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Torah Trope Part 4  

04/30/2023 04:09:40 PM

Apr30

     The  system of trope includes  28 symbols which indicate not only melody, but syllabic stress and punctuation as well. The symbols are classified into two groups: one group being separators (disjunctives) and the other group serving as connectors (conjunctives). If  you learn to identify just two of these symbols and understand how they function to break up a pasuk (biblical verse - sentence) you are well on your way. The first is the sof pasuk. It is a vertical line appearing under the last word of the sentence.   It indicates the end of every pasuk (verse, biblical sentence). The second is the etnachta (looks like an upside down wishbone) which represents a major resting point in the sentence. Identifying these two symbols will help you understand the main structure of the sentence. 

     You don't have to be a Torah reader to appreciate the importance of these two symbols. You can also be a torah "listener" when you are at shul. Listen to the readers carefully and follow the text. Look for the two symbols I described and read the English translation to appreciate how the sentence is broken up. Once you understand that  the trope symbols function as punctuation, you will gain insight into the meaning of the text.

     Keep in mind that in ancient times, there were no books for people to follow the text. People absorbed the words of the Torah by listening. Now we have the opposite situation. We have a great, big book and you have options to  read the English translation, follow the Hebrew text, study the very interesting commentary or try to  scan all three and engage in studying the text. I would suggest that you might try to  just listen - even if you don't understand the words. Listen to the flow, try to feel the pauses.  You might find that listening to the trope brings you to a different experience of the Torah service. 

Thu, February 22 2024 13 Adar I 5784