Oz V’hadar’s Newest Breakthrough, The Gemara Menukad, Electrifies Torah World
Strength and glory (Oz V’hadar), are the two attributes that starkly define the famous Torah institute that completely upgraded our most essential sefarim, including the Chumash and entire Shas. Now Oz V’hadar has done it again, by introducing their first volume of The Gemara Menukad, the vowelized Gemara that has the proper nekudos for every single word of the main text, as well as Rashi and Tosefas.
“In today’s day and age, when we have upgraded our standard of living on so many levels, shouldn’t our standard of limud haTorah be upgraded as well?” says Rav Yehoshua Leifer shlita, Rav of Kehillas Be’er Moshe of Monsey, whose leadership and mesiras nefesh has powered Oz V’hadar all these decades. “The goal of our Gemara Menukad is to help the learner understand the simple meaning of the text and avoid common mistakes. When a person reads a blatt Gemara without nekudos, part of this concentration is spent on decoding the words correctly. With the proper vowels in place, comprehension is far more automatic, and he can apply his full concentration to the Gemara’s meaning.”
The Gemara Menukad received an enthusiastic response from the Torah community, including veteran talmidei chachamim who are absolutely delighted with this breakthrough. It may seem surprising, but even accomplished scholars find that the clarity gained by vowalizing the text enables them to concentrate more easily. Besides, the proper vowels sometimes redefine the entire sentence, avoiding common misunderstandings.
For example, depending on the nekudos, the word ישפטו can be read “yishofeitu” or “yishpatu,” changing the pshat. The proper pronunciation leads to the right meaning, and may clarify a Rashi or Tosefas, just like that!
There is a Tosefas (Beitza 25b) where the word שבת has been mistakenly vowelized as “Shabbos” in one of the popular editions, when in fact the word should be read “shebas” – a completely different meaning. Due to the mistake, learners are plagued with questions and try to come up with various explanations for the text, when all that is really needed are proper nekudos!
There are numerous such examples throughout the Gemara, Rashi and Tosefas, which is why the Gemara Menukad is such an important and exciting innovation.
Actually, as the Rabbonim of Oz V’hadar are quick to point out, it’s not even an innovation, but simply a huge effort to resort to vowalizing the Gemara text. “There is no question that a project such as this needed the endorsement of Gedolei Yisroel,” they explain. Our Gedolim were indeed very supportive of the venture, considering how much it will aid Torah study for young and old alike. The new edition does not change the traditions of Gemara study, because there are various proofs that the text was originally vowelized!
In fact, some copies of ancient Gemara manuscripts still exist today, with vowelized text. There are also references in Tosefos, inferring that the text they had were vowelized. (See Megillah 14b)
It should also be noted that traditionally, many editions of the Chumash were printed without nekudos, perhaps due to the difficulty of setting nekudos for the printing presses of those days. Nowadays, no one would publish a Chumash without nekudos. Similarly, Targum Onkeles and even Mishnayos were never vowelized until recent times. It is high time that the convenience of modern-day printing be utilized to vowelize the Gemara as well in order to facilitate limud haTorah and proper understanding of the text. Interestingly, there is a written endorsement of the Gadol Hador of the pre-holocaust generation, Rav Chaim Ozer Grodzinski zt”l of Vilna, to vowelize the Shas.
Publishing a Gemara Menukad is a colossal project, made possible through the generosity of the esteemed R’ Hershy Friedman, a strong admirer and supporter of Oz V’hadar. He greatly values the increase in Torah learning this project would generate, by smoothing learning and freeing the student to focus on the meaning of the pshat, as opposed to decoding the text.
The first volume of the Gemara Menukad is already on the shelves of sefarim stores. Oz V’hadar began the project with Tractate Moed, a mesechta that is usually taught in younger elementary grades, as the benefit to young students is especially great. The Institute is already working full steam on Tractates Yevamos and Kesubos, with the hope of eventually completing all of Shas, G-d willing. As with their other innovations which took many years to accomplish, due to Oz V’hadar’s high standards of perfection and excellence, this project will likely take a number of years as well. Each word is properly researched and the pronunciation verified, before setting it down in print.
Torah scholars of all backgrounds and learning-levels will greatly benefit from this wonderful new addition to their sefarim-shank. Pick up a copy at your local sefarim store to see the beauty of this volume with your own eyes. The vowelized text will simply pull you into the Gemara, and before long you will relish the joy of a blatt Gemara learned properly. You will be delighted!