Menu
Fuhgeddaboudit

Fuhgeddaboudit

Israelis are an impatient people. They speak dugri (“directly,” an import from Arabic). They get to the point. Haval (guttural, as in Hanukkah) means “too bad.” Al hazman means “about the time.” Haval al hazman: It’s a waste of time.

Don’t even look at her, haval al hazman, she has a tall, dark paratrooper boyfriend. I’m not going to the rally in Rabin Square, haval al hazman, this dysfunctional government won’t fall.

Paradoxically, the phrase also has a positive meaning: It’s so wonderful there’s no need to waste time talking about it. Did you hear Elton John in Ramat Gan? Haval al hazman. Do you like my new haircut? Haval al hazman! How was Rome? Haval al hazman. And the food? I ate fettuccine Alfredo haval al hazman: “fabulous fettuccine Alfredo.” What’d you think of “Avatar?” Haval al hazman: “Awesome.” Though some might answer the question the same way and mean “awful.”

Another variation personalizes the idiom, adding lecha — to you — for emphasis. One kid playfully throws a rock at another but misses, the other says: Good thing you didn’t hit me, haval lecha al hazman — no need to elaborate.

Jewish parlance has long eschewed the waste of time. Rabbi Moses ben Maimon is condensed to Rambam; the Ba’al Shem Tov is the Besht. Standard Israeli Hebrew features acronyms such as mankal (menahel klali, director-general) and tzahal (tzeva haganah l’Yisrael, Israel Defense Forces). Young people sometimes save even more time by saying havlaz instead of the full haval al hazman. I started saying havlaz myself, until my 21-year-old son informed me that it was already passé. You’re an older, immigrant, American Jew, he was probably thinking. Haval al hazman.

Stuart Schoffman is a fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem and editor of “Havruta: A Journal of Jewish Conversation.”

Written by

Stuart Schoffman

Your Comments

The Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Forward requires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not and will be deleted. Egregious commenters will be banned from commenting. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and the Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

Next article

Recommend this article

Fuhgeddaboudit

Thank you!

This article has been sent!

Close