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December 2, 2015 / 20 Kislev, 5776
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In Hebrew: ‘Snowy’

A daily dose of Hebrew.


The Hebrew word for snow is שֶׁלֶג. Since Jews saw שלג in Jerusalem and in other places in Israel not only today, but thousands of years ago as well, שלג appears in Biblical Hebrew:

(וַיָּבֵא יָדוֹ בְּחֵיקוֹ, וַיּוֹצִאָהּ, וְהִנֵּה יָדוֹ מְצֹרַעַת כַּשָּׁלֶג. (שְׁמוֹת ד:ו …and he (Moses) brought (placed) his hand in his bosom, and took it out, and behold his hand was leprous like snow. (Exodus 4:6)


(הַנֹּתֵן שֶׁלֶג כַּצָּמֶר; כְּפוֹר, כָּאֵפֶר יְפַזֵּר. (תְּהִלִּים קמ”ז:ט”ז He (G-d) spreads snow like wool; scatters like ashes, (the) frost. (Psalms 147:16)

To express that something is snowy, Hebrew plugs the rootשׁ.ל.ג (sh.l.g) into the passive-causative הֻפְעַל verb form, declaring that that object has been snowed. The passive verb becomes an adjective, and, voila, we get the word מֻשְׁלָג for snowy (מושלג is the masculine form). For example:

יְרוּשָׁלַיִם יָפָה כְּשֶׁהִיא מֻשְׁלֶגֶת. Jerusalem is beautiful when it (she) is snowy.

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

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