In the daily berakhah for having shoes, שעשה לי כל צרכי, why is the letter kaf pointed with a dagesh kal? I.e., why is the word pronounced tzorki rather than tzorkhi? My sense is that similar forms of the word are pronounced with a soft khaf, e.g., צרכי ציבור.

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    You can shift the question onto Tana"ch, if the dagesh was fossilized from Divrei Hayamim (cf. #5 here).
    – WAF
    Commented Jan 9, 2017 at 19:21
  • Thanks for that source, @WAF. It has a full answer to my question, I think.
    – paquda
    Commented Jan 9, 2017 at 19:27
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    The credit for my awareness of that sidur belongs to @DoubleAA linking it in an answer.
    – WAF
    Commented Jan 9, 2017 at 19:57
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    כל האומר דבר בשם אומרו מביא גאולה לעולם
    – kouty
    Commented Jan 10, 2017 at 4:21
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    What is the source of vocalization of צרכי ציבור?
    – Argon
    Commented Jan 15, 2017 at 2:44

3 Answers 3


The vowel symbol kametz is a single symbol which covers two sounds, namely the kametz gadol (which is the usual kametz, in most places we encounter is) and the kametz katon, which is a cholam which is reduced to a kametz katon when the stress shifts to later in the word. The kametz gadol is a long vowel (tenuah gedolah) and the kametz katon is a short vowel (tenuah katanah).

In general, the rule is that a long vowel appears in an open syllable (that is, consonant vowel) and a short vowel appears in a closed syllable (consonant vowel consonant). A sheva nach will close a syllable, and the letters bgdkft, after such a sheva, will be the plosive (hard) kind, with a dagesh, rather that the fricative (soft) kind, without the dagesh.

So, for instance, in the word כָּתְבוּ the kametz under the kaf is a kametz gadol, a long vowel, so the sheva under the thav is a sheva na (moving sheva), and the bhet is fricative. This is the usual case, which you would expect.

Certain times, the kametz is the kametz katon. For example, in chochma, or ozni. Many cases we know it to be a kametz katon on the basis of the full form, which has a cholam. In such cases of a short vowel, the syllable needs to be closed, and so the sheva is a sheva nach, and so the bgdkft letter afterwards has a dagesh.

This does not answer your question about tzorchei tzibbur. Assuming the spelling is indeed with a kametz katon vs. a cholam, I would suppose that this is a result of the weirdness of sheva merachef, which is inconsistent. (See here, about birkat vs. birchat, after the short vowel of chirik chaser.)

  • The cholam is always a tenua gedola, and the Kamats katan is a Tenua ketana. I am confused
    – kouty
    Commented Feb 12, 2017 at 16:53
  • what is the confusion? Indeed, the cholam is always a tenua gedolah. But the kamatz katan is always a tenua ketana, as opposed to the kamatz gadol, which is always a tenua gedola. Did I say otherwise? Commented Feb 12, 2017 at 17:08
  • I don't understand how it can be both holam and tenua ketana
    – kouty
    Commented Feb 12, 2017 at 17:12
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    A kamatz gadol is NOT a cholam. It is a reduced vowel which originated in a cholam before reduction. This resulting reduced vowel is a short vowel. See e.g. here where a tzeirei (a long vowel) is "reduced" to a sheva, or depending on context, sometimes segol or chirik, as short vowels. books.google.com/… Commented Feb 12, 2017 at 17:25
  • OK thanks. BTW I asked myself if in ashkenazic keria we have a specific sound for kamats katan
    – kouty
    Commented Feb 12, 2017 at 17:30

The word is "tzarki" rather than "tzarchi" because the kaf begins a syllable. And the rule is that the "beged kefes" letters (beis, gimmel, dalet, kaf, pey and sav) have a dagesh when they begin a syllable. It seems to me that this rule is widely known, but in my 15 minute search in a beis medrash, I could find no great source. Here's what I did find. (1) ArtScroll's publication of Rashi's commentary on the Chumash, at Numbers 7:89, footnote 10. The author of that footnote gave no source. (2) A Wikipedia article to be found here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dagesh

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    Hi Chaim. What about the Kaf in Tzorchei Tzibbur? Doesn't that also begin a syllable?
    – Double AA
    Commented Jan 13, 2017 at 1:48
  • Double AA, responding to your last question. Words of that form - like tzorech, qodesh, melech - have a unique plural form i.e., tzorachim, not tzorkim; melachim, not malkim. (Note that it's actually malKin in Aramaic, but not Hebrew.) In the semichut form, the /a/ phoneme gets reduced. However, the underlying vowel phoneme is still there and hence it's pronounced rafe (since beged kefet consonants are rafe after a vowel). Similarly, the masculine imperative form for "write" is /kotob/ [kethov]. When an object is added to the word, it becomes kotvenu, not kotbenu, since the vowel phoneme is st
    – pandichef
    Commented Jun 2, 2019 at 15:37

When I got home I looked in the books I've got there. A Grammar For Biblical Hebrew by C.L. Seow contains the following pages 4 to 5. My understanding of his analysis is that in the word Tzarki, the Kaf is medial and preceded by a consonant (that is, a Reish with a Sheva). Therefore, following rule 4.b.iii, the Kaf is a stop; and then following rule 5, it takes a Dagesh.

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Introduction to Hebrew by Moshe Greenberg contains the page 13 attached. It comes out pretty much the same.

enter image description here

I also found instructions at the front of a Tikkun that were bewildering in their complexity, so I will not even try to summarize or apply.

I am not too familiar with the subject; I just happened to find a few sources. I don't know if complete explanation of the Dagesh is really possible, and I had not thought about Tzarchei Tzibor last night when looking at the books, only this morning when you posed the question. Just off the cuff I would say that perhaps the change in the vowel FOLLOWING the Kaf is relevant; and perhaps there's no strong explanation.

In Exodus 15:11, the song Mi Chamocha... Mi Kamocha, the first Kaf has no Dagesh, and the second has a Dagesh, although they appear in exactly the same phrase. I really don't know if that's explicable, 'tho I see now that there's a Mi Yodeya question on this last point from 2014.


  • Chaim, the question already mentioned צרכי ציבור. He's asking why they are different. This wasn't just my addition.
    – Double AA
    Commented Jan 13, 2017 at 13:29
  • You're right. I overlooked the last two words of the original post. Greenberg's last complete paragraph seems to mean that Kaf should have a Dagesh if it follows a consonant; or if the Kaf has a mobile Sheva and follows a vowel; or if the Kaf is Long and follows a vowel. Otherwise (if it is a short Kaf with no mobile Sheva following a vowel) is should have no Dagesh. So he seemingly would put the Dagesh in the Kaf each time.
    – Chaim
    Commented Jan 13, 2017 at 15:24
  • @Chaim, thank you for the answer and for the scans. It does look like that's the rule, and the form tzorkhi is to expected.
    – paquda
    Commented Jan 15, 2017 at 2:57

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