I'll greatly appreciate it if someone can explain to me:

why the sheva on first mem is sheva nach in the following word: וּמְקַיֵם

  • Is the shva in "shva" a shva na?
    – shmosel
    Commented May 17 at 0:22

1 Answer 1


I'm sure this has been hashed out before here already, and many of our users here are far superior grammarians, but ... here goes. We avoid starting a sentence with a double sh'va. Because to do so would be a conflict between the rule "first letter of a word is na" and the rule "double shvas, only the second one talks." (These are known as rules "Alef" and "Bet" of sheva na, respectively.)

So: מְקַיֵם : na.

So this would would have been וְמְקַיֵם . But we can't allow that. So the opening vav becomes "oo."

The question is then whether the shva should remain na, as it would have been if it opened the word, or now becomes nach, because we've avoided the issue and it essentially still pretends to be the second shva in a row.

This is a debate among grammarians (so you'll see different things in different places), but my impression is that nach ("resting") is the preferred opinion today. It's what you'll see in Rabbi Breuer's "Chorev" tiqqun, for example.

  • Thank you for taking the time, here is my confusion: there is also another rule which requires the sheva to be nach after "OO" like forexample in the word: shoneecha or oyevim...why that rule is not apply here?
    – Angie
    Commented May 17 at 0:28
  • 2
    @Angie The "OO" of the conjunction vav is a short vowel, like the kubbutz (three diagonal dots), and so doesn't usually make a sheva na afterward. It's short because it comes (historically) from a "w" sound (like in Arabic), and was not historically a long vowel.
    – magicker72
    Commented May 17 at 1:21
  • 1
    @Angie By the way, if that rule you write in the comment was relevant to your question, you should include it in the OP so answerers know how to properly answer your question.
    – magicker72
    Commented May 17 at 1:24
  • 1
    @Angie if it starts a word that would otherwise start with a shva. Next time we get to Va'Eira, listen for how the baal qriah says this phrase: וּבְבֵית עֲבָדֶיךָ וּבְעַמֶּךָ, וּבְתַנּוּרֶיךָ וּבְמִשְׁאֲרוֹתֶיךָ. וּבְכָה וּבְעַמְּךָ, וּבְכָל-עֲבָדֶיךָ--יַעֲלוּ, הַצְפַרְדְּעִים. It should either be "oov" every time (majority grammarian opinion) or "ooveh" every time (minority opinion). If he mixes the two, he's sloppy.
    – Shalom
    Commented May 17 at 1:50
  • 1
    @JoelK itself a debate, for another question ...
    – Shalom
    Commented May 17 at 11:07

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