Notes by Autumn Light

On Hebrew, English, translation, editing, and more—by Jonathan Orr-Stav

Please: parsha no more

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It’s a common refrain in Jewish synagogues throughout the English-speaking world:

How would you answer this question on the Parsha

View this week’s Parsha

Family Parsha 

The Parsha Experiment – Shoftim: Is This Just A Boring Parsha?

—and it drives me (and no doubt every Israeli) around the bend every time I encounter it.

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The word is paraSHAH, people—with a kamatz (/a/) between par and shah, and the stress on the final syllable, not the first one (like most Hebrew words). It may be tempting to treat it like a Hebrew rendition of portion, but it’s just wrong, and hurts the ears.

We can withstand many idiosyncrasies of Ashkenazi pronunciationShabbes instead of Shabbat, haftorah instead of haftarah, even references to synagogue as shul—but this… this just makes us want to break down and weep.

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So please—unless you live in Alska, Casblanca or Jamcasubsist on a diet of aspragus, cassbas and bannas; drive a carvan, and indulge in pargraphs and parphrasesif there is any compassion in your hearts for your Israeli brethren and their already sorely-tested ulcers—note this, correct it in all your writings, drill it in your congregations till it becomes second nature, and pass it on.

 

 

 

Oh, and one more thing: when the word is followed by the name of the parashah—e.g., Toldot—the final heh (h—and yes, there should be an <h> at the end, not just an orphaned <a>, to reflect the Hebrew spelling) turns into a tav (t), to indicate smikhut. Thus: Parashat Lekh LekhaParashat VayeraParashat Ḥayyei SarahParashat Toldot, etc.

There—I’ve said it. Let it not be said that no one told you.

End of rant. Shabbat Shalom.

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Author: יונתן אור-סתיו | Jonathan Orr-Stav

Hebrew-English translator, editor, author. מתרגם עברית–אנגלית, עורך באנגלית, וסופר.

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