מֵהַהַתְחָלָה The opening word of the Book of Genesis is בראשית – in the beginning. But ראשית is not the common word for beginning – in fact, commentators scratch their heads as to why this word is used here in this form (it means literally beginning of), generating all sorts of interpretations. In any case, the common Hebrew word for beginning is […]
אַתָּה צוֹחֵק עָלַי? In Hebrew, when we talk about making fun of someone, we talk literally about laughing on them. So to make fun of is לצחוק על. For example, if a man were stopped by a police officer for running a stop sign but proceeded to argue with the cop’s grammar, the cop (if he’s Israeli) might […]
מֵאֲחוֹרֵינוּ In Israel, the Jewish holiday season is behind us (outside of Israel there’s one more day). So you might hear Israelis say: החגים מאחורינו, חוזרים לשגרה. The holidays are behind us, (we’re) going back to the routine. מאחורינו comes from the root א.ח.ר, which means behind both in time and in space, yielding words such לאחר – to […]
שֶׁלֶט עֲצֹר The term for stop sign they teach in Israeli drivers education is תמרור עצור – literally, stop signpost. However, most Israelis call that red and white hand symbol שלט עצור – stop sign, where שלט means posted sign just like any other, and !עצור is the imperative (command) form of the simple verb לעצור – to stop. For example: תאט, […]
חֹמֶר לְשִׁנּוּן Review Material Can’t read Hebrew yet? You spent time on your Hebrew this week. Use these review materials to make it yours to keep. Flashcards . Scatter . Gravity . Test Blast from the Past Crossword Puzzle! שבת שלום, וסוף שבוע נעים! Shabbat Shalom, and have a nice weekend!
אוֹקְיָנוּס The largest body of water that the first readers of the Hebrew Bible knew was the Mediterranean. They called it הים הגדול – the Great Sea. Thus there’s no word in Biblical Hebrew – or Modern Hebrew, for that matter – for ocean. Instead, we use the same word that English borrowed from Ancient Greek: אוקיינוס. For example: […]
עַל שְׂפַת הַנָּהָר The Hebrew word for lip is שפה. Believe it or not, this word is quite versatile: it also means language and bank (of a river, a sea, etc). In a connected “of” (construct) state, שפה becomes שפת, so that a river bank is שפת נהר – literally, a bank of a river. For example: הקמנו אוהל על […]
תַּחַת כִּפַּת הַשָּׁמַיִם In English, to indicate that our activity is taking place outdoors, at night, we say under the stars. The expression in Hebrew is תחת כיפת השמים – literally, under the dome of the heavens. So that you might hear: כולם מוזמנים לערב קסום תחת כיפת השמים. Everyone is invited to a magical […]
חֹמֶר לְשִׁנּוּן Review Material Can’t read Hebrew yet? You spent time on your Hebrew this week. Use these review materials to make it yours to keep. Flashcards . Scatter . Gravity . Test שַׁבָּת שָׁלוֹם, וְסוֹף שָׁבוּעַ נָעִים! Shabbat Shalom, and have a nice weekend!
אוֹר יָרוֹק Since the invention of the traffic light, red light means stop, and green light means go. Green light in Hebrew is אור ירוק. Like in English, it’s used both literally and proverbially. For example: הוא נתן לי אור ירוק לפרוייקט! He gave me a green light for the project! On the traffic light, we have […]
אֹזֶן קַשֶּׁבֶת We’ve seen that the Hebrew word for ear is אוזן. As with most body parts that come in pairs, אוזן is a feminine noun, so that we have אוזניים גדולות – big ears, as well as אוזן קשבת – a listening ear. For example: הייתי צריך לדבר, והיא נתנה לי אוזן קשבת. I (a male) needed […]