Month: December 2016

10 Things You may want to know about Hanukkah.

  1. hanukahclip10Hanukkah; Chanukah; Hannukah etc. חֲנוּכָּה, comes from the Hebrew word: חָנַךְ – khanakh – which means: dedicate, from the sense: formally open or unveil (a building or memorial). The Maccabees cleanse the Temple after it was defiled by the Assyrian Greeks and on the 25th of the month of Kislev, כ”ה בְּכִּסְלֵו – kaf hey bekislev – they formally opened (unveiled) the temple בֵּית הַמִּקְדָשׁ – beit hamikdash.
  2. Maccabee – The nickname that was given to Judah, the high priest Mattathias first son. Maccabee comes from the word: מַקֶבֶת – ma-ke-vet that means a hammer, a word which describes the strength and power of Yehuda who was the leader of the Jewish Army.
  3. The war that was waged against the oppressive Greek rulership started on 167B.C. The Maccabees fought for religious freedom.
  4. It was an untrained and unequipped Jewish army of about 12,000 against at least 40,000 trained and a well-equipped Assyrian-Greek army.
  5. After three years of wars that mainly took place in the mountains, the Maccabees army won, took over Jerusalem and cleanse the temple.
  6. Hanukkah  gelt: Judah the Maccabee minted gold coins to commemorate the victory over Jerusalem and the rededication of the temple and gave the coins as a gift to the residents of Jerusalem. Hence, the custom to give Hanukkah gelt (money in German/Yiddish) mainly to the young generation.
  7. It took twenty-five years of wars for the Greek to finally sign a peace agreement with the last surviving son of the high priest Mattathias (מַתִּתְיָהוּ הַכֹּהֵן), Simeon, and to return the sovereignty of the region to the Jews.
  8. We eat food cooked in oil. When Judah and his followers finished cleaning the temple, they wanted to light the eternal light, known as the N’er Tamid, נֵר תָּמִיד which is present in every Jewish house of worship. Once lit, the oil lamp should never be extinguished. Only a tiny jug of oil was found with only enough for a single day. The oil lamp was filled and lit. Then a miracle occurred as the tiny amount of oil stayed lit not for one day, but for eight days. We eat Jelly doughnuts סופְגָנִיוֹת (sufganiyot); latkes (Yiddish: potato pancakes) לְבִיבוֹת – levivot, etc.
  9. 8 Days of Hanukkah. We celebrate Hanukkah eight days because of the miracle of the jug of oil. See #8.
  10. We play the dreidel – spinner (in Yiddish –  סְבִיבוֹן  (s’vivon). A small four-sided spinning top with a Hebrew letter on each side (נ,ג ה פ – N,G,H,P) a great miracle happened HERE. נס גדול היה פה –  nes gadol haya po. The letters on the dreidel anywhere but in Isreal has these four letters: נ.ג.ה.ש – N.G.H.SH – a great miracle happened THERE – נס גדול היה שם – nes gadol haya sham.  It is a game the Hebrews played when pretending they were playing while they studied Torah (an activity that was forbidden at that time by the Assyrian-Greeks who wanted all the Jews to give up Judaism and convert to their beliefs. Anyone disobeying the decree executed.

And as a conclusion. Hannukah, is my favorite holiday, not only because of the delicious traditional food, but because of the message that one should fight for his freedom! Freedom of religion. One should never agree for any authority to decide what one should believe in. And that life without faith and a belief in the Supreme Being is life without hope.

I wish you all Chag Sameach (Khag Sameakh) Happy Holiday.

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It Just Sounds Better

shfr-seriesWhen I first came to live in the USA, good American friends would correct my grammar. One time when I said: “I read that book”. My friend told me that it was more correct to say: “I have read that book”. “But why?” I asked. “Both are in the past, why do I have to say: I have read? How come you guys have so many ways to say the Past Tense when Hebrew has only one way?” After some hesitation she said: “It just sounds better.”

“But how would I (an Israeli) know that it sounds better? I was not born here, haven’t heard English 18 hours a day for the past 30 years. How would I know if it SOUNDS better or not?” Needless to say,  I was very frustrated. Does this sound familiar to you? You, who are learning a foreign language?  Well, after a long time of groping in the dark I picked and OLD English grammar book (The OLD books are the best). Sat down and studied it. I was so thrilled to find the reasons behind the “It sounds good” explanation. Anyone telling you,”this is how you say it” without the grammar explanations, please don’t buy it. There IS a grammar explanation to almost anything. All you have to do is to find the correct books that don’t just teach you to repeat phrases like a robot but tell you the reasons behind it so that you would then be able to think WITH it and APPLY it every time.

If you never liked grammar at school, unfortunately as a student of a foreign language you will have to revisit it. Learn the Parts of Speech in your OWN language first and then you’ll find that you are having a much easier time in learning a foreign language.

Since I’m very familiar with the barriers that a student of a foreign language has to face, I ensured that all my books (except for the Primer) have a fantastic glossary with grammar terms that are defined and explained simply and clearly.

Wishing you easy learning.

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I Have Snot?

thHave you ever heard someone saying: I have snot? For sure not in the USA nor in England or any other English-speaking countries, as it is quite vulgar. Instead, you would hear something like: “I have a runny nose.” or: “My nose is running.”

Hahaha, again, this is not a sentence you would want to translate word for word to Hebrew. Do not say: הָאָף שֶׁלִי רָץ, as by that, you say that your nose is running SOMEWHERE. It is quite funny to hear it said in Hebrew. It is as if you would say: My nose is traveling somewhere.

As you can see again and again: Hebrew is a VERY literal language.

So, how do you say: “I have a runny nose” or “My nose is running” in Hebrew?

Funny enough, you WOULD say: I have snot.

נַזֶּלֶת = snot = nasal mucus

So, in Hebrew, you can either say: I have a cold:  אני מְצוּנָן or for female: אני מצוּנֶנֶת

Or you would say: I have a runny nose; My nose is running.  יֵשׁ לִי נַזֶּלֶת = I have snot.

It is considered children’s language to say  יֵשׁ לִי נַזֶּלֶת. Or when the doctor wants to know exactly what is happening with your body, you can then say,  יֵשׁ לִי נַזֶּלֶת.

But generally, it would be sufficient to say אני מצוּנֶנֶת to describe your physical condition.

I hope you are healthy and should not worry about how to say it in Hebrew, but just in case someone else was saying it to you… 🙂

Have a fantastic week! Shavua Neef-lah  !שָׁבוּע נִפְלָא

And to learn about other phrases, idioms, slang in English that do not translate word for word in Hebrew, I suggest you get: Hebrew, When to Say What?

Hebrew, When to Say What?

I Have a Cold!

coldOne of many phrases, idioms you do not want to translate literally from English to Hebrew is:  I HAVE A COLD.

Cold (noun) = קוֹר

I have =  ישׁ לִי = (lit. there is to me)

you do not want to say:  יִשׁ לִי קוֹר as it doesn’t mean a thing to any Hebrew speaker.

cold (adj.)  קָר; קָרָה

You do not want to say: יִשׁ לי קָר – as this too is just gibberish.

If your body temperature is COLD then you’d say:  קָר לִי = it is cold for me.

Please do not translate literally and say: אֲנִי קָר ; as that means that you are a cold PERSON; a cold fish; lacking affection or warmth of feeling; unemotional.

So, how do we say: “I have a cold”?  a common viral infection typically causing running at the nose, sneezing, a sore throat, and other similar symptoms.

אֲנִי מְצוּנָן

אֲנִי מְצוּנֶנֶת

There is another word in Hebrew that expresses: cool; chilly which is: צוֹנֵן like; chilly water – מַים צוֹנְנִים

I hope you are not מְצוּנָנִים. (suffering from a cold).

For more such unique phrases and idioms check out my book: Hebrew, When to Say What?

Hebrew, When to Say What?

Long ago; Since Long ago מִזְּמַן

%d7%9e%d7%96%d7%9e%d7%9fHere is a very useful idiom.

You WOULD need to know how to form sentences in the past tense in order to use this idiom.

There are two ways of using it.

  1.  A negative sentence
  2.  An affirmative sentence

Examples of  negative sentences: 

מִזְּמַן לֹא רָאִיתִי אוֹתָךְ – I haven’t seen you for a long time. Or: It has been a long time (long ago) since I’ve seen you.

מִזְּמַן לֹא אָכַלְתִּי פִּיצָה – I haven’t eaten pizza for a long time (long ago). Or: It has been a long time since I have eaten pizza.

Examples of affirmative sentences:

I have read this book long ago.

Or: It has been a long time ago (long ago) since I’ve read this book.

.קָרָאתִי אֶת הַסֵּפֶר הַזֶּה מִזְּמַן     or:      .מִזְּמַן קָרָאתִי אֶת הַסֵּפֶר הַזֶּה

 I have learned this word long ago ( a long time ago).

Or: It has been long ago (a long time ago) since I’ve learned this word.

.לָמַדְתִּי אֶת הַמִּילָּה הַזֹּאת מִזְּמָן    or:   .מִזְּמָן לָמַדְתִּי אֶת הַמִּילָּה הַזֹּאת

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