Questions about Hebrew grammar as related to Judaism.

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7
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1answer
161 views

גמר חתימה טובה gender

During the nine and a half days ending with Yom Kipur, we wish each other "גמר חתימה טובה" (an end to the good signing). This seems very strange. Shouldn't it be "גמר חתימה טוב" (a good end to the ...
6
votes
1answer
135 views

What does מִלְמַעְלָה in Gen 7:20 mean?

Genesis 7:20, describing the flood, says: חֲמֵשׁ עֶשְׂרֵה אַמָּה מִלְמַעְלָה, גָּבְרוּ הַמָּיִם; וַיְכֻסּוּ, הֶהָרִים.‏ Almost everybody translates the first clause as some approximation of ...
0
votes
0answers
36 views

Why do we vary the form of the attributes of HaShem in the selicho “Kail Rachum shmecho”?

In the selicho "Kail Rachum shmecho" we ask HaShem to do things because of ("lema'an") - a list of things. Some are in the masculine form eg shemecho and some in the feminine form eg amitoch, brisoch. ...
4
votes
3answers
207 views

The dagesh in “elo-ha” means what?

I'm not so clear on the use of the dagesh as a point of definition -- I understand some fo the pronunciation issues but not all of them either so I would appreciate any help here. I recall learning ...
1
vote
0answers
45 views

How to conjugate “their resting place(s)” in Kel Malei Rachamim?

The memorial prayer Kel Malei Rachamim concludes "may they rest in peace in their resting place[s], and let us say Amen." Okay, how to say "resting place[s]." Mishkavam? Mishkaveihem? Mishkevoseihem? ...
7
votes
0answers
130 views

Why is there a custom to join “Hashem” and “Elokenu” together in the line Al Taazvenu in Shema Kolenu in Selichot

In Shema Kolenu, based on the Posuk in Psalms 38:22 we say the phrase: Al Taazvenu Hashem Elokenu Al tirchak mimenu | Don't leave us Hashem Our God Don't distance yourself from us. The ...
1
vote
1answer
110 views

Why is a chet with a patach pronounced differently? [closed]

Why is a chet with a patach at the end of a word pronounced "ACH" and not "CHA"? Example: מָשִׁיחַ
3
votes
1answer
175 views

Importance of learning grammar

What are the traditional Jewish opinions about the importance of learning and speaking Hebrew with proper grammar (dikduk)?
2
votes
0answers
225 views

Two-letter shorashim and phonetic shorashim?

I have heard many times in the name of Rabbi Shimshon Rafael Hirsch that every Hebrew shoresh (usually defined with three letters) has a more basic root of two letters. I also heard in his name that ...
6
votes
5answers
670 views

Chassidic Rebbes don't use Hebrew Grammar?

I have not witnessed enough test cases to statistically verify anything, but I have heard various Chassidic Rebbes make b'rachos and daven out loud, and without fail, they mispronounce a majority of ...
2
votes
0answers
40 views

Singular and plural language in Deut. 4:25

Why does the Pasuk (Deut. 4:25) switch between singular and plural when building up to the consequences of what "you will [do]"? "When you (sing.) will have children and grandchildren, and you (pl.) ...
3
votes
1answer
87 views

ReEh in singular (Deut. 11:26)

The Ba'al HaTurim to Deut. 11:26 cites Bab. Megillah 31b in saying that all the blessings and curses in "Mishneh Torah" (usually this means Sefer Devarim - Deuteronomy) are written in singular, and ...
13
votes
3answers
276 views

Grammatical function of Emet te'amim?

The Emet books (Iyov, Mishlei, Tehillim) have a cantillation system that is not used elsewhere in Tanach. In addition to the use of cantillation marks not found elsewhere (iluy, ole, dehi, geresh ...
3
votes
2answers
108 views

In the גמרא when should I read 'לך' as 'לְךָ' and when should I read it as 'לָךְ'?

When I use an Artscroll gemara with vowels, sometimes it will vocalize the word לך differently. The pattern I notice seems to be that it vocalizes לך as לְךָ for hebrew, i.e. a mishna or braisa, and ...
3
votes
1answer
81 views

Where does the comma go in the Birkas Kohanim, and why?

In which of the positions (1) or (2) does the comma go in the introduction to Birkas Kohanim, ברכנו בברכה המשלשת (1) בתורה (2) הכתובה על ידי משה עבדך Bless us with the blessing which is ...
10
votes
1answer
631 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 ...
14
votes
3answers
7k views

Proper recitation of Hamakom Yenachem

Is the proper phrase to console a mourner always the plural המקום ינחם אתכם בתוך שאר אבלי ציון וירושלים or should it be changed depending on whom it is said to (singluar, feminine, etc.)?
6
votes
1answer
123 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, ...
0
votes
1answer
148 views

Why is there a Vuv with a Patach in וַיִּקְרָא?

What is the reason for the patach under the vuv in וַיִּקְרָא, the first word of the third book of the Pentateuch? I would expect a schva, which, at least in modern Hebrew, is what sits under a vuv ...
14
votes
3answers
320 views

Which books help one acquire a systematic understanding of Biblical Hebrew grammar?

A question for the grammar experts. How can I learn Hebrew grammar in a systematic way? Especially a book that would help me understand how to layn properly. Something that covers rules of nikkud, ...
3
votes
0answers
118 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
3answers
453 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?
5
votes
1answer
239 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
77 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
144 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
354 views

Grammatical quirk in Yoda-esque sentences

Usually when the word אתה appears in Tanach and tfilah, we pronounce it מלרע (a-TAH or a-TOH. whichever you like, that's not really my point. The emphasis is on the end of the word). Why in ...
2
votes
1answer
183 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
144 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
103 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 ...
10
votes
2answers
187 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
117 views

Why does Rashi comment on some verb-לו phrases and not others?

A feature of lashon hakodesh (Biblical Hebrew) is that a verb is sometimes followed by "לו", inflected for the person, number, and gender of the subject, without the "לו" indicating an object of the ...
1
vote
0answers
51 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 ...
9
votes
1answer
249 views

How come Sepharadim say “Boreh peri haGEFen” but “Shelo Asani AVed”

I think Hacham Ovadia has a footnote in Hazon Ovadia on Pesach (and probably elsewhere) in which he discusses why we don't use the pausal form of gafen instead of gefen. He writes (if i remember ...
24
votes
4answers
387 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 ...
10
votes
4answers
206 views

Why does Yitzchak's blessing of Yaakov refer to Yaakov's mother's *sons*?

B'reishit 27:29 reads: Let peoples serve thee, and nations bow down to thee. Be lord over thy brethren, and let thy mother's sons bow down to thee. Cursed be every one that curseth thee, and ...
12
votes
5answers
362 views

Plural of “Nafka Minah”

(Inspired by HodofHod's commment here: Four Holy Cities) What is the proper plural for the common Aramaic phrase Nafka Minah נפקא מינה which means something along the line of "practical differences"? ...
8
votes
2answers
211 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 ...
5
votes
3answers
232 views

What's the difference between LaZman and LeZman?

In the Mishnah Brurah (676:1) it says: והגיענו לזמן הזה הלמ"ד בחיר"ק ולא בפת"ח That in the Bracha of Shehechiyanu, the Lamed in the word Lazman should be said with a Hiriq and not with a Patach. ...
4
votes
2answers
256 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
114 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 ...
0
votes
2answers
82 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!), ...
4
votes
1answer
129 views

Why Lachem and not Lechem?

At the end of Birkas Hamazon, why do we say 'vezaro mevakesh lachem' and not 'lechem'? Thanks!
10
votes
1answer
174 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
165 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 ...
12
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 ...
5
votes
2answers
94 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 ...
11
votes
1answer
190 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
175 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 ...
15
votes
3answers
333 views

Why are there two different forms of the mitzvah brachot (“l-” and “al”)?

Some mitzvah brachot are of the form ...vitzivanu "l'X" ("to X", infinitive verb), and others are of the form "al X" ("upon X", gerundive verb). I particularly noticed this during Sukkot with two ...
4
votes
1answer
177 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 ...