was written? If there is a reason, what about the 8 pesukim which ...
11
votes
8answers
361 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
2answers
178 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 ...
11
votes
1answer
458 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 ...
10
votes
1answer
725 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?
10
votes
0answers
88 views

Why do we write the number 16 as tet + zayin? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: How could the numerals יה and יו be used irreverently? I understand that we write the number 15 as tet vav as opposed to yud hey to avoid writing the shem Hashem, but ...
9
votes
1answer
492 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 ...
8
votes
2answers
228 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
1answer
172 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
119 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
339 views

Why shin and sin?

Why does Hebrew use the same letter to represent two different sounds: shin and sin? As far as I know, with the exception of when using a dagesh kal, no other Hebrew letter has this property.
7
votes
5answers
398 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
119 views

If the “Nun” preceding Bamidbar (Num) 10:35 is not upside down, is the Torah still kosher?

While reading last week's parsha, I noticed that the letter "nun" immediately preceding the verse Vayehi B'nso'ah ha'aron Bamidbar 10:35 was written as regular nun (tagin on top) rather than upside ...
6
votes
3answers
257 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
99 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
240 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
120 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, ...
6
votes
1answer
353 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
1answer
212 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
2answers
604 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
4answers
277 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?
5
votes
2answers
96 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
2answers
108 views

Is a Sfardi ש incorrect according to this Gemara?

In Masechet Shabbat 104a, it talks about the shapes of the letters, and meaning behind it. One thing it says is: ומאי טעמא שיקרא אחדא כרעיה קאי ואמת מלבן לבוניה? And what is the reason that ...
5
votes
1answer
154 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
1answer
83 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, ...
5
votes
1answer
203 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?
5
votes
2answers
472 views

What is the Real Alter Rebbe Ksav?

There is a tradition that the Alter Rebbe (R' Shneur Zalman of Liadi) innovated a new Ksav (not the one in the Shulchan Aruch Harav) and taught it to sofrim who passed it on from teacher to student. ...
5
votes
0answers
38 views

י-ו as a name of Hashem

Sometimes the letters י-ו seem to serve as a name of Hashem. For example, many authors replace י-ו with טז in a numbering system, presumably so as to not write Hashem's name, similar to replacing י-ה ...
5
votes
0answers
137 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
120 views

Adir Hu - mi yodeya?

A popular song sung at the seder is Adir Hu. The song contains many phrases of the pattern: [Adjective] is He. that are grouped together alphabetically with a refrain asking for the speedy ...
4
votes
6answers
169 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?
4
votes
3answers
400 views

Is there a chart available displaying all Hebrew letters and vowels?

I'm looking for a nice chart that will give me the following things, so I can print it out and keep it handy: Picture of each letter in traditional "book" font = Picture of each letter in ...
4
votes
2answers
114 views

Bais Vov & Kof in Tehilim 25; why are they missing?

In Tehilim ch. 25 it goes through the entire alphabet and skips the letter "Bais" "Vav" & "Kof"; why so?
4
votes
1answer
167 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
109 views

Midrash on children and the letter shapes?

I've heard about a midrash that discusses a day when little children took over the study hall and, by interpreting the shapes of the Hebrew letters, articulated many of Judaism's most powerful ...
4
votes
1answer
123 views

What is the proper way to write the year when it is a year that ends in מנצפך?

When the year ends with one of the letters of מנצפך - for example 5780 - What is the correct way to write it תש"פ or תש"ף?
4
votes
1answer
165 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
2answers
183 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? ...
3
votes
2answers
263 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
161 views

All but every 6th letter begins the name of a misechte

For each letter in the aleph beis, there is at least one misechte in shas whose name starts with it — besides for every 6th letter (vuv, lamed and tzadi). Did anyone ever hear any explanation ...
3
votes
4answers
356 views

Computer Support for Nekudos [closed]

Can it hurt to include Nekudos (vowel marks) when typing Hebrew? Do all systems that support Hebrew lettering automatically support Nekudos? If not, do they at least degrade gracefully?
3
votes
1answer
101 views

What's the significance of the dot in “bqr” in Danial vs the omission of the same in Genesis

In researching the phrase "evening and morning" I noticed a very small difference in the Hebrew text between Genesis 1 (e.g. 1:4) and Daniel 8:14, where the latter has a tiny dot in the first letter ...
3
votes
3answers
140 views

Small Kaf in ולבכתה (when Avraham mourns Sara)

Genesis 23:2: וַתָּמָת שָׂרָה, בְּקִרְיַת אַרְבַּע הִוא חֶבְרוֹן--בְּאֶרֶץ כְּנָעַן; וַיָּבֹא, אַבְרָהָם, לִסְפֹּד לְשָׂרָה, וְלִבְכֹּתָהּ.‏ And Sarah died in Kiriatharba--the same is ...
3
votes
1answer
48 views

Source for the order of the aleph-beis?

What is the source for the Hebrew alphabet being in the order that it is? Meaning I realize that there are perhaps several sources that Aleph is the first letter, beis is the second etc, but is there ...
3
votes
1answer
214 views

If I accidentally write Hashem's name, can I fix it?

Specifically, if I intended to write a tzadei (צ) and I begin by making the two top yuds (') [Hashem's name] - can I complete my tzadei?
3
votes
1answer
231 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?
3
votes
1answer
145 views

Why are some letters in the names of Haman's sons little?

In Esther 9:7,9 there are letters in the names of Haman's sons which are written smaller than usual in the megillah. Barring the purimfest 1946 explanation, what is the reason for these letters being ...