Philologos


Upping Yor Ante

By Philologos

This being the week of Rosh Hashana, I took advantage of the occasion to ask the Israeli scholar Shmuel Gelbart, an expert on Jewish custom and Yiddish usage, a question that has been bothering me. Why is Yiddish the only language in the world whose speakers make a practice of wishing each other a good year every day of the year?Read More


Rav, Rebbe, Rabbi

By Philologos

M r. Rosenberg writes from Kansas City: “A group of us were discussing the derivation of the word ‘rabbi.’ We know what it means, obviously, and are aware of its various permutations — rov, reb, rebbe, rebenyu. But what is the root meaning of the word?”The root meaning of the Hebrew word rav, “rabbi,” is “large,” “great” or…Read More


The Buzaglo Test

By Philologos

As scandal swirls around the office of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, and some political commentators wonder why he isn’t held more strictly to accounts while others protest that he has been tarnished unfairly, almost everyone in Israel agrees that he should be subject to the Buzaglo Test.Read More


Also Known As...

By Philologos

‘Bombay — Forty-five people were killed and at least 135 were wounded Monday by the explosion of two bombs placed in a pair of taxis in the heart of India’s commercial capital, the police said.”That’s from a front-page New York Times report on August 26. Further on we are told:“At the scene of the first blast, the state’s tense and…Read More


What Would Jesus Speak?

By Philologos

Probably no film in history has been written about as much before its public debut as Mel Gibson’s new movie about the last days of Jesus. Many of the critics and scholars who have seen it screened in advance have accused it of both antisemitism and historical ignorance — an ignorance all the more appalling in light of its pretensions to…Read More


Feminine Fasting

By Philologos

The story is told of the newly religious Israeli who informs his boss that he isn’t coming to work the next day because it’s “Tesha be’Av.”The correct Hebrew name of the fast day, commemorating the destruction of the First and Second Temples, that was observed by many Jews this week is of course Tish’a [pronounced…Read More


A Nude Who Inspired Modesty

By Philologos

‘Adam Abu-Diyab is breathing hard through his mouth as he wheels his adult-size tricycle up Me’ah She’arim’s main drag,” writes correspondent Mitchell Ginsburg in the July 14 Jerusalem Report. “His bike is ancient and his trailer is weighted with the tools of his trade.Read More


Fish on...Thursday?

By Philologos

Merle Spiegel writes:I have been wondering about the custom in traditional Jewish homes of having dairy dinners or suppers on Mondays and Thursdays. Other things have to do with Mondays and Thursdays too, such as the weekly reading of the Torah in the synagogue on those days, the Yiddish phrase yeder montik un donershtik [“every Monday and…Read More


The Thousand Days’ War

By Philologos

What will historians in the future call the nearly three years of daily violence between Palestinians and Israelis that have — for the moment — just ended? That may depend on whether or not the cease-fire that has been declared becomes permanent. If it does, a strong contender is a name that did not exist two weeks ago but is now circulating…Read More


A Shayle About Shayle

By Philologos

Reader Paul Malevitz of Los Angeles has a shayle about the word shayle. He writes:In the Yiddish spoken in the territories of the former USSR, northeastern Poland and most of Rumania, we pronounce the words for “meat and bones” as fleysh un/in beyner [“ey” being the linguistic notation for the vowel in a word like “say”], whereas in…Read More


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