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Jun 28, 2012

how to say "constitution" in Hebrew


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חֻקָּה




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Happy Independence Day,
fellow Americans.
The Torah portion to be read this Shabbat by Jews the world over is called חֻקַּת (khoo-KAHT), meaning the law of... The ת (t) at the end of the word takes the place of what would be a ה (h). 


Whereas a חֹק (khohk) in Biblical and Modern Hebrew is a specific law, the word חֻקָּה (khoo-KAH) itself refers to law in general. Modern Hebrew uses חוּקה to refer to a document that has yet to be formed in Israel, a constitution.


שַׁבָּת שָׁלוֹם, וְסוֹף שָׁבוּעַ נָעִים לְכֻלָּם!
Shabbat Shalom, and a pleasant weekend to all!
(shah-BAHT shah-LOHM, veh-SOHF shah-VOO-ah nah-EEM leh-khoo-LAHM)

how to say "to legislate" in Hebrew


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לְחוֹקֵק


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The essential Hebrew word for law is חוֹק (khohk). Employing the root ח.ו.ק (kh.w.k) in a variation of an active-intensive פִּעֵל verb form, we get the word לְחוֹקֵק - to legislate or to create law (leh-khoh-KEK).


I say "variation" of the פיעל form, since לחוקק behaves like a פיעל in some ways and not in others (If you're able to read Hebrew, you can get a sense of the פיעל structure here).


Here are the ways לחוקק is different from the regular פיעל form:



  1. The middle letter of the root, the ו (w), functions as the oh vowel instead of a consonant.
  2. The last letter of the root, the ק (k), is doubled - so that it appears as if the root is ח.ק.ק (kh.k.k) or ח.ו.ק.ק (kh.w.k.k).
  3. There is no דָּגֵשׁ (dah-GHESH) - emphasis - in the second root letter, since it's a vowel, and vowels don't get emphasized in Hebrew.
Moses was called
הַמְחוֹקֵק (hahm-khoh-KEK),
the lawgiver.
An example of this verb in action:

בֵּית הַמִּשְׁפָּט הָעֶלְיוֹן לֹא מְחוֹקֵק חֻקִּים.
The Supreme Court does not legislate laws.
(BEH-eet hah-meesh-PAHT hah-el-YOHN loh meh-khoh-KEK khoo-KEEM)

The word for legislation represents another deviation from the expected פיעל form - חֲקִיקָה (khah-KEE-kah) follows the vowel pattern of active-simple פָּעַל verbs, such as כְּתִיבָה - writing (keh-tee-VAH) and שְׁמִירָה - guarding (sheh-mee-RAH).

Truth is, this deviation from the פיעל doesn't occur only with the word לחוקק. It occurs with any root whose middle letter is ו (w) or י (y). 

For example, 
לְקוֹמִם - to rise up (leh-koh-MEM), of the root ק.ו.מ (k.w.m)
לְשוֹרֵר - to write poetry (leh-shoh-REHR), of the root שׁ.י.ר (sh.y.r)
etc.

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Jun 27, 2012

how to say "legal trial" in Hebrew


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מִשְׁפָּט





If you have a rudimentary Modern Hebrew vocabulary, you likely know that the word מִשְׁפָּט (meesh-PAHT) refers to that element of speech and writing called a sentence.


What you may not know, however, is that the original meaning of משפט is judgment or law, of the root שׁ.פ.ט (sh.p.t), and that the word most often refers today to a trial that takes place in a court of law. The original Biblical meaning of law in general applies today as well, as illustrated in the following example:


 קַיָּם הֶבְדֵּל בֵּין הַמְּשְׁפָּט הַפְּלִילִי וּבֵין הַמִּשְׁפָּט הָאֶזְרָחִי.
There is (exists) a difference between criminal law and civil law.
(kah-YAHM hev-DEL BEH-een hah-meesh-PAHT hah-peh-lee-LEE oo-VEH-een hah-meesh-PAHT hah-ez-rah-KHEE)


As for the connection between משפט the sentence and משפט meaning judgment, my conjecture is that a sentence conveys an idea with authority and completeness, involving an actor (subject) and a recipient (object), just as a judgment embodies a full expression of law, involving an actor (the judge) and a recipient (the one being sentenced).


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Jun 25, 2012

how to say "to admire" in Hebrew


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לְהַעֲרִיץ 




Those steeped in Jewish liturgy will be familiar with today's entry.


לְהַעֲרִיץ (leh-hah-ah-REETS) means to admire or to praise, or to otherwise hold in high esteem. It appears in the קְדוּשָׁה (keh-doo-SHAH) prayer, the sanctification.


An example of this word in Modern Hebrew:


אֲנִי מְאֹד מַעֲרִיץ אֶת הָרוֹפֵא.
I very much admire the doctor. (male speaker)
ah-NEE meh-OHD mah-ah-REETS et hah-roh-FEH.

להעריץ is an active-causative הפעיל verb, of the root ע.ר.צ (a.r.ts).


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Jun 22, 2012

how to say "authority" in Hebrew


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שְׂרָרָה, סַמְכוּת






The Torah portion to be read this Shabbat by Jews around the world deals with authority, its limitations and its importance.


There are two words used in Modern Hebrew to refer to authority, both of which originate in the Bible.


סַמְכוּת (sahm-KHOOT) is the more common word, of the root ס.מ.כ (s.m.k) meaning placement. This word is related to the word לִסְמוֹךְ (lees-MOHKH), meaning to rely (upon) as well as other familiar words. 

For example:

רָצוּי שֶׁאָדָם בַּעַל סַמְכוּת יִהְיֶה אָדָם שֶׁאֶפְשָׁר לִסְמוֹךְ עָלָיו.
It's preferable (literally, desired) that a person of a authority be someone that can be relied on.
rah-TSOO-ee sheh-ah-DAHM BAH-ahl sahm-KHOOT yee-heh-YEH ah-DAHM sheh-ef-SHAHR lees-MOHKH ah-LAHV

The other word meaning authority - שְׂרָרָה (seh-rah-RAH) is used in a more general sense, as in the following example:

יֵשׁ שֶׁאוֹמְרִים שֶׁהַשְּׂרָרָה הִיא דָּבָר שֶׁצָּרִיךְ לְהִתְרַחֵק מִמֶּנּוּ, אָבָל שֶׁגַּם צָרִיךְ אֹתוֹ בָּעוֹלָם.
There are those that say that authority is something from which one must distance himself, but that it is also needed in the world.
(yesh sheh-ohm-REEM sheh-hah-seh-rah-RAH hee dah-VAHR sheh-tsah-REEKH leh-heet-rah-KHEK mee-MEE-noo, ah-VAHL sheh-GAHM tsah-REEKH oh-TOH bah-oh-LAHM)

The root of שררה is שׂ.ר.ר (s.r.r) meaning rule. It is the root of the name שָׂרָה - Sarah (sah-RAH), and appears prominently in this week's Torah portion in the Biblical verb לְהִשְׂתָּרֵר - to assume authority in a controlling manner (leh-hees-tah-REHR).

As for the authorities, that's a different word altogether.

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


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Jun 19, 2012

how to say "to run around" in Hebrew


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לְהִתְרוֹצֵץ





To run is לָרוּץ (lah-ROOTS) in Hebrew. It is an active-simple פעל application of the root ר.ו.צ (r.w.ts) meaning running.

To run around from place to place, often lacking a sense of control, is לְהִתְרוֹצֵץ (leh-heet-roh-TSETS). This is the reflexive-intensive התפעל application of the root.



For example:


יְלָדִים, תַּפְסִיקוּ לְהִתְרוֹצֵץ!
Kids, stop running around!
(yeh-lah-DEEM, tahf-SEE-koo leh-heet-roh-TSETS!)

The first instance of this word in Hebrew literature appears in the Biblical story of the pregnancy of יַעֲקֹב וְעֵשָׂו - Jacob and Esau (yah-ah-KOHV veh-eh-SAHV). In that context, להתרוצץ does refer to a literal running around, but rather to an unrest due to which, if the children had the physical room, they would likely would be running:

וַיִּתְרֹצֲצוּ הַבָּנִים בְּקִרְבּהּ
And the boys struggled within her.
(vah-yeet-roh-tsah-TSOO hah-bah-NEEM beh-keer-BAH)
Genesis 25:22


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Jun 18, 2012

how to say "to run for office"


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לָרוּץ




English describes an election campaign as a race. While Hebrew sometimes uses the equivalent - מֵרוּץ (meh-ROOTS - see yesterday's entry), more often you'll find Israelis talking simply about הַבְּחִירוֹת - the elections (hah-beh-khee-ROHT).


The act of running for office, however, borrows the metaphor from English, so that in Hebrew you might say:


הִיא רָצָה לְרָאשׁוּת הַמֶּמְשָׁלָה.
She is running for the prime-minister-ship (the political equivalent of the American presidency).
(hee RAH-tsah leh-rah-SHOOT hah-MEM-shah-LAH)


לָרוּץ (lah-ROOTS) means to run - for office, in a race and to the supermarket. It is an active-simple פעל verb.







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Jun 17, 2012

how to say "race" in Hebrew


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מֵרוּץ, גֶּזַע






The English word race has two meanings: there's the race in which people contend, and there's race as a subdivision of humanity.


one of Israel's favorite TV shows:
הַמירוץ לַמִּלְיוֹן The Race to the Million
hah-meh-ROOTS lah-meel-YOHN
מֵרוּץ (meh-ROOTS) is the Hebrew word for the race in which contestants might run. מרוץ comes from the root ר.ו.צ (r.w.ts) meaning running.


גֶּזַע (GHEH-zah), on the other hand, refers to the anthropological phenomenon of a group of people. But the word also refers to a tree trunk, which is its original meaning in Biblical Hebrew. And it makes sense - the גזע of a tree is close to the tree's source, while the גזע of a person indicates his/her ethnic source.



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Jun 14, 2012

how to say "make yourself at home" in Hebrew


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תַּרְגִּישׁוּ בַּבַּיִת






The Torah portion to be read this Shabbat by Jews around the world is all about the gift of the Land of Israel and the tragedies involved when the People of Israel - the Jewish People - fail to acknowledge this gift, their natural home.


In order to make their guest feel welcome, hosts will often say, make yourself at home.


The Hebrew expression, when speaking to more than one person, is תַּרְגִּישׁוּ בַּבַּיִת (tahr-GHEE-shoo bah-BAH-yeet). This means, literally, you shall feel at home, where תרגישו is a future-tense conjugate of the active-causative הפעיל verb, לְהַרְגִּישׁ - to feel (leh-hahr-GHEESH). 

But guests don't always come in pairs or groups.

To one male, use:

תַּרְגִּישׁ בַּבַּיִת
(tahr-GHEESH bah-BAH-yeet)

And to one female, use:

תַּרְגִּישִׁי בַּבַּיִת
(tah-GHEE-shee bah-BAH-yeet)

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

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Jun 13, 2012

how to say "to infiltrate" in Hebrew


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לְהִסְתַּנֵּן






In the Israeli news recently there has been a lot of talk about refugees and others from Africa illegally crossing the Egyptian border into Israel seeking asylum and work. The word used in the Hebrew media to describe these people is מִסְתַּנְּנִים - literally, infiltrators (mees-tah-neh-NEEM), but with a less militaristic connotation than that of the English.


The Hebrew root ס.נ.נ (s.n.n) goes back to Mishnaic times, and it means filter. A מסתנן is someone who has filtered himself through the border. 


מתסנן is a gerund form of a reflexive-intensive התפעל verb.

Take a look at the English word, and you'll find the word filter as well: 
infiltrate.



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Jun 12, 2012

how to say "dedication" in Hebrew


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מְסִירוּת







The Hebrew word for dedication is מְסִירוּת (meh-see-ROOT). Its root is מ.ס.ר (m.s.r) meaning to give over, since someone who is dedicated gives him/herself over to a cause.


Likewise, a dedicated person is an אָדָם מָסוּר (ah-DAHM mah-SOOR). Since אדם means person, the expression אדם מסור applies to males and females alike. To refer to a female specifically as dedicated, you might say something like הִיא עוֹבֶדֶת מְסוּרָה - she is a dedicated employee (hee oh-VEH-det meh-soo-RAH).


Earlier this week, my executive assistant Lauren Gordon married David Port. At this juncture I'd like to publicly acknowledge Lauren's מסירות to Ulpan La-Inyan. 


Lauren, it's such a pleasure working with you, and I owe much of this program's success to your מסירות and הִתְלַהֲבוּת - enthusiasm (heet-lah-hah-VOOT). I wish you and David lots of שִׂמְחָה - joy (seem-KHAH).


!מַזָּל טוֹב
Mazel Tov! (literally, good luck)
(mah-ZAHL tohv)


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