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Dec 29, 2011

how to say "to approach" in Hebrew


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לָגֶשֶׁת




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About a year ago I did an entry on drawing close to someone, לְהִתְקָרֵב (leh-heet-kah-REV). That word means not only to draw close emotionally, but also to physically shorten the distance between two people, or one person and an object - to approach.


Another word for to approach appears conjugated in the first word of this week's Torah portion, which will be read by Jews around the world this שבת-Shabbat. לָגֶשֶׁת (lah-GHEH-shet) means to approach someone or something. It's also the word Israeli students use to mean to take an exam - לָגֶשֶׁת לְמִבְחָן (lah-GHEH-shet leh-meev-KHAHN) - they simply replace the metaphor of taking a test with the metaphor of approaching a test, sometimes with great trepidation.


The root of לגשת is נ.ג.ש (n.g.sh), meaning approaching. It's also the root in the word נָגִיש (nah-GHEESH) - approachable or accessible.


לגשת is a נפעל (neef-AHL) verb.


שבת שלום וסוף שבוע נעים לכולם!
Shabbat Shalom and a pleasant weekend for all!









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how to say "3-D" in Hebrew


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תְּלַת-מֵמַד


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Modern Hebrew borrows words from Aramaic for many official and legal terms. Using the word three as an adjective is one such case, as in the phrase meaning three-dimensional space: תְּלַת-מֵמַד (tlaht meh-MAHD). תלת is the Aramaic word for Hebrew's three - שָׁלֹש (shah-LOHSH). Note that ת in Aramaic replaces the Hebrew ש, but otherwise it's essentially the same word.


מימד means dimension, as in, ?מַה הַמֵּמַדִּים שֶׁל הַבִּנְיָן (mah-hah-meh-mah-DEEM shel hah-been-YAHN?) - what are the dimensions of the building?




Bananagrams in Hebrew!

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Dec 28, 2011

how to say "food processor" in Hebrew


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מְעַבֵּד מָזוֹן


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ah-voh-DAH eev-REET
Jewish ("Hebrew") Labor
Part 1 of the term


To work or to labor is a simple action, at least grammatically speaking. The word for to work in Hebrew is לַעֲבוֹד (lah-ah-VOHD), a simple (פעל) verb.


Intensifying the action of working, those reviving the Hebrew language used the root ע.ב.ד (a.b.d) to come up with לְעַבֵּד (leh-ah-BED), an active-intensive (פיעל) verb meaning to process.


Part 2 of the term


There are two major words for food in Hebrew. The one used in day-to-day speech is אֹכֶל (OH-khel). The other, used in more formal contexts, is מָזוֹן (mah-ZOHN), as in בִּרְכַּת הַמָּזוֹן (beer-KAHT hah-mah-ZOHN) - the blessing of the food (grace after meals).


Putting it together...


...we get מְעַבֵּד מָזוֹן (meh-ah-BED mah-ZOHN) for the Hebrew equivalent of the modern invention, the food processor.



Judaica from Israel

Dec 27, 2011

how to say "wholeness" in Hebrew


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שְׁלֵמוּת


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This one's for my friend Mark in Palo Alto.


Jewish tradition associates the number seven with nature, while the number eight is connected with that which transcends nature. The number eight is also associated with wholeness. The word for that in Hebrew is שְׁלֵמוּת (sheh-leh-MOOT). The root is שׁ.ל.מ (sh.l.m), the same as the root of שָׁלוֹם (shah-LOHM). 


Look for a variation of this word in Idan Raichel and Rita's song, מְחַכֶּה (meh-khah-KEH) - Waiting.


And don't miss my show tomorrow! Regardless of your level, you're almost guaranteed to learn some Hebrew... and enjoy some of Israel's best music.


Happy eighth day of חֲנֻכָּה (khah-noo-KAH)!





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Dec 26, 2011

how to say "spark" in Hebrew


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נִיצוֹץ






נִיצוֹץ (nee-TSOHTS) means spark in the physical sense, but the word is used far more often to refer to that spark of life, what some might call a divine spark, within us all - without exception. 


The word is an onomatopoeia, just like the English word crackle


The plural is נִיצוֹצוֹת (nee-tsoh-TSOHT).


And a divine spark is a נִיצוֹץ אֱ-לֹהִי (nee-TSOTS eh-loh-HEE, sometime pronounced for religious reasons nee-TSOTS eh-loh-KEE).



Bananagrams in Hebrew!

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Dec 25, 2011

how to say "menorah" in Modern Hebrew


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חֲנֻכִּיָּה



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The word  מְנוֹרָה (meh-noh-RAH) in the Torah happens to refer to a specific lamp of great religious significance, but contrary to what Jews in the Diaspora might believe, the word מנורה in Hebrew is really just a regular old lamp. Its root is נ.ו.ר (n.w.r), the same as that of נֵר (nehr) - candle.




מנורה has always, technically speaking, referred to a simple lamp, but in the many generations of Jewish history that Hebrew was not spoken, מנורה had only one significance:




So what do native Hebrew speakers today call the menorah that lit up the old country and continues to illuminate to this very day? We call it a חֲנֻכִּיָּה (khah-noo-kee-YAH), playing off the word for the holiday itself.



Judaica from Israel

Dec 23, 2011

how to say "candlestick" in Hebrew


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פָּמוֹט




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Jews all around the world are lighting נֵרוֹת חֲנֻכָּה (neh-ROHT khah-noo-KAH) - Hanukkah candles - this week. Tonight, they'll be adding another couple of candles in honor of שַׁבָּת (shah-BAHT), the Jewish Sabbath.


A candlestick is a פָּמוֹט (pah-MOHT), a word that makes it debut appearance in the Hebrew language in Mishnaic literature. It may be related to the Biblical Hebrew word מוֹט (moht) meaning pole or rod.


Several candlesticks are פָּמוֹטִים (pah-moh-TEEM), though in Mishnaic times, פָּמוֹטוֹת (pah-moh-TOHT) was uttered as well.


As for the name of special candelabra used for חנוכה... you'll have to wait till next week.


In the  meantime, שבת שלום וסוף שבוע נעים לכולם - Shabbat Shalom and a pleasant weekend to all!


Happy holidays!





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Dec 22, 2011

how to say "souvenir" in Hebrew


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מַזְכֶּרֶת


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Lots of Jewish families in predominantly-Christian countries have adopted the custom of giving gifts during חֲנֻכָּה (khah-noo-KAH) - Hanukkah. For those of you traveling during these special days - Jewish or Christian (or otherwise) - and wish to pick something up on your journey for your loved ones at home, you'll find this entry particularly enlightening.


A souvenir is a מַזְכֶּרֶת (mahz-KEH-ret). It derives from the root ז.כ.ר (z.k.r), meaning memory, since a souvenir is something that calls up the memory of a place or time. מזכרת also means memento.


The word מזכרת appears on the map of Israel. Among the first Jewish settlements dotting the barren Land of Israel in the late 19th century was a place originally named after the Biblical Philistine city, עֶקְרוֹן (ek-ROHN), but was soon renamed מַזְכֶּרֶת בַּתְיָה (mahz-KEH-ret baht-YAH) - memento of Batya - after the mother of the town's major benefactor, Edmund de Rothschild.





A great חנוכה-Hanukkah present...

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how to say "to purify" in Hebrew - part 2


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לְזַכֵּךְ


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Buy Chanukah Gifts at World of JudaicaThe other day, I introduced the basic word for to purify - לְטַהֵר (leh-tah-HEHR). The word connotes a breath of fresh air, clarity and relief, and is a variation of the word for pure itself, טָהוֹר. The root ט.ה.ר (t.h.r) is related to other roots having to do with brightness and clarity, ז.ה.ר (z.h.r) meaning shining - as in the Kabbalistic book, the זֹהָר (ZOH-hahr), as well as צ.ה.ר (ts.h.r) meaning midday - as in צָהֳרַיִם (tsoh-hoh-RAH-yeem) - noon.


לְזַכֵּך (leh-zah-KEKH) also means to purify, but more in the sense of removing the unwanted elements from a substance. Olive oil that is זַך (zahkh), is totally clear, free of any material foreign to the oil itself. לזכך can also be translated to English as to refine


לזכך is an active-intensive (פיעל) verb. The passive version - refined - is מְזֻכָּך (meh-zoo-KAHKH), which derives from the passive-intensive (פועל) verb form.


In Hebrew, טהור is the generic word for pure. In Aramaic, the generic term is the equivalent of מזוכך - in Aramaic, דַּכְיָא (dahkh-YAH), where the Aramaic d sound substitutes the Hebrew z sound (two very similar sounds, especially if you're from Brooklyn, New York).





A great חנוכה-Hanukkah present...

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Dec 20, 2011

how to say "to purify" in Hebrew - part 1


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לְטַהֵר



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Jewish Gifts at World of JudaicaThere are two relatively common Hebrew words for to purify. לְטַהֵר (leh-tah-HEHR), an active-intensive פיעל (pee-EL) verb, communicates the idea of causing something to go from unclean, sometimes shameful to spiritually and physically pure. The word is used in both a spiritual/religious context as well as in more mundane contexts such as in the term מְטַהֵר אֲוִיר (meh-tah-HEHR ah-VEER) - air freshener.


לטהר comes from that ancient, ancient Hebrew root, ט.ה.ר (t.h.r), meaning pure.


Tonight the first candle of חֲנֻכָּה (khah-noo-KAH) is lit. It's time to stop, take a deep breath, and gaze at those lights - there's something מטהר about them.


As for the second term... you'll have to wait until tomorrow.


חֲנֻכָּה שָׂמֵח! 
(khah-noo-KAH sah-MEH-ahkh)
Happy Hanukkah! 






Dec 19, 2011

how to say "to save up" in Hebrew


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לַחְסוֹךְ




New Hebrew Conversation Group for Young Adults
AACI Jerusalem, 7:30-9pm, once a week for 8 weeks



When I started learning French, I focused first on getting the sounds right. As I began acquiring some vocabulary, I would continue focusing on pronunciation of this new set of sounds. I believe the effort actually helped me remember better the words themselves.


Today's dose of Hebrew features one of those words that English speakers may have trouble pronouncing. Click the image of the speaker above (underneath the title), and you'll hear it. 
חֶסְכוֹנִי
(khes-khoh-NEE)
economical


The simple (פָּעַל) verb לַחְסוֹך (lahkh-SOHKH) means to save up, but with variations that are difficult to translate into English (check out the examples below). In Biblical times לחסוך was spelled with a ש (seen) instead of a ס (SAH-mekh), but eventually the voiceless alveolar lateral fricative*, a sound as foreign to most of us as the technical term describing it, gave way to a simple s sound, represented by the letter ס.


Here are some examples of the use of לחסוך in Modern Hebrew.


טוֹב לַחְסוֹךְ כֶּסֶף לִקְרַאת רְכִישַׁת בַּיִת 
(tohv lahkh-SOHKH KEH-sef leek-RAHT reh-khee-SHAHT BAH-yeet)
It's good to save up money in order to purchase a home (literally, in advance of the purchasing of a home).



נָסַעְתִּי בָּאוֹטוֹבּוּס וְחָסַכְתִּי דֶּלֶק 
(nah-SAH-tee bah-OH-toh-boos veh-khah-SAHKH-tee DEH-lek)
I traveled by (the) bus and saved fuel.


* This theory was posed by Dr. Richard Steiner, my teacher of Hebrew Phonology at Yeshiva University. His book on the subject can be found here.






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