Philologos


What’s in a (Town’s) Name?

By Philologos

I was browsing the other day in the letters-to-the-editor section of an old issue of a magazine called First Things, an intellectual monthly edited by Richard John Neuhaus, a leading Catholic thinker and strong supporter of Israel. Taking Neuhaus to task for this support was a letter that commented on “the tragedy…Read More


You shall not murder

By Philologos

Professor Berel Lang writes from Trinity College in Hartford, Conn.:“Perhaps you would give a couple of paragraphs to the misconception (and the mistranslation) of the Sixth Commandment [in Exodus 20:13], ‘You shall not murder,’ as ‘You shall not kill.’ The original Hebrew, lo tirtsah., is very clear, since the verb ratsah. means…Read More


Sephardic Arks

By Philologos

A New York Times article last month about the Jewish community of Istanbul contained a description of its oldest synagogue, the Ahrida, which was untouched by the recent bombings. The synagogue’s “main feature,” the Times observed, “is its teva, or pulpit, which is shaped like an ark. Some people say it was built to commemorate the ships…Read More


Bush Commits Parapraxis

By Philologos

I don’t know if anyone else caught it, but George W. Bush made what was obviously a Freudian slip in his initial appearance last week after the capture of Saddam Hussein. Gazing determinedly into the television cameras, he declared, “I have a message for the American people: You will not have to fear the rule of Saddam Hussein ever again.”Read More


Hanukah Gift to My Editors

By Philologos

Should the holiday we are celebrating this week be spelled “Hanukah,” “Chanukah,” “Hanukkah” or “Chanukkah?” You’ll find all four versions in the dictionaries, with “Hanukkah” being the preferred form nowadays.I myself prefer “Hanukah” with a single “k,” but I certainly think that either “Hanukah” or…Read More


Language of Lachish

By Philologos

Sandra Metzger writes to ask:“Would you possibly know of an ancient battle that sounds like ‘Lekesh’ but is spelled differently? I read about it 20 years ago in a book on archaeology and the Bible, which was later stolen in Liverpool, England, when in transport back to America. A hole in my memory prevents me from remembering the spelling to…Read More


Listen to Me a Chess Move?

By Philologos

From Zelde Krulewitz comes a letter asking about the Yiddish expression folg mir a gang. “I would dearly love to know,” she writes, “not only the literal translation of this phrase but its meaning and correct usage — i.e., under what circumstances one would say such a thing.”A literal translation of folg mir a gang (folg mikh a gang inRead More


Money Hole

By Philologos

‘Knesset member Meli Polishuk-Bloch accused officials of the ministry’s Bureau of the Budget of ‘viewing everything through the hole in the grush,’” Ha’aretz reported in a November 18 news item regarding the Israeli Finance Ministry’s decision to scale back a number of projected desalination plants for financial reasons.Read More


Losing ‘Hope’

By Philologos

Harold J. White of Gloucester, Mass. writes:“Recently, friends asked me about the Hebrew word for ‘hope,’ tikvah, which they wanted to use in some announcement. Out of curiosity, I checked the concordance to the Bible and [the biblical dictionary of Wilhelm] Gesenius. The word tikvah does not occur there. And yet Hatikvah, ‘The Hope,’ is…Read More


Speak Like a Sailor

By Philologos

Modern Hebrew, as is well known, has had to come up with many new words for concepts and things that did not exist in the language before its late-19th-century spoken revival, or that were themselves 20th-century innovations. There are thousands of such words in Israeli Hebrew today, and dozens more of them continue to enter it every year. ButRead More





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