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September 3, 2015 / 19 Elul, 5775
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In Hebrew: ‘Trap’

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trap

מַלְכֹּדֶת

A horrible tragedy was reported from Brazil, where hundreds of people were trapped inside a nightclub as it burned down.The Biblical-Hebrew root ל.כ.ד (l.k.d) means enclosure or trapping. Some of the words it produces, in use today, are:

מַלְכֹּדֶת a trap

לִלְכּוֹד to trap, to enclose – an active-simple פָּעַל verb

לְהִלָּכֵד to be trapped, to be enclosed – ללכוד’s passive נִפְעַל opposite

So that in Hebrew, we would say:

הֵם נִלְכְּדוּ בַּבִּנְיָן וְנִסְפּוּ. They were trapped in the building and perished.

Today’s tragedy in Brazil brings to mind incidents that took place between 1939 and 1945, commemorated today, January 27, as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. The difference between the nightclub in Brazil and the villages of Europe is that the nightclub inferno was an accident, while the travesties of the Holocaust were perpetrated with malicious intent.

On a bit of a lighter note, ל.כ.ד is also the root of the Israeli political party that won the most seats last week, הַלִּכּוּד (well, more precisely, הליכוד-בֵּיתֵנו – literally, The Unification, Our Home).

But what does trapping or enclosure have to do with Netanyahu’s party? הליכוד means, literally, the unification. When something is enclosed, all its contents are, by definition, unified or consolidated.

ליכוד is an abstract noun deriving from the active-intensive פִּעֵל verb, לְלַכֵּד to unify or consolidateללכד is a synonym of לְאַחֵד , also to unify.

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

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