Perhaps, the title of my question sounds amusing, but I see this happen in my shul a bit too often for me to laugh at it any more. Many of the Bar Mitzvah boys in my shul can barely read Hebrew. but, to make the boy and the family feel good, they ask him to return the Torah to the ark. The boy says, "Yechalelu et shem Hashem", meaning, "Let us PROFANE G-d's name" instead of the real word which is "Yehalelu et shem Hashem" - "LET US PRAISE G-d's name."

Seems to me that the mispronunciation is serious as it is not just incorrect, but makes a real mockery (even unintentional) of what the phrase should be. But, no one says anything because no one wants to embarass the boy or the family by correcting him. Should we let it go, or correct him?

  • 1
    He says it with a Chet or a Chaf?
    – Double AA
    May 30, 2014 at 17:33
  • @DoubleAA - Oh, who would know? Certainly the Bar Mitzvah boy doesn't know the difference? To him, the "chet" and "hey" look and sound the same, and he's doing it from memory, anyway for all I can surmise. I don't know where he gets his ideas from.
    – DanF
    May 30, 2014 at 17:47
  • 4
    As a practical matter have the rabbi (or chazan) take him aside just before and have him go over the pronunciation. This would avoid both the problem and the embarrassment. If done as a matter of course, then the family would not be upset that their son is "suspected" of being capable of making such a mis-take [sic]. After all it is done with every boy. May 30, 2014 at 17:54

2 Answers 2


Consult the shul's rabbi for practical advice.

The rabbi in my synagogue is very particular that the reading of the Torah is done precisely, because we must ensure that the mesorah gets passed down perfectly. The implicaion may be that mistakes in other parts of the service (like returning the scroll to the ark) need not be corrected if this would embarrass the boy, perhaps violating a Biblical prohibition.

It says in Shir Hashirim (2:4) ודגלו עלי אהבה. The Shir Hashirim Rabbah says that this means that even omission or mistakes are treated by God with love. For example, if someone reads ואהבת את ה' אלקיך (you shall love God) as ואיבת (you shall enstrange), God still accepts this serious error with love.

Obviously, this is midrash, not halachah, so you should still CYLOR. But there may be room to be lenient and leave the boy alone.

  • 1
    I know that you cannot derive halacha from a midrash, but this is a great perspective on viewing the situation. Nonetheless, I agree that it would be nice if someone reviewed pronunciation and protocol with the boy. But, alas, shul politics tends to be the decisive factor at the end. Too bad that it is, in this case.
    – DanF
    May 30, 2014 at 18:30
  • @DanF in our shul, the boys are not allowed to read the Torah or lead the davening until after they have been fully tested by the chief baal koreh. This actually leads to the boys studying harder to be able to do it so that they can be part of the rotation of kri'ah. When they do this, they are often better than many adults. Perhaps having all the boys practice would mitigate the pokitics. May 30, 2014 at 20:31
  • @sabbahillel - Your shul sounds like a model for what things should be.
    – DanF
    May 30, 2014 at 20:57
  • I have heard that midrash used as an example to tell Baalei Teshuva that their Hebrew prayers are heard, even through the stumbling and mispronunciations. Therefore it seems that in some circles, there is room for leniency. I wonder if this is just supposed to apply to "amateurs", or if people who are experienced enough that they should "know better" are also given slack regarding mistakes. Also, I wonder if an Israeli native Hebrew speaker would be held to a higher standard for getting the words right.
    – Mike
    Jun 1, 2014 at 4:02
  • because we must ensure that the mesorah gets passed down perfectly I am pretty sure that a baal korei misreading will not change how Torah scrolls, or Humashim are written, if that was the intent.
    – mevaqesh
    Oct 13, 2016 at 4:37

The halacha is clear: When the reading changes the meaning of the verse you must go back and read it again. If not, then the kehilla is not yotzei Krias haTorah. However this is seemingly only in regards to Krias haTorah and other readings of a oblgitory nature ie. Krias Shema.

I understand from your question that this occurred while taking the Torah out of the Aron, thus I wouldn't be so strict about it, especially if its coming from ignorance. However, we generally are strict not to read things in a way which would sound like profaning G-d's name. For example, the minhag during Birchas Krias Shema is to pause during "umakdishim umamlichim pause es shem ha-el hamelech...". This is in order to keep the "mem" at the end of "umamlichim" from getting shmushed into the "es" of "es shem", thus saying "mes".

  • Why only by Krias haTorah? If the word means something different then how have I been yotzei saying Krias Shema for instance? I didn't say what I was supposed to!
    – Double AA
    Jun 6, 2014 at 6:43
  • יכללו is not a curse...
    – Double AA
    Jun 6, 2014 at 6:44
  • יחללו is though Jun 6, 2014 at 6:57
  • 1
    Why assume he said a ח?
    – Double AA
    Jun 6, 2014 at 14:02
  • sources? [char.]
    – mevaqesh
    Oct 13, 2016 at 4:38

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