Questions about Hebrew grammar as related to Judaism.

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6
votes
1answer
118 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, ...
5
votes
2answers
132 views

Yumatu and the plural in Dev 24

Devarim 24:16 makes a statement which is central to Jewish theology. The posuk makes clear that a father will not be put to death for the sins of his son and that a son will not be put to death for ...
5
votes
2answers
76 views

Shifting subjects and objects in Gen 12:15

There are three statements in Genesis 12:15: וַיִּרְאוּ אֹתָהּ שָׂרֵי פַרְעֹה וַיְהַלְלוּ אֹתָהּ אֶל פַּרְעֹה וַתֻּקַּח הָאִשָּׁה בֵּית פַּרְעֹה And Pharaoh's princes saw her, and they ...
5
votes
3answers
385 views

How do you pronounce Hashem's name when there is a prefix?

When you have a prefix, such as a lamed, before the name YKVK people pronounce it la | donai instead of la | a | donai. Why?
3
votes
0answers
111 views

Intonation of questions in ancient Hebrew [closed]

That is, when someone asks a question in English, their pitch goes up at the end. When someone makes a statement in English, their pitch goes down. This is not universal: In German, only some ...
5
votes
1answer
190 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?
6
votes
1answer
73 views

Final Nun vs. Final Mem in “Madlikin”

In the Hanerot Halalu that we recite when lighting the Hanukkah candles, it says "anachnu madlikin." Why madlikin and not madlikim? Why is a final nun used and not a final mem? I have searched ...
10
votes
2answers
160 views

“־הם” versus “־מו”

Usually, the suffix "־הם" is used to mean "them" as an object, as is "להם" or "אליהם". Or it is used to mean "their" in possessive form, as in "כליהם" or "אבותיהם". But sometimes, the very same usage ...
10
votes
1answer
168 views

Accent mark in וישבע לו

In many Chumashim, the word וישבע in Parshas Chayei Sara (24:9) contains both a munach and a meseg (meteg). One example: I do not understand what the meseg is doing there under the beis. Typically ...
8
votes
2answers
202 views

הקדוש ברוך הוא אנחנו אוהבים אותך ‎— or אותו?

There is a popular song some of whose lyrics are "הקדוש ברוך הוא אנחנו אוהבים אותך". Does anyone have a source — besides some recent lyricist — for these words precisely, or a source for any instance ...
6
votes
2answers
421 views

Pronunciation of משנה הלכות

Are R' Menashe Klein's volumes of responsa pronounced "Mishna Halachos" or "Mishaneh Halachos"? Can someone provide the grammatical explanation please?
10
votes
2answers
349 views

Meaning and pronunciation of יישר כחך

What is the exact meaning of the phrase "יישר כחך", and what is the gramatically-correct way to pronounce it?
2
votes
1answer
157 views

Pronunciation of Esther's cousin's name.

I have seen a couple of places where Mordechai’s name is spelled with a kamatz katan under the daled. Has anyone else seen this and do you know which is more accurate: Mordechai/ Mordachai/ Mordochai ...
6
votes
1answer
136 views

Plural vs Singular masechtot names

Why are some masechtot names plural (e.g. gitin, kidushin) while others are singular (e.g. tomid, nida and shabos)?
3
votes
1answer
100 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
155 views

יִבָּנֶה הַמִּקְדָּשׁ עִיר צִיּוֹן תְּמַלֵּא — why not תִּמָּלֵא?

The Shabas table song "Tzur mishelo achalnu" contains the following line: יִבָּנֶה הַמִּקְדָּשׁ עִיר צִיּוֹן תְּמַלֵּא yibane hamikdash ir Tziyon t'male the Temple should be built; you ...
6
votes
2answers
220 views

Zeicher vs Zecher

What is the underlying argument between the two pronunciations and what are the multiple ways to deal with the problem?
1
vote
0answers
50 views

Is our practice often at variance with the psak of the Mishnah Berura as in the brocho on the Talis Godol? [closed]

Mishnah Berura, OC 8 (4) [10] says that the brocho on the Talis Godol is “lehisataif b*e*tzitis” and not as I see in the all my siddurim “lehisataif b*a*tzitis”. Are there many cases where what we do ...
22
votes
3answers
319 views

Female praying in masculine language

When women daven (pray), even by ourselves, it is convention to daven with male-gendered words ("modeh" vs "moda" as one of many examples). Why is this; are there sources that say we should be doing ...
6
votes
2answers
160 views

How to pronounce the name of the sefer “Bnei Yso(s)cher”

How does one pronounce the name of the sefer בני יששכר ? I've heard people pronounce both sins -- so it is Ysoscher. (There is also a common custom to pronounce the name יששכר with both sins the ...
4
votes
2answers
237 views

Bameh Madlikin grammar

In congregations that daven with Nusach Ashkenaz, the Friday night Maariv is preceded with a recitation of Mishnayos beginning with the words: Bameh madlikin u'vamoh ain madlikin... I always wondered ...
3
votes
1answer
101 views

Why are a couple words in Ma'oz Tzur different in some sidduriim?

The Text I am referring to is: רָעוֹת שָׂבְעָה נַפְשִׁי, בְּיָגוֹן כֹּחִי כָּלָה חַיַּי מֵרְרוּ בְקֹשִׁי, בְּשִׁעְבּוּד מַלְכוּת עֶגְלָה וּבְיָדוֹ הַגְּדוֹלָה הוֹצִיא אֶת הַסְּגֻלָּה חֵיל ...
6
votes
1answer
138 views

“Hayom yom X b'shabas” or “bashabas”?

A sidur I used this morning had the introductory line of the shir shel yom as "hayom yom sheni b'shabas". When I checked the two sidurim I trust the most for excatitude in these matters, one had ...
0
votes
2answers
71 views

She'asah nissim — why only past tense?

When we light the chanukiyah we say "she'asah nissim...b'yamim hahem bizman hazeh", with a past-tense "asah". While the miracles worked in the past (b'yamim hahem) are in the past (tautology alert!), ...
10
votes
1answer
150 views

When do we read a vav prefix as “or” rather than “and”?

This answer cites the Ralbag as interpreting a (critical-to-the-question) vav prefix on a verb as "or". I've heard before that a vav prefix is not always "and" and can be "or" or even "but". Is ...
2
votes
0answers
149 views

Hebrew Grammar: How did Nif'al end up as the passive/reflexive of pa'al? [closed]

I have been trying to figure this out by comparing Hebrew binyanim to Arabic and Akkadian conjuations. But I cannot figure it out. Is Nif'al a natural part of the G-stem (like pa'al) or has it ...
4
votes
1answer
127 views

Why Lachem and not Lechem?

At the end of Birkas Hamazon, why do we say 'vezaro mevakesh lachem' and not 'lechem'? Thanks!
8
votes
3answers
3k views

Two words for “redeem”: what's the difference?

When we talk about "redeeming" a first-born son or a captive, we use "pidyon" (root פדה). When we talk about what God does for us we use "goel" (גאל). My dictionary translates both of these roots as ...
8
votes
2answers
284 views

Meaning of ח-ל-צ

Words of the root חלצ seem to have contradictory meanings. On the one hand it is used in the sense of "removing," as in בית חלוץ הנעל and כי חלצת נפשי ממות. On the other hand, warriors are called ...
10
votes
3answers
365 views

Yisgadal or Yisgadel?

I've noticed that some people, when reciting kaddish, pronounce the first words as "yisgadal v'yiskadash" with a patach under the dalet of both words, while others say "yisgadel v'yisgadesh" with a ...
6
votes
3answers
197 views

רָקִיאַע or רָקִיַע

The מנחת שי at the beginning of בראשית (on "יהי רקיע") cites a מחלוקת whether the word 'רָקִיעַ' (and likewise for other words with a פתח גנובה) is pronounced as רָקִיאַע or as רָקִיַע, that is, with ...
4
votes
1answer
162 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
155 views

Mappik pronunciation in Aramaic

Inspired by this question, I understand that mappik in Aramaic has a different meaning than in Hebrew. I just wanted to be sure: is mappik in Aramaic pronounced the same way as in Hebrew?
2
votes
2answers
125 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
167 views

BinyOn or binyAn adai-ad in one of the sheva brochos?

At a chupah today, in the brocho of “asher yotzar es ho’odom betzalmo” a learned Rabbi said the word “binyOn” before “adai-ad” rather than the more usual “binyAn”. “binyOn” is the text in the Baer ...
7
votes
4answers
785 views

Does “ki” have four meanings or one?

There is a well-known statement by Resh Lakish in Gitin (90) that כי" משמש בד' לשונות: אי, דלמא, אלא, דהא" "ki" expresses four meanings... There has been discussion over the ages as to what ...
9
votes
2answers
235 views

Is there a difference between “p” and “f” when transliterating from English to Hebrew?

When transliterating an English name to Hebrew (e.g. for a Ketubah or Get), is there a way to distinguish between a "p" and "f" sound? E.g. Fine, NY vs Pine, CO. Would both just be spelled (assuming ...
3
votes
2answers
121 views

What is the proper pronunciation of ומפז?

Tehilim 19 which is said Shabbos morning at Shacharis has the following Posuk הנחמדים מזהב ומפז רב. I have seen Artscroll Sedurim with a Patach under the Pei of UmiPaz and I have seen Artscroll ...
2
votes
1answer
110 views

How does the word “Talmud” derive from root LMD? Is the word Aramaic?

I know what "Talmud" means and that it derives from the root Lamed Mem Dalet. But I cannot figure out how the word derives. Is it Aramaic (i.e. not Hebrew) and/or are there any other words that follow ...
3
votes
3answers
140 views

Is there a single syntactic class “פעיל” in Biblical Hebrew?

Is there a unique class of Biblical Hebrew words of the form "פעיל"?Is the putative class of Biblical Hebrew words strictly a class of nouns or adjectives?If not, is it strictly divisible into two ...
9
votes
1answer
622 views

Why so many vocalized shvas in Siddur Tehillat Hashem?

I prayed using a Siddur Tehillat Hashem the other day, and I noticed that many more shvas were marked with an asterisk above, indicating that they should be vocalized, than I'd expect. In particular, ...
8
votes
3answers
175 views

Why is there a ה in “מוהל”?

The Hebrew word for the act performed at a circumcision is "לימול". The root appears to be נ.מ.ל. Following the exceptional rules for roots whose first letter is נ, the causative participle and ...
4
votes
2answers
148 views

Is it “mechayei meisim UHTTuh” or “mechayeh meisim atTUH” (rav lehoshia) in shmoneh esrei?

I've seen both pronunciations (at the beginning of the second bracha in shmoneh esrei): Aleph-patach, tav-kuhmuhtz, heh (implied stress on second syllable) Aleph-kuhmuhtz-meseg, tav-kuhmuhtz, heh ...
2
votes
2answers
83 views

Internal Passive With Characteristic “u” Vowel

In Biblical Hebrew, what is the "internal passive with characteristic u vowel"?
10
votes
3answers
469 views

Disparity between male and female pronunciation of Cholam

In many Yeshivish communities in the US, the male segment of the population vocalizes the cholam as "oi," while their female counterparts vocalize it as a long "o". How did this come about? Does the ...
6
votes
1answer
398 views

מֶה, מָה, מַה - Meh, Mah, Ma - What's the difference?

What causes the difference in vowelization of the Hebrew word for "what"? In some contexts it is מֶה, in others - מָה, and in yet others - מַה. The hypothesis that an acquaintance and I converged on ...
3
votes
2answers
81 views

Why is Yosef sometimes spelled with an extra Hai?

עֵדוּת | בִּֽיהוֹסֵף שָׂמוֹ בְּצֵאתוֹ עַל־ אֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם In Tehilim 81 we see Yosef spelled with an extra Hai? What is the reason for this?
1
vote
1answer
56 views

“Ad shetichleh” or “ad shetikaleh”?

What is the correct ניקוד (and concomitant translation) of the word שתכלה in the phrase עד שתכלה רגל מן השוק ? Is it תִכְלֶה, which would be קל or תִכָּלֶה, which would be נפעל? Does this ...
1
vote
2answers
105 views

What information do Hebrew pronouns carry/express?

(inspired by this question) Does the nominal pronoun in a Hebrew sentence with a conjugated verb i) add information or ii) deserve to be translated? Conversely, exactly how muchi) information does ...
4
votes
1answer
282 views

Why are some Hebrew prepositions always conjugated in plural form?

(inspired by this question) Certain Hebrew prepositions, such as אל, על, and לפני, are always conjugated in the plural form even with a singular object: thus אליו, עליך, etc. Others don't: the ...