Personal note from me (Phil). What I'm
about to review is relatively new to me, although when I mentioned
it to some friends, their reaction was: "Of course, I know that." So
this might be new to some readers and old for others. I'm hoping for
enough of the former to justify this week's column.
This is the whole first pasuk in this week's sedra. Let's start with the TROP-mark on the word YITRO and the one on the word MINYAN. They look the same... but they are not.
[Personal again. I'm almost ashamed to admit that either I never knew that they are different, or I don't remember ever learning about them. Until last Shabbat, I've been "singing" them the same when I read the Torah. I davened at a minyan two weeks ago where the Bar Mitzva boy who read the Torah was so crystal clear abou tthe distinction between the two notes, that I finally started paying attention.]
The note over YITRO is a KADMA. The one over MIDYAN is a PASHTA. The KADMA is printed over the middle of the main letter of the accented syllable of the word. The PASHTA is printed at the extreme left of the last letter of the word. If the accent of the word is not on the last syllable, a second PASHTA mark is often printed over the accented syllable in addition to the "real" place for the PASHTA - far left. For example...
VAYOMER EL MOSHE...
Now for the difference. KADMA is a M'SHAREIT (we've done this before). Meaning that it links its word to the following word, without a pause between the two words (aside from the briefest pause that naturally separates two words. In the current example, it is not YITRO <pause> KOHEIN MIDYAN... but rather YITRO CHOHEIN MIDYAN,as if that is his name. YITRO SCHWARTZ, YITRO SMITH, YITRO CHOHEIN MIDYAN. And that is why the DAGESH KAL drops from the KAF of KOHEIN. That happens when a BG"D KF"T letter is at the beginning of a word following a VAV (and other certain letters) at the end of the previous word - WITHIN THE SAME PHRASE. YITRO CHOHEIN MIDYAN is a single phrase. As opposed to...
...ANI CHOTNECHA YITRO BA EILECHA...
Now the PASHTA (on MIDYAN) is not a LINKER (M'SHAREIT), but a PAUSER (MAFSIK). It's a level 3 (out of 4) PAUSER, so the pause that follows it is relatively short, but it is a PAUSER, nonetheless.
A good BK (Torah reader) will distinguish between a KADMA and a PASHTA, not only in the lack of pause or pause following the word, but in the sound of the note as well. If this is new-ish to you, listen for it next time you hear Torah reading. You'll either hear it... or not.
Back to the opening pasuk in Yitro. There is another example of the above in the same pasuk. ASHER has a KADMA (it should be over the SHIN - DAVKA probably put it where it is because the top of the SHIN is too crowded). The word ELOKIM has a PASHTA. See where it is. <TAFN>