Questions about Hebrew grammar as related to Judaism.

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12
votes
5answers
335 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
4answers
307 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, ...
6
votes
3answers
203 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 ...
9
votes
1answer
653 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, ...
24
votes
4answers
371 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 ...
13
votes
4answers
423 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 ...
15
votes
3answers
290 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 ...
10
votes
4answers
197 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 ...
9
votes
2answers
138 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 ...
7
votes
2answers
195 views

Stress of הושיעה and הצליחה in Hallel

Why is הושיעה Mileel (penultimately stressed) whereas הצליחה is Milra (ultimately stressed) in Psalms 118:25?
6
votes
2answers
248 views

Zeicher vs Zecher

What is the underlying argument between the two pronunciations and what are the multiple ways to deal with the problem?
4
votes
5answers
587 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
1answer
109 views

Zechuto Yagen/Tagen Alenu?

Why is it that many people say זכותו יגן עלינו - according to grammar, shouldn't it be תגן עלינו since זכות is feminine? I guess I am just looking for a justification of the general practice.
2
votes
1answer
165 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 ...
0
votes
0answers
32 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. ...
14
votes
3answers
277 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, ...
11
votes
1answer
142 views

impure animals: present, future, past

The verses in Vayikra 11:4-6 gives 3 examples of different impure animals which don't have split hoofs, namely: the camel, the 'hyrax' (shafan) and the hare. An interesting thing I once noticed is ...
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
6answers
178 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 ...
11
votes
3answers
388 views

Were our symbols for trope and nekudos created by the Masoretes, or transmitted by them?

It is commonly said in secular sources that the shapes of the trope and nekudos we use today were invented by the Masoretes (7th to 11th Century CE), but I cannot find any source in our mesorah to ...
10
votes
1answer
271 views

הוא is he? Or is it?

The third-person feminine pronoun in Hebrew is היא, "hee." But in most instances in the Torah, the word is spelled הוא, with a vav rather than a yud as the middle letter. How does this make sense ...
10
votes
2answers
165 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
171 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 ...
8
votes
2answers
259 views

Is the bracha pronounced “ha-MO-tzee” or “ha-mo-TZEE”?

The blessing we say on bread, "hamotzee lechem min ha'aretz" -- on what syllable is the stress in the word "hamotzee"? Is the bracha pronounced "ha-MO-tzee" or "ha-mo-TZEE"? In Psalms 104:14 we find ...
8
votes
2answers
208 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 ...
8
votes
3answers
179 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
1answer
140 views

Change of name in Megillat Esther from Hegeh to Hegai?

In Megillat Esther, the Pasuk (2:3) says that Achashverosh gathered the girls and placed them in the women's house, and the one who guarded them was הגא (ending with an א and with a segol under the ...
7
votes
1answer
158 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
2answers
168 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
142 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
420 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
430 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?
5
votes
1answer
184 views

How to vowelize “כתובה” (“marriage document”)?

The promissory note a husband gives his wife when they wed is called a כתובה. In my experience, people usually pronounce/vowelize this word "כְּתֻבָּה / k'suba". Such a form (mishkal) exists in ...
5
votes
3answers
413 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
2answers
136 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
1answer
196 views

Bamidbar or Bemidbar?

What is the name of this week's parsha? What about the sefer? The text clearly says "Bemidbar" (or B'midbar), but many call it Bamidbar. Is this a grammatical or traditional difference? Could one ever ...
4
votes
2answers
241 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
167 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
3answers
219 views

How to say Adonainu Moreinu VeRabeinu in Aramaic

I have heard people translate "Adoneinu Moreinu VeRabeinu" (please don't ask where) into Aramaic as "Adonana Morana Verabana". I assume that the "a" is an aleph at the end. However, I realized that ...
3
votes
2answers
170 views

Why does the book of Ester use the present tense so often?

I noticed that the book of Ester uses, often very awkwardly, the present tense to describe things that usually are written in the past tense (I didn't notice this much use of the present tense in ...
3
votes
2answers
110 views

Question regarding ונביא גדול הוא קרוב ממשה רבנו in Rambam's Hilkhos Teshuva

Here is some text from Rambam's Hilkhos Teshuva: לפי שבאותן הימים תרבה הדעה והחכמה והאמת...מפני שאותו המלך שיעמוד מזרע דויד בעל חכמה יהיה יתר משלמה ונביא גדול הוא קרוב ממשה רבנו ולפיכך ילמד כל העם ...
3
votes
1answer
80 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
161 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
1answer
101 views

Why “מִי וָמִי” instead of “מִי וּמִי”?

I have always thought that as a general rule, the vav conjunctive prefix is usually a "וְ". But, when the word being "prefixed" either starts with a shva or starts with a "lip-letter" (בומ"פ), the vav ...
2
votes
2answers
128 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
36 views

vowels on vav before mem

Can someone explain why the following examples, all from parashat ki tzetzeh - כִּי תֵצֵא, are written with a kamatz: "vamet" - וָמֵת - (D'varim 21:21) "vameta" - וָמֵתָה - (D'varim 22:21) "vametu" ...
1
vote
3answers
169 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 ...
0
votes
1answer
29 views

In the phrase זכר למעשה בראשית in Kiddush, is the word זכר an adjective?

Usually, a word that has a segol such as "zecher" gets a tzerei when it becomes an adjective. Example - "mateh" becomes "matei" when used as an adjective as in "matei Levi". Q - in the phrase זכר ...
0
votes
1answer
61 views

hebrew grammar query, Bamidbar 31:17

I seek to understand Bamidbar sedra mattos Chapter 31 verse 17. Specifically, the word הֲרֹגוּ is stumping me. It is not the kal impererative masculine plural. The word Hirgoo, הִרְגוּ, appears as the ...