Why do the Sifrei Eme"s (i.e. Job, Proverbs, Psalms) have cantillation marks?

Are they read to a tune or is it just punctuation for personal usage?

Have they ever been read publicly with the tune?

(See here for what inspired me to ask this.)

  • Very related: judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/13949/…
    – Isaac Moses
    Feb 6, 2012 at 14:54
  • The Tzemach Tzedek of Lubavitch was said to have taught his firstborn son, Reb Boruch Shalom the cantillation in the sifrei EME"S as they are referred to, which was distinctly different to the tune of the rest of Tanach. Jan 23, 2017 at 11:35

6 Answers 6


Many sephardim still have a tradition as to the melody of the ta'amei emet. You can buy recordings of the Moroccan tradition from http://www.tht.co.il/default.asp. If you've visited sepharadi synagogues before, you may recognize the melody -- we use it for Kabbalat Shabbat.

As for the question of why they have ta'amim: the books of the Tanach need some sort of Masoretic punctuation so that we can understand the proper grammatical reading of the text. Whether we have a melody for those ta'amim is really a separate issue. It pays great dividends to take some time to read about the functions of the different ta'amim.

  • All 150 Tehillim audio files - read by Tzion Palach and with musical accompaniment (Yerushalmi/Syrian)- are available here: torahreading.dafyomireview.com/cd.php?cdall=tehilim-sfardi2 // I have the cassette tape set of this and R' Ovadia placed his approbation on it that R' Palach has read them with the correct pronunciation, taamim, etc., all the ma'alot. yesterday

Indeed, in a number of places here in Israel, Tehillim are read publicly on a daily basis from Tehillim scrolls written on parchment. According to many authorities, there is also a special bracha that is to be recited prior to reading material from Ketuvim out of a parchment scroll: ברוך אתה ה' א-להינו מלך העולם אשר קדשנו במצותיו וציונו לקרוא בכתבי הקודש (see for instance Masechet Soferim, chapter 14).

For a video of a public reading of Tehillim, with cantillation according to the taamei emet (Zilberman style), and with the aforementioned bracha, see here.

R' Mordechai Perlman, during his time at the Zilberman Kollel in Jerusalem, produced an instructional CD in which he teaches the cantillation of sifrei emet (according to the Zilberman style). R' Perlman has released his CD into the public domain; here is a download link for his CD.

EDIT: The link doesn't work anymore, here is a new one: https://www.dropbox.com/s/mk3pjswfc7nie8o/TaameiEmet.zip?dl=0

  • That tune for the beracha in the video sounds similar to what I usually hear on the berachot on Megillat Esther. Is there a known provenance to this tune? (If the answer's involved, let me know, and I'll post this as a real question.)
    – Isaac Moses
    Aug 23, 2013 at 3:03
  • Does the Zilberman trup vary among Tehillim, Iyov and Mishlei? My understanding is the Syrian trup does. The CD you linked to only seems to discuss Tehillim.
    – Double AA
    Oct 9, 2013 at 16:02
  • The tune they use for Mishlei is exactly the same; and, in fact, one of the sample chapters presented at the end of the CD is a chapter from Mishlei. Theoretically the trup works for Iyov, too; however, there are those who have a slightly different trup for Iyov. Oct 9, 2013 at 19:19
  • @AviShmidman Interesting. Do you know of any recordings of that Iyov trup? (And in the future try and remember to ping me @DoubleAA when replying to my comments.)
    – Double AA
    Oct 31, 2013 at 5:11
  • @DoubleAA Rav Dan Beeri has made a recording of the Iyov trup. Oct 31, 2013 at 8:59

I believe the Syrian community has a tradition of reciting the Sifrei Emet with trope.


Also, there's a widespread Sephardic custom to read the Book of Iyov publicly on Tisha BeAv. I don't know whether they use the trop, but I would assume that they do, like any other public reading.


They had a tune. The Yemenites still have a tradition for how to sing Tehillim.

In Eretz Yisrael you can pass by Yemenite Batei Kinasiyoth ("th" intentional) and still hear the children singing Tehillim with the trop.


The GRA yeshiva in Lakewood and Israel still teach the Kids with the TRUP for Thillim.

  • They use the Yemenite trop.
    – Yahu
    Dec 13, 2010 at 3:31
  • Even though it no longer exists in Lakewood Dec 13, 2010 at 4:37
  • 1
    And I believe the Merkaz haRav uses a variant on the Syrian melody. (In its Nawa variant, as opposed to Syrian Nahawand)
    – B.BarNavi
    Aug 10, 2011 at 2:46
  • There was a new trop created that is used by the Zilberman's school in Yerushalayim and the kids use that. It is more Ashkenaz-friendly. Feb 6, 2012 at 19:26

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