• Concerning last week's comments on Y'SI - M'CHA and other words like it, ZF wrote in that basically we had things explained backwards. It is not the METEG that turns the CHIRIK into a CHIRIK MALEI, which then switches the SH'VA under the MEM to NA. The CHIRIK under the SIN is a CHIRIK MALEI (or CHIRIK CHAZAK, as ZF put it), because that is what it is supposed to be in that particular construction of the verb. The fact that a YUD does not appear after the SIN does not (should not) make the CHIRIK any weaker. The METEG is there to remind us that the CHIRIK is strong even though the usual sign of that - namely the YUD following it - is absent. Thank you ZF for turning us right side around on this issue.
• As we've featured many times, there are many verbs (at least 10 in Sh'mot), that are in future (or command) tense because of a VAV prefixed to the past tense form of the verb. In most cases, this is accompanied by an accent-shift from the next to the last syllable to the last syllable.
E.g. G-d says that He will "send His hand" and smite Egypt... (Sh'mot 3:20). sha-LACH-ti, I sent. Accent is MIL'EIL. sha-LACH-ti. Prefix a VAV and leave the accent alone would produce v'sha- LACH-ti, meaning "and I sent". The tense stays past. The VAV is conjunctive. For the VAV to be the tense-switcher, in most cases the prefixing of the VAV is accompanied by the word becoming MILRA. v'sha-lach-TI. That means "(and) I will send", future tense. [The (and) is in parentheses, because there are differing opinions as to whether a tense-switching VAV is also conjunctive, or just tense-switching. We've probably presented this in the past, but we will see what comments we get from our cadre of experts.]
Aside from the ten examples in Parshat Sh'mot giving your Baal Korei a headache, this fact of pronunciation/accent life is very important to every Jew who says the Shma (at least) twice daily. As we've pointed out many times in the past, if you say v'a-HAV-ta in the Sh'ma and wrongly accented it as indicated (MIL'EIL),there are opinions that not only does the word change meaning, but that the validity of the fulfillment of the mitzva to recite Sh'ma is thrown into question. This sounds very tough, but please check out the seriousness of this point with the posek of your choice.
It was this specific issue (of the words in Sh'ma that change meaning with a miss-accent) that launched this whole TDBATR column a few years ago.
[Personal comment: I went through over 30 years of saying v'a-HAV-ta, v'di-BAR-ta, v'na-SA- ti (that would be v'na-TA-ti for some readers, both words are mispronounced), and others. But there's more. I had learned about the tense- switching VAV in elementary school, high school, and college, and never pid enough attention to it to correct my own reciting of the Sh'ma. In a way, this column is part of a T'shuva process for sloppy davening all those years. I again ask all readers to close their eyes and start the Sh'ma by heart. Do you say v'a-hav-TA with the accent on the last syllable (MILRA)? Yes, good. How about v'di-bar- TA? v'na-sa-TI(or v'na-ta-TI)? Fine. But if you say v'a-HAV-ta, v'di-BAR-ta, v'a-SAF-ta, v'a-CHAL-ta, and others like them - All those words should be MILRA. Each mis-accenting changes the meaning of the word. I know that this sounds obsessive, but it really isn't. Many times that I've mentioned this to friends, their reactions have been, "you mean Rabbi So-and-so who taught me in first grade was wrong?" "You mean my father says the Sh'ma wrong?" That's sort of what I am saying. But please chaeck it out with your Rav. If I would write that the bracha for popcorn is HaAdama or that something is permitted or forbidden on Shabbat, I would expect you to check it out further - please do it here too. — Phil]