Today’s dose of Hebrew is sponsored by…

The edge of something is the קָצֶה (kah-TSEH); someone “on the edge” or extreme is קִיצוֹנִי (kee-tsoh-NEE).

But someone moderate or level-headed – in ideology or in relationships – is מָתוּן. My 2am not-delving-into-it theory is that the word is related to מָתְנַיִם hips (moht-NAH-yeem), since the hips comprise approximately the midsection of the body.

The first מִשְׁנָה – Mishnah – of the Ethics of the Fathers – פִּרְקֵי אָבוֹת (peer-KEH-ee ah-VOHT) calls upon the leaders of the Jewish people to be מְתוּנִים בַּדִּין (meh-too-NEEM bah-DEEN) – they should be moderate in judgment. But whether the משנה actually means the word מתונים as moderate or something else is up for debate among the commentators.

Another example: I just watched The Godfather. Whether Al Pacino’s character, Michael is קיצוני or מתון is also up for debate.

What do you think?


Check out our Summer 2011 classes
for adults as well as teens in our four locations:



  • Wouldn’t it more likely be related to the root מתן as in להמתין?

    ablock Reply
  • Yeah, could be that they’re all related.

    Ami Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *