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 why the first במה is vowalized with a segol (bameh) while the second one gets a komatz (bamoh). They both seem to mean the same thing, so why do they have a different nikkud?

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    +1 Not that this is really going to answer you question but there are Kabbalistic meanings to the vowels. However, as I say when it comes to Kaballah online- completely Asur to teach or to even mention (see Shut HaRashba 1:114, Yechawe Daat 4:47, Yabia Omer 10:23, Or Neerav ch. 6, Or Lesion Hochma UMussar sect. Torah ch. 7, Hakdama to Es Haim). – Hacham Gabriel Dec 25 '11 at 3:40
  • @H'Gabriel Can you at least provide a source for the fact that the vowels in the Mishna have special Kabbalistic significance and are not just by products of grammar? – Double AA Dec 25 '11 at 3:51
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    @H'Gabriel - not to doubt you or anything, but I am highly skeptical about the existence of any kind of mesorah with regard to the nikkud of Mishnayos. – Dave Dec 25 '11 at 4:01
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    @H'Gabriel - Since when is Mishnayos a "Kaballah based text" (whatever that means)? And in any case, in order for the vowels to have any kabbalistic significance, there would have to be an exact tradition as to what the correct vowels are, which I do not think exists for Mishnayos in any form. Unless you are saying that the nikkud in all the siddurim is based on kabbalistic meanings, but that is just not plausible. – Dave Dec 25 '11 at 4:26
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    Related: judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/5277. – msh210 Dec 25 '11 at 20:08

The M'leches Shlomo (link) suggests (as does @AvrohomYitzchok in the comments to @H'Gabriel's answer) that it has to do with the following word starting with an "aleph". This would be based on the fact that we find uses of "במה" in Tanach to follow this rule. It seems that this would be a rule specific to the word "במה" and not fall into more general rules that we have for vowelization.

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No source for this, but I believe there used to be Shiur given at my Shul about this subject. The Shiruim would speak about why some words change the their vowels while next to other words. For example, "Bet Hakeneset" why not "Bayit HaKeneset"? It has to do with the grammar.

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    Well, yes, it definitely has something to do with the grammar. In the example you gave, the word "bayit" gets changed to "bet" because it means "the house of..." (this is called "nismach"). That rule is not relevant at all in my case. My question is: What grammatical principle causes the variation in the nikkud of "bameh"? – Dave Dec 25 '11 at 4:04
  • @Dave If you are looking for the name, BN BH I can find tomorrow. Are you? – Hacham Gabriel Dec 25 '11 at 4:14
  • the name of what? – Dave Dec 25 '11 at 4:21
  • Name of the rule/kelal in Hebrew grammar. Is that what you are searching for? – Hacham Gabriel Dec 25 '11 at 4:33
  • Yes, if you could find the name of a grammatical rule that explains the nikkud in the specific case I raised, that would make me happy. – Dave Dec 25 '11 at 4:46

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