Towards better Davening and Torah Reading
This too, even more so
The initial and mainstay source for this column has been EIM LAMIKRA HASHALEIM by R' Nisan Sharoni of Ashdod. The book is filled mostly with details of grammar and pronunciation, with occasional attention paid to the cantillation notes (TROP) of the Torah. There is a special section for KRI'AT SH'MA and a perek-by-perek survey of items of note throughout the Torah and Megilat Esther. Many people have sought to buy this book; some have succeeded in finding it.
The goal of this column is stated in its title. Mostly, the column attempts to help the reader fine-tune his davening and Torah reading. With all this stated for the record (again), see with what R' Nisan begins his presentation of Acharei. Quoting the Mishna B'rura, who in turn quotes the Zohar: Anyone who feels the pain of Aharon's devastating loss of his two sons (the incident is mentioned at the beginning of the sedra) and sheds tears over it, HaShem will decree for such a person, atonement for his sins. Not only that, he won't lose his children during his lifetime. Mishna B'rura adds to the Zohar that the key is for one to be inspired to repentance by the thought that "if the mighty cedars can fall, what can a lowly hyssop do".
This is followed by pointing out that a certain KAMATZ is KATAN, that a BET should be emphasized in a different word, that there is a TIPCHA under yet another word, that the ALEF in G-d's name falls totally silent when the name is prefixed by a LAMED/PATACH - i.e. LADO-NOI, not LA-ADO... And on and on and on.
The point? Fine-tuning our davening and Torah reading involves the distinction between a SH'VA NACH and a SH'VA NA, knowing where to pause briefly, where to pause longer, and where not to pause at all. But fine-tuning our davening and Torah reading also involves our understanding of the text and using our hearts to daven and layn - not just vocal chords and mouths.