A Shekel For A Sela

The Mishnah itself implies that the sela coin is what the Bible calls a shekel, because the Mishnah uses the word sela in the same contexts in which the Bible uses the word shekel.

Boys And Bars

Rabbi Pappenheim maintains that “bat” (daughter) is also derived from the root bet-nun and should really be spelled “banat” (like it is in other Semitic languages).

Big Fish, Little Fish, Boy Fish, Girl Fish

According to the explanation that dag means “male fish” while dagah means “female fish,” it is hard to understand why the Jews in Egypt would have specifically eaten female fish and why the Plague of Blood would have only killed female fish.

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.

Fake Faces

Rabbi Shlomo Pappenheim of Breslau (1740-1814) writes that “masveh” and “suto” are related to “stav” (autumn or fall) and refer to soft, spongy fabrics worn to insulate oneself from cold weather.

The Ovine And Caprine Families

The Talmud (Rosh Hashanah 26a) points out that "yovel" also means ram, and was borrowed to mean a ram’s horn (Joshua 6:4-5), as well the 50th year – the jubilee, an English word derived from the Hebrew "yovel," when such a horn is blown.

Animal Sounds (Part II)

Rabbi Pappenheim traces “yehgeh” to the root hey-gimmel, which primarily refers to diligence and consistency, making its derivative “yehgeh” refer to a lion consistently crying.

All In The Family

When it comes to the word yavam, Rabbi Pappenheim explains that this term for a relative-in-law contrasts with other terms for relatives-in-law.

Boats, Ships, And Nautical Rhapsody

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

A Word By Any Other Name

Rabbi Shlomo Zalman of Hanau writes that the word teivah means "box, chest" and refers to the written word because books that contain written words are stored in a teivah.

Brilliant Prohibitions

In the same way that rays of light spread out to illuminate as much as possible, an enlightened person must spread his intellectual purview…in order to not violate what is expected of him.

The Shining Sea Of Galilee

It’s possible that this body of water actually does not have its own name and is identified instead by the most prominent city on its banks.

Purim: Words For Wine (Part I)

Although some Bible scholars claim that tirosh is an archaic Hebrew word for wine that was later replaced with the more modern word yayin in the Bible, this explanation does not really account for the difference between the two terms and why the newer term did not just completely replace the older term.

Seeking Salvation

Although the Rabbis tended to conform to biblical Hebrew in the phraseology of the prayers, here they used the word purkan because the root peh-reish-kuf already appears in the Torah in the context of “salvation.”

Welcome To Rooster City

Siddur HaRokeach adds that just as the rooster closes one eye when G-d is angry, so was Balaam blind in one eye, and just as the rooster stands on one foot when G-d is angry, so was Balaam lame in one foot.

Wake-Up Time

This is why, when a person wakes up, it is called oorah –an entire world is now revealed to him.

Through The Grapevine

Rabbi Pappenheim argues that gefen connotes the wing-like shoots and buds that protrude from a grapevine.

Sing And Song (Part I)

In what is possibly a separate explanation, the Malbim writes that “shirah” is a more general term that can refer to song both in a religious sense and in a secular sense, while “zimrah” refers specifically to a religious song that speaks of G-d’s praises.

The Fourth Dimension

Some Jews have a custom to greet others on the first night of Rosh Hashanah with the words “Le’shanah tova tei’katev ve’tei’chatem le’alter le’chaim tovim u’le’shalom.

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.

The Ultimate Teacher

As a young child, Joash was hidden away in the Holy Temple by his uncle Jehoiada, the Kohen Gadol, and later ascended the throne.

Just Winging It

Rabbi Wertheimer further notes that wings create shade and thus serve as a metaphor for offering protection.

Through The Looking Window

We now turn our attention to “eshnav.” This rather obscure word only appears twice in the entire Bible.

Seasoning The Land (Part II)

Avot de-Rabbi Natan explains that the world is called taivel because it is “spiced up” (metubal) with Torah, so that the Midrash is emphasizing the importance of Torah in that the entire world is called taivel simply because there’s a little bit of Torah “mixed into” it.

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.

I’m Too Tired

Not only does G-d strengthen those who are tired, He also energizes those who are completely exhausted.

Seasoning the Land (Part I)

The Radak in Sefer Shorashim also connects eretz to the idea of running – in this case because of the planet’s non-stop astronomical motions.

A Real Toss Up

Not all appearances of “hashlachah” carry a negative connotation. Some connote throwing something deliberately to bring about certain results.

Speaking of Speaking…

Yabia means speech that flows from the depths of one’s heart … or speaking continuously, non-stop, like an ever-flowing spring.

Better Late Than…

Rabbi Shapira-Frankfurter discusses a third word for delay or late: “hitmahmah.” In his view, this word denotes a delay caused by moving slower than usual.


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Printed from: https://www.jewishpress.com/review/in-print-review/a-shekel-for-a-sela/2022/02/23/

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