Volume 34 Number 92
                 Produced: Mon Jun 25  6:52:46 US/Eastern 2001

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Ashqenazi qomotz
         [Bernard Horowitz]
Pronunciation of Qametz
         [Janice Gelb]
Repetition of Words in Prayer (3)
         [Reuben Rudman, Bernard Raab, Carl Singer]
repetition of words in Shema, vs. B'rich Sh'may
         [Andrew Klafter]


From: Bernard Horowitz <horowitz@...>
Date: Thu, 21 Jun 2001 13:17:00 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Ashqenazi qomotz

Like the qomotz, the chirik vowel symbol does not distinguish between
chirik gadol and chirik katan.  I believe that this may be true about
the 'oo' sound of shuruk and qubutz.  (For example, the word t'lunos -
complaints - takes a dagesh in the nun which makes the shuruk katan.
There are many other examples in which the shuruk is gadol.)

When I listen to people reading Hebrew - leining, or davening or just
reading the news - I hear what seems to be a differentiation in the
pronunciation of the chirik (though not the shuruk or qubutz.)  The
differentiation is not perfect but seems to closely follow the gadol and
katan differentiation.  Some examples: EEsh, never Ish; mIshpat, never
mEEshpat; lehasqEEl, but lIshmoa; yIsrael, not yEEsrael.  The exceptions
that I have noticed come when the syllable is closed by a daghesh rather
than by a separate letter.  Some examples: People say v'lEEmad-tem,
tEEkares, yEEshama, though the chirik is katan.  In the other direction,
plural masculine endings often get shortened (mishpatIm rather than

I have taken to distinguish between the two sounds I (As in hIm) and EE
(as in hEEl) when I lein.  In some cases this allows me to better
distinguish between near homophones (yIr-u, to see, and yEE-r'u, to
fear).  Is there any historical basis for diferentiation of these two
sounds?  Is there perhaps some linguistic explanation for the types of
exceptions noted above that I have noticed?

Along the same lines, should there be a distinction with the oo sounds
as well?  U as in pUll vs. oo as in mOO?

Bernard Horowitz


From: Janice Gelb <j_gelb@...>
Date: Thu, 21 Jun 2001 09:25:09 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Re: Pronunciation of Qametz

Perets Mett <p.mett@...> wrote:
> The distinction between komats O and komats OO is not quite whether the
> syllable is closed or open in the sense of classical Hebrew grammar. In
> fact,
> Komats is pronounced O
> (a) for a closed syllable e.g. bOm, YitschOk, kOdshoi
> (b) before a shvo no (actually a ShvOO) e.g. bOr(e)chu (actually
> bOrchEE)
> Komats is pronounced OO in all other cases

Those interested in this subject may want to look into a book (written
by an Israeli member of my congregation) called "The Ohs and Ahs of
Torah Reading" by Rivka Sherman-Gold. It goes into great detail about
the history of the vowel system as it relates to these two vowels, the
relevant grammar rules, and, most helpfully, has tables in the back that
list all of the kamatz instances in all parshiyot and haftorot, plus
some high holiday and regular prayers.


-- Janice


From: Reuben Rudman <rudman@...>
Date: Thu, 21 Jun 2001 12:31:11 -0400
Subject: Repetition of Words in Prayer

This thread started with a discussion of repetition of words during
singing in davening and has broadened into covering all cases where one
repeats themselves while davening.  I have tried to restrain from
participating in this discussion, but, it seems to me, there are several
points of confusion which have arisen.  In particular, it seems that
some people think that all forms of repetition are equivalent and
therefore everything should be allowed or nothing should be allowed.

I will try to summarize some salient points.

1) Repetition of complete pesukim (verses):

(a) There are certain places in davening where the repetition of a
complete pasuk is mandated.  Often this is used to identify the end of a
section (recall that the use of punctuation was introduced relatively
late in the formulation of our liturgy).  For example, near the end of
pesukai d'zimra we repeat "kol ha'neshama ^" to indicate that is the
end of the section begun with "ashrei".  It is also the end of Sefer
Tehillim (Book of Psalms).  A little later, we repeat "HaShem Yimloch
^" to identify the end of the Shira.  Also, at the end of Hallel we
repeat several pesukim.  This is a bit more complicated.  As you
probably know, Hallel consists of Chapters 113 - 118 of Tehillim
surrounded by a beginning and ending bracha.  There is a lamdushe
(technical religious) reason for repeating a pasuk in the middle of this
perek.  So as to not to differentiate between pasukim, each of the
verses in this perek is repeated.  This also serves to indicate the end
of Hallel.

(b) In general, if there are no other factors to consider (see below),
it is permissible to repeat an entire pasuk.  In fact, when layning the
Torah, if one makes a mistake it is often necessary to re-layn the
entire pasuk.  The fact that on certain occasions re-reading an entire
pasuk is mandated (e.g., on Rosh Chodesh) shows that repeating an entire
pasuk is acceptable. This need for repetition cannot be transformed into
an excuse for repeating anything anywheres.

2) Phrase or Single Words:

(a) When there are no other considerations, then repeating a word or
phrase is allowed.

(b) When a Hefsek (interruption) is involved then saying unnecessary
words is not allowed.  For example, in the middle of a bracha one is not
allowed to say anything that is not part of the bracha, so even
repeating a word is prohibited.  This has to do with the concept of
maintaining the "matbe'ah" of the Sages; that is, we are not allowed to
change the original formulation of the bracha.  Also, in the middle of a
sequence of brachas, which are connected to each other, such as during
Sh'mona Es'rai or the Brachos surrounding Kri'as Sh'ma, a Hefsek is

(c) When a Safek is involved (that is, when there is a doubt as to what
the exact text is) then repetition is allowed.  The form of repetition
is a matter of halachik concern.  For example, in Parshas Zachor there
is a safek concerning the proper nikkud of one word.  According to some,
the word is "repeated", that is, it is pronounced first one way and then
the second way.  In actuality it is not a repetition, since two words
are pronounced.  On the other hand, some consider this to be a hefsek
and so they repeat the entire pasuk.  Others consider the reading of a
second pasuk to be a hefsek in the layning and so only read it one way.

(d) When a matter of Kavana (concentration on the meaning of what is
being said) is involved, another factor comes into play.  If one is
intent on concentrating so deeply that every word must be thought about
carefully, it is possible for one to lose their concentration
momentarily.  They then repeat the word, sometimes more than once.
However, the operant here is that the word or words that are said
without Kavana are considered not to have been said.  Therefore, there
is no repetition that involves a hefsek.  However, such deep
concentration is usually reserved for those who are worthy of it.  Not
everyone can attain this level, and sometimes those who act this way
would be better off not acting this way.  That is, the fact that someone
repeats himself constantly may not be the correct way for that
individual to daven.

3) Gezairos and Takanos Not To Repeat: There are several examples
brought in the Gemara where we are proscribed from repeating, even an
entire pasuk.  These decrees were originally mandated for the purpose of
discriminating between true believers and those who did not believe in
HaShem and his Torah.  The examples of not repeating Sh'ma or Mo'dim are
best known.  For those who live in the midst of the greatest democracy
the world has ever known and are imbued with thoughts of freedom of
expression and freedom of speech, etc., it is difficult to accept
restrictions on the words we say.  The usual response that the reasons
behind the original decrees do not apply is, unfortunately, not
acceptable.  There is a well known concept, that once a decree was made
by the Chazal (the Sages of the Talmud) and accepted as normative
Halacha, then the action mandated by that decree cannot be set aside
even if the original reason is no longer operative.  This has been
discussed in many places, but to cite one example that has appeared in
Mail Jewish recently, the book by Neria Gutel on the changing nature of
things (hishtnut hateva) discusses this in several places.  In
particular, it has a compendium of several hakdamot (underlying
principles) formulated by HaRav Zalman Nechemia Goldberg in which these
principles are discussed.  Therefore, once there was a talmudic decree
not allowing the repetition of certain words, we cannot abrogate this
decree by stating that the original underlying reason for this decree
does not exist in our society.

So, the result of this summary is to show that there are many reasons
for repeating or not repeating words, phrases and entire pesukim at
various times in the davening services.  Whereas, it may be permissible
to repeat at some points, it may be prohibited at other points.  Also,
it may be permissible for the congregation to repeat at some points, but
not for the Chazzan to repeat. If there is (1) no hefsek, (2) no
distortion of meaning, and (3) it is not prohibited by a talmudic decree
then it would probably be allowed.

[After finishing this, I saw the posting in the name of The Rav and what
is said here seems to be in agreement with the statements attributed to
The Rav.]

Thus, there is room in the davening for singing with the repetition of
words, but it is not proper to do it indiscriminately.  In some shuls
the communal singing (with repetition as allowed) takes a long time,
while in others the personal davening occupies the greater time during
the services.  Each has its place.

Finally, I would like to relate what Rabbi Joseph Lookstein, ob"m, told
us in our Practical Rabbinics class over 40 years ago.  He said that he
did not like his Chazzanim repeating themselves endlessly and whenever
he would have a new Chazzan in his shul he would tell them - "If you
must repeat yourself, go down to the basement and say it over as many
times as you want, then when you get to the last time come up here to
the Shul and say it once."  I do not know how this translated into

From: Bernard Raab <beraab@...>
Date: Thu, 21 Jun 2001 12:00:31 -0400
Subject: Re: Repetition of Words in Prayer

>From: Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...>
>Sid Gordon wrote in mail-jewish Vol. 34 #78 Digest:
> >I'm not suggesting there's no validity to the view which opposes
> >repetition.  But I expect a little respect for the traditions
> >of those who see it as enhancing, in some cases, the beauty of the
> >tefila.
>"Traditions"?  That's a strange description for distortions of the
>meaning of the prayers.

Please allow me to tell a story which illustrates the power of some 
traditional melodies, albeit involving "unapproved" repetitions:

Some years ago, and many times since, we were invited to spend Shavuos
with friends who own a summer home at a lake community which was
established in the 1950's. Most of the homes in the community are owned
by non-observant Jews and some by non Jews. Amazingly, the community has
a charming little orthodox shul, its only house of worship. This shul
was built over the objections of many residents by a very few of the
original "settlers", led by a physically powerful man of prodigious
energy and charisma. This man was not "orthodox" as we would define it,
but he grew up on the East side of Manhattan, and sang in the choir of
an orthodox shul. He and his brother and some others actually physically
built this shul themselves, pouring concrete and hammering nails. When
we met him, years later, he was content to let others run the shul. At
the conclusion of "Aleynu", however, no matter the chazan, he sang out
in his still-powerful tenor voice; "oo-sh'mo, oo-sh'mo, oo-sh'mo echad".

This precious man passed away last year, but the shul, to their
everlasting credit, still sings his coda at the end of Aleynu. I really
dislike repetitions, especially of the "chazanisch" kind, but I heartily
joined in this one last Shavuos. May we never get so m'dakdek about the
size and shape of the flowers that we forget to honor their beauty and

--Bernie R.

From: Carl Singer <CARLSINGER@...>
Date: Thu, 21 Jun 2001 12:50:56 EDT
Subject: Repetition of Words in Prayer

Does anyone claim to be holier or more knowlegable then the Kehilla in
which they daven?

-- I think a key issue is that the Rav of a shule determines what is or
is not acceptable (sometimes ONLY 1 way, sometimes varieties of
acceptable ways) That establishes the halachic boundaries for that shule
and for the people who daven for the amud.  Beyond that the congregation
(as a political body) might (and I'm not sure here) provide further
strictures -- i.e. Rav say A or B -- board of directors says A only.
(Board cannot say C, as this transgresses Shule Rav's p'sack.)

  .... and if you don't like it, the internet is not where you'll find a

Kol Tov

Carl Singer


From: Andrew Klafter <andrew.klafter@...>
Date: Thu, 21 Jun 2001 13:17:51 -0400
Subject: repetition of words in Shema, vs. B'rich Sh'may

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 Sid Gordon wrote [AND WROTE IT WELL!] in mail-jewish Vol. 34 #78 Digest:
> >  How many of the readers of this list, when
> >they see the chazan wrapped in his talit standing in front of the open
> >aron kodesh, soon to be holding the Sefer Torah close to his heart and
> >intoning Shema Yisrael, declaring the Oneness of G-d, and they hear him
> >say "Baye, baye ana rachetz" suspect that he is secretly a Zoroastrian,
> >praying to a dual-deity?

> From: Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...>>
> Interesting question, but not to the point.  If he said "Shema` Shema`,"
> would you question his religion?  You would not, but we are nonetheless
> bidden to silence him for such an act.  (And as I may have pointed out,
> the conductor of the Israel Philharmonic is indeed a Zoroastrian, and
> not a secret one.

> The logic of refraining from declaring "In Him, In him" (intentionally
> not capitalised) is the same, if not even more pronounced, than in the
> prohibition of declaring: "We thank, we thank," or "Hear, hear."

With all due respect, Ira is extrapolating inappropriately here.  The
halakha of not repeating applies to Kriat Shema and not to Brich Sh'may.
The fact that the same principle COULD apply, does not mean that it DOES
apply.  After all Hem Gazru v'Hem Gazru (i.e., the Sages instituted legal
decrees with very limited parameters, and they do not apply in other
sistuations even when the logic would seem to dictate that they very well

According to the Shulchan Arukh Ha Rav (printed also in Tehilat HaShem
Siddur, pg. 46, top) when one is praying alone and did not concentrate
properly on the verse Shema Yisrael, he should repeat the verse OUT LOUD.
(When one is in a congregation and did not cocentrate properly, he should
repeat the verse but only silently.)  Since this halakha was not instituted
with respect to Brich Sh'may (which is after all a passage from the Zohar
and not a biblical text), I cannot understand what compels us to object to a
sh"tz using a melody which involves some minor repetitions.


End of Volume 34 Issue 92