I prayed using a Siddur Tehillat Hashem the other day, and I noticed that many more shvas were marked with an asterisk above, indicating that they should be vocalized, than I'd expect. In particular, there were many cases in which a shva following an unaccented "short vowel" and not under a letter with a dagesh got an asterisk.

One example, which I confirmed is not marked for vocalization in the Artscroll Siddur (for example), is the last word of the second verse of Psalms 104 (AKA "Barechi Nafshi"): כַּיְרִיעָֽה, which would be pronounced like "kayeriy'a" according to Tehillat Hashem and like "kayriy'a" according to Artscroll.

Where does this distinction come from?

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    Once we are on the subject, it should be spelled shiva, or sh'va. Since it is at the beginning of the word it is sh'va na.
    – Yahu
    May 26, 2010 at 18:35
  • ;-) Sorry for being such a nitpicker!
    – Yahu
    May 26, 2010 at 18:36
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    Actually I think Sheva would be more proper Feb 18, 2013 at 2:02
  • If one were to listen to recordings of either the Baal Koreh of the Rebbe or the Rebbe himself, one can clearly see that the "stars" in the Tehillas HaShem were NOT utilized. Jul 24, 2017 at 5:04
  • interesting note is that not every edition of tehilas Hashem is the same in regards to this specific vowel. I have noticed some siddurim omitting a lot of these
    – Laser123
    Aug 31, 2017 at 20:09

1 Answer 1


As I understand it, the markings of these shevas follow the rules given by R' Shlomo Zalman Hanau, an important 18th-century grammarian. In his system, every sheva following a tenuah kallah (a "light" vowel, i.e., one that substitutes for a sheva or a chataf vowel) is vocalized; examples include מַלְכֵי (since the independent form is מְלָכִים) and נֶעֶרְמוּ (since the singular is נֶעֱרַם). In your example, then, the patach under the כ is presumably a tenuah kallah, since this prefix usually takes a sheva.

By contrast, most other siddurim, such as Artscroll, follow the rules given by R' Eliyahu Bachur (16th century) as interpreted by the Vilna Gaon.

Whether these markings belong in the Siddur Tehillas Hashem is another issue altogether. They're there basically for historical reasons: the old Tehillas Hashem siddur (first published in 1945) was actually mostly a photo-offset of Siddur Seder Ha'avodah, first published in Vilna in 1911, which had them. The printers of the latter siddur seem to have freely tinkered with the wording of both the halachos and the prayers themselves (possibly under the influence of siddurim of other nuschaos); the sheva markings are their addition too. (The original siddur of the Baal HaTanya, and editions such as Torah Ohr that try to reflect it faithfully, don't have such markings.) When the Siddur Tehillas Hashem was re-typeset a few years ago (the edition that you linked to), arguments were made pro and con, but ultimately the editors decided to leave well enough alone.

(I can claim some familiarity with the whole issue, having been one of the proofreaders of that siddur.)

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    I did happen to notice a familiar name when glancing at the front matter of the siddur, which gave me some additional confidence that I'd get a good answer if I posted here. :) Any idea why Tehillat Hashem (or its predecessors?) chose R' Hanau's system or why others chose the other system?
    – Isaac Moses
    May 25, 2010 at 4:13
  • I always was wondering about why Tehillas Hashem used R' Hanau's rules and Torah Ohr did not! Thank you Alex for at least giving a historical explanation for the difference! Is there any source for what actually was the shittah of the Alter Rebbe regarding this aspect of pronunciation or is Siddur Torah Ohr a source that he did not hold of R' Hanau?
    – Yahu
    May 25, 2010 at 5:32
  • @Isaac: no idea. The Vilna printers weren't chassidim themselves (if I recall correctly, Seder Ha'avodah was printed by the Widow and Brothers Romm, an old Litvak family). So I don't know whether this was their own chiddush, or whether it was urged on them.
    – Alex
    May 25, 2010 at 22:08
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    If I understand the letter correctly, the basic point is that it is important to pronounce the words properly, but not at the expense of kavvanah. The מדקדקים אחרונים, he says, went too far in establishing arcane rules of grammar (i.e., the problem is not so much the novelty of these rules as their complexity), and it's too difficult to focus on observing those as well as maintaining kavvanah; the Alter Rebbe, by contrast, גבהו דרכיו מדרכיהם in that his wording and vocalization of the tefillos correctly balances these two considerations (ודקדוקי המלות עולות בקנה אחד עם הכוונה הרצויה).
    – Alex
    May 28, 2010 at 3:03
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    @IsaacMoses: lists.aishdas.org/pipermail/mesorah-aishdas.org/2013-July/…
    – msh210
    Jul 7, 2013 at 23:46

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