Jewish Journal

Tag: Hebrew Word Of The Week

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  • Hebrew word of the week: Lehitgarmen

    3 days ago

    Many Israelis live in Germany these days, mostly in Berlin, and feel quite at home, it seems. Modern Hebrew has developed similar verbs for other national conversions, or acquiring a new nationality, such as: hit’amreq, “to become Americanized (in habits, behavior)”; hit’anglez,...

  • Hebrew word of the week: Datlashim

    1 week ago

    Currents and counter-currents are common in every democratic society. So, while there are many Hozrim bitshuvah, “secular or atheist Jews who become Orthodox (frum),” there are also many Hozrim bish’elah, “Orthodox who become secular.”* Recently, these have been called datlashim,...

  • Hebrew word of the week: Balagan

    2 weeks ago

    Words indicating chaos are quite common — often there’s more than one in every language,* such as tohu va-vohu* in Genesis 1:2. Balagan is used in several Slavic languages, but it originated with the Persian bala-khane “top room, attic” (a place where things are stored in a...

  • Hebrew word of the week: Hammin

    3 weeks ago

    A very important feature of celebrating the Sabbath is Hammin, a “hot dish” eaten after the morning services. Every Jewish community has its own tradition regarding the ingredients and way of preparing it. As it is forbidden to cook on Shabbat, it was OK to begin its cooking on...

  • Hebrew word of the week: Sakkanah

    October 28, 2015 | 2:52 pm

    The English word “danger” comes from French, strangely related to Latin dominus “lord, master, dominant, one with power to harm.” Hebrew sakkanah is of obscure origin, possibly related to sakkin “knife.” The root s-k-n “to be dangerous”* appears only once in the Bible (Ecclesiastes...

  • Hebrew word of the week: Sakkin

    October 21, 2015 | 2:54 pm

    Sakkin refers to a type of old cutlery, used mostly for killing animals and butchering the meat before roasting or cooking it. In most cultures, people just cut meat and ate with their hands (hence Hebrew kaf means “hand’s palm” or “spoon”). Sakkin appears in the Bible just once*...

  • Hebrew word of the week: Ge’eh

    October 8, 2015 | 1:27 pm

    Like any modern language, Hebrew has to have words that reflect modern-life attitudes and concepts. The English gay, which meant “lighthearted” in previous times, has come to mean “male homosexual.” Many universities have a department for gay studies, usually now known as LGBT...

  • Hebrew word of the week: Gerim

    October 1, 2015 | 9:24 am

    Gerim, is, in a way, a term equivalent to all of our modern “immigrants, foreigners, aliens, guest workers, shelter seekers, etc.” of biblical times. Pentateuch laws emphatically protect them. They have to be treated with justice and as equals to native citizens (Leviticus 24:22),*...

  • Hebrew word of the week: Sukkot

    September 24, 2015 | 11:20 am

    Sukkot is the plural of sukkah, “shelter,” especially a booth in the fields or outdoors built to provide temporary shelter* during harvest or fruit gathering (the Hebrew asiph, meaning fruit gathering, is the other name for the holiday, in a way similar to our Thanksgiving); the...

  • Hebrew word of the week: Tashlich

    September 16, 2015 | 1:46 pm

    This is the famous prayer recited on the Jewish New Year near some water source into which we cast all our sins. Based on Micah 7:19: “You will hurl (ve-tashlich) all their sins into the depths of the sea.”

    The root sh-l-k(h) is less known than its closely related prolific sh-l-H...

  • Hebrew word of the week: Teqi’ah

    September 9, 2015 | 12:11 pm

    The root t-q-’ is mostly associated with blowing the shofar or trumpet, but a close examination of its uses shows it is much more varied. The original meaning is to “smite, push, thrust” (perhaps related to t-q-f, “attack, use force”). All the other meanings developed from that. It...

  • Hebrew word of the week: Haddarat nashim

    September 3, 2015 | 3:12 pm

    People ask me whether there is any connection between haddarat nashim (a very common concept in Israel in recent years, mostly among the Orthodox), and the biblical ve-hadarta pne zaqen, “show respect to the elderly” (Leviticus 19:32), implying that secluding women is out of...

  • Hebrew word of the week: Nitsevet

    August 27, 2015 | 2:25 pm

    Recently A.B. Yehoshua, a well-known Israeli writer, published a novel titled “Nitsevet,” translated as “The Extra” in English. The word nitsevet seems somewhat obscure to many Hebrew speakers because it is not commonly used (hence the correct pronunciation is given on the book’s...

  • Hebrew word of the week: Hazzay (weather) forecaster

    August 19, 2015 | 2:31 pm

    The Bible includes names of male and female prophets, some of whom had visions of the Divine Presence and prophesied events in the future, including the end of history, aHarit ha-yamim. But probably none of them forecast the next day’s weather. So, the word Hazzay cannot be found...

  • Hebrew word of the week: Elul

    August 13, 2015 | 10:02 am

    The Hebrew exiles in Babylonia remained loyal to Judaism but were also influenced by the Babylonian culture, including borrowing the names of the months from the Babylonians.* Indeed, the names don’t have any Hebrew etymology. The rabbis tried to Hebraize Elul by interpreting it as...

  • Hebrew word of the week: Yod, yud

    August 5, 2015 | 4:58 pm

    Although yod is the smallest Hebrew letter (similar to the  Greek iota ı),** its ancient form was much larger, looking more like yad “hand” (from shoulder to middle finger). It is the most frequent letter in modern Hebrew spelling (about 11 percent of words), representing the...

  • Hebrew word of the week: Hekhal

    July 29, 2015 | 2:17 pm

    It is amazing how a word that signifies “holy of holies of the temple or tabernacle” is actually a loan word from a “pagan” language: the Sumerian word akkadian, which became e-kal or “big house, palace” (Isaiah 29:7; Daniel 1:4; 4:1).* 

    In the Bible, hekhal Adonai, “the palace...

  • Hebrew word of the week: Kavod

    July 27, 2015 | 10:06 am

    The term meaning honor and respect is very important in any society, but even more so in Middle Eastern societies. The English word “respect” means “look back (again), regard”; honor means “regard with great respect, dignity.” The Hebrew kavod is related to kaved, meaning “heavy.”*...

  • Hebrew word of the week: Tefillin

    July 9, 2015 | 12:11 pm


    The form is an Aramaic plural (the Hebrew plural would be tefillim), whose singular would be tefillah, “prayer,” similar to tehillim “Psalms, ” plural of tehillah “psalter.”* However, the plural tefillin is used for both, as in tefillin shel yad “tefillin of hand,”...

  • Hebrew word of the week: Artsot ha-brit (The United States)

    July 2, 2015 | 2:52 pm

    Students ask me: “What does artsot ha-brit, “the United States” have to do with brit, brit (milah), a “circumcision ceremony”? Then they add, jokingly: “Not everybody here is Jewish or circumcised.” 

    English often prefers adjectives as qualifiers, as with the United Nations, the...

  • Hebrew word of the week: Bne-Horin

    April 9, 2015 | 11:11 am

    In the haggadah, bne-Horin, literally “sons of freeborn, noblemen” (Nehemiah 2:16), are contrasted with avadim “slaves.” The mishnah recognizes cases of half-slave, half-freeman — for instances when a slave who had two masters is freed by one but not by the other (Gittin 4:5).

  • Hebrew word of the week: Tapuz

    March 26, 2015 | 11:00 am

    Tapuz, the word for the orange fruit, is an acronym of tapuah zahav “apple of gold,” as is done in English when we say “SAT” for Scholastic Aptitude Test, or “AIDS” for acquired immune deficiency syndrome. Tapuz contrasts with similar “apples”: tapuah(-ets) for “tree-apple,”...

  • Hebrew word of the week: Pardes

    March 18, 2015 | 4:13 pm

    Pardes: garden, orchard, orange grove

    Talmudic literature has many words taken from Persian, but they are usually rare in the Hebrew Bible (except in the later books of Esther and Daniel). However, pardes is well known, as in Song of Songs 4:13, pardes rimmonin, “orchard of...

  • Letters to the editor: Charedi draft, Israeli-Palestinian peace, Rav Jonathan Sacks and Germany

    March 19, 2014 | 10:01 am

    Thoughts From a ZOA Elite 

    Rob Eshman contends that a peace agreement with the Palestinians would bring huge benefits for Israel. Unfortunately, his argument does not stack up (“The Bright Side,” March 7).

    Mr. Eshman says that a peace will protect Israel as a Jewish and...