Lonely Man of Cake

March 5, 2007

Megillah Musings

Filed under: Academia,General,Israel,Judaism,Religion — lonelymanofcake @ 3:10 pm

A few interesting items I noticed during the reading of the Book of Esther:

  • The fellow who chanted the Megillah pronounced the name Mordechai as Mor-DOH-chai. I’m used to it being pronounced Mor-DEH-chai. Looking closely at the vocalization of the Hebrew text, I noticed that the name is vocalized מָרְדֳּכַי, with a חטף קמץ (i.e., a kamatz+sheva). Any explanation for the pronunciation squared with the prevailing one?
  • When someone knocks on the door, you say “come in.” Most Israelis will usually say something along the lines of כנס בבקשה (unless they say come back next week, we’re closed). Old school Israelis say יבוא, which is (I think) the cohortative/jussive form of לבוא. I never knew where this derived from, and then I noticed that Ahasuerus uses that very word (Esther 6:5) to grant Haman entry into his chambers. Thought that was neat.
  • There’s an old joke: Why is the Satmar reading of Esther longer than that of everyone else? Because the Satmar also klop for מדינה מדינה (explanation). I’ve heard people klop for Zeresh (Haman’s wife) and cheer when Haman gets hanged (impaled?) on the gallows. But last night a whole group jeered and klopped when it was read that Ahasuerus levied taxes (מס) on the country (Esther 10:1). Only in Israel.


  1. Mor-DO-chai isn’t the only example of this sort of thing. Two other ones that jump out at me are:

    Mi-MAH-CHO-rat, which many lainers (well, those who know anything about kamatz katan and chataf-kamatz) say as Mi-MOH-CHO-Rat, and

    AH-HO-lo, which is almost always pronounced O-Ha-lo.

    I have no idea why it happens this way though.

    Comment by rejewvenator — March 12, 2007 @ 1:28 pm | Reply

  2. Thanks for your comment, rejewvenator.

    I’m completely aware of the phenomenon of חטף קמץ and the repercussions for pronunciation. But you would never hear someone say Mi-MEH-cho-rat (i.e., transpose how the masses pronounce מרדכי onto ממחרת). That’s why I’m curious as to why most ba’aeli keri’ah pronounce “Mordechai” incorrectly.

    Incidentally, I haven’t done a scientific study and compared the different Humashim, but for reasons beyond my control, I ended up with an Artscroll Humash on Purim morning. I noticed that they had no חטף קמץ under the daled; just a sheva. Maybe they updated their vowelization to accord with the prevailing pronunciation?

    Comment by lonelymanofcake — March 12, 2007 @ 2:33 pm | Reply

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