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The viduy of the על חטא lists sins from alef to taf, yet the letter samech ס is switched to a sin ש. Why?

(Interestingly I noticed that in between sections of viduy we say סלח לנו מחל לנו כפר לנו, which is roshei teivos סמך. So the samech is there, but hidden.)

marked as duplicate by Monica Cellio Oct 1 '17 at 22:21

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  • 1
    Many times ס and ש are interchanged. I feel like this question applied in more contexts. Most of the piyutim and selichos I've seen that are Alef beis use ש instead. It might just be practically more words start with ש than ס – robev Oct 1 '17 at 16:35
  • ברנו ממצוותיך ולא שוה לנו – kouty Oct 1 '17 at 20:30

Many acrostic piyutim interchange ס with שׂ because of their sound being the same. I suppose it is because the author could not find a fitting word that began with ס. One example of this would be in the prayer "L'chai Olamim", in which the line for ס goes:

.הַסִּגּוּי וְהַשֶּֽׂגֶב לְחַי עוֹלָמִים

Also in the prayer "Kel Adon" on Shabbat, the line for ס is replaced with a שׂ:

.שְׂמֵחִים בְּצֵאתָם וְשָׂשִׂים בְּבוֹאָם

These are just two examples, but it seems that it is quite common in acrostic prayers. So Vidui is not the only prayer which replaces ס with a שׂ in the acrostic.

  • However, there's none that changes ט with ת or כ with ק or א with ע. A similar sound is not a reason to change. – Al Berko Sep 20 '18 at 11:06
  • @AlBerko Maybe not, but that's what they do. Let me ask you this - would you switch beit and veit? Shin and sin seem more like a difference between beit and veit and less like separate letters. – ezra Sep 20 '18 at 14:45
  • ב is a letter and it can take two forms, just as H2 (hydrogen) can have 2 forms gas and liquid. But H2 cannot change to C or N, just as ט cant change to ת or ס to ש. – Al Berko Sep 20 '18 at 15:36

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