Who knows twenty-nine?

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29 tefachim is the midpoint of the height of the Altar in the Beis Hamikdash. This was marked with a red line around the Altar. (Rambam, Hil. Beis Habechirah 2:6-8)

The significance of this demarcation was that the blood of certain offerings had to be applied to the upper half of the Altar, and of others to the lower half.

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    Checkmark for being sourced, significant, not contrived, and not rounded. And Mikdashed. :) – Isaac Moses May 4 '10 at 15:52

29 days in a short month.


29 are the consonantal phonemes represented (supposed to be, anyway) by the letters of the alef-beis.

(There are 22 letters; six of them, בג"ד כפ"ת, have plosive and fricative forms, and one, ש, has two different sibilant sounds.)

Though no one I've ever heard of pronounces all 29 of them as distinct sounds.

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    On the contrary, that verse seems to support the idea that Sin and Samech are supposed to have different sounds. Otherwise it could have just said, אמר-נא שִׁבלת ויאמר שִׂבלת. The point would be that the Ephraimites mispronounced /sh/ as /s/, not as whatever phoneme Sin was supposed to represent. – Alex May 3 '10 at 20:48
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    Also, consider the minimal pairs חרשׂ "earthenware" and חרס "sun" (poetic), or סרים "turning away" (pl.) and שׂרים "princes, noblemen"; those seem to indicate pretty clearly that there was supposed to be a difference in pronunciation. – Alex May 3 '10 at 20:48
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    Teimani and Syrian Jews do pronounce those differently - ט is more palatalized. (It's likely, though I don't know for certain, that most Jews from Muslim lands do, since there is a parallel difference in Arabic.) And of course another minimal pair demonstrates that they should have different sounds: שבטך "your staff, your tribe" vs. שבתּך "your sitting." – Alex May 3 '10 at 21:29
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    The hypothesized 3rd sound in the שׂ/ש/ס triplet is the voiceless alveolar lateral fricative (see: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voiceless_alveolar_lateral_fricative). The reason I am not identifying it with a specific letter is that the hypothesis goes that it shifted over time from being the sound written as ש to the sound written as שׂ, and the שבלת story is actually an interesting data point for that diachronic orthography. – WAF May 4 '10 at 2:42
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    According to Sefer Yetzirah, yes. (Although it's not necessarily plosive vs. fricative; it might be approximant vs. trill, guttural vs. non-guttural, etc.) But most sources speak only of the six letters בג"ד כפ"ת in this connection (and indeed, reish with dagesh is pretty rare in Tanach, so it's not necessarily a different phoneme, just as alef with dagesh - as in last week's parshah - is not). – Alex May 6 '10 at 5:06

29 (and a variable piece) are the days of the Synodic month, which leads to Jeremy's point.

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