Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Tz'va*k*ot???

"HaShem tz'vakot" is a phrase I've encountered in Jewish music that I find rather puzzling.

Why add that "k" sound?

To the best of my knowledge, the word "tz'vaot" means either hosts, legions, or armies, depending on the translation that you happen to have in your hands. "Legions" is not one of the names of G-d. Nor is it one of the "substitute" names of G-d, such as, for example, HaShem (literally, "The Name," used in place of, well, The Name.)

I can understand that a person who's concerned about taking G-d's name in vain might use the substitute name HaShem or AdoShem for L-rd, the substitute name Elokim for G-d, or Kel instead of a shorter name of G-d. I can even understand the use of the substitute name Kadai for a name starting with a "sh" sound and meaning Almighty, though, to be honest, I've only become acquainted with that substitute within the past half dozen years, at most, and it sounds downright odd to my Conservative ears.

But "tz'vaot" is not even a name! And combining it with G-d's name to create the phrase HaShem tz'vaot, the L-rd of legions, does not make it any more of one. "Legions" is still not a name. And if it's not even a name, how can it be the Name? And if it isn't one of HaShem's names, why is there a substitute for it?

In my opinion, the original Hebrew for "L-rd of hosts" or "L-rd of legions" should be pronounced "HaShem tz'vaot" (not "HaShem tz'vakot"). I see no good reason for adding an extra letter.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't get that one either. Unless "Tzevakot" when combined with Hashem is considered a two-work name, like "Hashem Elokim".

BTW, I believe the usual way to euphemise (is that a word?) the name Shin-Daled-Yud is "Shakay", not "Kadai". At least, I've never heard the latter before.

Tue Jul 17, 04:40:00 PM 2007  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

No, this is a different case--Elokim" is a name of G-d all by itself.

"Shakay?" Okay. I'm pretty sure I've heard it the other way, but with my so-called memory . . .

While we're on the subject, I can understand Kah for, um, that shortened name of G-d that starts with a yod, but what do you think of "hallelu*k*ah? Do you think that change of consonant is necessary?

Tue Jul 17, 06:02:00 PM 2007  
Blogger Unknown said...

Hallelu - Kah. Praise God. So, yes, if you think you have to in general.

Shakai, like Elie said.

I believe that God *is* referred to as Tzevaos as well, somewhat similar to what Elie said.

Wed Jul 18, 12:33:00 AM 2007  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Hallelu Kah. That makes sense, in terms of the mean of the word(s). But I'd really have to think about that one. Not only would it take some getting used to, there's also the "holier-than-thou" problem involved in using that pronunciation in the presence of a fellow or sister Conservative Jew.

The difference between Hashem Elokim and Hashem tz'vaot is that Elokim is a name of G-d all by itself, whereas tz'vaot is not. I've never seen the word tz'vaot use as a name of G-d *without* the name Hashem in front of it.

Okay, we've got two votes for "Shakai." I knew I'd need hearing aids sooner or later.

Wed Jul 18, 12:55:00 PM 2007  

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