What is the correct pronunciation of the word Shema in Shema Yisrael? The is the shva under the shin a Shva nach or Shva na? Given that is is under the first letter of the word I thought it should be a shva na but it seems the minhag is to say shma as if it is a shva nach.

Answer:

As the questioner correctly notes, a sheva that appears at the beginning of a word is read as a sheva na. This applies to the word shema, which should be read shema (or sh’ma) and not shma. Becasue of it special significance, many grammar books quote the word shema as an example for the pronunciation of a sheva na at the beginning of a word.

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