Towards better Davening and Torah Reading
The Dropped Dot
There are many possible contexts for the following review, but we will use the upcoming Birkat HaChama as the context.
The bracha in question, as you (hopefully) know, is the once-in-28-year bracha of Birkat HaChama, as well as the anytime bracha for lightning, a shooting star, a comet, and some other wonders of nature.
...OSEH MAASE V'REISHIT....
We are here just looking at one thing: the word V'REISHIT, the first letter of which is a BET from which the DAGESH KAL has fallen. If you say B'REISHIT, you are still "YOTZEI", but for the fine-tuning we seek with this column, V'REISHIT is correct.
The general rule that the letters BEGED-KEFET (BET, GIMEL, DALET, KAF, PEI, and TAV) have a DAGESH at the beginning of a word, has an exception. When the word beginning with one of those letters follows a word - in the same phrase - that ends in a silent HEI, an ALEF, a VAV of a CHOLOM or SHURUK (not a VAV that is sounded), a YUD (with exceptions) or a word with a KAMATZ under its last letter (which is followed by a virtual silent HEI), then the DAGESH drops out.
Havdala's BOREI MINEI V'SAMIM is another example of this rule.
With so much hype and enthusiasm being generated for the upcoming Birkat HaChama, let's at least get the bracha right. Obviously there is more required of us for all brachot than just careful pronunciation - understanding the words, having proper KAVANA... but proper pronunciation and accenting is something.