Volume 34 Number 58
                 Produced: Tue May 22  6:48:34 US/Eastern 2001

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Ashqenazi Qomotz
         [Mark Steiner]
Bad Tefilla Habits
         [Hannah Katsman]
electric shavers
         [Yitzchak Roness]
Etymology of Meshi-Silk
         [Gerver, Mike (MED)]
Tefila Phraseology
         [Steven White]
Tefilla question - Phraseology (2)
         [Ben Z. Katz, Michael Poppers]


From: Mark Steiner <marksa@...>
Date: Sun, 20 May 2001 16:56:29 +0300
Subject: Re: Ashqenazi Qomotz

Here are some remarks on "qometz" issues, in response to a request by
Ben Katz to elaborate a bit--I'm doing this to divert my mind from the
horrible events in the Holy Land, hashem yerahem:

1.  R. Yosef Karo was not a linguist, in the modern sense, but knew
Hebrew.  The decision how to vocalize lhnyx (x for het) in the berakha
for tefillin is actually between two different Hebrew words, both in the
hif`il form (I'm not a linguist myself, so I won't start talking about
the roots of these words):

(a)    Lehoniax, which is derived from the same root as menuxa, 'rest'.
(b) Lehanniax, which is derived from the same root as hannaxa 'to leave,
put aside', as in the mishna about leaving a jug in the public domain
"hamanniax et hakad..." [not hameniax, mem tzeruya, which means "gives
it rest"]

    Word (b) has a negative connotation of something you don't want, so
you put it aside and leave it (holds R. Yosef Karo).
    Word (a) occurs in the benshn [Grace After Meals] in the imperative
form, correctly vocalized by Birnbaum in the Shabbat addition:
honax-lonu (could also be honeax), where it means "give us rest."  The
wrong vocalization would be "hannax lonu" 'leave us alone' which would
be blasphemous.

2.  Some time ago, I posted an article asserting that in the Massorah
(i.e. traditional "Tiberian" vocalization of the Torah which has been
adopted by all Jews everywhere, on the authority of the Rambam, I would
say) there is no such thing as two qemotzim--had there been, there would
have been two different signs of qometz, as Shlomo Tal z"l instituted in
his siddur, Rinnat Yisrael.  What seems to have happened (according to
linguists I consulted; this is not my own expertise) is that the
Ashkenazim, but not the Sefaradim, adapted their pronunciation to the
Tiberian Massorah, though earlier (as has been pointed out on this list)
that Ashkenazic pronunciation was also non-Massoretic.

    In order to reconcile their pronunciation with the Massorah, the
medieval Sefaradic grammarians (who invented "dikduk") hypothesized that
the qometz sign could be pronounced two different ways, which they
called "gadol" and "qatan."  The Ashkenazim simply adapted their
pronunciation, as I said above, as a result of the diffusion of the
Massoretic text.  I would say, therefore, that there is no good reason
for Ashkenazim to make an imaginary distinction between different kinds
of qometz.  This is particularly the case, because the Sefaradic
grammarians couldn't come up with a convincing rule predicting the two
qemotzim, the different kinds of sheva, etc., but that's really a matter
for "real" linguists, not me.

    The Yemenites have a similar conflict: their reading of the Torah
reflects a completely different Massorah (the so-called nikud bavli,
which you can see on the Vatican ms. of the Torat Kohanim, published by
JTS--it is on top of the word, not the bottom) from the Tiberian one.
They simply pronounced a segol and patah the same: ah, because that
distinction does not occur in the nikkud bavli.

3.  Despite the above, in fact, many Ashkenazim (though not "Litvaks")
do pronounce qometz in two different ways, but this distinction has
NOTHING to do with the standard distinction of "qametz gadol" and
"qametz qatan" of the Sefaradic tradition.  As my brother (who is a
linguist) has documented, Ashkenazic groups from the Ukraine to Holland
pronounce the qometz when in an open syllable: oo, and when in a closed
syllable: o or aw.  For example, in the word aleph-dalet-mem "man",
Galitzyaners, Hungarians, Yekkes, etc., all pronounce "oodom", because
the first syllable is open, the second closed.  (Stress has nothing to
do with it.)  This is very regular and is not a "mistake" but an old
tradition.  To prove this, my brother points out that chassidim (and
other groups) pronounce the word for "woman, wife": ishoo, but the word
for "her man, her husband" as "ishaw", because the latter ends on a
closed syllable (mappiq he).  What is fascinating is that the groups in
question don't pronounce the mappiq he, because they have lost it, and
yet they maintain the "correct" qometz as though it were a closed
syllable.  I don't believe he has published this material yet, so this
is a scoop for mail-jewish readers.  Needless to say, this tradition is
not Massoretic either, any more than the Sefaradic tradition is.


From: Hannah Katsman <hannahpt@...>
Date: Mon, 21 May 2001 23:35:37 +0200
Subject: Bad Tefilla Habits

 Bernard Horowitz wrote:
>The second example is when the sefer is being returned.
> The chazan often says, "Yehallelu et shem Hashem; ki nisgav, shemo levado"
> instead of "ki nisgav shemo, levado."

How about the continuation of the pasuk, more often than not pronounced
"HodU al erets ve-shamayim" instead of "HodO" (even by Israelis)?

Daniel Katsman
Petah Tikva


From: Yitzchak Roness <ronessy@...>
Date: Tue, 22 May 2001 09:51:02 +0300 (IDT)
Subject: electric shavers

R. Heinemann has an article on this issue which appears on the star-k
website. He mentions R. Feinstein's opinion that one needs to check that
the blades of the machine are not sharp enough to slice through a hair on
their own, rather the hair is cut through a scissors like action between
the blade and the net like cover. This opinion is unique amongst the
tshuvos written on the issue and R. Feinstein did not write down his legal
reasoning. R. Rappaport of yerushalayim (-editor of the igros
moshe,and R. Feinsteins grandson in-law) has an article (tchumin 13) where
he presents a rationale which can furnish R. Feinsteins chiddush.  


From: Gerver, Mike (MED) <Mike.Gerver@...>
Date: Tue, 22 May 2001 09:09:32 +0200
Subject: Etymology of Meshi-Silk

Russell Hendel, in v34n42, says

> While I cant offer historical information I can suggest an
> Etymology for the word Meshi in Ezekial (cited by Bob).
> The Hebrew root MooSH means to feel/touch/grope and as such would be a
> fitting word to denote material with a soft gentle silky texture.

The word "meshi" is listed as "origin unknown" in Brown, Driver, and Briggs,
"Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament," which also says that it
is not clear that the word in Ezekiel referred to silk rather than some
other expensive cloth, though in post-Biblical times "meshi" meant silk.
They don't suggest any connection to the Hebrew roots mem-vav-shin or
mem-shin-shin, which are related to each other, and which both mean
feel/touch/grope.  Since Brown, Driver and Briggs are not usually reticent
about suggesting speculative etymologies, this may mean that they consider
it implausible that "meshi" comes from these roots, but I'm not sure why.
Maybe they just didn't think of it.  If "meshi" did mean silk, or any other
kind of cloth that was imported from somewhere else, then I think it is
likely that the word was borrowed from another language, though I don't know
from where.

Mike Gerver


From: Steven White <StevenJ81@...>
Date: Mon, 21 May 2001 13:40:41 EDT
Subject: Tefila Phraseology

As a fairly competent ba'al tefila that works hard at phraseology, I,
too have some pet peeves about how people separate phrases in tefila.
However, some of the examples we are starting to get have crossed over
from obvious to arguable (or even wrong), and I feel it important to
note that things are not always as obvious as they seem.

Take the examples in 34:55 from Bernard Horowitz <
<horowitz@...>, for example.  When I read his posting,
my first reaction was that I agree with him on "u-neromema shemo
yachdav" and disagree with him on "ki nisgav shemo levado."  In the
first case, shemo is the direct object of the verb "u-neromema"; absent
a good reason, then, it should be attached to the verb.  And as
"yachdav" is an adverb here, and is already separated from the verb it
modifies, there is no reason it can't stay by itself: "u-neromema shemo,
yachdav."  On the other hand, in the second case, "levado" is an
adjective modifying "shemo," so has to be kept with it.  That is,
"levado" cannot stay by itself.  Maybe the ideal phraseology would be to
keep the whole thing together, but if you assume the music that most of
us use there creates a de facto phrase break there, then it must be "ki
nisgav, shemo levado."

All that having been said, both of these cases are pesukim from Tehilim,
and as it turns out, when you look up the ta'amim (notes) in each of
these cases, in both cases "shemo" carries a munach, which is
conjunctive, and the word preceding carries a disjunctive.  Note I said
"absent a good reason" above, but in this case, the mesorah of the
ta'amim has to rule, so I would have to conclude that (a) Mr. Horowitz
and I are both wrong on the first case, and (b) I am correct and he is
not on the second case.  I have to rethink how the grammar might really
work in the first case, but the ta'amim are clear.

Even absent a mesorah of ta'amim -- not all tefilot are scriptural
quotes the problem is not always so simple.  I've been starting to hear
"hu ya'ase shalom aleinu, v'al kol yisrael" in Kaddish a lot lately.
(Ditto the Aramaic verse that precedes, although v'hayyim does have to
be disjunctive.)  I understand the reasoning: aleinu is essentially a
prepositional phrase standing as an indirect object of the verb
"ya'ase," and presumably should be kept with "ya'ase" and the direct
object, "shalom."  Yet the full indirect object is really the compound
prepositional phrase "aleinu v'al kol yisrael," and each of the two
parts of the indirect object deserve equal treatment with respect to the
verb and direct object.  So the more common "hu ya'ase shalom, aleinu
v'al kol yisrael" works better, and "hu ya'ase shalom, aleinu, v'al
aleinu v'al kol yisrael" works better, and "hu ya'ase shalom, aleinu,
v'al kol yisrael" (two breaks) also works, but not really "hu ya'ase
shalom aleinu, v'al kol yisrael."

And sometimes, there is really just flexibility.  In the tefilot of the
Yamim Nora'im, there are more than a few piyyutim having three-word
lines consisting of subject, verb, direct object.  If the nusach begs
for a break, where do you break?  On the whole, between subject and verb
makes more sense, but that isn't a strong argument -- keeping subject
and verb together is important, and so is keeping verb and direct object
together.  And here, if a commonly used nusach or nigun makes it easier
to keep subject and verb rather than verb and object together, I'm not
sure there is sufficient grammatical cause to torture the musical line.

My point in all of this is that it's not always so easy, and deserves
good study from anyone purporting to be a ba'al tefila.  As to the main
subject of this thread, though -- and tying to the thread about what
people learn in yeshiva -- how is it that so many people spend years in
yeshiva and then come out davening with the egregious errors?  Or
otherwise, how is it that they come out satisfied listening to someone
daven with the egregious errors?

Yom Yerushalayim sameach,

Steven White


From: Ben Z. Katz <bkatz@...>
Date: Fri, 18 May 2001 08:52:59 -0500
Subject: Re: Tefilla question - Phraseology

>From: Mark Steiner <marksa@...>

>Let me offer my own "correction" of phrasing: in the kedusha for Shabbat
>morning, the correct phrasing is (using Israeli vocalization) matai
>timlokh? betziyon bekarov beyameinu le`olam va`ed.  Tishqon, titgadal,
>vetitkadesh betokh....

	Interestingly enough, Daniel Goldschmidt (whose monumental
machzorim include vayeshavucha in anim zemirot, as do Birnbaum and Tal)
has as an alternative reading the one proposed by Dr. Steiner, altho I
have been bothered by that version - shouldn't all three words be in the
hitpael, and then shouldn't it be "tishtaken"?

Ben Z. Katz, M.D.
Children's Memorial Hospital, Division of Infectious Diseases
2300 Children's Plaza, Box # 20, Chicago, IL 60614
Ph 773-880-4187, Fax 773-880-8226

From: Michael Poppers <MPoppers@...>
Date: Mon, 21 May 2001 17:27:37 -0400
Subject: Re: Tefilla question - Phraseology

In M-J V34#52, MSteiner wrote:
> Let me offer my own "correction" of phrasing: in the kedusha for Shabbat
morning, the correct phrasing is (using Israeli vocalization) matai
timlokh? betziyon bekarov beyameinu le`olam va`ed.  Tishqon, titgadal,
vetitkadesh betokh....My source for this is the seder (siddur) of R. `Amram
Gaon, Mossad Harav Kook edition 32, though his text is slightly different
from the standard Ashkenazic one, as he doubles the word "timlokh" (matai
timlokh? Timlokh etc.)  In our text, the doubling has to be understood. <

In Feb2000 (V4#3[56]? -- I would like to have provided a URL via
AishDas' search engine, but alas could not find the relevant articles),
some AishDas Avodah members (including me) discussed some of Rav
Henkin's z'tz'l's phraseology opinions (according to his grandson, Rabbi
YHHenkin sh'l'y't'a, they're listed in Eidut Leyisrael no. 65 [Kitvei
haGri"a Henkin vol 1, p.  161]).  One of those points was the one made
by MSteiner; I humbly disagreed (based on the Tannaitic source for the
given phrase) with many of the other points but felt this one had merit
(as the answer's verb deserves a prepositional phrase...not that Rav
Henkin's thoughts, choliloh, need either my approbation or the lack
thereof), and I appreciate his bringing a far-earlier source for reading
the answer as starting with "B'Tziyyon."  Thanks, Mark (and, to
paraphrase what I privately wrote at the time, halevai that we should
all be rogil b'mikra at least to the extent that the errors discussed in
this forum and elsewhere go the way of the dodo bird)!

All the best from
Michael Poppers * Elizabeth, NJ


End of Volume 34 Issue 58