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November 27, 2015 / 15 Kislev, 5776
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In Hebrew: ‘Economy’

A daily dose of Hebrew.


The Modern-Hebrew word for economy and the study of economics is כַּלְכָּלָה.

An associated (active-intensive פִּעֵל) verb is לְכַלְכֵּל – to provide for, appearing in the Torah portion to be read this Shabbat by Jews around the world, as Joseph tells his brothers:

וְעַתָּה, אַל-תִּירָאוּ – אָנֹכִי אֲכַלְכֵּל אֶתְכֶם, וְאֶת-טַפְּכֶם;
וַיְנַחֵם אוֹתָם, וַיְדַבֵּר עַל לִבָּם.
(בראשית נ’:כ”א)
“And now, do not fear – I will support (provide for) you and your children”; and he consoled them and spoke to their hearts. (Genesis 50:21)

You may also be familiar with the verb לכלכל from the Jewish prayer book:

מְכַלְכֵּל חַיִים בְּחֶסֶד
He sustains the living with kindness…

כ.ל.כ.ל (k.l.k.l), the four-letter root of כלכלה and לכלכל , probably derives from a better-known root, כ.ו.ל (k.w.l) meaning all or all-encompassing.

Riding on the concept of providing all that is necessary, the word כלכלה in the times of the Mishnah referred to a basket of full of produce. And today, כלכלה also refers to board as in room and board.

For example:

בֵּית הָהַאֲרָחָה שֶׁלָּנוּ מְסַפֵּק כַּלְכָּלָה מְלֵאָה לְכָל אוֹרֵחַ.
Our guest house provides full board (
i.e. all meals) for each guest.

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

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