Marshes, Marshes, Marshes

Rabbi Pappenheim writes that “achu” refers to the brotherhood between the different animals that join up in fertile land to feast on its produce.

Hard Work And Hard Hearts

Rabbi Hirsch notes that because kuf can be interchanged with gimmel, “kashah” is also related to “gishah”/“gashash” (approaching, impacting). Most people only consider solid objects substantial enough to approach or cause an impact.

Boats, Ships, And Nautical Rhapsody

Not every mention of a seafaring vehicle in the Bible, however, contains the word “oniah.”

Coming Close

Following this explanation, it seems that when Yehudah approached Yosef, he came physically close to him (vayigash) - perhaps even in a threatening way.

To Be A Wise Guy (Part II)

The Talmud (Chagigah 12a) teaches that G-d created the world using 10 different qualities, the first three of which are chachmah, tevunah, and daat.

To Be A Wise Guy (Part I)

Rabbi Pappenheim also argues that “cheich” [palate] comes from “chakah” because the open fish net resembles a person’s mouth opened wide in anticipation of food.

Pick Your Wax

More scholarly-oriented etymologists are at a loss to explain the origins of “donag.”

Castle In The Sky

“Apadna” appears once in the Bible (Daniel 11:45), and the commentators explain that it denotes a palace. In the Talmud, “apadna” sometimes means, not a palace, but a den that is especially grand or kingly.

Boys And Girls (Part II)

A whole slew of other words also come from ayin-lammed, including “elyon” (high), “l’maaleh” (up), “oleh” (elevate), “aleh” (leaf, which grows on a branch), “ohl” (yoke, which placed on an animal), “meil (tunic, which is worn on top of other clothing), “na'al” (shoe, which is worn on top of the foot), etc.

Boys And Girls (Part I)

Rabbi Mizrachi explains that Rehoboam was called a naar at 41 because he was immature and had weak leadership skills...

Elephants Galore

“Pil” actually doesn’t appear anywhere in the Bible. Biblical Hebrew seems to have a different word for elephant, “shenhav,” which appears twice in the Bible.

A Laughing Matter

In four places in Tanach, the middle patriarch is referred to as "Yischak," not "Yitzchak."

Holy Matrimony (Part II)

Dr. Michael Satlow suggests that “kiddushin” is actually a loanword from the Greek legal term “ekdosis,” which refers to a bride's father handing over his daughter to her husband.

Holy Matrimony (Part I)

The Torah’s word for betrothal is “erusin,” and its cognates appear throughout the Bible. The Mishnah, however, more often uses a different word: “kiddushin.”

The Power To Hold Back

In Cheshek Shlomo, Rabbi Pappenheim connects “eitan” to the biliteral root aleph-tav, which he further reduces to the monoliteral root tav. He explains that this root means connections and linking.

The Strong Ones (Part II)

Another verse in Psalms (68:35) exhorts the reader to give “oz” to G-d. Obviously we can’t actually strengthen G-d.

The Strong Ones (Part I)

Rabbi Wertheimer explains that the greater Torah scholar a person becomes, the more effort he must exert on performing good deeds and not lose himself in the more theoretical world of study.

Peace And Quiet

“Shalom” implies the cessation of hostilities, while “sheket” implies the cessation of any rush or toiling that force people to be constantly moving about.

Remembering The Wall (Part II)

Other words derived from this root include “chatzi” (half), “chazot” (midday or midnight), “chutz” (outside/exterior), and “cheitz” (arrow).

Remembering The Wall (Part I)

Rabbi Pappenheim suggests that “chomah” is related to “milchamah,” as the main purpose of building a city wall is to protect its inhabitants from enemy warfare.

When Suddenly…

The Talmud (Kritut 9a) states that “peta” connotes shogeg (by mistake), while “pitom” could connote oness (by accident), meizid (on purpose), or shogeg. The Midrash (Sifrei to Numbers 6:9) disagrees.

Take A Breather (Part III)

The Shelah (1555-1630) writes that not everyone can be cognizant of their chayah and yechidah during their lifetimes. Only bnei aliyah (spiritually-elevated people) can connect with their chayah-yechidah.

Take A Breather (Part II)

Rabbeinu Yonah notes that the nefesh and ruach represent man’s instinct for thriving and surviving in a physical or material way.

Take A Breather (Part I)

Maimonides explains that “ruach” also means a life-giving spirit, which is what remains of a person after death (Ecclesiastes 12:7).

All About Hair

In another famous Talmudic passage, the rabbis speak about taming the force of the Evil Inclination for idolatry, which took on the form of a lion made of fire.

Kneading The Dough

Rabbi Mecklenberg writes that “arisah” is related to “eres” (bed): Just as dough consists of a mixture of flour and water, so too a bed’s mattress rest on a mixture of interplaced beams or planks.

A Coriander Conundrum

Ultimately, when Antoninus pointed out that doing so would totally erase his progeny, Rebbe encouraged the Roman official to have mercy on his deviant daughter.

Where’s The Gold?

Rabbi Pinchas Eliyahu Horowitz (1765-1821) writes that Ophir is Peru, where large deposits of gold are supposedly concentrated.

The Old Switcheroo

The Torah stipulates that if one tries to transfer holiness from one animal to another, both the original animal and the new animal become consecrated.

Divorce Bills And Other Documents

Rabbi Sofer explains that all legal documents are called “get” because they bring people together (e.g., lenders and borrowers, buyers and sellers, etc.).


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