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08/25/2023 01:03:28 PM


Mazal tov to the Foxmans, on the engagement of their granddaughter Kaila.

in the Land of Israel,

Hmmm… What’s the name of this week’s parasha? The 2nd word of the name begins with a “t.”  But, wait a second! Didn’t I learn it as “ki Seitsei,” with an “s,” when I was young? And if I look at the websites of certain shuls, it will also be spelled with an “s.”

Well, of course, we all know the answer. “Seitsei” is Ashkenaz pronunciation, and “Teitsei” is Sepharad. And since modern Israel has adopted a variant of the Sephardic pronunciation, many of us Ashkenazim prefer the Israeli Sepharad pronunciation. [And so, when I would read the Torah for my students at Herz, I would read in Sepharadit, but when I would “layn” in Chevra Shaas, which has a long Ashkenaz tradition, I would read in the Hebrew pronunciation of my youth.]

What’s going on?

There are 6 letters that, in classical Hebrew, had a different pronunciation, depending on whether or not there is a dot (“dagesh”) in the letter. These are bet, gimmel, dalet, kaf, pe, and tav. We are all familiar with the different sounds for b, k, and p. Some Eastern communities distinguished the letters g and d. Ashkenazim pronounced the tav without a dot as “s”. but most Sephardim don’t distinguish.

What happened to the dot in the word Teitsei (or “seitsei”)? There is a rule that when a word begins with one of the 6 letters discussed above, and the preceding word ends in one of the letters yod, he, vav, or ‘aleph, we remove the dot. So that explains why Ashkenaz says “seitsei,” whereas Sephardim and Israelis say “Teitsei.” QED!! [If the musical note on the first word is a disjunctive accent, then the two words are separated, and the dot in the 2nd word remains !!!]

Wow! I realize that the above was a bit technical, for which I apologize. But I have always been fascinated by the intricacies of Hebrew grammar: intricacies with which a Torah reader must be familiar.


Im yirtseh HaShem, I shall be leaving in a few days to spend several weeks in Israel. Therefore, there will probably have to be a hiatus of several weeks for this “blog.” I am anxious to spend time with some of the many families and friends that I have there; and also, of course, to see the holy sites and breathe the “air of Erets Yisrael that makes one wise.”


Shabbat shalom, have a sweet and blessed New Year. Ketiva va-Hatimah Tovah

Rabbi Menahem White

Tue, May 21 2024 13 Iyyar 5784