I'm asking according to Ashkenazi leining. The trop mark i have trouble with is the munach. It has two different sounds - a sort of "shaky" sound when it's on its own, and a sort of nothing sound when it is in the middle of a sequence.

A sequence goes like this: מהפך פשטא מנח זקף-קטן; מֵרְכָ֥א טִפְּחָ֖א מֻנַּ֣ח אֶתְנַחְתָּ֑א; מֻנַּ֣ח רְבִ֗יע.

A standalone munach looks something like: מֻנַּ֣ח | מֻנַּ֣ח רְבִ֗יע; מֻנַּ֣ח מֻנַּ֣ח פָּזֵ֡ר.

Those are all easy.

My problem is with something like this: מַהְפַּ֤ך פַּשְׁטָא֙ מֻנַּ֣ח מֻנַּ֣ח זָקֵף-קָטָ֔ן. How do you pronounce each munach? Sometimes i pronounce them both as if they are in the sequence; sometimes i'll make the first on its own and the second connected to the קטן.

How about this one? מֵרְכָ֥א מֻנַּ֣ח אֶתְנַחְתָּ֑א. That's pretty confusing for me.

Or מֻנַּ֣ח זַרְקָא֮ מֻנַּ֣ח מֻנַּ֣ח סֶגּוֹל֒?

מֻנַּ֣ח | רְבִ֗יע. Do i treat the munach as on its own, because of the psik, or is the psik just so i don't slur the words, and the trop is connected?

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    I couldn't resist: What does the Munach say? Commented Mar 30, 2014 at 11:16

2 Answers 2


The only time the munnaḥ gets the shaky trope is when it's a munnaḥ-legarmeh, which visually looks like a munnaḥ followed by a p'siq. The munnaḥ-legarmeh is a "טעם מפסיק" (a disjunctive accent), whereas the normal munnaḥ is a "טעם משרת" (a conjunctive accent), so it makes sense to give the shaky trope only to the munnaḥ-legarmeh. See any tiqqun for a list of disjunctive and conjunctive tropes.

In the sequence munnaḥ | revi'a, munnaḥ | munnaḥ revi'a, or munnaḥ | darga munnaḥ revi'a, the first munnaḥ is always munnaḥ-legarmeh (and hence disjunctive), and the second (if it's present) is a normal munnaḥ (and hence conjunctive). The only exception is Isaiah 42:5, where the m'sora q'tanna indicates otherwise (and indeed indicates that this exception is unique).

There are a few other instances of munnaḥ-legarmeh not subservient to revi'a (or to another munnaḥ-legarmeh, itself subservient to revi'a): Lev 10:6, Lev 21:10, and Ruth 1:2. In place of a t'lisha-qetanna before geresh (yet still a disjunctive): Gen 28:9, 1 Sam 14:3 (second one), 1 Sam 14:47, 2 Sam 13:32, 2 Kings 18:17, Isa 36:2, Jer 4:19, Jer 38:11, Jer 40:11, Ezek 9:2, Hag 2:12, and 2 Chron 26:15. R. Breuer's Ta'amei HaMiqra adds the following, before pazer: Neh 8:7 and Dan 3:2.

A few words on the exceptions: in Lev 10:6, Lev 21:10, and Ruth 1:2, the munnaḥ is preceded by a mercha, which is not normal for the pashta that follows (we'd expect another munnaḥ), but is normal for a munnaḥ-legarmeh. In the second set of exceptions, we expect a t'lisha-q'tanna, and thus there must have been an upgrade (where a normally conjunctive ta'am gets replaced by a disjunctive one), and it becomes munnaḥ-legarmeh. In 2 Kings 18:17, we see the expected conjunctive mercha before the munnach-legarmei (the Aleppo Codex has the expected mercha in Isa 36:2). In Neh 8:7, we have the expected mercha. In Dan 3:2, however, it seems like it could go either way (as munnaḥ is the normal conjunctive of pazer).

As to your examples:

munnaḥ munnaḥ pazer -- will always be normal munaḥs.

mahpaḥ pashta munnaḥ munnaḥ zaqef-qaton & munnaḥ zarqa munnaḥ munnaḥ segol -- both munnaḥs are normal munnachs, and sound identical, ie. each the same as if there were only one munnaḥ there.

mercha munnaḥ etnaḥta -- does not appear in Chumash; perhaps you meant tipḥa munnaḥ etnaḥta, whereupon in this case also the munnaḥ would be a normal munnaḥ.

The only place I've seen where some do a shaky trope on a munnaḥ that isn't a munnaḥ-legarmeh is: munnaḥ mahpaḥ pashta zaqef-qaton, and similar. I believe (and it seems that Joshua Jacobson also believes) that this would incorrect, as this munnaḥ is a conjunctive trope, and should lead in to the mahpaḥ which leads in to the pashta, instead of standing on its own.

The above is based on Rabbi Mordechai Breuer's Ta'amei HaMiqra, as well as William Wickes' work on trope, with additional sources from Chanting the Hebrew Bible by Joshua Jacobson. Major h/t to DoubleAA for corrections and additions.

  • With munach pazer, are you saying that one gets a shaky, both, or none? As i said, i do them shaky. I think i have seen mercha munach etnachta, that's why i included it. Not very common, but once or twice.
    – Scimonster
    Commented Mar 30, 2014 at 14:18
  • @Scimonster I clarified my answer: if there's no | then neither munach gets a shaky trope. With regards to "mercha munach etnachta", according to the BHS, this only occurs in Psalms 118:5 and 1Chronicles 15:13, neither of which are leined. There are occasions of "mercha munach" in Torah, but all of them are followed by a |, so the munach would get a shaky trope. There are plenty of examples of "tipcha munach etnachta" but none of "tipcha munach | etnachta".
    – magicker72
    Commented Mar 30, 2014 at 17:27
  • I was probably thinking of mercha munach. I have also heard other ba'alei kriah give the shaky trop to munach (munach) pazer.
    – Scimonster
    Commented Mar 30, 2014 at 19:08
  • @Scimonster I've never heard it, but I certainly believe that it happens. Basically, you can be correct according to (most?) opinions, and also internally consistent, if you do a shaky trope exactly when a munach is a munach garmei (munach |).
    – magicker72
    Commented Mar 30, 2014 at 22:42
  • What do you mean Psalm 118 does not get "leined" ? Syrians and other Mizrahi Jews chant psalms all the time
    – Aaron
    Commented Feb 10, 2019 at 20:49

There are really 4 kinds of Munach: Legarmeih, Munach, Ilui, and Mekhurbal (AKA Karbalta). Legarmeih is disjunctive (pausal), and the other three are conjunctive (connective).

Legarmeih is always written with a vertical line after it. Unfortunately, that line serves two purposes in Tanakh: 1) indicating a short pause after a conjunctive note (usually called a "Psik/Paseik"), 2) indicating a preceding note that has multiple meanings is of the disjunctive type (sometimes itself called "Legarmeih"). Type two is used to distinguish Legarmeih from the others (as well as Shalshelet Gedola, Azla Legarmeih, and Mahpakh Legarmeih from their conjunctive doppelgängers in the three poetic books).

How can we identify a disjunctive Legarmeih from a conjunctive Munach which has a pause after it? One giveaway is if the "Munach" in question is preceded by a Merkha. Then we know it's a Legarmeih because Merkha is the conjunctive note which serves it (like how Tevir is served by Darga). But that doesn't always work.

Thankfully, the Masoretes were aware of this issue and included lists in the Masorah of every Psik in Tanakh (eg. in the Leningrad Codex after each of T N and K). If a line is not on that list, it must be a Legarmeih. So problem solved. The same technique can be used with the other notes above in the poetic books.

As it happens (and this mnemonic is noted in many of the old grammatical works cited below and is accepted by Wickes), if you look through the lists you'll find that a "Munach" with a line is a Legarmeih whenever it precedes a Revi'i (except Isaiah 42:5) plus a handful of other times before other notes.

A masoretic note to Isaiah 42:5 in the Leningrad Codex confirms this, by noting explicitly that the line there is a Psik. A masoretic note in the Aleppo Codex to Joshua 9:12 also confirms this, as it notes the opening word appears thrice at the start of a verse with that Trop. This only makes sense if it is a Legarmeih not a conjunctive Munach, as there are more than three places that that word opens a verse with a Munach.

(R Mordechai Breuer notes that in the 3 poetic books the parallel of Legarmeih-Munach-Revi'i is MahpakhLegarmeih-Munach-Tzinnor and again almost (exceptions Tehillim 68:21, Mishei 1:22) nowhere in those books do we find Munach-Psik-Tzinnor, yet MahpakhLegarmei-Tzinnor is common. A single Mesharet with a Psik apparently naturally converts to the Legarmeih.)

Now, regarding the conjunctive ones:

An Ilui serves three notes: Etnachta, Zakef, Zarka.

  • A "Munach" just preceding an Etnachta is an Ilui (eg. Gen 1:1). If the Etnachta has multiple "Munachim" only the last is an Ilui (eg. Gen 40:16).

  • A "Munach" just preceding a Zakef is an Ilui (eg. Gen 1:2) if it is not on the first letter of the word. If the Zakef has multiple "Munachim" only the last is an Ilui (eg. Gen 3:12).

  • A "Munach" just preceding a Zarka is an Ilui (eg. Gen 1:7). If the Zarka has multiple "Munachim" only the last is an Ilui unless the words are all monosyllabic when all are Iluyim (ex. Exo 4:11). "Munachim" preceding a Telisha Ketana which serves a Zarka are also all Iluyim (eg. Exo 17:6) according to most, and some also include the "Munachim" between a Zarka and Segol. (Disclaimer: the rules of which notes serve a Zarka in general are complicated and subject to disputes and exceptions and disputes about exceptions, and this aspect of them is no different.)

A Mekhurbal is found serving a Zakef either as the first of two "Munachim" (eg. Gen 3:12), or as the only "Munach" if on the first letter of a word (eg. Gen 1:30).

Any other "Munach" (such as before a Pazeir, Gershayim, Revi'i, Darga, Mahpakh, etc.) is a Munach (unless it's a Legarmeih, as above).

At this point most of you are probably wondering if I'm making all this up, but you can see these rules discussed in classical grammatical works like Ibn Bilam's, Rabbeinu Tam's Piyut, Tuv Ta'am, Lechem HaBikkurim, Darkhei HaNiggun, Eit Sofer, Binyan Shelomo, Siach Yitzchak, the Tijan, Mishpetei HaTa'amim, and more.

So what do they say, you ask? Just look at their names: an Ilui goes up, a Munach stays down, and a Mekhurbal is something like wrapped or twisted. You already probably usually do an Ilui in the sequence "Pashta-Ilui-Zakef" and a Munach in the sequence "Munach-Revi'i". The Mekhurbal is probably the fancier sound you sometimes hear read for a "Munach" before a Mahpakh. (While according to the above that would be a mistake, Binyan Shelomo actually suggests that the tune there proves that a "Munach" before a Mahpakh is also a Mekhurbal not a Munach, but this is just his speculation and goes against the traditional grammarians.)

Now all you need to do is to sing the right ones in the right places!

  • And what does the legarmeih sound like?
    – magicker72
    Commented Nov 3, 2016 at 17:51
  • @magicker72 Do you want musical notes? It sorta sounds a bit like a Gershayim to me, I suppose. In any event, it seems to me that most Bar Mitzva kids learn it, eg. Gen 2:5 וְכֹ֣ל ׀ שִׂ֣יחַ הַשָּׂדֶ֗ה so I didn't feel a need to elaborate. The question was more about identifying which Munach is which.
    – Double AA
    Commented Nov 3, 2016 at 17:54
  • Now to train myself to do the ilui before etnachta. In haftarah trop I seem to do it properly already.
    – Scimonster
    Commented Nov 3, 2016 at 17:55
  • @Scimonster Indeed. Most people treat the note between Tipcha and Etnachta the same as between Tipcha and Silluk, even though the Masora clearly thinks they are different (even before we talk about Munach-Ilui, one is a Merkha and one is a Munach so they clearly aren't the same).
    – Double AA
    Commented Nov 3, 2016 at 17:57
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