Today, while teaching someone the verse Genesis 2:7, I had cause to be puzzled as to the correct accentuation of its first word, וַיִּיצֶר֩. I corrected the student's milra accentuation and said it should be read with mil'eil accentuation. But on examination of the text, I started to doubt myself upon noting the position of the cantillation as shown in these two sources: https://www.blueletterbible.org/wlc/gen/2/4/ and: https://mechon-mamre.org/c/ct/cu0101.htm Both of them seem to suggest that it is milra, but I was convinced that it should be read with mil'eil accentuation, as this very good reader reads it:


I then looked it up in the Artscroll tikkun kor'im and saw something that is missing from the above two texts:

In the tikkun, the cantillation note that appears on the extreme left of the last letter (ר) is REPEATED above the second letter (ִי), which is where I expected the syllabic stress to be. The note is a Telisha Ketanah and the repetition of it is a mesorah device used to indicate the correct syllabic stress for several notes that are look-alikes of other notes and it is therefore not easy to distinguish them from their look-alikes visually. In most cases, one of the members of the look-alike pair is a conjunctive note, like this Telisha ketana and the other one is a pausal note, like Telisha gedola. Often, conjunctives lean or curve forwards, while pausal notes are vertical or they lean or curve backwards, but this is only a rule of thumb and it is not universally true.

For notes that have look-alikes, there is another visual distinction that is employed in the mesorah for notes that have look-alikes to eliminate ambiguity as to which note it is. The practice is to position the note at the far left extremity of the word if it is a conjunctive note or at the far right extremity of the word if it is a pausal note. In both cases, if its position does not coincide with the stressed syllable, it is repeated on the stressed syllable so that it can also perform its function of indicating the correct syllabic stress.

A frequently occurring example is the pair Kadma and Pashta, but they are an exception to the above positioning rule. Pashta, a pausal note, is always positioned at the extreme left of the word and is repeated, if necessary, on the stressed syllable (See Gen 2:17, second word, and the first word of 2:18.) Many Torah readers, even experienced ones, are unaware of the true reason for the repetition and think of it as a variation of the normal tune of Pashta and they mistakenly read the word with a doubled tune as though it was a word with two notes on it.

Does anyone disagree with any of the above?

  • Seems correct to me
    – Joel K
    Sep 21 at 5:49
  • This site isn't geared for "long claim + who agrees?"-type questions.
    – magicker72
    Sep 21 at 13:21
  • In any case, repeated telishot/zarka/segol aren't super old, and even repeated pashta is not as uniformly applied in the manuscripts as you'd think.
    – magicker72
    Sep 21 at 13:22
  • There's no reason to dunk on people who have different tunes for pashta when it's mileil vs milra. Many Ashkenazim have a different tune when pashta is word-initial vs not (in spite of the lack of grammatical distinction): the pick-up note before the accented syllable is omitted when there's no syllable to put it on. In my limited experience of non-Ashkenazi cantillation, a different tune for "trei kadmin" is not uncommon.
    – magicker72
    Sep 21 at 13:24


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