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I'm relaying this question from my shul's chazzan to me, who is a Torah reader. I'm stumped...

Deuteronomy 8:10:

וְאָכַלְתָּ֖ וְשָׂבָ֑עְתָּ וּבֵֽרַכְתָּ֙ אֶת־יְהוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֶ֔יךָ עַל־הָאָ֥רֶץ הַטֹּבָ֖ה אֲשֶׁ֥ר נָֽתַן־לָֽךְ

As you can see from the position of the trope notes, the 2 bolded words are pronounced on the final syllable - milra. My chazzan asks why is this so, when these two words are really accented on the 2nd syllable when spoken in conversational Hebrew.

E.g. you say, "a-CHAL-ta" and "Be-RACH-ta".

Another example is Deuteronomy 6:7:

וְשִׁנַּנְתָּ֣ם לְבָנֶ֔יךָ וְדִבַּרְתָּ֖ בָּ֑ם בְּשִׁבְתְּךָ֤ בְּבֵיתֶ֙ךָ֙ וּבְלֶכְתְּךָ֣ בַדֶּ֔רֶךְ וּֽבְשָׁכְבְּךָ֖ וּבְקוּמֶֽךָ

Is the conversational pronunciation incorrect, or is there a different ruling to the accent when there a vav hahipuch (vav that converts the verb tense?)

(The above is one of many examples, where we see this. So, your answer need not focus on just this example. BTW, in the 2nd example, the chazzan stated that since בָּ֑ם is a single syllable verb, the accent on the previous word should have a nasog achor, and move back 1 syllable, which it doesn't, here. )

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    ודברת is on a pausal trop (Tipcha) so no Nasog Achor. If you add a Nasog Achor you might have to repeat Keriat Shema, see below.
    – Double AA
    Commented Apr 18, 2016 at 3:32
  • From memory this is in order to make it a tzivui rather than just a statement. Commented Apr 18, 2016 at 16:09

3 Answers 3

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Indeed it has to do with the "Vav HaHippukh" (waw-consecutive). Were those words pronounced Mil'eil, they would be in past tense (eg. Lev 10:19 , Hos 12:11) instead of the future tense. Thus, changing the accent is actually a correctable reading mistake.

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  • Is it possible to say that the point is that uverachta is not an hefsek? (I am Am hoorets gomur) and mil'eil is for end of piska
    – kouty
    Commented Apr 18, 2016 at 4:05
  • @kouty Being on a Hefsek can make even the future tense version move back to the standard Mil'eil (see Mikhlol). There are other exceptions too (like roots that end in ה in Kal (eg. ועשית), or Nasog Achor (eg. Deu 14:26)). I'm not sure what you mean by "the point".
    – Double AA
    Commented Apr 18, 2016 at 4:14
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The answers given explain the milra, but not mil'el of the cases like וְשָׂבָ֑עְתָּ - vesaVAta, which is also in the future - you shall be satisfied, like other cases mentioned. In this case, the taam ethnachta forces the shift from the last vowel to the previous one, hence kamatz and not patach.

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I can confirm what two people have already answered, that it's because the words ואכלת ,וברכת are not past tense (and you have eaten) but are in the imperative tense (you shall eat) and are made so by the vav hahippuch prefixing them. This was pointed out to us in relation to the first word וְאָ֣הַבְתָּ֔ of Deuteronomy 6:5 (familiar to us from the K'riat Sh'ma) by Rabbi Dr Meshulam (AKA Fred) Klarberg, my high school Hebrew-language teacher in the late 60s (who later became a professor of linguistics at Victoria University). He was one of the foremost world-experts in Hebrew grammar (and possibly still is, but he is in his dotage now.) He knew not only the traditionally accepted biblical grammar system taught nowadays, but also the competing ones by other traditional authorities. His weekly column "Morsels of Hebrew grammar" that he started after making aliya circa 2000, and which were later compiled into a published book, can still be found online. He taught us that if, when reciting the sh'ma, you read the word וְאָ֣הַבְתָּ֔ with its colloquial mileil accentuation, as many do, you are giving it the wrong meaning (and you have loved) instead of the correct meaning, "you shall love."

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