The common practice in current prayer books is to use a meteg to mark the stressed syllable in non-biblical texts if it's not the last one. The earliest edition using this method I have found is R' Heidenheim's siddur (this particular copy is from 1806). In R' Emden's siddur from 1745 there's no such marking yet. On the other hand, in Isaac Satanow's siddur from 1785 all stressed syllables are marked with a meteg, even in case of words with ultimate stress. Do we know who came up with the current system? Alternatively, could you find earlier editions than the Safah Berurah with the current solution?

  • The prayer book edited by the grammarian רבי שבתי סופר מפרעמישלא in the 16th century marks all accented syllables with a meteg.
    – paquda
    Commented Mar 9, 2021 at 16:15
  • @paquda I've been looking for his prayer book for a while on the internet. Is it available somewhere? Commented Mar 9, 2021 at 16:19
  • The wikipedia page ha links to several editions online: he.wikipedia.org/wiki/…
    – paquda
    Commented Mar 9, 2021 at 16:22
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    My grandparents' wedding bencher has a meteg even on the last syllable. I don't know who printed it, but they got married in New York in the late 50s. It's a little pink hardcover book that contains the kind of things you'd see in more recent benchers, but also birchos hashachar, and it has the Star Spangled Banner and Hatikvah in the back.
    – Heshy
    Commented Feb 15, 2023 at 17:00

1 Answer 1


Heinrich Guggenheim credits Wolf Heidenheim with this system in the introduction to his Haggadah. He writes:

Heidenheim also was the first to print the meteg when the accent is not on the last syllable.

I can't find another place where this is stated explicitly. However, although he doesn't explicitly claim it as his invention, Heidenheim does devote two full pages to explaining his system and the need for it in the introduction to his siddur שפה ברורה (see pages 9 and 10 here).

On the other hand, Yosef Ofer (in an article in Leshonenu vol 64, pp. 297–313) credits this to Seligman Baer in his siddur עבודת ישראל (see the bottom of p. 299). I'm not sure what to make of Baer postdating Heidenheim; perhaps Ofer meant that it was popularised by Baer.*

* He also writes (footnote 8) of a 14th-century Italian mishna manuscript that marks the accent with a meteg mostly for non-ultimately-accented words, ie. the system in question. It sounds like it's not 100% consistent in this respect, so this may not be a proper example. You can see the beginning here, where in the first mishna, תכלת has a meteg in one occurence but not in another, and דרך has no meteg in its first occurence. The third mishna is much more consistent, however.

  • Good old weiberteutsch! Although it's not 100% sure, I find it quite compelling that he had to explain this in the introduction… Commented Feb 16, 2023 at 9:27

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