Mishna B'rura 61:36 specifies that we should be careful to pronounce a sh'va na (mobile schwa) as na and a sh'va nach (quiescent schwa) as nach in "Sh'ma". Unfortunately, there's a class of sh'va I'm uncertain about: those that follow a word-initial "וּ" which (the "וּ") doesn't have a meseg (secondary stress marker). There are fourteen such in "Sh'ma". I understand that whether such a sh'va is na or nach is under dispute, but

  • who are the original disputants (or what traditions are the original 'disputants'),


  • who among later major (Judaism) authorities/communities holds of each side


  • why?

From Joshua Jacobson's Chanting the Hebrew Bible:

R Breuer (Ta'amey HaMiqra) and Ben-Asher (Sefer Dikdukei HaTe'amim) say that it is nach if and only if there is no meteg, except Ben-Asher adds that if a makef follows (eg. Song of Songs 8:14), it is still nach. Minchat Shai, on the other hand, says that it is always nach, with or without a meteg. Jacobson also cites Heidenheim (Sefer Mishp'tei HaTe'amim, Klein ed., p. 64) who "cites several authorities who weigh in on either side of the issue", but I don't have a copy to look up the reference.

However, if there are repeated consonants (eg. וּכְכָל־מִשְׁפָּטָיו in Num 9:3), even without a meteg, the sh'va is na.

It's also worth noting that different manuscripts have the *meteg*s in different places, so according to Ben-Asher and R Breuer, it is unclear in some cases what the "correct" pronunciation should be.

I don't know whether these are the original disputants (although it's hard to go further back than Ben-Asher). Both opinions are internally consistent (although the meteg making it na makes more sense to me). I doubt there is a why to it, except probably that their opinions reflect their local traditions. I'm afraid I also have no information on modern poskim.

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  • I think R' Breuer's position is that it is not nah if preceded by an "obligatory" ga'ya. Such ga`yoth are determined by the Masora (enter Ben Asher) and not related to the "optional" ga'yot. Unfortunately, many editors and printers have not only multiplied ga'yoth beyond number but have also added them in places where the Masora has mandated writing or NOT writing obligatory ga'ya. Generally, it's best to use one of R' Breuer's editions to determine whether the ga'ya actually belongs there. – Hayyim Obadyah Mar 12 '15 at 19:21

When prefixing a vuv with a sh'va, if the next letter is a sh'va as well, it will put two sh'vas in a row, which is not possible at the beginning of a syllable. So, the vuv with a sh'va is changed into a shuruk.

A shuruk is a t'nuah g'dola, meaning it is a full syllable, thus the following sh'va must be na, opening the next syllable. Note, a sh'va always opens or closes a syllable. To open a syllable it must be the first letter. To close it must be the last letter (or, according to some, not be followed by anything other than a another sh'va.) Since the shuruk already closed the previous syllable, the sh'va must open a new one.

In our case, a sh'va has become a shuruq. We can question, do we see it as a full fledged shuruk or do we see it as a sh'va masquerading as a shuruq? In the former, the the shuruk is a t'nua g'dola and the sh'va is na, as above. In the latter, the shuruk is a t'nua k'tana and the sh'va is nuch.

Even if the shuruk is a t'nua k'tana, a meseg changes it. Because it is not a "real" t'nua k'tana, stressing the syllable transforms it into a full shuruk, making it a t'nua gedola.

I do not know who the originals are. My understanding is the GR"A and Rav Yaakov Emdin are of the latter opinion.

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  • How is a Shuruk a full syllable without a consonant? – Double AA Jul 10 '14 at 19:08
  • "Since the shuruk already closed the previous syllable, the sh'va must open a new one." You haven't demonstrated that the shuruk closes the syllable. (Nor does it always close a syllable: e.g. "קוּם".) – msh210 Jul 10 '14 at 19:15
  • @DoubleAA, I think that's what he was addressing in "We can question, do we see it as a full fledged shuruk...". – msh210 Jul 10 '14 at 19:18
  • A t'nua g'dola has an os ne'elam. The os ne'elam has a sh'va. The shuruk, for example, has an aleph after it. – please delete me Jul 10 '14 at 23:00
  • Oops, i may have made a mistake. Not an aleph, but a vuv: Sefer Shoroshim, Sha'ar dikduk hasheimos, sha'ar hanikud, second paragraph "דע כי חמש התנועות הגדולות אחריהם נח לעולם" The peirush on the bottom (sorry, don't know who it is :( hmm maybe it's משה ב"ה חיים הכהן העכיס דיין פה פיורדא) explains ר"ל שהן נמשכות בקריאתן באופן שנמשכת אחת מאותיות או"י עם כל אחת מהתנועות הגדולות. He calls them נח נסתר. Though, he says the מלאפום (which we call שורק) (speaking in plural) מושכת עמהם וי”ו – please delete me Jul 10 '14 at 23:28

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