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Teaching שבא stars in the Siddur



From the 5 rules of שבא, children typically aren’t taught the rules relating to תנועה גדולה/קטנה. Nor are they taught the שבא rules of the רז”ה.

a) Should we teach our students to follow the stars in the סידור even though most of them are based on the above rules which the students don’t learn? (The stars would then become for the students a new שבא rule- whenever you see a star, it’s a שבא נע.)

b) When learning חומש with children and encountering שבא’s that the children don’t know are נע, but the teacher knows [either because the teacher knows all the rules or because the teacher recognizes these words as having a star in the סידור e.g. ויהי, וידבר]:

  1. Should the teacher read the שבא as נע and explain to the children that there are other שבא rules they haven’t learned due to their complexity. [However the teacher shouldn’t expect the child to always remember and read it as נע.] Or
  2. Should the teacher read it as נח so as not to confuse beginner readers (especially the weaker ones) who are being told to read based on rules, not based on what they ‘feel’ the word should say.

c) It seems common that although children are not taught the rules of the רז”ה, they are taught that a שבא following an וּ is נע. Perhaps this is because the קריאה books teach וּ as a separate skill (a נקודה on its own, without a letter). Once they’re on the topic, they also teach what to do when it’s followed by a שבא. Most teach that it’s נח but Chabad schools teach that it’s נע. Should we teach this rule even though it’s just one detail of a bigger rule which is too difficult for them to learn?



There is a heavy debate about the legitimacy of שיטת הרז״ה in dikduk relating specifically to שבא נע, as well as to the position of Chabad Rebbeim on the matter. The siddur Tehilas Hashem follows the position of the רז״ה, and, although there were many arguments pro and con, presumably this should be followed. Rav Shusterman a”h (the Bal Koreh in 770 for many years), has taught this shita, and often practiced it during kriah in 770. (However, the רז”ה himself was of the position that in most cases a shva na is to be pronounced almost the same as a shva nach.

See here on see page 82 for more details.

Even though children aren’t always taught all the rules relating to shva na – including pronouncing a shva na on a תנועה גדולה – there is no reason they can’t be told that there are many more klalim. Indeed, according to both shitos, there are many klalim (especially according to Razah) or yotze min haklal (especially for those who don’t follow the Razah) that even many adults have difficulty mastering these klalim.

As mentioned, the stars in the siddur are based on this shita, and that is the way we should try to teach this when reading chumash (when it comes to siddur, chassidim were never particularly makpid to daven with the correct shva).




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