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At the end of the Magen Avot prayer, commonly recited in shul Friday night, the last few words end in the phrase,

לעם מדושני עונג זכר למעשה בראשית

However, in the nighttime Kiddush, the phrase is:

באהבה וברצון הנחילנו זכרון למעשה בראשית

Is there a difference in their meaning between זכר and זכרון? As far as I know, both seem to mean "Remembrance".

Why is each term used in its place? What meaning or nuance is being conveyed that makes that term more appropriate than the other one?

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    Note that the two were (presumably) not written by the same author, so there is no reason to assume a priori that they would be written in the identical style, let alone, with identical words. – mevaqesh Nov 14 '16 at 16:34
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    @mevaqesh Interesting point, and that may be a sufficient answer. For now, I'm thinking that there may be some nuance that's being conveyed. A hunch. – DanF Nov 14 '16 at 16:40
  • I don't think its the greatest answer, since it avoids addressing the point of the respective implication of the two words. IMHO that stands as a question on its own, and doesn't have the weakness of being predicated on a questionable assumption. That is: "in the Shabbat prayers, two words are used. What are the respective implications of these two words?" – mevaqesh Nov 14 '16 at 16:47
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    See also judaism.stackexchange.com/q/485 – msh210 Nov 14 '16 at 17:00
  • @msh210 Hmmm ... does it make sense to just copy & paste that answer to here? – DanF Nov 14 '16 at 18:17
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The Malbi"m has an entry for each of these words:

זכר

הוא מה שיעשה איזה דבר שיזכרו אותו לפי מעשיו, שעושה מעשה גדול לפי שעה כדי לזכרו בו

זכרון

ששם דכרון יבוא על כל דבר סימני הבא לאות ולהזכיר דבר שירצו לזכרו תמיד אם טוב אם רע

If I understand him correctly, he is saying that זכר refers to actions that call something to mind. As an example, he says that we recognize 'ה through how He runs the world, ie. His actions and this is called "וזה זכרי לדור דור".

זכרון refers to a thing that acts as a remembrance. He gives examples of things, like אבני זכרון and ספר זכרון.

So לעם מדושני עונג זכר למעשה בראשית is talking about the way we celebrate Shabbos (with עונג שבת) as a remembrance for creation.

And באהבה וברצון הנחילנו זכרון למעשה בראשית refers to Shabbos itself which is a remembrance for the creation.

  • If I understand this correctly - זכר refers to actions and זכרון refers to objects or concepts? – DanF Nov 14 '16 at 21:27
  • That's what it seems like. I'll edit in the examples he gives. – iKay Nov 14 '16 at 21:39

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