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I asked a question about the orthography of two words in the last chapter of the Shema, and I started to wonder, whether the presence of a maqaf mattered with respect to word count. And if you actually count the words in the Shema, you can see that there are 215 separate words and 33 more joined with a maqaf.* Same story with Vihi noam, there are 116 + 13 words (plus 1 for the whole psalm totalling 130).** However, if you do the same with Psalm 67, you will quickly realise that you have to count words joined with a maqaf as a single word to get 49, because by using the other method you would have 4 extra words. I would have expected a single method to be used. Does the difference in the counting method have any relevance? What do sources tell about this issue?

* So it doesn't, but don't forget to count Barukh shem kevod and Hashem Elokeikhem emet!
** So why don't we just add 3 for each chapter at the Shema?

  • The Ari z"l has teachings regarding how to count in regard to maqaf but I believe it is related to specific circumstances, not a general rule to be applied everywhere. – Yaacov Deane May 26 at 17:20
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    sefaria.org/Sanhedrin.22a.14?with=all&lang=bi (see Rashi and count the number of words in the verse) – Joel K May 26 at 17:34
  • As far as trop rules are concerned, two words joined with a makkaf are always treated as one joint-word except for these rules – Double AA May 26 at 18:59
  • The Mesoretic notes count them as two words. As did the Chassidei Ashkenaz when they said that the various berakhos of the Shemoneh Esrei (weekday Amidah in particular) had word counts that hinted at various pesuqim or peraqim of Tehillim on the same theme. – Micha Berger May 27 at 16:28
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    @Kazibácsi בת שבע is probably related to judaism.stackexchange.com/q/103592/759 – Double AA Jun 1 at 14:26
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With Psalm 67, the extra four words you're seeing are verse 1, which is the caption, and isn't counted towards the total. Indeed, any siddur that has these words for the respective days of Sefiras Haomer begins with אלקים, the first word of verse 2, and not with למנצח. Examples include R' Yaakov Emden's siddur, the Baal Hatanya's siddur, Siddur Hageonim Vehamekubalim, etc. (Also, when it's shown in the form of a menorah, as in many siddurim - an example is here - only verses 2-8 make up the text in the branches.)

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  • Sorry, exactly where do I see it in R' Emden's siddur? I can't see there word count or similar. – Kazi bácsi May 30 at 18:50
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    @Kazibácsi About halfway down the page that I linked, you'll see היום יום אחד לעומר, followed by אנא אלקים י (the respective words from אנא בכח, from אלקים יחננו, and the letter from ישמחו), and the same thing on subsequent days (on the following pages). Same with the other two siddurim. – Meir May 31 at 2:20

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