Column #27. Contents of this weekly column are based on the
sefer: EIM LAMIKRA HASHALEIM, by R' Nissan Sharoni, Ashdod, a guide to
correct pronunciation of Hebrew, specifically in davening and Torah reading.
Prefixes incle BET, HEI, VAV, KAF, LAMED, MEM, and SHIN (and DALET in Aramaic text). They are divided into two categories (not without exceptions that complicate matters).
MEM SHIN and HEI (mnemonic: MOSHE), as in HA-YI-PA-LEI MEI-HASHEM DAVAR (why did Sara laugh? Is anything too difficult for G-d?). ASHREI HA’AM SHE-HASHEM ELOKAV (T’hilim 144:15, Fortunate are those for whom G-d is their G-d). ELOKEI HA-ELOHIM (the ultimate Supreme Being - The Living Torah’s rendering of the phrase, which literally would translate as God of Gods). With these three prefix-letters, the name/word that they attach to is left intact. MEI-ADONOI, SHE-ADONOI, HA-ELOHIM.
An exception is found in Yirmiyahu 8:19, HADONOI EIN B’TZIYON, Is not G-d in Zion. This is so because the HEI is not the definite article, but the interrogatory HEI.
As opposed to the letters VAV, KAF, LAMED, BET (mnemonic: V’KALEV) which cause the initial ALEF of the name/word to go silent. VA-DO-NI ZAKEN. Sara doubts her ability to conceive a child - and my husband is old! Here, the word ADONI is not sacred, but it has the same root of ADNUT, Mastery, as the ALEF-DALET-NUN-YUD name of G-d. The Prefixed VAV causes the ALEF to lose its vowel and go silent. VADONI, not V’ADONI.
Similarly, Dvarim 4:7, What nation is so great that they have G-d close to them, as HaShem our G-d is, whenever we call Him. KA-DO-NOI, not K’ADO... HODU LADO..., not L’ADO... In Bamidbar 21:5, And the people spoke out against G-d and Moshe, BEI-LOHIM U’V’MOSHE, not B’ELOKIM.
An Aramaic example of this can be found in U’VA L’TZIYON. B’RICH Y’KARA DADONOI (not D’ADO...)
An exception (among others) is the word ADON which is too small to have its ALEF go silent. So we say, ALEINU L’SHABEI’ACH LA-ADON HAKOL, not LADON.
R’ Sharoni also lists seven exceptions found in Tanach,
including VA-ADONEI HA-ADONIM (D’varim 10:17), LA-ADONEIHEM L’MELECH
MITZRAYIM (B’reishit 40:1), KI KADOSH HAYOM LA-ADONEINU (Nechemya 8:10, and
not LADO- NEINU as the rule would have it).
Which brings us to the unusual form in Haazinu, Dvarim 32:6. In a Torah scroll, there is a large-size HEI, a bit of a separation, then LAMED-HASHEM. Although it appears (in written form) as HA L’HASHEM, it should not be read that way. According to a majority of authorities, it should be read HAL-ADONOI. Some Yemenites read it HAL-DONOI, with a SH’VA NACH under the LAMED and a silent ALEF.
Notwithstanding all of the above, there is an opinion that G-d’s “main” name (YUD-HEI-VAV- HEI) does not change because of prefixes. It always stands intact. So, “all the gods of the nations are idols, V’ADO...” (rather then VADO... as above). But with Sara, VADONI ZAKEIN stays as above, because G-d’s name is not involved.