Questions tagged [grammar-dikduk]

Questions about Hebrew and Aramaic grammar as related to Judaism.

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Were our symbols for trope and nekudos created by the Masoretes, or transmitted by them?

It is commonly said in secular sources that the shapes of the trope and nekudos we use today were invented by the Masoretes (7th to 11th Century CE), but I cannot find any source in our mesorah to ...
yoel's user avatar
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12 votes
3 answers
389 views

verb + its infinitive

Many, many times in Tanach, including Chumash, a verb has its infinitive nearby. Examples include B'reshis 2:16 מִכֹּל עֵץ הַגָּן אָכֹל תֹּאכֵל (I think that's the first example in Chumash) and ...
msh210's user avatar
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11 votes
5 answers
2k views

Chassidic Rebbes don't use Hebrew Grammar?

I have not witnessed enough test cases to statistically verify anything, but I have heard various Chassidic Rebbes make b'rachos and daven out loud, and without fail, they mispronounce a majority of ...
jake's user avatar
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19 votes
6 answers
2k views

Which books help one acquire a systematic understanding of Biblical Hebrew grammar?

A question for the grammar experts. How can I learn Hebrew grammar in a systematic way? Especially a book that would help me understand how to layn properly. Something that covers rules of nikkud, ...
Eliyahu's user avatar
  • 193
15 votes
7 answers
831 views

Plural of "Nafka Minah"

(Inspired by HodofHod's commment here: Four Holy Cities) What is the proper plural for the common Aramaic phrase Nafka Minah נפקא מינה which means something along the line of "practical differences"? ...
Double AA's user avatar
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18 votes
3 answers
840 views

Why are there two different forms of the mitzvah brachot ("l-" and "al")?

Some mitzvah brachot are of the form ...vitzivanu "l'X" ("to X", infinitive verb), and others are of the form "al X" ("upon X", gerundive verb). I particularly noticed this during Sukkot with two ...
Monica Cellio's user avatar
17 votes
4 answers
1k views

Yisgadal or Yisgadel?

I've noticed that some people, when reciting kaddish, pronounce the first words as "yisgadal v'yiskadash" with a patach under the dalet of both words, while others say "yisgadel v'yisgadesh" with a ...
jake's user avatar
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8 votes
6 answers
545 views

רָקִיאַע or רָקִיַע

The Minchas Shay at the beginning of B'reshis cites a dispute whether the word 'רָקִיעַ' (and likewise for other words with a furtive patach) is pronounced as רָקִיאַע or as רָקִיַע, that is, with a ...
msh210's user avatar
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7 votes
1 answer
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Psalm 145: Which Person?

Psalm 145 makes up the bulk of the oft recited prayer known as Ashrei. It is an alphabetic acrostic (missing the letter nun) about the greatness of God. The verses beginning with Alef, Bet, Dalet, Heh,...
Double AA's user avatar
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22 votes
5 answers
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Zeraim Moed Nashim Nezikim Kodshim Taharos - why not Moadim?

The names of the Shisha Sidrei Mishna (Six Orders of Mishnah) are: Zeraim, Moed, Nashim, Nezikim, Kodshim, Taharos. All of them besides Moed are in plural form. However Moed is in singular form. Why ...
Gershon Gold's user avatar
21 votes
1 answer
2k views

Why so many vocalized shvas in Siddur Tehillat Hashem?

I prayed using a Siddur Tehillat Hashem the other day, and I noticed that many more shvas were marked with an asterisk above, indicating that they should be vocalized, than I'd expect. In particular, ...
Isaac Moses's user avatar
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15 votes
4 answers
2k views

Why "Lach" not "Lecha" in "Modim Anachnu Lach"

Could someone please explain why the "Lach" in Modim Anachnu Lach is not "Lecha"... I guess this is some grammatical point rather than the use of the feminime "you"?
Matti's user avatar
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13 votes
2 answers
552 views

Is there a reason or pattern as to when the Torah uses אֵת instead of אֶת?

I noticed a mix of the two forms of the Hebrew objective marker commonly pronounced אֶת. in the Torah. (There is no English translation of this word. It is used only to notify that an object follows ...
DanF's user avatar
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13 votes
3 answers
471 views

"־הם" versus "־מו"

Usually, the suffix "־הם" is used to mean "them" as an object, as is "להם" or "אליהם". Or it is used to mean "their" in possessive form, as in "כליהם" or "אבותיהם". But sometimes, the very same usage ...
jake's user avatar
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11 votes
3 answers
2k views

Does the vav hahipuch also mean "and"? Do all those extra "ands" belong in the Bible?

I know that in Biblical Hebrew, take a word like "Vaydaber." "Yedaber" = "He will speak"; the "v" flips the word from future tense to past, so it's "he spoke." Most translations understand the "v" ...
Shalom's user avatar
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10 votes
4 answers
638 views

Ashkenazic vs. Sefardic grammar tendencies

I notice that when referring to God in the second person in a possessive form, Sefardim often use the female form where Ashkenazim use the male form. For example, where Ashkenazim say in kedusha, "...
jake's user avatar
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2 votes
2 answers
479 views

Why is it a sheva na in ha-leviyim?

Before the Psalm for the day at the end of Shacharis each day, we say a sentence, "Today is the Xth day of the week..." In that sentence is a word for Levites, and that word in Hebrew has a sheva ...
Yehuda W's user avatar
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29 votes
5 answers
906 views

Female praying in masculine language

When women daven (pray), even by ourselves, it is convention to daven with male-gendered words ("modeh" vs "moda" as one of many examples). Why is this; are there sources that say we should be doing ...
morah hochman's user avatar
18 votes
4 answers
39k views

Proper recitation of Hamakom Yenachem

Is the proper phrase to console a mourner always the plural המקום ינחם אתכם בתוך שאר אבלי ציון וירושלים or should it be changed depending on whom it is said to (singluar, feminine, etc.)?
user avatar
15 votes
1 answer
1k views

הוא is he? Or is it?

The third-person feminine pronoun in Hebrew is היא, "hee." But in most instances in the Torah, the word is spelled הוא, with a vav rather than a yud as the middle letter. How does this make sense ...
Dave's user avatar
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10 votes
2 answers
890 views

Good Talmudic Grammar resource for one unfamiliar with grammar in general?

Inspired by: How to say Adonainu Moreinu VeRabeinu in Aramaic I'd like to understand Talmudic/Aramaic Grammar a little better and am looking for a good resource that will break it down for me. ...
Menachem's user avatar
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9 votes
3 answers
936 views

גמר חתימה טובה gender

During the nine and a half days ending with Yom Kipur, we wish each other "גמר חתימה טובה" (an end to the good signing). This seems very strange. Shouldn't it be "גמר חתימה טוב" (a good end to the ...
msh210's user avatar
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9 votes
2 answers
314 views

Why "תֶּבֶן" at the end of a verse?

Normally in Chumash, when a three-letter word with a segol on each of the first two letters appears at the end of a pasuk (or half-pasuk, with an esnachta), the first segol changes to a kamatz. Thus, ...
msh210's user avatar
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8 votes
7 answers
673 views

Ḥaser form of writing "Jerusalem" in the Bible

It seems that Jerusalem is always written "ḥaser" (defective) in the Bible: that is, as ירושלם, without the י/yud, as opposed "malei" (full), as ירושלים. See, for example, Isaiah 62:6. This presents a ...
Yosef's user avatar
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6 votes
2 answers
408 views

Why does the book of Esther use the present tense so often?

I noticed that the book of Esther uses, often very awkwardly, the present tense to describe things that usually are written in the past tense (I didn't notice this much use of the present tense in ...
b a's user avatar
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5 votes
2 answers
215 views

How to define yetzer

The word yetzer is often translated as impulse, inclination Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch's reading of yetzer in Bereshit 6:5 is not that of instinct or impulse, but rather that which the person, qua ...
Levi's user avatar
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5 votes
2 answers
417 views

Titkabbel vs. Titkabbal

In קדיש תתקבל, most Ashkenazi siddurim I've seen say "תִּתְקַבַּל." ArtScroll, however, has "תִּתְקַבֵּל." Why did this difference arise?
Argon's user avatar
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3 votes
6 answers
2k views

What does שליט"א stand for?

I thought that שליט"א came from the Aramaic word שליט (Ruler). But a Rabbi I told this to, pointed out that שליט"א is always written as with " , in the Middle so each the letters must ...
Sochacz's user avatar
  • 477
18 votes
5 answers
2k views

Aleph with a Dagesh

In four places in Tanakh, our text has an aleph with a dagesh: Gen 43:26, Lev 23:17, Job 33:21, and Ezra 8:18. What is the significance of this, and for the first two examples, how would you indicate ...
magicker72's user avatar
  • 9,937
15 votes
3 answers
635 views

וינוחו בה\בו\בם ישראל in Shabbat shemoneh esrei -- why the change?

I've noticed that the Friday night shemoneh esrei (nusach Ashkenaz) uses the line "בה", shacharit and musaf use "בו", and mincha uses "בם" in the phrase "וינוחו _ ישראל מקדשי שמך..." What is the ...
Eli Lansey's user avatar
14 votes
4 answers
394 views

Why does Yitzchak's blessing of Yaakov refer to Yaakov's mother's *sons*?

B'reishit 27:29 reads: Let peoples serve thee, and nations bow down to thee. Be lord over thy brethren, and let thy mother's sons bow down to thee. Cursed be every one that curseth thee, and ...
Monica Cellio's user avatar
12 votes
2 answers
589 views

Is the bracha pronounced "ha-MO-tzee" or "ha-mo-TZEE"?

The blessing we say on bread, "hamotzee lechem min ha'aretz" -- on what syllable is the stress in the word "hamotzee"? Is the bracha pronounced "ha-MO-tzee" or "ha-mo-TZEE"? In Psalms 104:14 we find ...
Shalom's user avatar
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11 votes
1 answer
274 views

Accent mark in וישבע לו

In many Chumashim, the word וישבע in Parshas Chayei Sara (24:9) contains both a munach and a meseg (meteg). One example: I do not understand what the meseg is doing there under the beis. Typically a ...
Dave's user avatar
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10 votes
3 answers
2k views

What are the rules for sh'va na?

What is the full list of rules for when to pronounce a sh'va (i.e. na) during tefillah and keriat hatorah? When I was in school, I remember being taught that a sh'va was na in the following 5 cases (...
Joel K's user avatar
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8 votes
2 answers
294 views

הקדוש ברוך הוא אנחנו אוהבים אותך ‎— or אותו?

There is a popular song some of whose lyrics are "הקדוש ברוך הוא אנחנו אוהבים אותך". Does anyone have a source — besides some recent lyricist — for these words precisely, or a source for any instance ...
msh210's user avatar
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8 votes
3 answers
305 views

Why is there a ה in "מוהל"? [closed]

The Hebrew word for the act performed at a circumcision is "לימול". The root appears to be נ.מ.ל. Following the exceptional rules for roots whose first letter is נ, the causative participle and ...
WAF's user avatar
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8 votes
1 answer
244 views

כּרְעוּתֵהּ (with a dagesh in the כּ) or כרְעוּתֵהּ (without the dagesh) in Kaddish?

Kaddish starts: יִתְגַּדַּל וְיִתְקַדַּשׁ שְׁמֵהּ רַבָּא. אמן:  בְּעָלְמָא דִּי בְרָא כִרְעוּתֵהּ The siddur HaGr”a has כּרְעוּתֵהּ (with a dagesh in the כּ) and all my other siddurim have כרְעוּתֵהּ ...
Avrohom Yitzchok's user avatar
8 votes
2 answers
383 views

Stress of הושיעה and הצליחה in Hallel

Why is הושיעה Mileel (penultimately stressed) whereas הצליחה is Milra (ultimately stressed) in Psalms 118:25?
MJM's user avatar
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8 votes
2 answers
651 views

Why does the Torah sometimes refer to Shabbat as a masculine noun and other times as a feminine noun?

There are times when the Torah refers to Shabat in feminine as in Shmot (Ex.) 31:13 "...But you shall observe my Shabbats, for SHE is a sign". Other times the masculine voice is used as in Shmot (Ex.) ...
DanF's user avatar
  • 70.5k
7 votes
2 answers
313 views

Koren Siddur on Kal Atzmotai Tomarna

(Note: likely not relevant to those who Daven/read Hebrew with an Ashkenazi pronunciation.) This Shabbos I was asked to lead Pesukei Dezimrah at a shul I was visiting, and I was given a Koren Siddur ...
רבות מחשבות's user avatar
6 votes
2 answers
305 views

Why does the Gemara sometimes use the word Ben and sometimes use the word Bar?

Why does the Talmud sometimes refer to someone as Ploni ben Ploni, and other times as Ploni bar Ploni? Classic example: In Bava Batra 14b the gemara says Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai In Bar Ilan's ...
AKayser's user avatar
  • 1,086
6 votes
1 answer
538 views

Why is Sefer Tehillim called Tehillim and not Tehillos?

Tehillim is plural of Tehilla (תהלה). Tehilla looks like a feminine noun, which is why there's a word called תהלות. So why is the sefer called Sefer Tehillim?
ertert3terte's user avatar
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6 votes
2 answers
1k views

How do you pronounce the soft reish?

From the Sefer Yetzirah it seems that there is both a hard and soft letter reish (see 4th perek, Aryeh Kaplan edition). How do you pronounce the soft reish?
Identitytheft-Dave's user avatar
5 votes
2 answers
219 views

Yumatu and the plural in Dev 24

Devarim 24:16 makes a statement which is central to Jewish theology. The posuk makes clear that a father will not be put to death for the sins of his son and that a son will not be put to death for ...
rosends's user avatar
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5 votes
1 answer
114 views

"Good trees" grammar in the blessing on trees

I see* various versions of the blessing on seeing trees: most seem to refer to good trees as "אילנות טובות", while some refer to them as "אילנות טובים". (Grammatically, as far as I know, "טובים" is ...
msh210's user avatar
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5 votes
1 answer
118 views

Same phrase in two places, one uses dageish and one doesn't -- why?

In the seventh aliyah of Parshat Noach, the passage about the tower of Bavel contains the phrase עַל-פְּנֵי כָל-הָאָרֶץ three times. Twice it is written כָל and once כָּל and I would like to ...
Monica Cellio's user avatar
4 votes
2 answers
128 views

ברכות switch between 2nd and 3rd person

Why in a ברכה for a commandment (for example, hand washing, Tefillin etc.) do we switch between 'You' ברוך אתה and 'His' במצותיו ? Why don't we say במצותיך ?
Ben's user avatar
  • 463
4 votes
2 answers
242 views

Paroh vs. Faroh in Parshat Bo

I am used to פרעה being pronounced as "Paroh" as it has been for the last few parshot, but I noticed today that in Parshat Bo (Shemot 10:11) it is to be pronounced "Faroh". What causes this change? ...
Mike's user avatar
  • 5,423
3 votes
2 answers
198 views

Why don't we use plural "TOVOT" in New Years greeting for ketivah ve-hatimah TOVOT?

Why don't we use plural "TOVOT" in New Years greeting for ketivah ve-hatimah (writing and sealing) tovot?
Chainsaw Al's user avatar
3 votes
2 answers
205 views

Why are there varying vowels on proper nouns in Megillas Ester?

In Megillas Ester, several proper nouns (such as Mordechai, and Shushan) use komatz and patach interchangeably. In sefardi pronunciation this does not make much of a difference, but in ashkenazi ...
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