The Minchas Shay at the beginning of B'reshis cites a dispute whether the word 'רָקִיעַ' (and likewise for other words with a furtive patach) is pronounced as רָקִיאַע or as רָקִיַע, that is, with a glottal stop or without before the patach. Does anyone know of a modern source that indicates the appropriate custom, or any indication of the most common custom (among those who would pronounce רָקִיאַע differently from רָקִיַע)?


6 Answers 6


Sepharads (and more precisely tuniasian) pronounces Raki-Ya and when the letter before the patah' is a waw then we pronounce wa (like rou-wah'). You can see the Tikoun soferim Ich Matsliah' for further informations

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    – Isaac Moses
    Aug 6, 2010 at 13:46

The way I heard it in Yeshiva, it's ru-ach and ko-ach; thus, raki-a'; also, gavo-ah and elo-ah (not gavohah or elohah, though I think Lakewood's BMG spells it as such; the rebbe of mine who told us this was a product of BMG and admitted it was a problem.) I'm assuming the ayins are the same as ches's and heh's.

Has anyone heard otherwise?

  • Sorry, could you clarify which of the 2 possible pronunciations you mean by "ru-ach" and "raki-a'"? Do you mean that there's an aleph (glottal stop) before the patach, or that the patach is pronounced on the vav (w) / yod?
    – msh210
    Jul 26, 2010 at 16:04

The "סימנים" edition of תנ״ך, edited by שמואל מאיר ריאחי / Shmuel Meir Riachi (of Jerusalem) and published by Feldheim in 2006, includes in its prefatory list of features (in feature 5) the following explanation (in my own translation from the Hebrew):

The letters ח,‎ ע, and pronounced הּ, when they come at the end of a word with a פתח, are called "stolen פתח"…. In the Sephardic communities they are accustomed to add the letter י before it…, and in the Ashkenazic communities they are accustomed to add the letter א before it….

He cites no source.


i cannot provide written sources, but i can provide Sephardim reading those pesuqim in question.

First one by Rabbi Yossef Benarroch ZT'L (don't know what flavor of Sepharad)


This website is called Pizmonim, and if you click on the link it will take you to a page of Torah readings. There is one for Bereishith and it had something like 4 recorded versions.


Take a listen.


There is an unusual lack of evidence for either opinion, but the fact that this grammatical rule exists at all is indicative of the answer.

The four guttural letters in their original pronunciation—א, ה, ע, and ח—are pronounced in the throat.
The vowels Tzereh, Khiriq Maleh, Kholam, and Shuruq, are what’s called long vowels: originally, they used to end a syllable, and therefore last a tiny bit longer than other vowels.
An “approximant” is a consonant which is similar to a vowel. Vav was originally pronounced like W. Therefore, Vav and Yod are the approximants of Torah Hebrew.

Vowels are pronounced in the mouth. It is difficult to switch between squeezing your tongue in the mouth, and shifting it backward to make a guttural letter’s sound. Doing so would necessitate a very tiny pause between the vowel and the letter, making it sound like two separate words. Conversely, it is quite easy to pronounce a guttural letter after a more open A-sound, like the vowel Patakh.

In order to prevent that break in the word, a patakh is inserted before the guttural letter. However, that would make the Patach be directly in front of the original vowel; and in Hebrew, vowels are not allowed to be next to each other.

Therefore, the sound of some letter must be inserted between the original vowel and the Patakh. There are two possibilities for what that sound might be:
Sephardic Mesorah: the approximant closest to the original vowel (Yod for Tzereh and Khiriq Maleh, Vav for Kholam and Shuruq) is inserted.
Ashkenazic Mesorah: Instead of an approximant, an Alef is inserted.

Considering the reason for this rule as described above, the Sephardic Mesorah is apparently the oldest pronunciation.


In most dikduk sefarim it states that by throat letters (aleph hey ches and ayin) if they are the last letter of a word with a pasach under them they are read as if pasach alef precedes them. I'm sure you know this. This being the case, the correct way would be rakiaa with a pasach alef. Also one of the subrules of this klal is that the word becomes milel meaning the stress is on the beginning of the word. In rakia we say raKIah not rakiAH so I would take that as yet another proof. I will check the Minchas Shai again because I must have forgotten it. Also, who is to say that the ayin does not get pronounced even if there is an alef? Tishma has an ayin at the end with no nikud. Do you say it like it had no ayin or do you need to make the glottal stop anyway. I would assume yes. If so, it would be very hard to diffrentiate between rakia with an alef or without.

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