Hebrew, See What You Say

Ruti Ofer first grade closeI would like to tell you a funny and true story with a good message at the end. 

Way back, in Israel, when I was in fifth grade I had just begun to learn English. Of course, growing up I heard English songs on the radio and had many opportunities to hear it spoken. I could even sing parts of quite a few English songs but I haven’t seen the written language. In short, I picked up what I heard on the “street”.

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Masculine or Feminine?

bird.jpegHebrew has a gender for anything. Nouns are either masculine or feminine. There are no neuter nouns. Living things such as people and animals are named according to their sex.

In English we have similar differentiation; male ‘dog’ but female ‘bitch’; כֶּלֶב – כַּלְבָּה a ‘lion’ as opposed to a ‘lioness’ אָרְיֶה – לְבִיאָה; a ‘horse’ as opposed to a ‘mare’; סוּס – סוּסָה.

In Hebrew, when it is difficult to determine the sex of an

animal we find that we only assign it ONE gender.

It is difficult to determine the sex of birds, bees, snakes, fish, etc. That is why we only have the word: צִפּוֹר – tzee-pohr but never: צִיפּוֹרָה tzee-poh-rah.

Tzee-pohr has the form of a male noun (per the rules) but it is actually a female word. We say צִיפּוֹר קְטָנָה tzee-pohr k’tah-nah =         a little bird. ( קְטָנָה is a feminine adjective).

The plural form of the word ‘bird’ is צִפּוֹרִים – tzee-poh-reem. צִפּוֹרִים is the form of plural male but it is still a feminine word. We say: צִפּוֹרִים קְטָנוֹת. Notice that the adjective IS feminine. We do not care what the form of the plural form is. As long as we know that the word is feminine, then we know that the adjective must be a feminine word.

You ALWAYS determine the gender of a word by its adjective (if it has one). 

Bees – דְבוֹרִים – דְּבוֹרָה= only feminine noun.

Snake: נָחָשׁ – נְחָשִׁים   = only masculine noun.

Fish: דָּג – דָּגִים  =  only masculine noun.

SAYING OF THE WEEK:

Speak of the devil:

מְדַבְּרִים עַל הַחָמוֹר

Literally:  speaking of the donkey.

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Ruti Yudovich is the author of Speak Hebrew For Real; Learn How to Read Hebrew For Real, Hebrew Binyanim the Easy Way and I Hate to Say Goodbye. She is a native Israeli that has tutored Modern and Biblical Hebrew for four decades.

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The Sounds of Hebrew

music notesUnlike English words that their emphasis is mostly on the first syllable such as: WIN-dow; TA-ble, etc, the punch in the Hebrew words is usually on the last syllable or on the second to last. sha-LOM שלום; toh-RAH תורה; Yees-ra-EL ישראל. It is important to know this rule as when you know the general rule, all you have to pay attention is to the exception to the rule. Words in Hebrew that has the Eh-eh vowels are the exception to the rule (there are more exceptions):

Examples:

KE-lev כֶּלֶב – dog; YE-led יֶלֶד – boy/child; KE-sef כֶּסֶף – money; SHE-mesh שֶׁמֶשׁ – sun; DE-rekh דֶּרֶךֶ – way/path/road; NE-fesh נֶפֶשׁ – soul;

The Sounds of Hebrew

music notes

Unlike English words that their emphasis is mostly on the first syllable such as: WIN-dow; TA-ble, etc, the punch in the Hebrew words is usually on the last syllable or on the second to last. sha-LOM שלום; toh-RAH תורה; Yees-ra-EL ישראל. It is important to know this rule as when you know the general rule, all you have to pay attention is to the exception to the rule. Words in Hebrew that has the Eh-eh vowels are the exception to the rule (there are more exceptions):

Examples:

KE-lev כֶּלֶב – dog; YE-led יֶלֶד – boy/child; KE-sef כֶּסֶף – money; SHE-mesh שֶׁמֶשׁ – sun; DE-rekh דֶּרֶךֶ – way/path/road; NE-fesh נֶפֶשׁ – soul;

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Pay and Be at Peace?

Yeth-1sterday I posted a short blog about the origin of the name Shlo-mo (Solomon). I did mention that there are more words derived from the root: ש.ל.מ (Sh.l.m) – meaning: wholeness, completeness. Here is an interesting one:

The verb לְשַׁלֵּם (l’sha-lem) – ‘to pay’ consists of the same three letter root. What’s the connection? Here is my explanations: When someone sold you something, you started some kind of a transaction. The seller caused something to move to your direction. You received it. Now in order to complete this motion you have to pay him, as the seller awaits his rewards- the return of the motion. Until you pay him (reverse the motion) the transaction is not complete. Once you hand him to money by doing so, you have completed the transaction. Now both sides are happy  and at peace – שָׁלוֹם (shah-lom) and can start a new transaction or move on with their lives.

And thus it is with human relationships. It is a give-and-take activities. Until one has not returned a favour, a nice gesture, a smile etc.,  he is not complete.

Moral of the story?

I would love to hear your viewpoint on this.

Ruti Yudovich

Speak Hebrew For Real

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Solomon Perfect?

Let’s learn more Hebrew via understanding the meaning of names.

  • Shlo-mo – (English equivalent of Solomon) comes from the root ש.ל.מ (Sh.l.m) that means ‘complete’ ‘wholeness’. Many words are constructed from this root: מוּשְׁלָם – perfect (moosh-lahm). For female it is: מוּשְׁלֶמֶת (moosh-le-met).  King Solomon was known as the perfect king מֶלֶךְ מוּשְׁלָם (meh-lekh moosh-lahm). There were no wars throughout his reign . How did he manage to do it? He married the daughters of his enemies. This  perfect king מֶלֶךְ מוּשְׁלָם (meh-lekh moosh-lahm) was considered to be the wisest of all men who was also able to communicate and understand animals. Yes, if not מוּשְׁלָם  –  (moosh-lahm) he was very close to one.
  • Shalom – שָׁלוֹם – peace, goodbye, hello. Is a word that is based on the same basic root. When
    th

    The Famous Judgement

    you’re at peace, you’re whole; you are complete – שָׁלֵם (sha-lem), for female – שְׁלֵמָה (Sh-leh-mah).

Ruti Yudovich

Speak Hebrew For Real

There are more words that are deriving from this root. See you in the next article for more.

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A Child Named Eagle?

Didwolf you know that many Hebrew names are after animals’ names? Who would have thought?  This is an opportunity for you to easily learn names of animals:
Bear – דב  Dohv;

  • a Wolf זְאֵב Zeh’ev;
  • Rahm – Male sheep;  אֱיָל Eh-yahl; or for female- אַיֶּלֶת Ah-yeh-let; אַיָּלָה- Ah-yah-la;
  • Lion – אַרְיֶה Ahr-yeh or Lioness – לְבִיאָה – L’vee-ah;
  • lionIbex – יֶעֵל Yah-el;
  • Deer – צְבִי Tz-vee; or for female- צְבִיָה Tz-vee-yah;
  • Young sheep, lamb, ewe –  רָחֵל – Rah-khel;
  • Old sheep- רִבְקָה – Reev-ka;
  • Bee – דְּבוֹרָה – D’voh-rah;
  • Tree Frog – אִילָנִית – Ee-lah-neet;
  • Sparrow – דְּרוֹר D’rohr; or for female – דְּרוֹרָה D’roh-rah;
  • Female Lamb – טַלְיָה Tahl-yah;
  • Eagle – נֶשֶׁר Neh-sher;
  • Swallow (bird) –  סְנוּנִית  snoo-neet ;
  • Fawn (a young deer)- עֹפֶר Oh-fer ; or for a female – עֹפְרָה Ohf-rah
  • Seagull – שַׁחַף Shah-khaf 
  • A child Named Eagle?

Beloved They Called Him

King David  הַמֶּלֶךְ דָּוִד was one of the most remarkable personth-1alities in the Bible. David was a shepherd, רוֹעֶה;  musician, מוּזִקַאי,  poet, מְשׁוֹרֵר, army man, אִישׁ צָבָא statesman, מְדִינַאי prophet,  נָבִיא,  a philosopher פִילוֹסוֹפֶר, a lover מְאַהֵב, fighter לוֹחֵם and king מֶלֶךְ. He wrote about half of the Psalms תְּהִלִּים. Out of all his qualities above they chose to call him David – beloved. During his reign he united the kingdoms of Israel and Judea and thus avoided unnecessary bloodshed among brothers.I think he well deserved to be called “beloved”.

He was the father of King Solomon אָב הַמֶּלֶךְ שְׁלֹמֹה and the great grandchild of the famous Ruth the Moabite רוּת הַמוֹאָבִיָה.

License to Ride Donkeys?

I had to share this. A friend sent this to me. What you see in the photo is a very old “driving license” unnamedonly it is a “riding license”.

Here is what it generally says: “After passing a practical test on riding donkeys in road Donkeys that are in Hosha-ya Lookout in the Lower Galilei.

The above mentioned is permitted/allowed to ride on a donkey in all kinds of weather and in whatever hours of the day or night.
On the bottom right it says, (and please hold yourself from laughter): Must wear glasses.

If you know how to read Hebrew  find all the words you can read and recognize.

 

Get Excited in Hebrew

IMG_2641When you want to express your excitement you’d say in English: What a wonderful … What a…

In Hebrew you use the word: Eyzeh – אֵיזֶה (lit. what kind of; which; some kind of; ) What a beautiful day  !אֵיזֶה יוֹם יָפֶה; (ey-zeh yome yah-feh)  What a cute boy! אֵיזֶה יֶלֶד חָמוּד (ey-zeh yeled kha-mood!)

When I strolled on the streets of Rishon Lezion, Israel, and peeked inside this store, I said to myself: !אֵיזֶה פֵּירוֹת יָפִים (coloquially you can use the singular male form איזה for plural objects. In proper Hebrew you’d say: אֵילוּ)

Can you construct a few such exclamation?  (a sudden cry or remark, esp. expressing surprise, anger, or pain)

www.hebrewbarmitzvah.com