Tal: The Origin of a Common Hebrew Name

Posted on 20. Apr, 2016 by in Uncategorized

Tal - dew 1

I personally know nearly a dozen people that go by the name Tal (טַל), both men and women. It’s a pretty popular name in Israel, though it means “dew”. Yes, yes, the droplets of water that appear on objects in the early morning due to condensation. The Hebrew dictionary defined טַל as:

רְסׅיסֵי לַיְלָה, טׅפּוֺת שֶׁנּוֹצְרוּ עַל יְדֵי אֵדׅים שֶׁהׅתְעַבּוּ עַל שְׁטָחׅים קַרׅים – עַל פְּנֵי הָאֲדָמָה אוֹ עַל גַּבֵּי צְמָחׅים וְכַדּוֹמֶה. הַטַּל מַרְוֶה אֶת הָאֲדָמָה וְאֶת הַצְּמָחׅים בְּעוֺנוֺת שֶׁל יֺבֶשׁ

[Night droplets, droplets formed by condensation upon cold spaces – upon ground or upon plants etc. In dry seasons the dew drenches the soil and the plants.]

Nowadays the use of irrigation systems is an integral part of modern agriculture. But during the biblical time sprinklers, dripper lines and timers did not yet exist. The benefit of dew as a water source was essential. This is why the Talmud asserts:

כָּל עׅיר שֶׁטְּלָלֶיהָ מְרֻבּׅין מֵחַבְרוֺתֶיהָ פֵּרוֺתֶיהָ מְרֻבּׅין

[A city that enjoys more dew than other cities, enjoys more fruits].

This is also why טַל appears frequently in the bible in proximity to rain (מָטָר). For example in the Book of Kings 17, 1:

אִם יִהְיֶה הַשָּׁנִים הָאֵלֶּה טַל וּמָטָר– כִּי אִם לְפִי דְבָרִי

[There shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.]

This phrase – טַל וּמָטָר – also appears in the daily prayer that the Jews pray three times a day. Since they pray for טַל וּמָטָר only during the winter, this phrase written down inside the prayer text in smaller letters.

Tal 4

The relative size of the font of this phrase in the Jewish prayer book create a new idiom: אוֺתׅיּוֺת שֶׁל טַל וּמָטָר. The idiom meaning is simply small letters, and one can use it whenever one desires to describe small letters.

For example:

הַחֲדָשׁוֹת הַמֵּבׅישׁוֺת נׅכְתְּבוּ בְּאוֺתׅיּוֺת שֶׁל טַל וּמָטָר

The embarrassing news was written in dew and rain letters.

?לָמָּה הַהוֺרָאוֺת תָּמׅיד כְּתוּבוֺת בְּאוֺתׅיּוֺת טַל וּמָטָר

Why are the instruction always written in dew and rain letters?

And just for the fun here is a segment from a comedy show in Israel (with Hebrew subtitles). Starring is a famous Israeli comedian, named Tal Friedman. Enjoy 🙂

YouTube Preview Image

[The link: www.youtube.com/watch?v=ORtm6OP1lRQ]

 

 

The Girls are Back: The Gilmore Girls Reunion Cheers Up Israeli Girls

Posted on 14. Mar, 2016 by in Uncategorized

 

Photot by Ayana

Photo by Ayana

Ten months after the first Backstreet Boys` concert in Israel, the Israeli girls (בָּנוֺת) have another reason to cheer: the Gilmore Girls reunion! The show (תָּכְנִית) went off the air nine years ago, the viewers are a decade older, but the Israeli web is thrilled: the בָּנוֺת are back! Online articles announcing the good news, even Haaretz newspaper (check out the Hebrew article). Journalists are occupied by the cast: Jess is in (the Hebrew article), Sookie is out (the Hebrew article).

Before the internet and the cell phone era we all followed, week after week, Emily, Lorelai and Rory`s quest for happiness. It’s interesting how time (זְמַן) could alter things into experiences. The simplest dish becomes a family traditional cuisine. Essential shopping becomes quality time (זְמַן אֵיכוּת). And even a weekly TV show (תָּכְנִית טֶלֶוִיזְיָה) becomes a part of one’s life. Especially one that reflects a crucial aspect in any girl’s (בַּת) life: mother-daughter relationship.

זְמַן is also capable of changing our views. When the תָּכְנִית was kicking I was about the same age as Rory and had a similar agenda as her. No wonder I saw Stars Hollow from her eyes: the kind heart of people, the wisdom hidden in books, the cool mother (אִמָּא) she has. As other בָּנוֺת at my age I wanted to be loved like Rory and fun like Lorelai. But nowadays when I re-watch theתָּכְנִית , and I am about the same age as Lorelai, I realize that Rory’s אִמָּא isn’t fun or cool. She is just a childish grown up with a kid. And I’m not the only one to opine like this – check out the Hebrew critique.

Wisdom can be found outside of books or תָּכְנִית טֶלֶוִיזְיָה. Nonetheless, one can still enjoy the תָּכְנִית. I am definitely looking forward for the reunion!

 

Text vocabulary:

Girl = בַּת

Girls = בָּנוֺת

Mother, mom = אֵם, אִמָּא

Time = זְמַן

Quality time = אֵיכוּת זְמַן

TV show = תָּכְנִית טֶלֶוִיזְיָה

 

A visit at the Carmel Market

Posted on 18. Feb, 2016 by in Uncategorized

Last Friday, when the temperature went up, my friend and I went out to catch some winter sun. We went for lunch and shopping (קְנׅיּוֹת) at The Carmel Market (Shuk HaCarmel שׁוּק הַכַּרְמֶל). The שׁוּק is a popular site in Tel-Aviv, an attraction for locals and tourists alike. Making our way through the horde, we enjoyed the atmosphere as much as the merchandise. Sellers singing; Israelis buying flowers and seasonings for their Friday night dinner; foreigners tasting Halva, buying souvenirs and experiencing the Middle East market culture.

Photo by Ayana

Photo by Ayana

The שׁוּק is almost a century old – its history begins at 1920ʼs – and embodies snippets from the history of Israel. During Israel’s austerity period of the 1950s, the שׁוּק rose to great prominence as the best and most direct source of local, fresh produce. The market has also suffered violence. During The Independence War, Arab snipers shot at Jews shopping in the שׁוּק from the nearby Mosque. Terrorist attacks struck the שׁוּק as well, but the stalls (דּוּכָנׅים) are still standing, and the שׁוּק is still vigorously active.

Photo by Ayana

Photo by Ayana

Nowadays the שׁוּק is all about the mixture. Roaming through the דּוּכָנׅים , not only the mixture of smells and colors encompass you, but the mixture of languages as well: Hebrew, English, Russian, French, Japanese just to name a few. And let’s not forget the core of the שׁוּק: the mixture of goods. Vegetables, fruits, cheese, sweets, pastries, clothes, cosmetics, jewelries and trinkets.

Photo by Ayana

Photo by Ayana

I bought seaweed from the Asian store, my friend bought funny T-shirt as a gift, and after the קְנׅיּוֹת we were ready to fill our stomachs. Numerous coffee houses and restaurants surround the שׁוּק. We chose to eat at Ha`Mitbahon. Blue checkered table cloths fill the restaurant, lots of flowerpots decorate the space and delectable music plays. The food is worthy as well: I had an avocado salad while my friend enjoyed a Shakshouka. Simple and tasty.

Photo by Ayana

Photo by Ayana

The שׁוּק is outdoors and open Sunday-Friday. It usually congested and noisy. Come hungry 🙂

Check out its website.

Text vocabulary:

Market = שׁוּק

Markets = שְׁוָקִים

Shopping = קְנׅיּוֹת

Stall = דּוּכָן

Stalls = דּוּכָנׅים

 

 

 

Hebrew Nouns` Gender: How to Distinguish Feminine from Masculine

Posted on 31. Jan, 2016 by in Uncategorized

Photo by Ayana

Photo by Ayana

 

Unlike English, Hebrew belongs to the group of languages that have grammatical gender. The predicate in Hebrew conjugate according to the gender of the subject, which makes the gender of the nouns matters as much as the gender of the pronouns. The subject in Hebrew is divided into masculine and feminine. There is nothing male or female about objects, but when talking about them the verbs and adjectives should conjugate corresponding to their gender.

It`s easy to distinguish feminine nouns from masculine nouns, since most of the feminine nouns end with the letters ה or ת. For example:

 

Feminine nouns end with ה
Girl יַלְדָּה
Aunt דּוֹדָה
Family מִשְׁפָּחָה
Dress שִׂמְלָה
Experience חֲוָיָה
List רְשִׁימָה

Notice: not every noun that ends with ה is necessarily a feminine. For example: dustpan (=יָעֶה) is masculine, its ה is not the feminine ה but a part of its root.

 

Feminine nouns end with ת
Daughter בַּת
Notebook מַחְבֶּרֶת
Frying pan מַחֲבַת
Car מְכוֹנִית
Truth אֱמֶת
Friendship חֲבֵרוּת

Notice: not every noun that ends with ת is necessarily a feminine. For example: junction (=צֹמֶת) is a masculine, its ת is not the feminine ת, but a part of its root.

 

There’s a saying in Hebrew that says: לְכָל כְּלָל יֵשׁ יוֹצֵא מִן הַכְּלָל. This means that every rule has its exceptions. So one can’t always rely on that main principle of ה and ת endings of the feminine nouns. There are quite a few nouns in Hebrew that end with other letters that are feminine as well. Unfortunately there is no way to distinguish them without memorize them.

For example:

Mother  אִמָּא
Grandmother סָבְתָא
Goat עֵז
Country אֶרֶץ
Chasm תְּהוֹם
Road דֶּרֶךְ
Wind רוּחַ
Sun שֶׁמֶשׁ
Glass כּוֹס
City square כִּכָּר
Shoe נַעַל
Jenny אָתוֹן
Grapevine גֶּפֶן

 

Most of these words have some history beyond them. כּוֹס, for example, is referred to in the bible as feminine, but in the Talmud as masculine. Nowadays it has fixed firmly as feminine by the language speakers. The word face (=פָּנִים) has similar history, though vice versa. The bible refers to it as masculine, but the Talmud as feminine. Today Hebrew speakers use freely both feminine and masculine gender when speaking about faces.

רוּחַ and שֶׁמֶשׁ both appeared in the bible as words without specific gender. Sometimes the bible refers to them as masculine and sometimes as feminine. Nowadays the spoken language firmly refers to them as feminine. If you visit Israel and try to describe the sun with masculine adjectives, people will insistently correct your alleged mistake. But as long as the bible can, so can you. And a lot of writers utilize this fact. Hence we can find songs with a feminine sun. Like the song אוֹר with the line:

עוֹצֶמֶת אֶת עֵינַי
אֲבָל הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ הִיא בִּפְנִים

In the song לִי וְלָךְ, though, the sun is masculine:

בַּיָּם הָרוֹגֵעַ
הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ שׁוֹקֵעַ

 

It’s very liberating to think of an object as sexless, don’t you think? 🙂

Winter Has Come in Israel!

Posted on 06. Jan, 2016 by in Uncategorized

Photo by Ayana

Photo by Ayana

 

When the days get shorter and the winds get stronger, winter (חֹורֶף) is just around the corner. Passers-by bundled in their coats (מְעִילׅים), clouds become dull, windows light up and everyone expects the first rain (יוֺרֶה). Only after the יוֺרֶה rinses the pavement and the puddles (שְׁלוּלִיּוֺת) mottle the streets, it feels like חֹורֶף has truly came.

And here are some ideas how to celebrate the חֹורֶף :

1) No matter how old you are it is still an inexplicable pleasure to put your boots on, wear your מְעִילׅים, and go out. Bounce in the rain (גֶּשֶׁם) and stomp in the שְׁלוּלִיּוֺת like a kid.

2) Visit Azriely Observatory – the highest observatory in the Middle East. From the 49th floor of Azriely Tower in the center of Tel-Aviv you can overlook the city that never sleeps washed by the גֶּשֶׁם.  It costs only 22 INS for a day ticket and beside the view it also includes information about Tel-Aviv history. After enjoying the view of Tel-Aviv, you can go shopping in Azriely mall.

[http://mitzpe49.co.il/home]

3) If you are not able to visit Israel this חֹורֶף you can still relish this amazing video clip of חֹורֶף 2012. Approximately seven minutes of astonishing  photographs show different Israeli locations, from the north to the south. Can you recognize some of them?

YouTube Preview Image

[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vUoGyoYQxwg]

4) If you wish to enjoy the גֶּשֶׁם from the inside with a hot chocolate (שׁוֹקוֹ) you can do it while watching 23FM – an Israeli sitcom with the aspiration to teach teenagers proper Hebrew. Designed for the youngsters it’s a fun and simple sitcom, with full episodes on YouTube plus Hebrew subtitles.

YouTube Preview Image

[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V1VcK4M3SR0]

5) Another way to celebrate the חֹורֶף with hot שׁוֹקוֺ is by grabbing a book and reading it under the duvet. I recommend My Michael by Amos Oz and A Pigeon and a Boy by Meir Shalev.

To you, books readers and everyone else – HAPPY WINTER!

 

Text Vocabulary

Winter = חֹורֶף

Rain =  גֶּשֶׁם

First rain = יוֺרֶה

Puddles = שְׁלוּלִיּוֺת, puddle = שְׁלוּלִית

Coats = מְעִילׅים, coat = מְעִיל

Hot chocolate = שׁוֹקוֹ