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View Diary: D'var Torah: Vayetze (29 comments)

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  •  Perchik would have spoken Yiddish (1+ / 0-)
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    The English script was written for an American audience, so the word "bible" was most accessible.  I haven't read the original stories that the play was inspired by (nor can I read Yiddish; alas, my parents used it as their secret code and hid it from my generation) but in them he might have referred to the "Tanach" (as the Hebrew Bible is known in Hebrew).  But "Bible" is a valid translation of Tanach; it just doesn't refer to the same book as the Christian Bible.

    •  I do know "Tanach", but thought it had a more (0+ / 0-)

      specialized meaning, like Mishnah. Which reminds me: why is it Pirke Avot? Isn't -ot the feminine plural? Why not Avim?

      My father's use of Yiddish always annoyed me, e.g. "On the spitz of 33rd and Harrison". What possible shade of meaning, I demanded, does "spitz" convey that "corner" doesn't?

      Thanks for the info.

      •  "Av" is just one of those words (1+ / 0-)
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        Navy Vet Terp

        that has an irregular plural.  I don't think anyone knows why.

        Tanach is an acronym for Torah, Nevi'im, Ketuvim (the K becomes a Ch) -- i.e., Pentateuch, Prophets, Hagiographia, the three parts of the Hebrew Bible.

        •  "Av" must refer to a chthonic deity that can be (0+ / 0-)

          both mother and father.....

          Hagiographia? Which saints are those?

          •  "Holy Writings" (0+ / 0-)

            My understanding is that the three parts of the Tanach are the Law, (the five Books of Moses, sometimes called the Pentateuch); the Prophets, (the prophetic writings plus most of the longer historical books like Samuel and Kings); and the Writings, (which includes the books of poetry like Psalms and Proverbs, and also the books of Chronicles and a couple shorter books like Ruth).  I think (based on my small Latin and less Greek) that "Hagiographia" means "holy writings" rather than a reference to saints.

            In the Gospels, when Jesus refers to Scriptures, he often calls them "The Law and the Prophets".  

            "All the World's a Stage and Everyone's a Critic." -- Mervyn Alquist

            by quarkstomper on Sat Nov 24, 2012 at 07:59:27 PM PST

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          •  No reason to assume chthonic deity (0+ / 0-)

            or anything else mystical, as gender-irregular pluralized words are all over Hebrew -- including the words for year, place, window, word, egg, wall, and pencil.

            •  I was kidding about chthonic. It's just a fun word (0+ / 0-)

              and rarely used.

              Hebrew school was so long ago that I have only vague memories, and it was years until I understood things like the dual (mishkafayim). How we ever navigated the verb system is beyond me. I of course hated every minute of it, but now that I want to read the OT in the original and can't, Hebrew school doesn't seem like such a bad idea.

              •  Oh man, the dual plural is TERRIBLE. (0+ / 0-)

                (and yes, chthonic is a fun word.  :D)

                •  It was the concept of the dual. The teacher did (0+ / 0-)

                  not explain (that I can recall) that it was used for things that occur in pairs. But now, it's the Piel and Hifil and other conjugational niceties that are daunting. Plus the non-Westernness of the language itself.

                  •  Yeah, the non-Westernness doesn't help. (0+ / 0-)

                    No roots in Latin!

                    I wish sometimes that English had constructions like the Piel and Hifil, and especially the Nifal.  We have to go through some ridiculous verbal contortions to express those concepts sometimes.

                    •  Perhaps...but English is so much simpler than (0+ / 0-)

                      about any other language I can name. Sis took French, Spanish, and German in high school and says Spanish is easier than French, but we agree that German is a step above, as it has 3 genders and declension. Russian adds 2 more cases and a complicated verb system, but is a Western language withal. I can only imagine the complexities of Korean or Turkish or Gilbertese.

                      Which is why I've never understood why non-native speakers have so much trouble with English. It has no gender (calling a ship "she" doesn't count), a vestigial subjunctive, and an object case that covers accusative and dative. OK, TV writers seem determined to abuse the object case: "I was given the gun." "By who?" but you get my drift. And every noun in English, alas, can be verbed. But really--what is the all-fired difficulty?

                      •  The difficulty is the unfamiliarity (0+ / 0-)

                        and the inconsistency, just like learning any other organic language.

                        •  I dunno, Even though "set" supposedly has 40 (0+ / 0-)

                          recognized uses, I maintain our grammar is considerably simpler than most others. We don't have at least 2 verbs for every action, as in Russian, and unlike Korean, we don't have to consider the seniority and social standing of whoever we're addressing. We don't have things like quantifiers, e.g. when I speak of a spear, I must include the quantifier for pointy things. Etc., etc., etc. Simplicity!

    •  An earlier version of Fiddler on the Roof (0+ / 0-)

      Opened in Moscow in 1934 under the name "Tevya the Dairyman"; it had performances in Yiddush and Russian and was a big hit for its time and venue.  1934 was the height of Stalinist tyranny, the end of the deliberate famine in the Ukraine resulting from Stalin's destruction of the crops and blockade of food going into the Ukraine - this killed millions of people, and the opening of Stalin's Great Purge, where Stalin kiilled millions more.  I've never seen it, but at this stage of Stalin's regime no play or musical could not have been performed without strict compliance with Stalinist Orthodoxy, including a promotion of atheism.  I don't think the Communist censors would have been involved in any niceties between Tanach and Bible.

      "We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals, now we know that it is bad economics." Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Jan. 20, 1937

      by Navy Vet Terp on Sun Nov 25, 2012 at 08:44:16 AM PST

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