Tuesday, March 14, 2023

This error is so common that I find it a bit difficult to find American Jews who *don’t* make it

I tried to find this piyyot/liturgical poem on the internet and was a bit taken aback not only to hear American Jewish singers sing it incorrectly, but also to find that even some of the *transliterations* were incorrect! 😮 Wikipedia seems to have gotten “Shalom Aleichem” right.
שָׁלוֹם עֲלֵיכֶם מַלְאֲכֵי הַשָּׁרֵת מַלְאֲכֵי עֶלְיוֹן
מִמֶּלֶךְ מַלְכֵי הַמְּלָכִים הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא
Shalom aleichem mal'achei ha-sharet mal'achei Elyon,
mi-melech malchei ha-milachim ha-kadosh Baruch Hu.
Peace upon you, ministering angels, messengers of the Most High,
sent by the King of Kings, the Holy One, Blessed be He.
[This translation is typical, but slightly off. I’ve heard that there was an ancient ruler who described himself as the King of Kings, which is why the Hebrew actually means “the King of the King of Kings.”😊 ]
‎Notice that the word “angels,” “mal’achei,” is spelled in Hebrew *with* an aleph, whereas the term “King of,” “mal’chei” is spelled *without* an aleph. Yet many American Jews pronounce both terms “mal’achei”, or perhaps “mal’chei”, or perhaps mix the two pronunciations at random.
Maybe it takes an Israeli to sing Shalom Aleichem correctly, so here’s Daphna Rosenberg, of Jerusalem’s Nava Tehila Community, singing this piyyut to a melody that she wrote (and which I had the privilege of hearing her singing in person a few months ago). A word to the wise: Keep your eyes on your siddur (prayer-book) when you're singing "Shalom Aleichem"!


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