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Sunday, April 3, 2005

#108 Playing With Words and Letters

Musings #108
April 3, 2005
23rd of Adar Bet

Playing With Words and Letters

Hebrew is very different from English. Each Hebrew letter is rich in significance, meaning and numerical value. Linguistic relationships between words are found through their common letters. Words are related via two and three letter roots. Delving into Hebrew is like entering an “amusement park.”

One doesn’t have to be an expert in Hebrew to play these games. Since we’re approaching the Passover, Pesach, holiday, I can’t resist playing with the word “chametz,” which is forbidden on Pesach. Chametz is a concept in Jewish Law that can be easily understood if you take a good look at the Hebrew word which is made of the three letters, “chet,” “mem” and “tzaddi.” First combine the first two letters, “chet” and “mem” which give you the Hebrew word, “cham,” meaning hot. Then combine “mem” and “tzaddi” for “mitz,” juice, the essence of fruits and vegetables. What happens if juice gets hot? It ferments into vinegar, “chometz.” Don’t get so hot under the collar about my ignoring the vowels. In Hebrew one spells with consonants only; vowels are small “signs” added underneath the letters.

Now, what is the power of vinegar? It changes matter; apologies to Einstein. Think about it. If you spill vinegar on a hard stone surface, like marble, it will eat away at it, and if you add it to flour, the flour will ferment, expand. The use of “chametz” gives us a lot of power, like the power of G-d. During the Passover holiday, it is forbidden for us to possess, or benefit from “chametz” in any form.

The Passover “bread,” “lechem,” is “matza,” yes; which begins with “mem,” “tzaddi.” It is a combination of water and flour, and the entire preparation, from mixing to baking, must take exactly eighteen minutes, yes, eighteen, “chet,” “yud,” “chai,” which according to gematria) means life. If it takes any longer, fermentation will commence, and it will be chametz, forbidden. So, to put it simply, on Passover we eat dead bread.

One of my favorite word games is comparing the words containing the roots of “mother” and “father,” “eim—alef, mem” and “av—alef, vet.” From “father” we have the words “evven,” stone and “ma’avak,” conflict, while from “mother” we have “emunah,” faith and “emmet, truth.

Now, if we combine “mother” with “essence,” we have “ometz,” which can be defined as daring, emotional strength. This is the strength of the mother lion fighting against all enemies, against all odds, for her children. And this is the female characteristic that explains why the females give birth, “laledet.”

We are now in a major fight, “ma’avk,” war, “m’lchama,” for our Homeland, “Moledet.” Listen to the linguistic relationships between the words. “M’lchama,” war, can be seen as “from bread.” Bread is slang for money. Now, let’s take another look at the people who are out to destroy the Jewish communities, educational institutions and businesses in Gush Katif. One thing Arik Sharon, the Labor establishment and Disengagement Authority head Yonatan Bassi all have in common is financial interests in Israeli agriculture. Yes, they are in competition with Gush Katif, financial competition.

The Gush Katif agriculture export business is extremely successful. It is innovative, well run and something any normal country would want to expand. But for some perverse reason, Israeli politicians are out to destroy it. It’s all about money and power, “chametz,” which has the power to both build and destroy.

We need “ometz,” the strength given when there’s faith in G-d. Rosh Chodesh Nissan, the beginning of the Jewish month of Nissan, miracles, is almost here. “Chodesh,” month, is from the same root as “chadash,” new. We pray to G-d to renew the miracles.

Chodesh Tov

Batya Medad, Shiloh
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