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October 22, 2016 / 20 Tishri, 5777
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In Hebrew: ‘Average’

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מְמֻצָּע The Hebrew word for (the) middle is אֶמְצַע .

For example:

הִיא עוֹמֶדֶת בְּאֶמְצַע הַחֶדֶר. She is standing in the middle of the room. The root of אמצע is מ.צ.ע, which appears as an active-intensive פִּעֵל verbלְמַצֵּעַ in the Mishnah:

כְּשֶׁהוּא מְנַחֵם אֶת אֲחֵרִים – דֶּרֶךְ כָּל הָעַם עוֹבְרִין זֶה אַחַר זֶה, וְהַמְּמֻנֶּה מְמַצְּעוֹ בֵּינוֹ לְבֵין הָעַם (סנהדרין פרק ב’, משנה א’) When he (the high priest) consoles others – it is customary for all the people to pass by one another, and the designated (priest) splits him between him (the high priest) and the people. (Sanhedrin Chapter 2, Mishnah 1) Likewise, that which is split down the middle is מְמֻצָּע, a passive פֻּעַל version of the verb לְמַצֵּעַ .

In Modern Hebrew, we take this concept of split down the middle and use the wordממוצע to mean average – or that which is in the middle.

For example:

הַגִּיל הַמְּמֻצָּע פֹּה הוּא עֶשְׂרִים וְשֵׁשׁ.
The average age here is twenty six.

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Ami Steinberger

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

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