How does one extend the sound of the daleth in the echod of the shema as prescribed in OC 61 (6)?. The letter as we say it does not seem to allow extension. See Dalet (Wikipedia) which defines it as a "a voiced alveolar plosive" and Voiced dental and alveolar stops (Wikipedia) which defines the last term.

  • Note how I edited your question (and the code I used): the use of square brackets around the linking text and then round parentheses around the URL (address) of the link, with no space between the close-square-bracket and the open-round-paren, makes the text "OC 61 (6)" form the link to the MB. You can read more at judaism.stackexchange.com/editing-help.
    – msh210
    Commented Sep 25, 2011 at 16:10
  • 2
    In the dialectal of Hebrew I speak (Habbani Teimani hebrew) , a Daleth with out a digesh is called a Dhaleth and it pronounced like the "Th" in "they" or "them" so its really easy to prolong the sound.
    – Qoheleth
    Commented Aug 15, 2012 at 1:58
  • 2
    @AvrohomYitzchok, I don't see why you accepted my answer. While I propose one possibility (and am not now disclaiming it), I explicitly specify that I don't know that that pronunciation is what halacha is referring to.
    – msh210
    Commented Aug 15, 2012 at 7:06
  • 1
    @msh210 Good point! I accepted it on Nov 23 '11; it's a long time ago. Could it be I accepted the very point that we "don't know that that pronunciation is what halacha is referring to"! Anyway, I am sticking with the decision. Commented Aug 15, 2012 at 16:36
  • maharitz.co.il/?CategoryID=174&ArticleID=776&Page=284
    – Double AA
    Commented Apr 19, 2021 at 13:53

9 Answers 9


Chanoch and Ariel K are correct in their answer, but one can answer at greater length and detail.

The letters beged kefet, בגד כפת are distinguished from other Hebrew letters in taking a dagesh kal, a 'weak' dagesh, at the start of words or after a shva nach. The function of this dagesh kal is to distinguish between the plosive and fricative versions of the letters:

  • b/v (actually, in Mishnaic Hebrew, bh, the voiced bilabial fricative, rather than the labiodental)
  • p/f (actually, ph, again unvoiced bilabial rather than unvoiced labiodental)
  • g/gh
  • d/dh
  • t/th

(There is also beged kaperet, where there is a distinction between a resh in front or the back.)

Over the years, different groups have dropped certain of these distinctions, or mapped them to the closest phoneme in the language in their vicinity.

The daled in echad appears at the end of a word, and does not have a dagesh kal. Thus, it should be the fricative -- like the /dh/ in 'either', just as we see the Yemenites have it. The gemara speaks of elongating it, which strongly suggests that they made this distinction.

What about us? Well, we could either adopt the /dh/ for the word, for the duration of Shema; or we can ignore the Talmudic instruction, since it is no longer relevant for us.

Similarly, I would not worry about putting a pause between Eisev | BeSadcha and Hakanaf | Petil or Tizkeru | VaAsitem (the last according to the Rif's girsa) in Shema, despite Rava's instruction in Berachot 15b, because Rava was operating with different phonology, as I discuss here: http://parsha.blogspot.com/2005/03/daf-yomi-brachot-15b-feh_16.html

See also my post on this matter, when we reached it in Daf Yomi, where I also discuss the surrounding gemara.

  • 1
    Hazaq Great post!
    – Qoheleth
    Commented Aug 15, 2012 at 2:00
  • 1
    "Well, we could either adopt the /dh/ for the word, for the duration of Shema; or we can ignore the Talmudic instruction, since it is no longer relevant for us." Was that phrased to imply a preference for the latter suggestion? (It's hard to tell without hearing your intonation...)
    – Double AA
    Commented Jul 8, 2016 at 5:39
  • not really. though I do think it is a perfectly valid way to go. Commented Jul 15, 2016 at 1:21
  • 1
    >What about us? Well, we could either adopt the /dh/ for the word, for the duration of Shema; or we can ignore the Talmudic instruction, since it is no longer relevant for us. @joshwaxman how is pronouncing hebrew properly no longer relevant to us? Commented Oct 26, 2016 at 1:14
  • 1
    coming from a guy like you with an extensive blog pertaining to various topics and trying to get to the bottom of things, you are quick to brush off a biblical command of learning the holy tongue Commented Oct 26, 2016 at 19:59

We pronounce it like the "th" in the word "the".

  • Who is "we"? Yemenites?
    – Dave
    Commented Sep 25, 2011 at 20:00
  • 4
    I'm sephardic, and I've seen sephardim who always pronounce their dalet as a /d/ pronounce it as a /dh/ for keriat shema specifically, so that they can elongate the dalet.
    – Chanoch
    Commented Sep 25, 2011 at 21:08
  • 1
    Not just in temani , but many dielcts of hebrew in Sephardi, Mizrahhi and Chabashi comunites still maintined this. My Rav told me that some ashkinazim did it up untill 300 years ago ( ill get the sources)
    – Qoheleth
    Commented Aug 15, 2012 at 1:54
  • @Qoheleth have you got them yet?
    – barlop
    Commented Mar 12, 2016 at 14:18

It is possible to prolong a plosive (stop). You will hear some who are very careful with reading the prayers or the Tora pronounce a dagesh chazak (dagesh forte) as a geminate consonant; this is a longer consonant, and can be done even with a stop. (If you ever hear someone speaking Arabic or Italian (tutto), you can hear geminate stops also. Many other languages have them, too.) Essentially, the voice box keeps trying to operate (in the case of a voiced stop like dalet), but whatever is stopping the airflow (the tongue in the case of dalet) stops it for longer. A book on phonetics will explain it better; I recommend Ladefoged, A Course in Phonetics.

However, I don't know that that's what the halacha is referring to when discussing the dalet of "echad". As always, CYLOR with practical questions.

  • 1
    I think this is what I was trying to say :)
    – Dave
    Commented Sep 25, 2011 at 20:01
  • 2
    Under normal circumstances, a dagesh chazak always ends with a voiced vowel sound, doesn't it? So, if a letter with a dagesh chazak has a shva under it, the shva is always voiced and not silent. Wouldn't putting a dagesh chazak on the final letter of a word force the speaker to add an extra vowel sound at the end? When I try to pronounce "echad" like that, that's what happens to me.
    – Isaac Moses
    Commented Oct 6, 2011 at 13:47
  • @IsaacMoses, it's possible to lengthen the stop without releasing it (again, see Ladefoged or the like). (Even if it's released, I'm not sure whether the release of a stop counts as a sh'va na or whether perhaps OTOH a sh'va na is more than the mere release of a stop.) But I stated in the answer, I don't know what halacha is referring to.
    – msh210
    Commented Oct 6, 2011 at 15:23
  • 1
    This is not strictly true, and an incorrect answer. It is impossible to extend a plosive, and gemination is not a counter example, and impossible to do at the end of the word anyway. Gemenation is not extending the duration of the sound, it is about pronouncing twice: as the end of one syllable and the beginning of the next. For example, shabbath. The beith has a dagesh, so the syllables break in to shab-bath. Geminating the dhaledh would result in echad-de, not the extended d described in gemara. The correct answer is that a daledh without a dagesh is properly a fricative. Consider editing. Commented Jan 19, 2016 at 1:04
  • 1
    @msh210 Gemination occurs only across syllables. There are no "CvCC" syllables in Hebrew. The release is a new syllable. A 'C' syllable is impossible, so the new syllable is a 'Cv', with nothing but silence between them. The gemara speaks of lengthening pronunciation, not delaying the pronunciation of a new syllable. Commented Jan 19, 2016 at 3:28

During the time of the Gemara, they pronounced it like 'Th' in the. Nowadays, ashkenazim pronounce it differently, so we can no longer extend its sound.

  • Have you a source for this please? I am able to do what Dave advises above if that would be necessary. Commented Sep 26, 2011 at 14:12
  • see here. books.google.com/… Commented Oct 6, 2011 at 14:17
  • I heard that the Bach (on the side of the Tur) writes that saying it as a D-sound creates a breath, which he apparently says is very important (warning: I have not seen this inside). Commented Apr 23, 2012 at 3:38
  • 1
    Yes but Really you should realize that Th in English can be pronounced like baTH or THe and they are different sounds in english aren't they. So you should specify that for daleth without a dot you mean THe.
    – barlop
    Commented Mar 12, 2016 at 14:17

It's kind of hard to describe this in print, but it can be done if you allow the gap between the tongue and the palate to slowly fill with air as you pronounce the letter.


Here what I learn from a Rav on the same question : It is written that we should extend the dalet of the word e'had so we not confuse it with a reish (that would give a'her and not e'had). Strange assertion as the nekudot are differents anyway and the sounds are asunder. In fact it could be that this law is part of il'hot sofrim. So it is about writing not pronouncing. The top of the dalet must be extended so we can not confuse it with a reish ! So it is nothing about extending the sound of the dalet.


The source of this halakhah seems to come from Berakhot 13b.

It is well known that according to Tiberian and Babylonian pronunciation systems, דֿ was pronounced as a voiced dental fricative [ð]. The rabbis of the Babylonian Talmud would have read in (a form of) the Babylonian system. Since [ð] is a fricative, it can be easily lengthened.

It is of note that the Jews of modern Baghdad pronounced דּ and דֿ identically (as a plosive) except in two words: אחד from the Shema and אדוני. On this, see "Baghdad, Pronunciation Tradition" by Nimrod Shatil in the Encyclopedia of Hebrew Language and Linguistics.


Rav Dovid Grossman, in his Daf-Yomi shiur on daf 13a says that according to the Shulchan Aruch, the sound of the Dalet is not supposed to be audibly extended, since it would result in either a d-d-d, or dah sound, and this would ruin the word echad by making it sound like a different word. Rather, one should extend their kavanah beyond pronouncing the letter Dalet, by keeping in mind that hashem is one in all the four directions. This extra kavana is considered elongated, but the sound of the Dalet is still short.

Also, one should extend the sound of the Chet to make sure they don't rush the Dalet. This is done by having in mind that hashem is one above and below (in the heavens and earth [7 heavens+ 1 earth = 8]). This is hinted at by the little point above the letter Chet.

א - Hashem is one

ח - in Shamayim and Aretz

ד - in all four directions

  • Please see the source which I have now corrected thanks to msh210. Do you see an indication of thoughts there or do you have another source please? Commented Sep 25, 2011 at 16:08
  • The source is buchos 13b - "It has been taught: Symmachus says: Whoever prolongs the word ehad [one]. has his days and years prolonged. R. Aha b. Jacob said: [He must dwell] on the daleth. R. Ashi said: Provided he does not slur over the heth. R. Jeremiah was once sitting before R. Hiyya b. Abba, and the latter saw that he was prolonging [the word ehad] very much. He said to him: Once you have declared Him king over [all that is] above and below and over the four quarters of the ‘heaven, no more is required."
    – zaq
    Commented Sep 25, 2011 at 16:32
  • In light of Chanoch's answer, do you have a source for your interpretation?
    – YDK
    Commented Sep 25, 2011 at 17:29
  • It's how Rav Grossman teaches it in his daf yomi shiur. I think I also remember learning it that way in the shulchan aruch.
    – zaq
    Commented Sep 25, 2011 at 17:44
  • 1
    @josh, "cannot" elongate it? I'm familiar with how to pronounce a real Sephardic het, and I can rattle it around for a good few seconds. If I get around to it, I'll put up a recording online.
    – Alex
    Commented Oct 6, 2011 at 18:24

It says יאריך בד'‏ but I always thought that it doesn't necessarily mean at the end. You can have the kavonah for aleph before starting to say the word, the kavonah for ches during the eh and the kavonah for daled during the uh. It even makes more sense that you should have the kavonah in your head before you start saying the letter. Imagine saying baruch atah hashem and then thinking about what it meant.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .