Volume 24 Number 73
                       Produced: Mon Aug  5 23:55:07 1996

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Artscroll Transliteration
         [Micha Berger]
         [Stan Tenen]
         [Chana Luntz]
Ashkesfard, Bechol-Livovichoh, and Other Boring Dikduk Stuff
         [Mechy Frankel]
Mispronounciations in layning
         [Martin N. Penn]


From: <micha@...> (Micha Berger)
Date: Thu, 11 Jul 1996 08:55:35 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Artscroll Transliteration

In v24n60, Rabbi Geoffrey Shisler <geoffrey@...> comments:
> things that annoys me most of all is the wilful confusing of Ashkenazi
> and Sephardi (or Israeli) pronunciation - Ashkephardi.
>                  ... it's being done with the active encouragement
> of Artscroll.
> Expressions like 'Kabbalas Shabbos' is just not acceptable Hebrew, it
> should either be Kabbalat Shabbat or Kabbolas Shabbos and there are
> countless other examples of this appalling abberation of the language in
> their Siddur, for example; Pirkei Avos - for Pirkei Avot or Pirkei Ovos,
> Bris Milah - for Brit Milah or Bris Miloh Shavuos - for Shavuot or
> Shovuos Shabbos Hagadol - for Shabbat Hagadol or Shabbos Hagodol and so
> on.

I think R. Shisler's problem is merely a difference in how to read
the transliteration, not which sounds were intended. R. Shisler
feels that an Ashkinazi komatz ought to be transliterated with an
'o', which is also used to transliterate a cholum. Artscroll chooses
to use 'a' which is also used for patach. No unique English letter
is available.

The Ash' kamatz sound is used in American English in words written
with either letter. For example, "another" has (nearly if not exactly)
the same sound for the two first vowels.

I don't think the sloppiness between patach and kamatz that you hear is
intended by the Artscroll transliterator.

Micha Berger 201 916-0287        Help free Ron Arad, held by Syria 3512 days!
<micha@...>                         (16-Oct-86 -  9-Jul-96)
<a href=news:alt.religion.aishdas>Orthodox Judaism: Torah, Avodah, Chessed</a>
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From: Stan Tenen <meru1@...>
Date: Tue, 16 Jul 1996 11:25:36 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Re: Ashkefardi?

I have been reading the postings bemoaning the _phonetic_ mixing of 
Ashkenazi and Sefardi pronunciations of Hebrew.  In the real world, in 
the world of halachic Judaism, obviously the _sound_ of a word is very 
important.  We speak in words.  When we mispronounce we can be 
misunderstood and we can mislead others.  When praying or reading Torah 
for its narrative meaning precise and accurate pronunciation is very 

That having been said, I believe that it is important to remember that 
the pronunciation of Torah narratives and the _speaking_ of prayers is 
not only likely a "modern" invention, but also almost certainly 
disconnected from the original pronunciation.  

If Torah were completely understood as narrative and if it were 
available to the community from the day Moshe wrote it down for us, 
persons would have known the future.  (This was discussed on m-j some 
time ago.)  I do not mean to disparage the Pshat in the least, but I 
think we have to face the fact that the Pshat was not always available.  
What was Torah without Pshat?  The letters and words were there, but no 
one was reading them as (historical) narrative.  Only much later was 
_the story_ in Torah read to the community.

Similarly with prayer.  Our prayers were assembled from our traditions 
and composed by our sages.   No one in Shlomo Hamelek's time prayed 
Shemoneh Esrei.  Before we had formal prayers our sages and prophets 
meditated.  They looked into Torah, followed the path of the letters 
laid down by Moshe as he (Moshe) _experienced_ them from HaShem and, in 
part, retraced Moshe's experience.  I don't know if this is what we now 
call meditation but I do know that whatever it was the Moshe experienced 
it was enormously more intense and personal than even the deepest and 
purest of narrative prayers. 

So, perhaps we might consider that it is not necessarily bad to find 
Ashkenazi and Sefardi pronunciations mixed and corrupted. Perhaps we are 
simply evolving our ability to perceive Torah as more than just word 
narrative that we pronounce in ordinary phonetic language.  Perhaps 
Torah Hebrew was intended to be a meditational notation.  My work 
suggests that the letters are derived from hand gestures that can be 
_felt_ (there is no idolatry of image here) in one's mind's eye as steps 
of a precise meditational exercise. (This may include the PaRDeS 
meditation of R. Akiva, for example.) Israeli Hebrew, Aramaic and the 
modern spoken languages require proper phonetic pronunciation, but the 
meditational Hebrew of the Torah may _require_ only the precise _shape_ 
of each letter for proper meditational "pronunciation".

One further thought.  If our sages were as observant as we are about 
phonetic language, they would have observed, as we do, that language 
pronunciation diverges fairly rapidly.  Without mechanical recording 
devices, we will likely never know how any ancient language was 
pronounced - and our sages would have known that this must apply to 
Hebrew as well.  The logical response to this built in degeneration of 
knowledge is to make use of parallel systems, that do not degenerate as 
quickly, as backups.  Hand gestures do not degenerate, they come 
naturally and they are very stable.  Why insist that the primary 
recording means be phonetic when phonetic recording is not available?  
When visual recording is available, record visually.  I believe our 
sages knew this and, because they cared about the integrity of Torah, 
they used it.  (- not to mention that it was given by HaShem to Moshe at 

So perhaps, just perhaps, there is a good side to the confusion of 
pronunciation.  Perhaps this is part of the a rediscovery of the science 
of consciousness in Torah - or to put it another way - perhaps this is a 
sign of the approach of an age when the Temple can be rebuilt and when, 
eventually, moshiach can exist in the world (whatever moshiach may be).



From: Chana Luntz <heather@...>
Date: Thu, 18 Jul 1996 21:20:29 +0100
Subject: Ashkephardi

Rabbi Geoffrey Shisler writes:
>things that annoys me most of all is the wilful confusing of Ashkenazi
>and Sephardi (or Israeli) pronunciation - Ashkephardi.
>Expressions like 'Kabbalas Shabbos' is just not acceptable Hebrew, it
>should either be Kabbalat Shabbat or Kabbolas Shabbos and there are
>countless other examples of this appalling abberation of the language
>in their Siddur, for example; Pirkei Avos - for Pirkei Avot or Pirkei
>Ovos, Bris Milah - for Brit Milah or Bris Miloh Shavuos - for Shavuot
>or Shovuos Shabbos Hagadol - for Shabbat Hagadol or Shabbos Hagodol and
>so on.

But is this necessarily a result of wilfully confusing Ahskenazi and
Sephardi pronunciations. I agree there is a lot of this confusion
around, but another thing that I am very aware of, having grown up in a
community of predominantly Polish and Hungarian holocaust survivors, is
that the vowel pronounciation within the Ashkenazi tradition is not that
uniform. I would say that I have heard Ashkenazim who are still most
comfortable in Yiddish/Hungarian/Polish etc having as the predominant
vowel sound in Hebrew a range from aw (o), to a, to e to i to u sounds.

In a similar line, as a child, I was convinced my mother was wrong
because she always pronounced the dish one has on shabbas as 'solent'.
It used to embarass me terribly, because as the only Litvak among Poles
and Hungarians - *everybody* pronounced it cholent (and since my mother
was born in South Africa, I figured that everybody else, being born in
Europe, must really know).  It was only as an adult that I discovered
that in fact one of the characteristics of certain authentic Litvishe
dialects (that is not the Litvishe Yiddish pronunciation that is the
equivalent of BBC English, but pronunciation that was used in the
heartland of Lita) was a certain use of 's' in place of ch and sh, and
that in fact my mother was perfectly correct, at least as the dish was
pronounced within cooee of Vilkomir (although alas, I myself cannot
manage to actually call it solent, knowledge is one thing, it still
'sounds' wrong to my ear).




From: Mechy Frankel <"FRANKEL@GD"@hq.dswa.mil>
Date: Mon, 22 Jul 1996 14:46:19 +0000 (GMT)
Subject: Ashkesfard, Bechol-Livovichoh, and Other Boring Dikduk Stuff

 Boring Dikduk Stuff: 1. In a recent post Russel Hendel accurately
pointed out the consistent use of a dageish in the lamed of "laimoar" in
all appearances of the phrase "vayidabeir hashem el moshe laimoar"
identifying it as a dageish chazak - presumably since it didn't appear
to be a dageish kal.  Some minor expansion on this point is appropriate
here. Whereas most dageish chazaks have a phonetic value of doubling the
letter in which they appear, this might/ or might not be the case with
this particular usage.  Rather this particular case seems most likely to
be a masoretic flag indicating an enhanced separation or division,
despite the conjunctive trope attaching the "moshe" to "laimoar".
Whether the doubling ought be indicated in such circumstance is unclear,
at least to me, and I'm not sure that it ought be conventionally
identified as a chazak, at least without caveats. For more on this point
see Yisrael Yeivin, "Keser Aram Tzovoh: Niekudov Vita'amov" p. 57
(Magnes Press, 1969), also "Intro to the Tiberian Masoroh" p. 294 by the
same author.

2.  it's probably worth noting (for dikduk afficionados) that my
questioning of the "chazak" status of the above dageish has nothing to
do with its appearance at the beginning of a word.  In
tanachic/masoretic usage dageish chazaks, along with their doubling
function, frequently appear at the beginning of words.  e.g.  dageish
chazak generally deployed in the beginning of all words following "mah"
(what) - unless the following word begins with a yud pointed with a
shiva. also in words following "zeh" (this) if connected to zeh with a
makaf. also many other examples.

 Bechol-Livovichoh 3.  Another minor point. In the course of a longer
discussion of the pronunciation of the phrase "bichol-livovichoh" in the
shima, Russel indicated that the minchas shai's direction is to "slur"
(sic) the two words together into a "bichollivovichoh". my own read is
different.  In Devorim 6/5 the minchas shai would seem clear in
concluding that we should take care to not run the lamed of one word
into the lamed of the other, despite the connecting makaf.

 Ashkesfard 4.  I find myself in the unusual, for me, position of
defending Artscroll practice.  A poster properly pointed out the mixed
geneology of Artscroll transliterations (e.g Shabbas rather than a more
pleasingly consistent Shabbos, halacha vice halochoh, etc.).  The other
side of this consistency argument is the desire to communicate. When
various word forms have achieved a sufficient popular recognition,
attempts to change their representation for the sake of an abstract
scholarly purity may interfere with the mass communication mission of
the translation - which is after all the priority here. (scholarly
purity is in any event unachievable without adoption of the full
scholarly transliteration apparatus which i doubt anybody wants. unless
you want to see symbols unavailable to my keyboard here replace alephs
and other letters in your siddur. as a completely orthogonal thought i
believe that many might subscribe to the notion that scholarly purity is
an oxymoron).  And though I tend to make, idiosyncratic to be sure,
stabs at my own version of ashkenazic transliterations, I do the same
thing myself e.g.  In paragraphs 1 and 2 above I have consistently
referred to the "dageish chazak" rather than a "dogeish chozok" since
its usage is sufficiently widespread to make the alternative appear
unusual enough to momentarily distract the reader from whatever concept
is being pushed by the sentence. A rather subjective cut to be sure.

Mechy Frankel			H:  (301) 593-3949
<frankel@...>			W: (703) 325-1277 


From: Martin N. Penn <74542.346@...>
Date: 21 Jul 96 00:04:57 EDT
Subject: Mispronounciations in layning

In a previous post (vol. 24, #69),   Herschel Ainspan asks 

>>As a followup to the discussion on (mis)pronounciation in
>>davening, does anyone know if an error in word stress (accenting the
>>wrong syllable) changes the meaning of the word, such that the error
>>would have to be corrected during k'rias haTorah?  I know of one
>>example for sure - in the 1st aliyah of parashas Sh'mos, where
>>"_ba_ah" and "ba_ah_" (where the underscores surround the stressed
>>syllable) both occur, one meaning "came", the other "coming".

	There are other examples, and the _ba_ah/ba_ah_ one comes even
earlier in the Torah.  In sefer B'reishit, chapter 29, possuk 6: v'hinei
Rachel bito ba_ah_ im...  And three possukim later: v'Rachel _ba_ah
	I was once layning parhsat B'reishit, and in the middle of
chapter 4, possuk 5 everyone started screaming.  I had just read: v'el
Kayin v'el minchaso lo sha_ah_.  People were telling me to read it: lo
_sha_ah.  The rabbi of the minyan also told me to read it this way, so I
had no choice.  (And obviously, I was in no position to argue with
them.)  Afterwards, I checked several different chumashim, and none
supported reading it _sha_ah.  So here's a case where the rabbi,
gabbaim, and several members of the shul corrected a correct
pronounciation and made it wrong.

Mr. Ainspan continued later in his post
>> I've heard gabbaim refrain from correcting when the ba'al koreh makes an
obvious mispronounciation
>>that has no meaning as spoken, e.g. "_Mo_she" instead of "Mo_she_","_ma_yim
_cha_yim el _ke_li" >>instead of "cha_yim_", etc.

	I won't disagree with this.  However, my experience has been
that many gabbaim simply don't know when to correct.  Often the person
who is asked to be a gabbai is not someone who is knowledgable about
trope or dikduk.  It is someone who has been given the unenviable task
of sorting out shul politics and divying out honors to those who require
them (e.g., someone who has a yahrzeit coming up, a chassan who will be
married that week, etc.).  To prove my point here, I'll relate one more
personal story.
	About seven years ago, I was layning on Shabbat morning.  I
hadn't prepared in my usual fashion because of demands at work.
However, Friday night I looked it over and concentrated on trope and
dikduk, not on where each aliyah ended.  The next morning in shul, I
finished the first two aliyot, and began reading the third.  Although I
hadn't put in my normal time with it, I was confident that I was reading
it OK.  All of the sudden I felt that something was wrong.  The possukim
didn't feel or sound right.  At the end of the next possuk, I paused,
grabbed the chumash that the gabbai was using and found my place --
three possukim into the next aliyah.  Fortunately, we were able to break
here and still be OK for the remainder of the layning.  I asked the two
gabbaim why they hadn't stopped me when I went into the next aliyah.
They told me that they thought I knew what I was doing.
	Enough said.   Have a good week.
	Martin Penn


End of Volume 24 Issue 73