how to say “ghost” in Hebrew: special post for Yom Hashoah

שֵׁד, רוּחַ רְפָאִים

I wrote this morning’s post in advance without looking at the calendar, so I’m adding another post that is more in line with today’s import.

רחוב המליץ

Here’s a picture of my street at 11pm last night. My street is called עמק רפאים – a Biblical reference to this general area, meaning literally valley of Refaim.

What are רפאים ?

In the Bible, the רפאים were an ancient race of giants. But as Hebrew developed, רפאים came to refer to ghosts, using the phrase רוח רפאים .

So today, עמק רפאים might be said to mean valley of ghosts.

Last night, רחוב עמק רפאים – Emek Refaim Street – was emptier than usual. As I made this eerie observation, I found it symbolic – that the State of Israel takes one day a year to pause and remember the life that disappeared in the Nazi furnace, the very mass tragedy that prompted the Jewish people to return to their native land after thousands of years and build a booming, wonderful state.

So רוח רפאים is a ghost, but שד is the more common term. Here’s an example:

לא רואים שדים היום ברחוב עמק רפאים.

We don’t see ghosts today on Emek Refaim Street.

רוח רפאים in the plural is רוחות רפאים .

After having studied literature and linguistics on the bachelors level and psychology on the masters, Ami decided to draw upon his hobby of learning languages, his understanding of human thought processes and his skill of explaining complex ideas in simple terms, to found a program that enables people to speak Hebrew with confidence.

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