A Tale for Yom Kippur

Shalom! This is a beautiful tale with a good message.

יום כיפורA native villager, born and reared in an obscure rural environment came to a big city for the first time and obtained lodging at an inn. Awakened in the middle of the night by the loud beating of drums, he inquired drowsily, “What’s this all about?”

Informed that a fire had broken out and that the drum beating was the city’s fire alarm, he turned over and went back to sleep.

On his return home, he reported to the village authorities: “They have a wonderful system in the big city; when a fire breaks out the people beat their drums and before long the fire burns out.” All excited, they ordered a supply of drums and distributed them to the population.

When, sometime later, a fire broke out, there was a deafening explosion of the beating of drums, and while the people waited expectantly for the flames to subside, a number of their homes burned to the ground.

A sophisticated visitor passing through that village, when told the reason for the ear-splitting din, ridiculed the simplistic native: “Idiots! Do you think a fire can be put out by beating drums? They only sound an alarm for the people to wake up and take measures to extinguish the fire.”

Said the Maggid [preacher] of Dubno, “This story applies to those of us who believe that beating the breast during the Al Chet (confessional), raising our voices during worship, and blowing the shofar, will put out the fires of sin and evil that burn in us.

They are, the Maggid remarked, only an alarm, a warning to wake us up in order to resort to soul-searching), so that we may merit the favor of God. The Maggid probably had in mind Maimonides’ interpretation of the shofar sounds: “Awake all you who sleep, rouse yourselves all you who slumber and search your deeds and repent; remember your Creator.”

Maimonides (1135-1204 C.E.) Codifier and philosopher (more…)

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He Asked for Water she Gave Him…

יעלThis is a story of a courageous woman named יָעֵל. She was definitely very effective –  מוֹעִילה and brought substantial benefit  תּוֹעֶלֶת to the Israelites. יָעֵל (also means ‘mountain goat’;  Ibex) was from a nomadic tribe, some of whom lived in close proximity to the Israelites.

She killed Sisera סִסְרָא (an enemy general who was leading his troops against Israel) to deliver Israel from the troops of King Jabin יָבִין — the king of Canaan that under his rule, the Israelites had suffered for twenty years.

How did she do it?      ?אֵיךְ הִיא עָשְׂתָה זֹאת

Sisera fled and found refuge, he thought, with Yael (whose husband was in good terms with him). Yael יָעֵל welcomed him into her tent and gave him milk to drink when he asked for water “מַיִם שָׁאַל – חָלָב נָתָנָה” But when Sisera fell asleep she drove a tent peg through his head and killed him.

שָׁאַל – means ‘to ask for’ = בִּקֵּשׁ

“מַיִם שָׁאַל – חָלָב נָתָנָה” is an expression that means to be overly generous; to give more that was asked for.

Now you see why her name means: helpful, useful, beneficial, effective.

to make something effective you would say: לְיָעֵל – l’ya’el.

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If you have learned one new thing from this blog then I have done my job.

Leheetraot in the next blog.  להתראות בבלוג הבא.

Ruti Yudovich  רותי יודוביץ

Shavuot – 10 Things to Know About

th-4The holiday of Shavuot שָׁבוּעוֹת (lit: weeks) is a religious and an agriculture holiday – חָג – khag.

  1.  It is one of the three pilgrimage שְׁלֹשֶׁת רְגָלִים – shlo-shet r’galeem –  to the holy temple in Jerusalem: פֶּסַח Pesach (Passover),  שָׁבוּעוֹת Shavuot and  סֻּכּוֹת Sukkot. Pilgrimage is a mitzvah mentioned in the Torah:
  2. In English, the holiday is called Pentecost from the word ‘penta’ – 50. Counting from the first day after Passover 7 weeks and on the 50th day we celebrate Shavuot.
  3. This holiday is also called: חג הַקָּצִיר – khag ha-ka-tzeer – the festival of the harvest. This time of year the wheat is being harvested. It began with the harvesting of the barley during Passover and ended with the harvesting of the wheat at Shavuot.
  4. It is also called: The Time of Giving the Torah.  זְמָן מַתָּן תּוֹרָה – Zmahn Matan Torah . It is believed that at that time, children of Israel received the Torah at Mount Sinai – הָר סִינָי – har Si-nai. The Torah tells us that the seven-week Counting of the Omer (an ancient Hebrew dry measure, that Hebrews had to bring to the Temple), beginning on the second day of Passover, to be immediately followed by Shavuot. This counting of days and weeks is understood to express anticipation and desire for the giving of the Torah.
  5. It is also called יוֹם הַבִּכּוּרִים – Yome ha-bee-ku-reem – the Day of the First Fruit. The word בִּכּוּרִים comes from the root ב.כ.ר – which means ‘first’. In modern Hebrew, it is used to denote the first born – בְּכוֹר, בְּכוֹרָה.  The בִּכּוּרִים were brought from the Seven Species  שִׁבְעַת הַמִינִים – sheev-aht hameeneem – for which the Land of Israel is praised: wheat – חִיטָה – kheeta, barley, – שְׂעוֹרָה – s’o’rah,  grapes – גֶּפֶן – gefen, figs – תְּאֵנִים – t’e-neem, pomegranates  רִימוֹנִים – ree-mone,  olives – זֵיתִים – zey-teem and dates – תְּמָרִים – t’e-neem.  (Deut. 8:8).
  6. During Shavuot, the custom is to eat dairy. Why? there are several explanations. 1. When the Children of Israel went back down to their ‘homes’ after receiving the Torah they did not have time to prepare meat dishes that require slaughtering, waiting for the blood to dry etc. so they prepared food that is faster to make, ie., food containing dairy. 2. As the mother gives milk to her child, so God gave the Torah to his children. 3. The Torah is compared to milk by King Solomon, who wrote: “Like honey and milk, it lies under your tongue” (Song of songs 4:11).
  7. The night of Shavuot is called Tikkun Leil Shavuot – תִּיקוּן לֵיל שָׁבוּעוֹת where men stay all night and read from the Torah and especially from the Book of Ruth. Why? The explanation is: the night before the Torah was given, the Israelites retired early to be well-rested for the momentous day ahead. They overslept and Moses had to wake them. That is why today they are making up the damage (תִּקּוּן – repair) for not being ready on time, by studying all night long.
  8. The gematria (a Kabbalistic method of interpreting the Hebrew scriptures by computing the numerical value of words, based on those of their constituent letters) of the Hebrew word Khalav (חלב‎, milk) is 40, corresponding to the 40 days and 40 nights that Moses spent on Mount Sinai before bringing down the Torah.
  9. Why are we reading from the Book of Ruth? Because the story of Ruth (the grandmother of King David) is told during the season of the harvest.
  10. The decoration of homes and synagogues with greenery – יֶרֻק – Yerek. Why? According to the rabbis, Mount Sinai suddenly blossomed with flowers in anticipation of the giving of the Torah on its summit.

Wishing you a Happy Shavuot.

Ruti Yudovich

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Head and Shoulders Above the Crowd

king SaulEver heard the saying “Head and shoulder above the crowd? Well… this phrase described King Saul, הַמֶּלֶךְ שָׁאוּל, the first king of the Hebrews. In Hebrew, this phrase is translated to מִשִּׁכְמוֹ וַמַעְלָה,  it literally means ” שֶׁכֶם -from the area between his shoulders (under the nape) and above מַעְלָה.” This expression is used today in modern Hebrew to denote one who is way above the rest; one who has remarkable abilities and qualities. It can also be said for a woman מִשִׁכְמָה וַמַעְלָה.

 שָׁאוּל was from the tribe of Binyamin בִּנְיָמִין – son of my right. He had 4 sons and 2 daughters: הָיוּ לוֹ אַרְבָּעָה בָּנִים וּשְׁתֵי בָּנוֹת.  His sons’ names were: Yonatan יוֹנָתָן – God gave, Avinadav אָבִינָדָב – father contributed, Malkisua מַלְכִּשׁוּעַ – king of salvation, Ish-boshet אִישׁ בֹּשֶׁת – a man of shame. His daughter’s names were: Michal מִיכַל – brook (who was King David’s wife), and Merav מֵרַב – maximum, the most of.

I have very deep sentiment to the name Saul שָׁאוּל as that was my father’s name and like King Saul, he was handsome, imposing and majestic. In my memoir, I Hate to Say Goodbye I relive the tragic end of King Saul from a viewpoint of his armor-bearer (but of course this is just a small section of the book…).

The name שָׁאוּל literally means ‘be asked; borrowed’. King Saul הַמֶּלֶךְ שָׁאוּל was asked by the prophet שְׁמוּאֵל, Samuel, (via God) to be king. From a simple life of a shepherd, שָׁאוּל was forced into a life of politics, wars, and intrigues only to satisfy the incessant pleading of the Hebrews to have a king.

From the name שָׁאוּל, we construct the following words:

To ask a question: לִשְׁאוֹל;  a question: שְׁאֵלָה

Examples:  I have a question                    .יֵשׁ לִי שְׁאֵלָה

He asks many questions.               .הוּא שׁוֹאֵל הַרְבֵּה שְׁאֵלוֹת

To borrow: לִשְׁאוֹל

Example:  I don’t have a car. I have to borrow it from a friend.

.אֵין לי מְכוֹנִית. אני צָרִיךְ לִשְׁאוֹל אוֹתָה מֵחָבֵר

To lend or to loan: לְהַשְׁאִיל

Example: My friend does not have a computer. I am lending it to him.

.לְחָבֵר שלי אֵין מַחְשֵׁב. אני מַשְׁאִילָה לוֹ אוֹתוֹ

questionnaire – שְׁאֵלוֹן

If you have learned one new thing, then I have done my job. 🙂

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B’shalom

Ruti Yudovich  ‘רוּתִי יוּדוֹבִיץ

Adam – What’s behind the Name?

th-3A while ago I started a series of blogs about Hebrew names, their meanings, and words that derived from them. I am continuing this series as I think that it is a wonderful way to expand your Hebrew vocabulary and an easy way to remember words.

General knowledge of Hebrew names: You’ll find many names that end with ‘EL’ such as Gabriel גַבְרִיאֵל Yisrael יִשְׂרֵָאֵל, Aviel אָבִיאֵל, Amiel עָמִיאֵל.  The suffix ‘EL’ means ‘God’.

Then there are names that end with ‘YA’ such as Aviya אָבִיָה, ah-da-ya עֲדַיָה; Bat-ya בַּתְיָה. The suffix ‘YA’ also means ‘God’.

Many Hebrew names are after animals such as Deer אַיָּל, gazelle צְבִי, wolf זְאֵב , lion אָרְיֵה, bear דֹב, (young) sheep רָחֵל.

Many Hebrew names are after flowers and trees such as oak אָלוֹן; bud נִיצָן; willow הָדָס, young rose וֶרֶד,  young plant נֶטַע.

And of course, there are many Biblical names.

The Biblical name for this blog is the name of the first man mentioned in the Bible – Adam  אָדָם.

 אָדָם in Modern Hebrew means a man, a person, a human being, someone, somebody

הָאָדָם – mankind, humanity. Lit: The man

Words derived from the name אָדָם are as follows:

אָדָמָה – a-da-ma  – soil, land, earth, soil; ground (noun); plot (land)

אָדוֹם – a-dome – the color red

אָדַם – a-dahm – (verb) became red

אֲדַמְדַּם – a-dahm-dahm (adjective) Redish; redlike

אָדֶמֶת – a-de-met – the disease  rubella, German measles

מַאְדִּים – the planet Mars is called

אַדְמוֹנִי   ahd-mo-nee – (esp. of someone’s face) having a ruddy complexion; ruddy; red

אַדְמוּמִיּוּת – ahd-moo-mee-yoot – redness, ruddiness

הֶאֱדִים – he-eh-deem – became red,  reddened; to blushed

From this root, we get the word for blood – דָּם – dahm

See you in my next blog.

P.S. If you would like me to write about a certain name, please let me know.

Le-heet-ra-ote לְהִתְרָאוֹת – see you!

Ruti  רוּתִי

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5 Tips to Learn Hebrew Verbs

th-1The hardest part of learning Hebrew as a second language is the conjugation of verbs.

If you live in Israel and hear Hebrew 14 hours a day either by listening to people talk, listening to the radio, tv, talking to people, learning Hebrew songs you may get by and not learn the formal rules of verb conjugations and… after three years or so you’ll be able to formulate most of the verbs by just hearing them over and over again.

For those of you who do not live in Israel and live and breathe the language every day and all day long, there’s, unfortunately, no short cut. If you’re looking for one and jump from present tense to past tense to future from one family to another without building a sound foundation of the verbs you most likely fall into a dark pit and will be quite frustrated.

In order to have a smooth sailing and easy climb, you have to understand the overall idea behind the verbs and their various families, they way they look and their characteristics. I’ve been teaching Hebrew to all ages for many years noticing the frustrations students expressed when we got to the conjugation of verbs. No matter how well was my teaching, they studied it robotically without understanding the meaning behind each of the SEVEN FAMILIES (I followed the book I was instructed to use). That behooved me to come up with a way that illustrates the characteristics of each family and how to differentiate between regular and irregular verbs for each of the Seven Families (binyanim – בִּנְיָנִים = structures/buildings) to a point where anybody could study and understand it with ease.

I put together all my successful actions in a book called: Hebrew Binyanim Made Easy, The Missing Link I can’t recommend it enough.

Here is what I suggest in learning verb conjugations:

  1. Start learning the simple conjugations of the Present Tense first. Get the feel of the language and don’t think too much. Just know how to say them.
  2. Once you speak and know how to form basic Hebrew verbs in the Present Tense, learn how to form the infinitive of each of the groups. At this point, you would want to choose a model, or the book you use may suggest it, such as my series: Speak Hebrew For Real Primer and Beginner level. (Sorry if don’t sound too humble but I DO know that this series is fantastic for building up confidence in conjugations of verbs and more).
  3. When you know how to conjugate the infinitives now you’re ready for the Past Tense. All you have to know is first: the suffixes (ending) for each pronoun in the Past Tense. Once you got this out of the way, you’ll be learning how to conjugate only the Third Person first (he, she, they), and there’s a reason why you would start with these pronouns. Only after you have learned to conjugate the Third Person, you’ll learn the First and Second Person. If the book is a good book it will teach you the past tense of the easiest family first and only ONE verb that thereafter will serve you as your MODEL.
  4. Continue to the next group or subgroup the same way. Third Person and then First and Second Persons while remembering to concentrate on the model for each group.
  5. The book should tell you what makes a verb an irregular verb and how to recognize it. Once you know how to recognize it (it is not too difficult once you get the rules) all you have to do is conjugate the model first and then replace it with the new verb.

It may sound too complicated but if you follow this route you’ll end up winning, and will not be frustrated anymore. Yes, it takes work and a lot of repetition but you’ll be getting a wonderful fishing pole and would not need to resort to more books as you’ll become a professional fisherman/woman.

I wish you good fishing. דַיִג טוב!

Ruti Yudovich

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Sure, Of course

thShalom,

There are quite a few words in Hebrew that express the idea of sure, of course, certainly, obviously, naturally, decisively, definitely. I thought it would be a good idea to learn them all whether you adopt them, or hear other use them and understand what they say. All the following words can be simply translated to Sure/of course. But I will be giving you the more precise translation of each one of them.

All of the following words can be simply translated to sure/of course. But I will be giving you the precise translation of each one of them.

  1. בֶּטַח – beh-tahkh :  of course, sure.  (colloquial)
  2. בְּהֶחְלֶט – beh-hekh-let :  decisively  ( a bit more formal)
  3. בְּוָדָאי – beh-vah-dahy :  definitely; certainly (a bit more formal)
  4. בָּרוּר – bah-roor :  naturally; obviously  (slang) lit: clear
  5. כַּמוּבָן – kah-moo-vahn:  of course; naturally, lit: as understood
  6. לְלֹא סָפֵק  – l’lo sah-fek:  certainly, lit: without a doubt (formal)

Example:

Question: Are you going to visit Israel this year?  ?אַת הולֶכֶת לְבַקֵר בישראל השָנָה

Answer:  בֶּטַח   or:   בְּהֶחְלֶט  or: בְּוָדָאי or: כַּמוּבָן  or: לְלֹא סָפֵק  or: when you really want to emphasize that it is SO obvious and how come that person even thought of asking such a question, you would answer with: בָּרוּר extending the second syllable.

I hope you learned something new.

B’shalom

Ruti Yudovich

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