Context: In the Ashkenaz / Sefard (and possibly others) Nuschaos of Sefira, there is a prayer starting with the words "Ribbono Shel Olam [רבונו של עולם]" that is said. Towards the end of this prayer there is the phrase ואטהר ואתקדש בקדשה של מעלה...

What I'm confused about is the pronunciation of the word ואטהר. I have always pronounced the word (as it's printed in just about every Siddur I know) with a Segol under the Aleph. However, someone recently told me that he pronounces the word as if there is a Chiriq under the aleph. To make sure, I asked him to double-check and he confirmed - it is printed this way in his Siddur.

So: Is there some source for this difference? Is it a printer error? Have you ever seen this difference? What's going on here?

  • I've noticed this for many years - you are not alone. Unfortunately,I have no answer. – Seth J Apr 27 '12 at 21:45

Could be it's a difference of whether the word is considered to be active/reflexive ("I will purify [myself]") or passive ("I will be purified"). If the former, then it takes a segol, as with words like אֶנָּחֵם (Isaiah 1:24); if the latter, chirik, like אִקָּרֶה (Num. 23:15) or וְאִנָּעֵר (Judg. 16:20).

| improve this answer | |
  • 2
    That's what the two words mean. But what's the historical/ideological/axiological significance of both's appearing in different siddurim? – Double AA Apr 27 '12 at 22:03
  • Just to second what @DoubleAA has said: While this is a wonderful explanation of the difference between the two it makes absolutely no mention of any of my questions. – yydl May 1 '12 at 3:43
  • 1
    @yydl: what I was getting at is: (a) yes, there is some source for this difference - it's a matter of grammar; (b) no, it doesn't seem to be a printer's error. Who decided on one form vs. another - that I don't know. – Alex May 1 '12 at 15:59
  • @Alex a) By "source for difference" I meant an actual Machlokes. b) And how do you know it was not a printer's error? That seems to be a pretty substantial guess (assuming of course that you have no source to back it up) – yydl May 1 '12 at 21:08
  • First of all, Alex, I don't think there is a difference between "I will purify myself" and "I will be purified" with the same word. I.e. the "myself" was added by you and no version of ואטהר means "and I will purify myself" rather it is either "I will purify" or "I will be purified." I believe that וַאַטַהֵר is "I will purify" and "I will be purified" is וָאֱטָּהֵר. There is also "I will become pure" which is וָאֶטהָר. – zukebutt May 1 '12 at 21:29

To answer yydl's question, as I commented on a previous answer, I believe that the only difference is in the structure of the word and that the two choices have no differences in meaning. As to the answer of which one to say, I have no idea which way is the "right way" but there are many things that can be checked to see if there is consistency in the siddurim being used. First, check all the proofs that Alex used according to the same publisher. Second, you can check the verse in Psalms 51:9.

As a side note, it seems that there is no ת in the ואטהר because it is an irregular verb. Really it should be ואתטהר like ואתקדש because it is a מתפעל. However, interestingly enough, I found a piece from שבט שמעון on page .טו in the version that I found (פרשת בראשית) in which he writes the word ואתטהר when talking about the groom telling the bride that he will become purified through her.

| improve this answer | |
  • 1
    It's a shame I have to vote this down, because the last paragraph is interesting. However, the first paragraph is critical of another answer and belongs as a comment on that answer, and the second paragraph is a non-answer. Try re-working this to make it more relevant to the question being asked. – Seth J May 1 '12 at 21:14
  • 1
    Sorry. Guess I have to understand this site a little better before posting. – zukebutt May 1 '12 at 21:20
  • 1
    @zukebutt Don't worry about it. Just edit your answer and try again. – Double AA May 1 '12 at 21:26
  • Nice. Undownvoted. Internally debating whether to upvote or not. – Seth J May 2 '12 at 1:26
  • I don't think Psalms 51:9 is quite the same as there is a shva under the tes (as opposed to in Sefira where there's a kamatz) – yydl May 10 '12 at 22:06

I wrote this question in to Artscroll, and finally got an answer. Here is the relevant snippet of the email I received (emphasis is theirs - not mine):

  1. וְאִטָּהֵר וְאֶתְקַדֵּשׁ ‎— וְאִטָּהֵר with the Chirik under the aleph is the way the words are vowelized in the original ArtScroll English translation Siddur and the original Pesach Machzor.

  2. וְאֶטָּהֵר וְאֶתְקַדֵּשׁ —‎ וְאֶטָּהֵר with the segol under the aleph is the way the words are vowelized in the Tefilas Shlomo, Yitzchak Yair, and Ner Naftali all-Hebrew Siddurim, as well as the Wasserman Siddur and the Interlinear Siddurim and Machzorim.

Neither version is wrong and both appear in other Siddurim. The reason for preferring וְאֶטָּהֵר, the second version, and for the preponderance of Siddurim with that vowelization, is that the two adjacent verbs sound better and are easier to pronounce when both start with the same vowel, the segol. Grammatically, וְאִטָּהֵר and וְאֶטָּהֵר are equivalent and may be interchanged without changing the meaning; there is no alternate vowelization of וְאֶתְקַדֵּשׁ.

| improve this answer | |

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .