Questions about Hebrew grammar as related to Judaism.

learn more… | top users | synonyms (2)

12
votes
5answers
361 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"? ...
5
votes
5answers
668 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 ...
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 ...
15
votes
3answers
332 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 ...
9
votes
4answers
324 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, ...
7
votes
5answers
271 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
695 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, ...
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 ...
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 ...
13
votes
4answers
448 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 ...
13
votes
3answers
477 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
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 ...
9
votes
2answers
143 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
203 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
283 views

Zeicher vs Zecher

What is the underlying argument between the two pronunciations and what are the multiple ways to deal with the problem?
3
votes
2answers
187 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
113 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
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 ...
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. ...
14
votes
3answers
317 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
155 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
217 views

Good Talmudic Grammar resource for one unfamiliar with grammar in general?

Inspired by: How to say Adonainu Moreinu VeRabeinu in Aramaic I'd like to understand Talmudic/Aramaic Grammar a little better and am looking for a good resource that will break it down for me. ...
7
votes
6answers
182 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
122 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, ...
15
votes
8answers
602 views

Why is “Shalom Aleichem” always plural?

Why do we say Shalom Alaichem to one person if Alaichem is plural? Is it saying you and all of the Jews? Is that why it's plural?
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 ...
10
votes
1answer
334 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
1answer
629 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
265 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
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 ...
8
votes
3answers
184 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
151 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
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 ...
7
votes
2answers
502 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
1answer
211 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 ...
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 ...
6
votes
1answer
144 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
453 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
431 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
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 ...
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 ...
5
votes
1answer
212 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
1answer
47 views

Is there a difference in meaning between קָדֹֽשׁ and קֹֽדֶשׁ?

I am helping my son lain parshat Emor. He's having a hard time seeing the difference between קֹֽדֶשׁ and קָדֹ֥שׁ esp. when they are written the same. Usually, when I train students to lain, I try to ...
4
votes
1answer
83 views

Why does the Rambam change language?

In Hilchos Megillah V'Chanukah, the Rambam writes in 2:15 טו. כיצד חובת סעודה זו שיאכל בשר ויתקן סעודה נאה כפי אשר תמצא ידו, ושותה יין עד שישתכר וירדם בשכרות Why does the Rambam switch from ...
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 ...
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 ...
3
votes
2answers
58 views

What is the plague being referred to in Parshas Korach?

Bamidbar 17:11 ויאמר משה אל אהרן קח את המחתה ותן עליה אש מעל המזבח ושים קטרת והולך מהרה אל העדה וכפר עליהם כי יצא הקצף מלפני יהוה החל הנגף And Moses said unto Aaron: 'Take thy fire-pan, and ...
3
votes
2answers
232 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
114 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 ...