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Jun 2, 2011

how to say "enthusiasm" in Hebrew...


הִתְלַהֲבוּת


This one's for Yehoshua.


A while ago I did a piece on the Hebrew word for exciting. The word for excitement is הִתְרַגְּשׁוּת (heet-rahg-SHOOT), employing the root ר.ג.ש (r.g.sh), the Biblical Hebrew concept of emotion. When people get excited, they're filled with emotion. לְהִתְרַגֵּש (leh-heet-rah-GHESH) is to get excited, but also to get emotional


Today I'd like to introduce a group of synonyms to the ר.ג.ש group.


If you've spent time in Israel - or have read or seen the news, for that matter - you know that if any country contains (or can barely contain) passion, it's Israel. 


If you've traveled anywhere in the world where Israelis travel (everywhere), you know that these Sabras are among the most passionate people on earth. Two thousand years of exile, statehood for the first time in that many years, and continuous threat of annihilation will create such personalities thriving on the adrenaline produced by the most pure and desperate will to live and love.






One of the Biblical Hebrew roots meaning a flame is ל.ה.ב (l.h.b). Thus the Modern Hebrew word for enthusiasm is הִתְלַהֲבוּת (heet-lah-hah-VOOT), being inflamed (not in the medical sense), impassioned. This word comes from the intensive-reflexive form known as התפעל (heet-pah-EL).


To excite people - to get them riled up or inflamed - is לְהַלְהִיב אוֹתָם (leh-hahl-HEEV oh-TAHM). This word comes from the active-causative form, הפעיל (heef-EEL).




מַה מַלְהִיב אֶתְכֶם?
What excites you?
(mah mahl-HEEV et-KHEM)







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