Sunday, January 14, 2007

Adon Olam: The heretical tune

When I daven for the ammud, I try to make it a point to say the tefillos using the proper phrase parsing. Two common examples of lines in davening that are often parsed in questionable ways are in Shochein Ad at the beginning of Shabbos Shacharis and in Az B'kol at the beginning of the Shabbos Shacharis Kedushah. In the first instance, the popular way of parsing the first line is "Shochein Ad Marom - v'Kadosh Sh'mo", which literally means "He Who dwells eternally above - and holy is His name". A smoother parsing would be "Shochein Ad; Marom v'Kadosh Sh'mo" - "He Who dwells eternally; exalted and holy is His name", which does not have the extraneous conjunction connecting the two phrases. In the latter instance, the popular way of parsing the first line is "Az B'kol Ra'ash Gadol - Adir V'Chazak Mishmi'im Kol", which would literally mean, "Then, with the sound of a great clamor, "Mighty" and "Strong" give forth a voice", which would make sense if Adir and Chazak were known to be names of angels (as per the context of Kedusha), but is curious otherwise. It was suggested to me that a more accurate parsing would be "Az B'kol Ra'ash Gadol Adir V'Chazak - Mashmi'im Kol" - "Then, with a mighty and strong sound of a great clamor, they give forth a voice".

On a recent Shabbos, the sh'li'ach tzibbur for mussaf used the popular lively tune for Adon Olam whose refrain goes "adon olam (adon olam) - asher malach (asher malach) - b'terem kol (b'terem kol) - y'tzir nivra (y'tzir nivra), etc. - The intended meaning of the line is "The Eternal Master, who reigned before any creation was created". However, by breaking up the s'michus between the words kol and y'tzir, it comes out meaning "Eternal Master who reigned; Prior to all, a creation that was created" - In other words, instead of saying that God existed before any creation, it seems to say that God existed before anything else, but is still a creation that was created. Hence, it would appear that a less heretical parsing of the phrase would be "B'terem - kol y'tzir nivra", maintaining the connection between the words "kol y'tzir" so as to make clear that this is the subject of nivra, rather than God Himself.


At 1/23/2007 11:00 PM, Blogger Barzilai said...

The classic error in davenning is to pronounce "oheiv amo Yisroel" as "oyeiv." And the poskim say that we apply the phrase "v'dilugo alai ahava," so all is well.
Anyway, when you're singing, it doesn't matter. Phrasing is assumed to be fluid.

At 1/23/2007 11:58 PM, Blogger Josh M. said...

:-) There are many such interesting mispronunciations (depending on the shul in which one davens).

You bring a good point, that HaShem loves our errors, anyway, and thus perhaps one shouldn't be too nitpicky about errors that are made - but it's still better to do it right rather than be someich on ahavas Elyon l'chatchila.

As for phrasing in songs being normally fluid, that's true also, but perhaps a tefillah should be considered something more than just a song.

At 1/06/2008 6:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the Zohar there the first words of Bereshit "Bereshit Bara HaShem et" ["In the beginning God created] are read as "With beginning created G-d the".


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