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In Hebrew: Purim Vocabulary

A daily dose of Hebrew.
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Photo Credit: Dror Garti/Flash90

מְגִלָּה – literally, scroll, often referring to the scroll from which the Book of Esther is read publicly. Root is ג.ל.ל (g.l.l) meaning rolling.

תַּעֲנִיתa fast, synonymous with צוֹם, related to the word עוֹנִי meaning poverty and strife.

מִשְׁלוֹחַ מָנוֹת – literally, deliveries of portions, referring to the gifts of food Jews give one another on Purim. Term appears in the Book of Esther.

מַתָּנוֹת לָאֶבְיוֹנִיםgifts for the poor, which Jews give on Purim. אֶבְיוֹן is one of the many Biblical-Hebrew words for a poor person. Term appears in the Book of Esther.

סְעוּדָהa meal, synonymous with the more widespread word in Modern Hebrew, אֲרוּחָה. Root is ס.ע.ד (s.a.d) meaning satiation.

מִשְׁתֶּהa feast, a banquet, deriving from the root שׁ.ת.ה meaning drinking. In the Book of Esther, משתה figures prominently in the plotline.

פּוּרִים – plural of פּוּר meaning lottery, possibly from the ancient Semitic language, Akkadian.

שִׁכּוֹר, לְהִשְׁתַּכֵּר- drunk, to get drunk, from the Biblical and Modern Hebrew word for liquor, שֵׁכָר.

לְהִתְפַּכֵּחַto sober up. See last year’s YDDH entry on this.

אָזְנֵי הָמָן – these triangular cookies resemble the ears of (the Purim villain) Haman, which is what the Hebrew term means literally

תַּחְפּוֹשֶׂת, לְהִתְחַפֵּשׂ – think of the children… all dressed up. Literally, a costume and to get dressed up.

לִתְלוֹתto hang. Can be done with laundry or with naughty people such as Haman.

אִגֶּרֶתa letter, as appearing in the Book of Esther. In Modern Hebrew, מִכְתָב refers to your garden-variety piece of post, while אגרת refers to letters written for more official occasions.

וְנַהֲפוֹךְ הוּאand it was turned upside down, the classic term from the Book of Esther, embodying the spirit of Purim.

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


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