Questions about Hebrew grammar as related to Judaism.

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10
votes
4answers
176 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
321 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
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 ...
4
votes
3answers
208 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
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 ...
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!), ...
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!
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
14
votes
3answers
265 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
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 ...
8
votes
1answer
140 views

What are some good resources for finding the meaning of unfamiliar Hebrew and Aramaic words in Acharonim?

I have no trouble using Jastrow for Tanach and Shas but I find it difficult to apply to Acharonim. How might I use it more effectively? Are there peculiarities of grammar I'm missing? For a few ...
8
votes
4answers
286 views

Ashkenazic vs. Sefardic grammar tendencies

I notice that when referring to God in the second person in a possessive form, Sefardim often use the female form where Ashkenazim use the male form. For example, where Ashkenazim say in kedusha, ...
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 ...
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 ...
7
votes
2answers
190 views

Stress of הושיעה and הצליחה in Hallel

Why is הושיעה Mileel (penultimately stressed) whereas הצליחה is Milra (ultimately stressed) in Psalms 118:25?
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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
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?
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 ...
4
votes
2answers
164 views

Copula insertion in “Jewish American vernacular English”

What explains the unnecessary insertion of copulas before Hebrew and Yiddish participles used in English contexts? For example, why the common formulation "he is yotze" rather than simply "he yotze"? ...
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?
5
votes
1answer
187 views

Online tanach with qamatz qatan marked?

Although there are many places to find the Tanach online, I'd like to find one where qamatz qatan is specially marked. Preferably free, of course, though I'll take what I can get. Does anyone know of ...
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 ...
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?
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 ...
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 ...
6
votes
6answers
171 views

Ḥaser form of writing “Jerusalem” in the Bible

It seems that Jerusalem is always written "ḥaser" (defective) in the Bible: that is, as ירושלם, without the י/yud, as opposed "malei" (full), as ירושלים. See, for example, Isaiah 62:6. This presents a ...
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 ...
0
votes
3answers
158 views

Shoresh starting with “Vav”? [closed]

What is the only shoresh in lashon hakodesh that starts with the letter "Vav"? Nouns are fair game. (Don't tell me there is more than one - Varod or Vered is Aramaic, and the shoresh of Vidui does ...
6
votes
2answers
449 views

Does the vav hahipuch also mean “and”? Do all those extra “ands” belong in the Bible?

I know that in Biblical Hebrew, take a word like "Vaydaber." "Yedaber" = "He will speak"; the "v" flips the word from future tense to past, so it's "he spoke." Most translations understand the "v" ...
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?
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 ...
9
votes
2answers
136 views

verb + its infinitive

Many, many times in Tanach, including Chumash, a verb has its infinitive nearby. Examples include B'reshis 2:16 מִכֹּל עֵץ הַגָּן אָכֹל תֹּאכֵל (I think that's the first example in Chumash) and ...
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 ...