Philologos


Slavs, Slovaks, et al.

By Philologos

The Slovenes of Slovenia, the northwest corner of the former Yugoslavia, have, according to an April 17 New York Times article, a problem — which is why they’re about to change their flag. People confuse them with the Slovaks of Slovakia, the eastern half of the former Czechoslovakia, who have a similar flag. And ifRead More


The Adorable Moses Cow

By Philologos

Yosi Gordon writes from St. Paul, Minn.:That most adorable of insects, the ladybird or ladybug, is in Hebrew parat Moshe rabbenu, ‘Moses’ cow.’ A myth or legend must be lurking behind that name, but I have been unable to find it. Can you help?Indeed I can. It is not only Mr. Gordon who finds the ladybug (“ladybird,” the olderRead More


Flamenco’s Deep Roots

By Philologos

In the April issue of the magazine Moment there is a short item about the possible Jewish roots of flamenco or Spanish gypsy music. “Although not everybody finds Jewish overtones in the rhythmic dancing, the wailing style of songs, and the lush, intricate guitar playing,” writes Moment contributor Debra Bruno, “many believe that flamenco is closely linked to Sephardic synagogue music with its eastern influences and undercurrent of sadness….Read More


The Three ‘R’s

By Philologos

An e-mailer identified only as “Owen” writes:“I have a question that no one has been able to answer for me – even my rabbi. IRead More


Ghostly

By Philologos

Ira Epstein writes:“In several recent news reports in the English media, the Jerusalem street ‘Emek Refa’im’ was referred to as the ‘Vale of Ghosts’ or ‘Valley of Ghosts.’ While I know that the Hebrew word refa’im in the Bible can be translated as ‘ghosts,’ is there any special significance to the association of ghosts with…Read More


Blood Lines

By Philologos

‘No one,” recently wrote political commentator Yosi Verter in the Hebrew newspaper Ha’aretz, in an article on the attitude of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s fellow Likud politicians to the financial scandals threatening him, “wants to appear to be dancing on the blood.”By “dancing on the blood” — roked al ha-dam — Verter meant…Read More


How Do You Do’s Novels

By Philologos

Help! Now it’s The New York Times. This is from a Times article last week about the new Broadway revival of “Fiddler on the Roof”:“‘Fiddler on the Roof,’ with music by Jerry Bock and lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, is based on ‘Tevye the Milkman,’ a cycle of short stories by Sholem Aleichem published in the Yiddish press…Read More


Mezinke Madness

By Philologos

Seymour Zimilover and Harry Jaglom have related questions. Mr. Zimilover writes:“We often hear the song ‘Di Mezinke Oysgegebn’ played at weddings where the youngest child of the family is being married. What is a ‘mezinke’ and from what language is the word derived?”And from Mr. Jaglom comes the query:“My father, who was born…Read More


You Call That a Man?

By Philologos

Marvin Friedman writes from San Francisco: Your recent column about the expression folg mir a gang reminded me of how my mother used to say, in a tone between contempt and sarcasm, “Oykh mir a mentsh,” which I understood to mean something like, “This is also considered a person?” In turn, this brought me to think about Primo Levi’s…Read More


The Female Divine

By Philologos

Is (the?) Shekhina (Shekinah? Shechinah?) a “she” or an “it”?“The Shekhina is a woman,” Star Trek actor Leonard Nimoy is quoted as saying in the latest issue of Moment magazine, in which the article “In Search of Shekhina” deals with Mr. Nimoy’s recently published book of photographs, “Shekhina.”And yet in none of the…Read More





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