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מוּטָב מְאֻחָר מֵאֲשֶׁר לְעוֹלָם לֹא


Yesterday my great-uncle had his בַּר מִצְוָה ( listen and repeat) – Bar Mitzvah. Yes, my great uncle. He’s 82. Because when he was 13, he was in Auschwitz, where they didn’t do בר מצווה ceremonies.
En route, I told the cab driver about the event. He made his comment with an American saying translated into Hebrew:
מוּטָב מְאֻחָר מֵאֲשֶׁר לְעוֹלם לֹא.
Better late than never.
Here’s a breakdown of the phrase:
מוטב ( listen and repeat) – it’s better, it’s preferable . This is a passive verb-turned-adjective of the passive-causative הֻפְעַל form, using the word טוֹב – good or well – as the root.
מאוחר ( listen and repeat) – late. This is also a passive verb-turned adjective, but this one follows the passive-intensive פֻּעַל form, employing the root א.ח.ר (a.kh.r) – after or end.
מאשר ( listen and repeat) – than, literally, from that.
לעולם ( listen and repeat) – forever.
לעולם לא ( listen and repeat) – never, or literally, forever not.

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