Shema Yisrael Hashem Elokeinu Hashem ehad
The Mishna (Pesahim 55b) records that The Sages did not object to the men of Jericho reading the Shema without pause. In discussing this Mishna, the Gemara asks what was the unfavourable tradition to which the Sages did not object. The Gemara following the Tosefta (Pesahim 3:16) provides a number of answers. Among them is that of Rabbi Meir: They said Shema Yisrael Hashem Elokeinu Hashem ehad and they did not pause.
Even though the Babelonian Talmud does not explain Rabbi Meirs statement allowing Rashi and Tosefot to differ, the Jerusalem Talmud does. One of the interpretations in the Jerusalem Talmud is: Rabbi Aha said in the name of Rabbi Zeira who said in the name of Rabbi (Ila, according to the Penei Moshe) not Shema Yisrael Hashem Elokeinu Eashem ehad, but says Rabbi Meir: they did not pause between word and word. This explanation of Rabbi Meirs teaching by Rabbi Aha that they did not pause between word and word is reproduced as Halakha in the Tur reporting that Rav Amram Gaon (9th Century) accepted it as obligatory (O. H. 61).
What does they did not pause between word and word mean? The Korban Haeida, a commentary on the Jerusalem Talmud, and Rabbi Moshe Isserles (16th Century) in Darkei Moshe, a commentary on the Tur, both maintain that it means that the verse divides into three parts: Shema Yisrael (pause) Hashem Elokeinu (pause) Hashem ehad (stop).
However the Pnei Moshe, another commentary on the Jerusalem Talmud, explains they did not pause between word and word differently. He writes They would say Shema Yisrael in one flow and would not pause between word and word in order to meditate and have full intention on the verse of unity. We can see that his opinion is that one should pause between each and every word of the verse Shema Yisrael. It is possible to find support for the opinion of the Pnei Moshe in the tunes and the vowels of the verse itself.
The word Shema has Tip-ha, Yisrael has Etnahta, Elokeinu has Tip-ha, and ehad has Sof pasuk. All of these are pausal tunes (M Breuer Taamei Hamikra Horeb, Jerusalem 1990 p.13; S Y Halevy Weinfeld Taamei Hamikra Eshkol, Jerusalem 1982 Table A). The reading of the four-lettered Name as Adnut twice in the verse still needs to be examined. We will see that in non-sacred usage the Nun of adonai has a Patah, and in pausal form a Qamatz. In the verse Shema Yisrael the two names of Adnut have a Merkha, a non-pausal tune (ibid) leaving no place for a pausal form.
However in Genesis (18:3) Rabbeinu Bahya (13th Century) wrote that in non-sacred usage the Nun of adonai has a Patah, and only with an Etnahta or Sof pasuk a Qamatz when the word stands on its own. And for this reason in the vocalization of the sacred Name you will not find a Patah but only a Qamatz for the high and great level which indicates His being above all, and that He does not rest on another, as is the case with creatures. For this reason when the name Aleph Dalet is sacred, it has a Qamatz and when it is not it has a Patah. In the opinion of Rabbeinu Bahya the Qamatz of the Nun of the sacred Name is the same as the Qamatz of the pausal form.
Furthermore, Chief Rabbi I Herzog (20th Century) explained the Qamatz of the Nun of the Adnut Name pointing out an implication in Rabbi A ibn Ezras comment on the verse in Genesis (18:19); Rabbi A ibn Ezra maintains that as this name is not sacred, the Nun has a Qamatz because it is at the end of the pasuk. That is to say that in other circumstances the Nun has a Patah, and only at a pause does it have a Qamatz. Rabbi Herzog comments One should always pronounce the Name as though it has a pausal tune for one needs to take a break, at least for a slight moment, to ponder on what one is expressing from the mouth (Responsa Heikhal Yitzhak 1). It is clear that the Qamatz of the Nun of the Adnut Name is a pausal sign.
This supports the Pnei Moshe that one should pause after each of the six words of the verse Shema Yisrael - for four because of their tune, and for the two Adnut Names because of their vowels. It is worth noting that the ancient tune for Shema Yisrael sung by Ashkenazi cantors when taking the Torah from the holy ark includes a pause after each of the six words.
I will be happy to receive comments on
these notes in English on Hebrew grammar related to the week's Parasha.
This article is provided as part of Shema Yisrael Torah Network
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