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April 2022 | ניסן תשפ''ב
חַגִּים וּמוֹעֲדִים – Holidays and Occasions

מֵעַבְדוּת לְחֵרוּת

From Slavery to Freedom

The various Hebrew names for Passover highlight different facets of the holiday, from its rituals to its season. The epithets חַג הַחֵרוּת (‘the festival of freedom’) and זְמַן חֵרוּתֵנוּ (‘the time of our freedom’) express the essence of the holiday and its significance.
מעבדות לחירות2
The word חֵרוּת (‘liberty, freedom’), from the root חר"ר, dates to Rabbinic Hebrew, which probably borrowed the word from Aramaic. The Mishna speaks of our obligation to thank “the one who performed all these miracles for us and for our ancestors and brought us out from slavery to freedomמֵעַבְדוּת לְחֵרוּת” (Psaẖim 10:5). We also find the word on coins minted by the rebels during the Jewish revolts against the Romans in 67–70 CE and 132–135 CE, for example in the inscription שנת שתים / חרות ציון (‘Year Two / the Freedom of Zion’).

In contemporary Hebrew, חֵרוּת serves primarily in formal contexts and in terms and other fixed phrases – e.g., זְכוּת לְחֵרוּת (‘right to liberty’), חֵרוּת הַמְּשׁוֹרֵר (‘poetic license’), פֶּסֶל הַחֵרוּת (the Statue of Liberty), פַּעֲמוֹן הַחֵרוּת (Liberty Bell, also called פַּעֲמוֹן הַדְּרוֹר), and אַרְבַּע הַחֵרוּיוֹת (the Four Freedoms of US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt).

Related words from the same root include the causative verb שִׁחְרֵר (‘to emancipate, liberate’), which entered Rabbinic Hebrew from Aramaic along with its antonym, שִׁעְבֵּד (‘to enslave, subjugate’). In Aramaic, the two verbs belong to the causative pattern שַׁפְעֵל with prefixed שׁ, a parallel to Hebrew’s הִפְעִיל pattern (prefixed ה). From the root חר"ר Arabic, too, has a verb ‘to liberate’; Cairo’s Tahrir Square takes its name from the corresponding noun, تَحْرِير (taẖrir, ‘liberation’).

The word חוֹרִים (‘nobles, freemen’), also from this root, does occur in the Bible – in plural form only – both on its own and, once, in the phrase בֶּן־חוֹרִים (literally, ‘son of חוֹרִים’; Eccles. 10:17). In Rabbinic Hebrew the phrase usually appears as בֶּן־חוֹרִין with final ן, meaning ‘free person’ or ‘free’ in various senses – freeborn, not enslaved, exempt from obligation, unencumbered; contemporary Hebrew retains the Rabbinic spelling and meanings. The Biblical names חוּר and בֶּן־חוּר (Ben-H̱ur, namesake of the blockbuster film) may likewise come from חר"ר and, if so, probably mean ‘noble.’

The Haggada not only recounts our liberation of yore but also gives voice to the currently oppressed: הָשַׁתָּא עַבְדֵי, לְשָׁנָה הַבָּאָה בְּנֵי חוֹרִין (‘this year – slaves; next year – free people’). May we see that wish fulfilled speedily.
להרחבה באתר האקדמיה
Timely Terms מֻנָּחִים לָעִנְיָן

Earth Day – יוֹם כַּדּוּר הָאָרֶץ

Idioms and Expressions – מַטְבְּעוֹת לָשׁוֹן

עָבַרְנוּ אֶת פַּרְעֹה – נַעֲבֹר גַּם אֶת זֶה

כדור הארץ
This year Earth Day (April 22) coincides with the seventh day of Passover.

environmentalism סְבִיבָתָנוּת
The term סְבִיבָתָן (‘environmentalist’) and the corresponding abstract noun סְבִיבָתָנוּת made their official debut in 2011 in the Academy’s dictionary of environmental terms. They come from the word סְבִיבָה (‘environment’), whose root סב"ב may express ‘surrounding,’ as in the word סָבִיב (‘around’). Another modern-Hebrew innovation from the word סְבִיבָה is the adjective סְבִיבָתִי (‘environmental’), found in terms such as נֶזֶק סְבִיבָתִי (‘environmental damage’) and צֶדֶק סְבִיבָתִי (‘environmental justice’).

renewable (energy, resources) – מִתְחַדֵּשׁ
The verb הִתְחַדֵּשׁ (‘to be renewed, happen anew’), from the same root as חָדָשׁ (‘new’), has been in use since the Bible, where it makes one appearance, in Psalms 103:5. Its participle form, מִתְחַדֵּשׁ, provides an apt equivalent for ‘renewable’ in terms like מַשְׁאַבִּים מִתְחַדְּשִׁים (‘renewable resources’) and אֵנֶרְגִּיָּה מִתְחַדֶּשֶׁת (‘renewable energy’).
Meir Ariel’s 1990 hit song עָבַרְנוּ אֶת פַּרְעֹה – נַעֲבֹר גַּם אֶת זֶה (‘we survived Pharaoh; we’ll survive this, too’; listen here) brought into widespread use this expression of hope and optimism in the face of adversity. The song catalogs a host of troubles and frustrations the narrator has experienced, concluding each verse with the refrain אֲבָל עָבַרְנוּ אֶת פַּרְעֹה – נַעֲבֹר גַּם אֶת זֶה (‘but we survived Pharaoh…’).

Ruvik Rosenthal (in Hebrew, here) identifies the saying as a longstanding Jewish aphorism (in Yiddish: ...מיר זײַנין בײַגעקומען דעם פּרעה), sometimes with variations in wording (e.g., ‘we survived Haman…’). Avshalom Kor attests that his own father and the latter’s friends in the Betar movement used the Yiddish expression as youths in Riga, Latvia, though otherwise they conversed entirely in Hebrew.

Some suggest that the song אֲנַחְנוּ נַעֲבֹר (listen here), written by poet and lyricist Yechiel Mohar in 1967, provided inspiration for Ariel’s refrain. Kor surmises that the aphorism inspired both Mohar’s and Ariel’s lyrics.
The word זִהוּם (‘pollution, contamination, infection’) dates back to Rabbinic Hebrew. In contemporary Hebrew it denotes not only environmental pollution – as in זִהוּם אֲוִיר (‘air pollution’), זִהוּם מַיִם (‘water pollution’), זִהוּם קַרְקַע (‘soil pollution’) – but also biological infection; in addition, it serves as a general term for contamination (alongside נִגּוּעַ). The related word מְזַהֵם means both ‘pollutant’ and ‘polluter.’

View the Academy’s dictionary of environmental terms here.
למילון מונחי איכות הסביבה של האקדמיה
What’s in a Name? שֵׁמוֹת וּמַשְׁמָעוּיוֹת

Yig'al, Ge'ulla – יִגְאָל, גְּאֻלָּה

In Exod. 6:6 G‑d promises the enslaved children of Israel וְגָאַלְתִּי אֶתְכֶם (‘I will redeem you’); in the liturgy, daily blessings ending with גָּאַל יִשְׂרָאֵל (‘[who] redeemed Israel’ or ‘redeemer of Israel’) continually recall the fulfillment of that promise.
While the Passover story serves as the archetype of national redemption, the verb גָּאַל (‘to redeem, save, liberate’) and the corresponding noun גְּאֻלָּה (‘redemption, salvation, liberation’) may refer to collective or individual salvation; to the redemption from Egypt or from some other exile or oppression; to a past deliverance or a yearned-for future.

Biblical גָּאַל also means ‘to buy back’ [e.g., an individual sold into slavery or ancestral property that passed out of the tribe]. This sense accounts for its use in parallelism with קָנָה (‘to get, acquire, buy’), as in עַם־זוּ גָּאָלְתָּ and עַם־זוּ קָנִיתָ (‘the people that You redeemed’; ‘the people that You acquired’) in the Song at the Sea, Exod. 15:13, 16. When one cannot buy back one’s own freedom or property, the duty of redemption falls upon kin; accordingly, גּוֹאֵל (‘redeemer, savior’) in the Bible also means ‘relative.’

The Bible mentions three men called יִגְאָל. Hebrew names from the Biblical period often contain an embedded name of G‑d, as in גְּאַלְיָהוּ (Ge'alyahu, ‘G‑d redeemed’); Biblical יִגְאָל is likely an abbreviation of such a theophoric name. Like many other male names, including יִצְחָק (Yitsak, Isaac) and יַעֲקֹב (Ya'akov, Jacob), יִגְאָל has the form of a verb (in this case, גָּאַל) in future tense, 3rd person masculine singular (‘he’). Because Biblical tenses do not correspond strictly to past or future time, names in this form may express a wish for the future or a declaration of what has happened; each of those interpretations has garnered scholarly support.

In the last century, the male name יִגְאָל has enjoyed periods of popularity, although not so much in recent decades. Far less common is the name גּוֹאֵל (Go'el), which also serves as a surname, sometimes in the form הַגּוֹאֵל (HaGo'el, ‘the redeemer’). From the verb נִגְאַל (‘to be redeemed’) comes the rare male name יִגָּאֵל (Yigga'el), which, like יִגְאָל, is a future ‘he’ form. Meanwhile, the feminine noun גְּאֻלָּה serves as a female name. Famous Israelis with these names include Yigal Allon, Yigael Yadin, and Geula Cohen (in the photo above).
News and Events – חֲדָשׁוֹת וְאֵרוּעִים
RibuaPesach-300x280 (1)
פְּרוֹפ' שִׁמְעוֹן שַׁרְבִיט יַרְצֶה עַל לְשׁוֹן הַהַגָּדָה
Prof. Shimon Sharvit to Speak on the
Language of the Haggada

Academy member Prof. Shimon Sharvit will give an online talk (in Hebrew) about the language of the Haggada on Tuesday, April 12, at 19:00 IDT. Besides addressing how the text coalesced over the course of 1000 years and characterizing its language, he will examine numerous phrases from the Haggada that have become expressions in common usage, such as בִּכְבוֹדוֹ וּבְעַצְמוֹ (‘in person’), and the evolution in meaning that some of them have undergone, as in גָּמַר עָלָיו אֶת הַהַלֵּל (‘to praise someone exceedingly’).

לעמוד ההרשמה
יוֹרָם טַהַרְלֵב – יְהִי זִכְרוֹ בָּרוּךְ
In Memoriam: Yoram Taharlev

An extraordinarily prolific and talented lyricist, Yoram Taharlev (1938–2022) had an outsize influence on Hebrew culture. He wrote the words to some 1000 songs, many of them popular hits and classics of Israeli music. A lover of Hebrew, he infused his lyrics with snippets of traditional Jewish texts. For example, the song עוֹד לֹא תַּמּוּ כָּל פְּלָאַיִךְ (“Your Wonders Never Cease”; listen) contains a riff on פִּתְחוּ־לִי שַׁעֲרֵי־צֶדֶק אָבֹא־בָם אוֹדֶה יָהּ (‘Open to me the gates of righteousness; I will enter them [and] give thanks to the Lord’; Psalms 118:19, part of Hallel).

Yoram Taharlev’s website (English page)
להרחבה באתר האקדמיה
לאתר של יורם טהרלב
מִפְעַל הַמִּלּוֹן הַהִיסְטוֹרִי הִשְׁלִים אֶת הַתְקָנַת הַמִּקְרָא
Historical Dictionary Project Completes Tagging of the Bible

The Academy’s Historical Dictionary Project recently completed the linguistic tagging of the books of the Bible. For over half a century the Dictionary Project has been building a digitized concordance of Hebrew texts – now a vast repository spanning over two millennia – to serve as the basis for writing the dictionary entries. This unique resource, available to the public on the Ma'agarim website, enables users to perform sophisticated searches and to read full compositions.

Explore the Ma'agarim website here.
להרחבה באתר האקדמיה
לאתר "מאגרים"
הָאָקָדֶמְיָה עָרְכָה כִּנּוּס בֵּין־לְאֻמִּי עַל הָעִבְרִית הַחֲדָשָׁה
AHL Holds International Conference
on Modern Hebrew

Thousands attended the Academy’s online academic conference entitled הָעִבְרִית הַחֲדָשָׁה: תְּמוּנַת מַצָּב (‘Modern Hebrew: The State of the Art’), held on March 1–3, 2022. The program featured a session on Israeli Sign Language, chaired by MK Shirly Pinto, as well as talks on issues of morphology, syntax, discourse, sociolinguistics, and more. Simultaneous translation into ISL accompanied several of the sessions. The full program and the recordings of the sessions (all in Hebrew) are available for viewing on the Academy’s website.

לתוכנית הכינוס ולצפייה במושבים
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