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October 7, 2015 / 24 Tishri, 5776
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How to Say “Era” in Hebrew

I've known this for a long time, but not its full meaning - until I just researched it to present it to you.

The Hebrew word for period of time or era is תְּקוּפָה (listen and repeat). I’ve known this for a long time, but not its full meaning – until I just researched it to present it to you.

The word appears in the Bible, but its meaning has become less and less specific over the generations. In Biblical Hebrew, תקופה refers to a particular point in time that marks the culmination of a cycle. In Mishnaic Hebrew, it refers to a period of time that repeats itself. And in Modern Hebrew, it refers to any period of time. (ויקימילון)

I fully grasped the word’s meaning when I saw its root – ק.ו.פ (k.w.p), the same root as the word for to encompass – לְהָקִיף (listen and repeat). The root ק.ו.פ is about coming full-circle. Thus a תקופה, even in Modern Hebrew, is a period of time – with a beginning and an end.

An example: מִלְחֶמֶת הָעוֹלָם הַשְּׁנִיָּה הָיְתָה תְּקוּפָה קָשָׁה לָאֱנוֹשׁוּת.

World War II was a difficult period of time for humanity. (listen)

And in lighter context: הֵם בָּאוּ לְבַקֵּר לִתְקוּפָה קְצָרָה.

They came to visit for a short time. (listen)

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About the Author: Ami Steinberger is founder and director of Ulpan La-Inyan.

The author's opinion does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Jewish Press.

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