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Torah Trope  - Part  6

05/22/2023 09:00:57 PM


One of the biggest challenges for Torah readers is mastering the reading of the Ten Commandments. If you look at some printed texts of the Torah which include trope symbols (te'amim), you might see what appear to be more than one trope symbol for each word in the Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments appears in two places in the Torah. One is in the book of Exodus (chapter 20) and then again later in the book of Deuteronomy (chapter 5). I remember that the first time I learned to read the Ten Commandments, I saw so many te'amim (trope symbols), I was stumped. Some words had one trope over the word and another under the same word, or two trope symbols over one word. 

I quickly learned that what I was looking at was two sets of trope markings. Why? If you look at out Chumash - the Eitz Chayim, page 442,  you will see the Ten Commandments with a clear set of tropes. You will see that the Ten Commandments are broken up into 13 verses. This version is referred to as the "lower notes". However, there is a notation in Hebrew and also buried in the English commentary referring us to another version found on page 1509. That version breaks up the verses so that there are 10 verses corresponding to the Ten Commandments. This version is referred to as the "upper notes". Traditionally, the "upper notes" are utilized in public readings while verse divisions of the "lower notes" are followed in private study. The division of the Commandments into 10 verses results in a couple of very, very long verses. The long verses require the use of fancier tropes. Therefore it is more challenging to learn and chant correctly. 

We will be reading the Ten Commandments on the first day of Shavuoth, which falls this week on Friday, May 26. The tradition calls for the congregation to stand and listen when the ten commandments are being chanted from the Torah. We imagine ourselves at the foot of Mount Sinai hearing the Ten Commandments for the first time. I hope you will join us. If you would like to learn or improve your Torah reading skills, please join us on Wednesday evenings, 8:00 PM (No class on May 31, June 14 or June 21.)  


Thu, February 22 2024 13 Adar I 5784