(a) In the list of word pairs that a pause should be made between them, there is "ha-kanaf pesil". Why is this one in the list, it is not pronounced "ha-kanaP pesil"?
(b) In the list of pauses between the joints, one pair is conspicuously absent: b'Ito Yoreh. When the Cholam is pronounced Oy, it would seem very likely to say them together. Could one bring a proof from this Gemara, that this is the incorrect pronunciation of the Cholam?
Mr. Mordechai Perlman, Jerusalem, Israel
Dear Reb Mordechai,
(a) See the commentary Magid Ta'alumah on the RI"F (Berachos 15) (written by the author of the Bnei Yissaschar) that asks your question and answers by saying that the Gemara is proof that the Sefardi pronunciation is the more accurate one. Whereas Ashkenazim make a clear distinction between a "Peh" - which is formed by a quick release of air - and a "Feh" - which is formed by a continuous release of air, apparently the authentic Sephardi pronunciation does not make such a clear distinction.
(b) Regarding your second question: Rav Avraham ben haRambam in his Teshuvos (79b) asks a similar question: why isn't "Bnei Yisrael" one of the Devekim? If the Tzeirei is pronounced as a dipthong of a soft "e" and a hard "ee" together - then you have two "ee" sounds back to back - the final "ee" of "Bnei" and the opening "ee" of "Yisrael". He answers by saying that the correct pronunciation of the Tzeirei is a soft "e" (like a Segol) even though there is a Yud at the end of the word. I imagine he would answer your question the same way: that a Cholam is not a dipthong of a hard "o" and a hard "ee" but rather just a hard "o".
So we are left with no defense of the Lithuanian pronunciation of the Cholam other than to say that the list of Deveikim was not exhausitve - an answer that Rav Avraham ben haRambam himself didn't seem to accept. And this might not be the only problematic aspect of this pronunciation - but I think that it is almost a moot point because the Mesorah of pronunciation from parents to children and from teachers to pupils is very powerful and won't be changed by arguments against that Mesorah. I say "almost" because there are newcomers to Judaim and returnees who do not have a Mesorah of pronunciation and might be swayed by such arguments to not adopt a problematic pronunciation. But even here most of these people will naturally adopt the accepted pronunciation of the communities that they settle down in and even if they don't their children will adopt the accepted pronunciation of the schools they go to.
This is not a Psak Halachah