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Mar 31, 2010

לנסוע - the basic and most useful Hebrew word for traveling - http://ktzat-ivrit.ulpan.com

לנסוע

After my six days in Beit Alpha in the north of Israel (i.e. a two-hour ride from the center), I got on a bus out of the absorption center en route to Beit She'an, then a bus from Beit She'an to Jerusalem, and now I'm riding a third bus to family in Kfar Chabad.

Today, for me, is יוֹם שֶׁל נְסִיעוֹת (yohm shel ne-see-OHT) - a day of travelings/journeys.

לִנְסוֹע (leen-SOH-ah) is the basic Hebrew word for to travel. This is the generic word used for any travel taking place in a vehicle, though other words are used for more specific forms of travel, such as by sea or by air.

Ehud Banai's song, מַמְשִׁיךְ לנסוע (mahm-SHEEKH leen-SOH-ah) - continuing to travel - is about moving on from cold or heartbroken places, towards... well, to wherever the journey takes him.

Listen and repeat... (can't see the video?)


* lyrics here *




להתהלך - to get up and go traveling in the gorgeous land of Israel. http://ktzat-ivrit.ulpan.com

להתהלך

You might know that "to walk" in Hebrew is לָלֶכֶת (lah-LEH-khet) - you certainly know this if you've taken any course with Ulpan La-Inyan.

It's a special thing to do to travel in Israel, especially during Passover and Sukkot, when the whole country is out traveling. It's almost a Mitzvah. It's even written in the Bible: G-d tells Abraham to get up and wander in the land - קוּם הִתְהֲלֵךְ בָּאָרֶץ (koom heet-hah-LEKH bah-AH-rets).

So that's what I did today... with the boys:

Me (left) and my Passover students of Hebrew and English/
teachers of Amharic/hiking partners:
Yayou-Yair (middle) and Daraba-David (right)

We went to Nahal HaKibbutzim. Google it to find out more.


Now, for the song that sums up this little piece of Hebrew. This one fills me with pride and joy for the Homeland (הַמּוֹלֶדֶת - hah-moh-LEH-det). Listen for the word הִתְהֲלֵך, and repeat it once you do (can't see the video?):


למהר - speeding things up... or slowing them down - http://ktzat-ivrit.ulpan.com

למהר


In some places, such as New York, London and Tel Aviv, things move super-fast. People are in a rush - הֵם מְמַהֲרִים (hem me-mah-hah-REEM) - literally, they are rushing or they rush.


In other places, such as the absorption center where I'm spending Passover (Beit Alpha) and Ethiopia, time seems to stand still. People have lots of patience and lots of time on their hands. In these places, לֹא צָרִיךְ לְמַהֵר (lo tsah-REEKH le-mah-HEHR) - there's no need to rush


Watch this video (can't see it?), listening for the word למהר. When you hear it, repeat it. Listen also for other words you may recognize.






Mar 29, 2010

לברוח - the great escape... http://ktzat-ivrit.ulpan.com

לברוח

Another colorful word that has to do with movement is לִבְרוֹח (leev-ROH-akh), to escape.

The Jewish people (Israelites) in Egypt escaped with their bread not having enough time to rise. 

So too, I've escaped the hustle and bustle of the city to spend Passover with these guys in Beit Alpha:

Salamlak (left), 
Tamasgan (right)

לפסוע - part one of the Passover theme of mobilization - http://ktzat-ivrit.ulpan.com

לפסוע

The Hebrew word for the Passover holiday is פֶּסַח (PEH-sakh); the word itself means passing over or skipping over, so that G-d skips over the homes of the Israelites on His way to smite the Egyptian firstborn. The Pascal sacrifice is named after this event, this movement by G-d.

Hebrew verbs most typically have a three-letter root, carrying a core meaning. But often, this three-letter root has two letters that represent an even more basic meaning. 

Such is the case with the root פ.ס.ח (p.s.h). The first two letters, פ and ס, together represent the even-more-basic meaning of forward movement. Another three-letter root with the same basic two-letter root is פ.ס.ע (p.s.a), such as in the words לִפְסוֹע (leef-SOH-ah) - to pace/step, and פְּסִיעָה (pe-see-AH) - a pace/step. 




The word is used in high Hebrew, such as in poetry and sometimes in the news.




Listen to this woman reading the title of her poem, "פסיעה". Repeat the word... and listen on to see what other words you can catch. (can't see the video?)








Happy Passover to all!


Ami
Jerusalem > Beit Alpha



Mar 28, 2010

קִרבה - closeness, intimacy... - http://ktzat-ivrit.ulpan.com

קרבה

The Hebrew root ק.ר.ב (k.r.b.) carries the core meaning of closeness.

Coming up this week is the holiday Passover, which is named after the Pascal Sacrifice, קָרְבַּן הַפֶּסַח (kohr-BAHN ha-PEH-sakh). The word קרבן means, fundamentally, that which is brought close - in the Biblical case, something offered up to G-d on the altar.

Another one of the many applications of this Hebrew root is קִרְבָה (keer-VAH). This is the word for closeness or intimacy.

In this song by Ehud Banai (dedicated to his wife), listen closely for the word קרבה. (If you can't see the video, click here.)







Make sure to repeat the word out loud, checking your pronunciation with the handy gadget below:










Powered by Vocaroo

Mar 26, 2010

עצם - bone - actually - essence - get to it: http://ktzat-ivrit.ulpan.com

עצם

The עֶצֶם (EH-tsem) means bone, but it also means essence

The 70s and 80s rock group that brought us the popular Bar-Mitzvah dance song, "Yo Ya," also have a song called "פֹּה קָבוּר הַכֶּלֶב" (poh kah-VOOR hah-KEH-lev) - "This is Where the Dog is Buried."

I bring you this song because 

1. it's entertaining, and 
2. because it's got a nice play on words with עצם.

Presenting Kaveret:






Since עצם also carries the meaning of essence, another very useful word that we teach in Level 1 is בְּעֶצֶם (be-EH-tsem), or actually

Play the video and listen for the word עצם. 
Make sure to repeat the word out loud 
(you can check your pronunciation with the gadget below).





Powered by Vocaroo

good service... http://ktzat-ivrit.ulpan.com

שירות, עבדות

Over thousands of years, word meanings can change within a language. Actually, even over a generation they can (I challenge you to come up with two examples right now of English words whose meanings have changed over the last generation - write them in the "comments" section below).

In today's language, the Hebrew word לַעֲבוֹד (la-ah-VOHD) means to work, and nothing else.

Enjoy this video to get a sense of what I'm talking about.
Listen for words you know.
If you can't see it in the email, you'll just have to visit the blog.








However, in Biblical times the word meant to serve as well.

Modern Hebrew's word for service is שֵׁרוּת (sheh-ROOT); to serve is לְשָׁרֵת (le-shah-RET), which also exists in Biblical Hebrew bearing the same meaning.

שבת שלום! (Shabbat Shalom)



In lieu of "listen and repeat," 
watch the video and listen for the word עבודה.

Mar 25, 2010

freedom and respon... http://ktzat-ivrit.ulpan.com

אחריות


I. Thesis - תֵזָה (TEH-zah)

On the one hand, G-d takes the Israelites out of the Egyptian bondage - חֵרוּת (heh-ROOT) - see yesterday's post.


II. Antithesis - אַנְטִיתֵזָה (AHN-tee-teh-zah)

On the other hand, the phrase that Moses utters on behalf of G-d, "Let my people go..." (שַלַּח אֶת עַמִּי - shah-LAKH et ah-MEE)...



...is followed by "...and they will serve Me." (וְיַעֲבְדֻנִי - ve-yah-ahv-DOO-nee)

The Jewish people leave slavery to become... slaves? What happened to freedom?


III. Synthesis - סִינתֵזָה (seen-TEH-zah)

When a person (or a people) accepts responsibility - אַחְרַיוּת (akh-rah-YOOT) - upon him/her/itself, that is the greatest form of freedom - the freedom to choose how to behave with full awareness of the consequences of their behavior.

This is the opportunity that G-d grants His people - now they are fully responsible for their actions, so that they are truly free.

Perhaps it's not coincidental that חירות and אחריות sound alike.



Mar 24, 2010

what's free? http://ktzat-ivrit.ulpan.com



חינם, חירות, חופש

If you've been to Jerusalem in the past couple of years, you may have eaten at a low-budget pizza parlor called פִּיצָה כִּמְעַט חִינָם (pizza keem-AHT hee-NAHM) - almost-free pizza. Their prices are actually much lower than those of their competitors. But they're still not free.


Not kosher for Passover

Find out what else is free of charge by reading through this little lesson here.

Anyway, the word for free as in, at no cost, is חינם. 

But to describe a person as free, as in not a slave, you'd say בֶּן/בַּת חוֹרִין (ben/baht hoh-REEN - ben for a male and baht for a female). Freedom from bondage is חֵירוּת. 

Passover is זְמַן חֵרוּתֵנו (zmahn heh-roo-TEH-noo) - the time of our (the Jews') freedom - from bondage.

That's more like it.

Then there's freedom in the existential sense - the experience of freedom to choose, liberty to live - this is חוֹפֵש (HOH-fesh). It's also the terms the kids use to describe their liberation from school. The more proper term is חוּפְשָׁה (hoof-SHAH) - this is vacation or holiday.

Okay, so what's free of charge?

There's lots of stuff on ulpan.com that's free - Hebrew basics tutorials, grammar charts, a social network to meet Israelis for language exchange... That's in the Hebrew Central section.

There are also the not-free, but not-too-expensive courses provided by Ulpan La-Inyan. The deadline for registration is today - so if you're thinking of taking a class (in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv or over the internet), now's the time to act (after today the price goes up).

In the meantime...

Mar 22, 2010

an exit, or an exodus? well... both: http://ktzat-ivrit.ulpan.com

יציאה

The Hebrew root י.צ.א (y.ts.a) carries the concept of leaving or exiting

יְצִיאָה (ye-tsee-AH) most often refers to an exit, such as in this photo:


But יציאה also refers to an exodus, such as יְצִיאַת מִצְרָיִם (ye-tsee-AHT meets-RAH-yeem - Egypt). Likewise, those who exited a particular land on their way to the Land of Israel are called יוֹצְאִים (yoh-ts-EEM), such as יוֹצְאֵי  הוּנְגַרִיָה (yohts-AY hoon-GAH-ree-yah - Hungary) and יוֹצְאֵי אֶתְיוֹפִּיָה (yohts-AY et-YOH-pee-yah - Ethiopia). 

Mar 21, 2010

missing out...or, letting the dough rise: http://ktzat-ivrit.ulpan.com

להחמיץ

You're likely familiar with the Hebrew word for leavened food, חָמֵץ (hah-METS).

During the Exodus, had the Israelites allowed their dough to rise, they would have missed out on a grand, once-in-history opportunity.

some of the wonderful bread
baked right here in Israel...
not on Passover!

The Modern Hebrew word לְהַחְמִיץ (le-hah-MEETS) means, to miss out, usually on an opportunity.

how do you say "singer" in Hebrew? http://ktzat-ivrit.ulpan.com

זמרים

Perhaps you're heard the word מִזְמוֹר (meez-MOHR) - this refers to a poem that appears in the book of Psalms.

The Modern Hebrew word for singer takes the three-letter root of מזמור, creating זָמָּר (zah-MAHR - a male) and זַמֶּרֶת (zah-MEH-ret - a female).



הזמר, שלמה ארצי
 (the singer, Shlomo Artzi)

This "ah-ah" vowel pattern, with a dot of emphasis (דגש) in the second letter of the root, is characteristic of many professional terms, such as טָבָּח (tah-BAH - butcher) and נָגָּר (nah-GAHR - carpenter).

Mar 19, 2010

how do you say... egoism in Hebrew? http://ktzat-ivrit.ulpan.com

אנוכיות

If you know a bit of Hebrew, you're familiar with the word אֲנִי (ah-NEE - I). 


A synonym for אני is אָנֹכִי (ah-noh-KHEE). It's used in more formal contexts, when someone really want to draw attention to who's talking (the royal me).


Therefore, a Modern-Hebrew invention is the word אֲנוֹכִיוּת (ah-noh-khee-YOOT) - or self-centeredness





My impression of former Prime Minister Menachem Begin was that this man had no אנוכיות - he dedicated his life to the cause of the Jewish people and their advancement in their proprietary land of Israel. He was not interested in personal gain - he saw only what was necessary to be done.


As my friend, colleague and student Yochanan said, "where have men like this gone?"


שַׁבָּת שָׁלוֹם - Shabbat Shalom (or שָׁבוּעַ טוֹב - good week...)


Ami


Mar 18, 2010

more than just a tour... http://ktzat-ivrit.ulpan.com


Today I went with several Ulpan La-Inyan students and alumni to the Menachem Begin Heritage Center in Jerusalem. It was a Hebrew immersion activity.

I've never been so moved at a museum before. I recommend it to everyone.

Here's a picture of me and Mona, an Ulpan La-Inyan alum (and star Norwegian journalist):


Today's word is סִיּוּר (see-YOOR), which means a tour. It's a noun that comes from the verb, לְסַיֵיר (le-sah-YEHR), which means to tour and to wander, but also to patrol. That's why the top Israeli military units begin with the word סַייֶרֶת (sah-YEH-ret), which gets translated as commando unit.

Mar 16, 2010

the letter tet - not the way you thought it was pronounced... http://ktzat-ivrit.ulpan.com

ט

The ninth letter of the Hebrew alphabet is טֵת (tet). If you're unfamiliar with the Hebrew alphabet, you can remember the sound this letter makes by its similarity to the way a teapot looks:



Well, they sort of look alike.

Anyhow, ט is one of three Hebrew letters that are classified by Semitic language researchers as emphatics - that is, their sound somehow stands out from other sounds. The three Hebrew emphatics are צ (TSAH-dee), ק (koof) and ט. They correspond to their non-emphatic counterparts, ס (SAH-mekh), כ (kahf) and ת (tahv).

How did these emphatics sound two, three thousand years ago in Hebrew?

For generations people thought that the Yemenite Jewish pronunciation was the most authentic, most similar to the sounds uttered in ancient Israel. Therefore, the emphatics way back when sounded like today's Arabic emphatics.

However, my professor of Hebrew phonology at Yeshiva University, Dr. Richard Steiner, says otherwise. He claims that the most likely pronunciation was similar to the way the Ethiopian Jews speak - they stop their flow of breath for a brief moment and make the s, k or t sound... and out comes the most likely version of the ancient Hebrew emphatic.

Listen to Bekalu, a native Amharic speaker, 
pronouncing these sounds. 
Click the link above 
(or visit the site, if you're reading this via email).

changing weather patterns... http://ktzat-ivrit.ulpan.com

מזג אוויר

Sometimes the weather seems to have a mind of its own - like in Jerusalem today, where it was well over 80 degrees Fahrenheit midday, but about 55 now...

Crazy.

It's almost as if the weather has a temperament. Perhaps that's why it's called מֶזֶג אָוִיר (MEH-zeg ah-VEER) in Hebrew - the temperament of the air.

Note how close the words אויר (ah-WEER in the ancient pronunciation) and air are to one another in the way they sound. They both come from Greek.

Listen and repeat... click the link above

Mar 15, 2010

lines, queues... and turtledoves: http://ktzat-ivrit.ulpan.com

תור

The word, תּוֹר (tohr) has various meanings in Hebrew.

One of these meanings is a line or a queue. For example, חִכִּיתִי בַּתּוֹר חֲמֵש שָׁעוֹת (hee-KEE-tee bah-TOHR hah-MESH shah-OHT) means I waited in line for five hours. Another usage of this same meaning is תור meaning a place in line, or an appointment.

Another meaning of the word is turtledove:

If you don't see the image, visit the site.
Mona, that should answer your question.

Listen and repeat... click the link above.

Mar 14, 2010

what's the name for ulpan.com's NEW SOCIAL NETWORK!!!!? http://ktzat-ivrit.ulpan.com

מפגש

There are several words in Hebrew for a meeting

One is יְשִׁיבָה (yeh-shee-VAH), which comes from the root י.ש.ב. (y.sh.b), sitting. This refers to a formal meeting, usually among colleagues. For example, when the Israeli cabinet convenes, it's called יְשִׁיבַת הַמֶּמְשָׁלָה (yeh-shee-VAT hah-mem-shah-LAH) - the meeting of the government.

Another term for meeting is פְּגִישָׁה (p'ghee-SHAH), which refers to either a somewhat formal meeting between two people, or a date. The root is פ.ג.ש. (p.g.sh.).

A third term is מִפְגָּש (meef-GAHSH). This word also comes from the root of פ.ג.ש., but this meeting is less formal. It's the kind of meeting you'd look forward to after a day of work in the summer as the sun is setting - it's more of a social gathering.

Incidentally, the name for Ulpan.com's new social network - where native speakers of Hebrew and English meet for a free language exchange - is Mifgash - מפגש.


Listen and repeat... by clicking the link above.
(or by visiting http://ktzat-ivrit.ulpan.com)

Mar 12, 2010

לכהן - service versus title - http://ktzat-ivrit.ulpan.com

לכהן

As Shabbat is fast approaching, I will be brief.

Everybody knows someone with the last name Cohen.

This is the Hebrew word for priest, specifically a Jewish one.

But did you know that there's a verb that goes with it?

לְכַהֵן (le-khah-HEN) is to serve in a high position. For example, Barack Obama מְכַהֵן (me-khah-HEN) today as president of the United States.

Stephen Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, talks about leadership. He says that a leader should serve a function, not glorify him/herself in the title. He says that everyone can be a leader, regardless of title.

The Jewish people have a priesthood, but they are also called מַמְלֶכֶת כֹּהֲנִים (mahm-LEH-khet koh-hah-NEEM) - a kingdom of priests. That is the role of the Jewish people - to lead, but in service.

שבת שלום! Shabbat Shalom!

Listen and repeat... click the link above

Mar 11, 2010

conquering the net... in Hebrew, a bit at a time - http://ktzat-ivrit.ulpan.com

רשת

One of my favorite Ehud Banai songs is בְּלוּז כְּנַעֲנִי (blooz knah-ah-NEE) - Caananite Blues. Ehud wrote the song in memory of his friend Meir Ariel, another musician who died tragically in 1999.

Here's the song: 










One of the key words in the song is רֶשֶׁת (REH-shet), which means net. It's also a term that refers informally to the internet.


To find out why רשת is such a crucial word in the song, study the lyrics. You can translate the lyrics to English by copying and pasting the Hebrew into the Google Translator embedded in Ulpan.com.


Why did I choose to talk about רשת in this posting? Well, please G-d ulpan.com was a good purchase... 


Listen and repeat... by clicking the link above
(or by visiting
the site)

Mar 10, 2010

opening the mind through... http://ktzat-ivrit.ulpan.com

סופר, משורר, מחבר, כתב

Writers are people who help people do mental workouts. Such workouts are great for people aging - they keep the mind fresh and contribute to a more positive outloook on life. In short, intellectual stimulation promotes wellbeing. Check out this article from Forbes.com.

Like English, Hebrew has different words for different kinds of such mental-workout facilitators, writers.

An novelist is a סוֹפֵר (soh-FEHR - masculine) or סוֹפֶרֶת (soh-FEH-ret - feminine).

A poet is a מְשׁוֹרֵר/מְשׁוֹרֶרֶת (meh-shoh-REHR, meh-shoh-REH-ret).

An author is a מְחַבֵּר/מְחַבֶּרֶת (meh-hah-BEHR, meh-hah-BEH-ret).

An article writer is a כַּתָּב/כַּתֶּבֶת (kah-TAHV, kah-TEH-vet).


Listen and repeat... by clicking the link above.
(or by visiting the website)

Mar 8, 2010

ah, refreshing... http://ktzat-ivrit.ulpan.com

רענן

Perhaps you've heard of the cozy Israeli town, Raanana (רַעֲנָנָה). Perhaps you live there. I did once - I have very fond memories of the place.

The word רעננה means fresh when referring to something feminine, such as a city. רַעֲנָן (rah-ah-NAHN) is the masculine form.

I'm a bit of a zombie right now - I've been sitting in front of the computer for hours... But I'm also feeling refreshed - רענן.

Why?



Listen and repeat... by clicking the link above.
If you're reading this in email form, visit the site.