Volume 28 Number 85
                 Produced: Mon Jun 21  6:36:11 US/Eastern 1999

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Ashkenazi pronunciation of 'Ayin (5)
         [David Weitz, Alexander Heppenheimer, Richard Wolpoe, AJ
Gilboa, Warren Burstein]
Diqduq redux:  case of the two reishes
         [Mechy Frankel]
Mappiq Heh
         [Percy Mett]
More grammar & pronunciation: "alma" in Kaddish
         [Michael Poppers]


From: David Weitz <weitzd@...>
Subject: Re: Ashkenazi pronunciation of 'Ayin

I remember davenning in the Gerard Dou Straat shul in Amsterdam a few
years ago and I noticed that the Baal Koreh used the Dutch version of
the Ashkenazi pronunciation; that is Yekkish, with the 'Ayin pronounced
as per the Dutch Sephardim, i.e. like 'ng' in English. On asking one of
the older congregants the reason for this variation from standard
Ashkenazi practice, I was informed that when the first Ashkenazim
arrived in Amsterdam in the early 17th century there were not enough of
them to form their own shul, so they davened with the Sephardim. The
latter were not impressed when Ashkenazim who were given Aliyot used
their own pronunciation. The matter was referred to a Rav in Venice (his
name escapes me), who ruled that the Ashkenazim could continue using
their own pronunciation on condition that they were careful to pronounce
the 'Ayin the Sephardi way.

Perhaps this also explains the adoption of some Sephardi practices in
davening here in Israel, such as saying En Keilokeinu and Pitum
Haketoret every day (they are said on Shabbat and Chagim only in Chul),
and saying Vidui in Shacharit either on Mondays and Thursdays or daily
in Shacharit (as opposed to fast days and the Selichot period only in
Chul); again I understand that this was because there weren't enough
Ashkenazim to form there own shul when they first came here around 270
years ago, so they davenned with the Sephardim and adopted some of their
minhagim, perhaps on the basis of "Chazakah".

From: Alexander Heppenheimer <Alexander.Heppenheimer@...>
Date: Wed, 16 Jun 1999 13:11:07 -0600
Subject: Re: Ashkenazi pronunciation of 'Ayin

Warren Burstein asked:

> So how did they pronounce `ayin in the Remah's shul?  Did Ashkenazim back
> when the nearest Yemenite minyan was in Yemen have any information at all
> about the pronunciation of 'ayin, or understand what the Mechaber meant?

It's not only Yemenites who pronounce ayin properly; generally, all Jews
from Arabic-speaking countries do so as well, since, as Yosef Gilboa
pointed out, the spoken languages there contain that sound. Anyway, the
Magen Avraham (53:15) gave his fellow Ashkenazim some clue on the
subject, by stating that "the pronunciation of ayin is stronger and
deeper [i.e., further back in the throat] than alef." (Incidentally,
this tells us that, back then, Ashkenazim commonly understood alef to
have an actual consonantal value of its own - a glottal stop - unlike
today, when your average Ashkenazi considers alef to be silent and to
just take on the sound of whatever vowel it's paired with.)

A true deep-in-the-throat ayin does have some similarity to a _nasal_
"n" (as in "think"), whence the Ashkenazic "Yankef" and the Litvish
"ban'gala" and the Western Sefardic "ng" that various posters have
mentioned. (This similarity goes back a long way: the Greeks heard the
initial sounds of "Amorah" and "Azzah" as a hard G, and therefore
transliterated them as "Gomorrah" and "Gaza.")A hundred or so years ago,
when Spanish and Portuguese Sefardim were the dominant element in the
Jewish communities of England and America, the usual transliterations of
the names of certain basic tefillos included "Shemang" and "Adon

From: Richard Wolpoe <richard_wolpoe@...>
Date: Thu, 17 Jun 1999 13:54:24 -0400
Subject: Ashkenazi pronunciation of 'Ayin

>>From: Micha Berger <micha@...> Date: Mon, 14 Jun 1999 08:10:34 -0400 
The only legacy I can think of that remains of the Ashkenazi `ayin is the 
Yiddish "Yankef" for "Ya'akov". I'm not sure how much that tells us about the 
original sound, except it had some passing similarity to a nun.>>

The late Chief Rabbi Perreira of Amsterdam visited W. Hartford circa
1970.  They pronounced the ayin the same as the GN in filet mingon or
the N~ in the Spanish as in nin~o.

I would guess that the Western Sephardic proounciation was similar to
the original Ashkenaz prounciation and that is how Yaankef came about,
sort of that French gn sound.

Rich Wolpoe

From: AJ Gilboa <bfgilboa@...>
Date: Wed, 16 Jun 1999 12:04:11 -0700
Subject: Re: Ashkenazi pronunciation of 'Ayin

Many careful Ashkenazi ba`ale kri'a and hazzanim distinguish between
'alef and `ayin and not only in Israel where we have Yemenite and other
traditions (Bavli, Sfaradi, etc.) to guide us. This is especially true
among Litvaks and Yekkes. In Zurich, for example, ba`ale kri'a are very
careful about this distinction. I suspect that the distinction was lost
among Ashkenazim in everyday usage because of the influence of German
and other Western languages that do not have the glottal click (as in
'alef) or the guttural (as in 'ayin or het). Those communities that used
Arabic as their everyday language had an easier time preserving these
distinctions. Note that some Western Sfaradim pronounce 'ayin almost
like "n" or "ng". See what happens when you lose touch with your Semitic

Yosef Gilboa

From: Warren Burstein <warren@...>
Date: Wed, 16 Jun 1999 15:07:09
Subject: Re: Ashkenazi pronunciation of 'Ayin

>From: AJ Gilboa <bfgilboa@...>
>Many careful Ashkenazi ba`ale kri'a and hazzanim distinguish between
>'alef and `ayin and not only in Israel where we have Yemenite and other
>traditions (Bavli, Sfaradi, etc.) to guide us. This is especially true
>among Litvaks and Yekkes. 

Is there any way if we can know if careful baalei kria made this
distinction before contact was reestablished with Arabic-speaking


From: Mechy Frankel <Michael.Frankel@...>
Date: Fri, 18 Jun 1999 12:54:15 -0400
Subject: Diqduq redux:  case of the two reishes

Moshe Silbermann writes:
<... However, there is overwhelming proof that the Baalei Massorah did NOT
have two versions of the reish... that we have only 14 cases of a dagesh
reish should be sufficient proof but there is also the fact that the
existence of a reish requires its own Gizra just ..(you will need to see my
sefer for this to become self-evident).>

Au contraire. Aderaba. Pmfaqer. No way Jose. There is in fact overwhelming,
indeed (imho of course) incontrovertible and multiple source, documentary
proof that the baalei mesorah DID have two versions of the reish- and unlike
the inferential "proofs" cited by MS, these directly address the issue at
hand.  Thus consider the following, all essentially eyewitness, accounts:  
1. R. Saadyoh Gaon (in his commentary to sefer yetziroh) "..as to the two
articulations of the reish, this is practiced by the Tiberians (when
reading) in torah, and by the Iraqim (i.e babylonians) in their speech, but
not in torah."  And remember BTW that R. saadyoh spent five years studying
in Tiberias before moving on to bovel. he knew wherof he spoke.  
2. Sefer Horayat Haqoreih, (a near masoretic era work written originally in
arabic, published in both long and condensed versions, and entirely
dedicated to explicating the proper way of reading the torah according to
the true tiberian pronunciation - unlike sefardi based grammars and those
who continued the sefardi derech, like the kimchi family -particularly sefer
hamichlol which Moshe has quoted -and ibn ezrah). "the Tiberians add to the
six the letter reish, fixing them as BGD KPRT" (from the intro to the
author's chapter on the letters), later on the (anonymous) author goes on to
describe how the two different reish's were pronounced by the tiberians.
3. Ali ben Yehudoh Hanozir (R. saadyoh gaon's rebbe in tiberias before r.
saadyoh made his way to bovel. i.e either a card carrying ba'al mesorah
himself or their next door neighbor)- MS from the cairo genizoh, reports
that the double phonetic value realization of the reish was preserved by the
binei eretz yisroel both in torah reading and in common speech.   
4. There are many MS (babylonian rather than tiberian) which in fact mark
the reish rofeh exactly as, and according to the same principles of usage,
the usual BGD KPT group, providing, if any were needed, further validation
to the accuracy of R. saadyoh's remarks cited above.

Now, given that tiberians of this age distinguished between reishes, Moshe's
observation that they didn't, at least as a matter of course, fix this in
the masoretic torah requires some explanation. One suggestion is the
notion,held by many (including r. saadyoh for that matter), that the
deployment of the hard and soft Tiberian reish differed from the rules used
for the other six letters, depending on the occurrance of particular letters
and stops both before and after the resih (R saadyoh offers a complicated
list of circumstances).  if so, it may be this led to treating the two
reises differently than the other two letter realizations when it came to
fixing the written text in the codices.  On the other hand there are
scholars today who do believe that their usage was identical to the rest of
the BGD KPT group. Which is why i suggested that we leave it a tzorich iyun.
but that there were two reishes, both in Tiberias and  Bovel (though perhaps
not identical ones) should not be in slightest doubt.

Moshe writes:
<An early reference for those who still want to look at the issue of the
pronunciation of  "shtayim" is the Redaq in Mikhlol p. 140a Lyk edition
(Shaar HaSheva). In Yeiven - cited by Mechy - it is in section #377.>
Two even earlier ones are the "Ma'amar Ha'shevoh" (anonymous)and the
"Horayat Haqoreih" cited above.

Finally, Moshe wrote: 
<Mechy has correctly recalled that there was once an issue with the status
of the second of two consecutive shevas at the end of a word. The details
... are fully described by the Redaq in his Mikhlol (p.139a...> 
An even earlier reference to an authoritative shitoh holding two shivohs at
the end of a word produced final shivoh noh (connected to the following
word, unless there were a hefseiq) is R. Yehudoh Ibn Chiyuj, about +1000.

I'll be spending much of next week in London, incommunicado, with the fond
hope that by the time I've returned this thread will have run its eye
glazing course.

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


From: Percy Mett <p.mett@...>
Date: Wed, 16 Jun 1999 16:01:30 +03d0
Subject: Re: Mappiq Heh

Alexander Heppenheimer <Alexander.Heppenheimer@...>

>(c) As a matter of fact, in at least one other place, Minchas Shai takes
>care to tell us that the hei is sounded - namely, in the word "bohshammah"
>(Vayikra 26:43); he says that the second hei is silent, but that the first
>one is to be treated as if it had a mappik. (And that case is exactly
>parallel to ours, with the sequence kamatz katan/hei with sheva/letter with
>dagesh.) Also in the word "yehgu" (Tehillim 2:1), he specifically states
>that the hei has a sheva nach - implying that it is like any other letter
>with that nekudah: the end of the syllable, but voiced.

That doesn't seem to prove anything. On he contrary, since MS tells us
explicitly to sound the first hei of bohshammoh, but says nothing about the
hei of yehgu and v'rohbom, maybe the correct implication is that the latter
two heis are unsounded. i don't see that omission by MS proves anything.

Perets Mett


From: Michael Poppers <MPoppers@...>
Date: Wed, 16 Jun 1999 13:30:38 -0400
Subject: Re: More grammar & pronunciation: "alma" in Kaddish

On 14Jun1999, Art Roth replied:
 > To my knowledge, everyone who pronounces this syllable with a qamatz
gadol and sh"va' nax also accents the syllable --- b"ALma' rather than
b"alMA' (capitals indicate accent). <

 AFAIK, everyone who accents the word in that manner is in error (and,
as you know, many people erroneously pronounce many "m'l'ra"
[ultimate-syllable accent] words as "m'l'ail" [penultimate-syllable
accent]).  FWIW, the chazzanim in "Breuer's" (Washington Heights, NY,
where I grew up) always pronounced this word as "b'al'MA," but I don't
recall hearing them emphasize the sh'va as being "na" rather than
"nach"; whether or not the ultimate-accent/sh'va nach combination makes
sense, I wouldn't be surprised if at least some of those chazzanim were
doing so deliberately, esp. if, as Seth posits, "[a]ll sefaradim who are
knowledgable and careful" do so, since the minhogim of Frankfurt-de-Main
and of S'faradim often coincide (in opposition to the minhag of
"Ostjuden" [Eastern-European Jews] in the given situation).

Michael Poppers * Elizabeth, NJ


End of Volume 28 Issue 85