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Mar 5, 2015

three words for "wall" in Hebrew


1 קִיר

קִיר  listen and repeat is the everyday word. It refers to the wall you're probably facing right now, if you're indoors. It's that which encloses and divides between rooms. 

For example:

בַּחֶדֶר שֶׁנִּפְתַּח אֶל הֶחָצֵר יֵשׁ שְׁלֹשָׁה קִירוֹת וְדֶלֶת גְּדוֹלָה מִזְּכוּכִית.
In the room that opens to the yard there are three walls and a large glass door.

2 חוֹמָה

The word חוֹמָה  listen and repeat refers to a wall that is meant to keep people and things from passing through, protecting that which is inside. While קיר is a wall in a private or community setting, חומה is the wall of a public place, such as a city:

יְהוּדִים בְּעָרִים מֻקָּפוֹת חוֹמָה מִימֵי קֶדֶם חוֹגְגִים אֶת פּוּרִים אַחֲרֵי כֻּלָּם.
Jews in cities surrounded by walls since ancient times celebrate Purim after everyone (else).

3 כֹּתֶל

For some of you, the first Hebrew word that came to mind when you saw the title for today's entry, was כֹּתֶל  listen and repeat, as this is the word used to describe the Western Wall or the Wailing Wall - הַכֹּתֶל הַמַּעֲרָבִי  listen and repeat (literally, the Western Wall).

But while קיר and חומה appear frequently in Biblical Hebrew, כותל appears only once, and that in the poetic book of Song of Songs or Song of Solomon. From Biblical times until today, the word is used only in flowery or literary contexts, such as in the title of the nonfiction work by Tomer Einat:

שָׂפָה אֲסוּרָה: הַחַיִּים וְהַמִּלִּים בֵּין כָּתְלֵי הַכֶּלֶא
Forbidden Language: Life and Words Between the Prison Walls

Mar 4, 2015

how to say "garden" in Hebrew

גַּן, גִּנָּה

The Hebrew word for garden goes way back to the opening passages of the Bible, so that the Garden of Eden is גַּן עֵדֶן  listen and repeat- or, in the Biblical context, "a garden in Eden, in the east" - גַּן בְּעֵדֶן מִקֶּדֶם  listen and repeat.

גַּן  listen and repeat in Modern Hebrew refers to a public garden or park

For example:

הַמְּדִינָה שׁוֹמֶרֶת עַל הַגַָּנִּים הַלְּאֻמִּיִּם.
The State safeguards the national parks.

גן also refers to preschool, while kindergarten is גַּן חוֹבָה  listen and repeat - literally, obligatory garden.

As for a smaller or private garden, the word is גִּנָּה  listen and repeat (in Arabic, paradise is جنة - jenna).

For example:

כָּל הַשָּׁבוּעַ הוּא עוֹבֵד בְּמִשְׂרָד, אֲבָל בְּסוֹפֵי שָׁבוּעַ הוּא אוֹהֵב לַעֲבוֹד בַּגִּנָּה.
All week he works in an office, but on weekends he likes working in the garden.

Mar 3, 2015

how to say "drugs" in Hebrew


The Modern-Hebrew word for drugs is סַמִּים  listen and repeat, while one drug is סַם  listen and repeat. These refer to street drugs only - the word for medicine is תְּרוּפָה  listen and repeat.

For example:

סַמִּים בְּדֶרֶךְ כְּלָל מְמַכְּרִים.
(Street) drugs are usually addictive.

The word has been used by Hebrew speakers and writers since Biblical times, but then it referred to fragrant spices. In Mishnaic Hebrew the word began to mean a substance that influences human thought and behavior - סַם הַמָּוֶת  listen and repeat - drug of death, and סַם הַחַיִּים  listen and repeat - elixir or drug of life.

Mar 2, 2015

how to say "two days from now" in Hebrew


If you've got some basic Hebrew, you know that the word for tomorrow is מָחָר  listen and repeat

But you may not know that there's a special word for the day after tomorrow: מָחֳרָתַיִם  listen and repeat.

For example:

מָחֳרָתַיִם כְּבָר פּוּרִים!
Two days from now is already Purim!

The word takes מָחֳרַת  listen and repeat - the day after - and adds the יים-  listen  ending, which doubles the word, making it the day after tomorrow or two days from now.

That יים- ending also appears on other words that come in double, such as מִשְׁקָפַיִם  listen and repeat - glasses, and כְּתֵפַיִם  listen and repeat - shoulders.

Mar 1, 2015

how to say "weights" in Hebrew


Modern Israel's currency is the New Shekel - הַשֶּׂקֶל הֶחָדָשׁ  listen and repeat, but the word שֶׁקֶל  listen and repeat goes way back to Biblical times, when it referred to the value of a gold or silver coin based on its weight. 

The root שׁ.ק.ל (sh.k.l) means weight. It is the source of several words used today, including לִשְׁקוֹל  listen and repeat - to weigh, מִשְׁקָל  listen and repeat - a weighing scale and שָׁקוּל  listen and repeat - level-headed or reasonable. There's also מִשְׁקוֹלֶת  listen and repeat - a weight.

For example:

הוּא חָזָק כִּי הוּא מֵרִים מִשְׁקוֹלוֹת וְאוֹכֵל הַרְבֶּה חֶלְבּוֹנִים.
He is strong because he lifts weights and eats a lot of protein.

Feb 27, 2015

WEEKLY REVIEW - Make this Week's Doses of Hebrew Your Own

חֹמֶר לְשִׁנּוּן
Review Material
You spent time on your Hebrew this week.

Use these review materials to make it yours to keep.

שַׁבָּת שָׁלוֹם, וְסוֹף שָׁבוּעַ נָעִים!
Shabbat Shalom, and have a nice weekend!

Feb 26, 2015

how to say "twilight" in Hebrew

דִּמְדּוּמִיםבֵּין הָעַרְבַּיִם

That curious time between sunset and nightfall - also technically between dawn and sunrise - is called twilight - between light. Such a time of day causes confusion - is it day or night? Is it light or dark? Can I trust my eyesight while driving?

Hebrew's main term for twilight is דִּמְדּוּמִים  listen and repeat - literally, time of confusion and dim light.

For example:

שֵׁם הַסֶּרֶט "טְוַויילַייט" תֻּרְגַּם לְ"דִמְדּוּמִים" בְּעִבְרִית.
The name of the movie Twilight was translated as Dimdumim in Hebrew.
Another term for twilight used less commonly is בֵּין הָעַרְבַּיִם  listen and repeat.