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Torah Trope Part 3  

04/25/2023 02:52:50 PM


I have been reading Torah for many, many years. For a long time it felt like an exercise in memorization since the vowels and the trope do not appear in the Torah. As you know, one prepares a Torah reading by using a book called a tikkun. The tikkun shows each column in the Torah in two ways: one without vowels and trope markings and one "dressed" with vowels and trope markings. The reader must not only prepare the correct melody, but the correct vocalization of the words. Even the slightest mispronunciation of a vowel can totally change the meaning of a word. Likewise, incorrect phrasing can lead to unintended interpretation (see the first article in this series). Keep in mind that until the 20th century, people followed the reading only by  listening, and without the advantage of a printed text in their hands. 

Understanding the text eases and enhances one's ability to prepare a Torah reading.  I have learned that I can avoid many errors simply by taking the time to ensure that I understand what I am reading. For instance, it helps to know whether I am reading about an "isheh" (sacrifice) or an "ishah" ( a woman). Is the trope indicating a stress on the first syllable or the last (this might affect the tense)?  By paying attention to these details I will better communicate the meaning of the Torah, and communicating the meaning of the text is the primary goal. 

The first step that I would recommend to all of our Torah readers, no matter their level of Hebrew mastery, would be to read the text with a translation and even pick out understood words. Our Eitz Hayim Torah and Commentary (the big red books in the sanctuary) is  a great resource. I would also recommend looking for a linear translation of the Torah. Gradually, with time, your Torah vocabulary will increase and your skills will improve. 

The adult Torah Reading class begins Wednesday, May 3, 2023 at 8:00 PM. Please email cantoravima@adathshalom to join the class or for more information. Ability to read Hebrew is a requirement. 

Wed, April 17 2024 9 Nisan 5784