Friday, 9 May 2008

Ivrith - back to Fundamentals or Evolving New Styles

Originally published 5/9/08, 4:45 PM.
Dear Readers:

Here is a really interesting debate on proper Ivrith Articulation from the "Leining Group"

Kol Tuv / Best Regards,

Date: Fri, May 9, 2008 at 10:12 AM
Subject: [Leining] Tiberian

I think we should keep in mind that no community pronounces Hebrew just as the Tiberian Masoretes did. We need to balance the competing priorities of accurate and consistent reading on the one hand with preserving the legitimate and established minhag of communities on the other hand. In some cases (e.g. zekher/zeikher) accuracy and consistency must take precedence (although in that example it has been shown that it was not truly a reliable "minhag"); in others (e.g. thaw/tav/saf) minhag must take precedence. The goal is not to read Torah as the Tiberians did. The goal is meaningful reading that preserves grammatical and articulate Hebrew.


On Fri, May 9, 2008 at 11:23 AM, Jeremy Rosenbaum Simon wrote:

I would disagree. At least in term of the phonetic distinctions made, I think the goal is to come as close to Tiberian as possible without sounding odious to the congregation. From my first and second hand experience, in a modern askenazi shul, you can pronounce dagesh chazak and ayin, but not, soft gimels and dalets. Tiberian Hebrew represents the masorah that has been universally accepted, and we should strive to stay as close as possible. Of course, languages change in their phonetics, but kri'at hatorah is a specific kind of ritual performance, and so a certain degree of deviation from standard spoken Hebrew is acceptable and as it happen desirable. How else are we to make sense of the rambam's strictures on who can lein, the most famous one being that one must be able to distinguish between an ayin and an alef. Clearly, already in his time and place had been lost among routine speakers of Hebrew, and nonetheless, he felt the need to insist on in in kri'at hatorah.

- Jeremy

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