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December 1, 2015 / 19 Kislev, 5776
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In Hebrew: ‘Make Someone Happy’

A daily dose of Hebrew.


My professor of Bible and Aramaic at Yeshiva University, Dr. Moshe Bernstein, taught me that 18th-century philosopher Immanuel Kant declared that it’s worth studying Hebrew for ten years just to read תְּהִלִּים ק”ד– Psalm 104. Jews all over the world read that psalm Sunday and Monday in honor of רֹאשׁ חֹדֶשׁ, the “head” of the (Jewish) month. Today’s dose comes from that spellbinding poem.

There’s to be happyלִשְׂמוֹחַ, an active-simple פָּעַל verb.

For example:

ֹשָׂמַחְתִּי לִרְאוֹת אֹתו.
I was happy to see him.

But then there’s to make someone else happy. That’s לְשַׂמֵּחַ, an active-intensive פִּעֵל verb.

An example from תהילים ק”ד:

וְיַיִן יְשַׂמַּח לְבַב אֱנוֹשׁ
and wine gladdens the heart of man

Another example:

מִצְוָה לְשַׂמֵּחַ חָתָן וְכַלָּה.
It’s a mitzvah to make a bride and groom happy.

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

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