Thursday, August 30, 2007

"turn over stones"

Being a high school English Teacher in Israel makes me an "expert" in the language according to some of my neighbors.

Today a neighbor called with a question. She had been listening to a "Torah lesson" about a famous rabbi in English on a cassette and didn't understand everything. The Ashkenaz accented Hebrew words were confusing.

The lesson mentioned "angels." Each angel has one specific assignment, which we see in they story of when three angels visited Abraham.
  1. one came to tell Sarah that she would have son
  2. another came to heal Abraham after his circumcision
  3. and another came to "turn over stones"

"Turn over stones"? What does that mean? I'd never heard of that.

I had a vague memory of a Rashi, sort of on that topic and took out my old linear Hebrew-English Chumash with Rashi, first five books of the bible, Bereishit, Genesis.

Bereishis (Book 1: Genesis) Vayera

Chapter 18 - Rashi

Verse 2: And behold three men.14
One to foretell to Sarah,15 and one to overturn Sedom,16 and one to heal Avraham, because one angel cannot accomplish two missions.17

Well, it seems like "stones" was really Sodom, but what's this "overturn" (in my Internet Bible) or "turn over" from the Bible on the shelf? The Hebrew did say "lahafoach," which means turn over or overturn or reverse, or maybe my everyday Hebrew isn't enough. So I looked for a good Hebrew-English dictionary and found the Jastrow on a different shelf. According to Jastrow, the English definition is "to destroy."

No "stone" was left "unturned" as we searched for a solution.

PS The men may not like this, but that taped shiur was about a rabbi compared to an angel, how he took on one important project and concentrated on it. In contrast when it mentioned his wife, it pointed out how she took over a multitude of roles in order to free him to do his "angelic" work. We women can multi-task. That's why we thank G-d, in the Morning Blessings, for making us "kirtzono," according to His Will.


Soccer Dad said...

This is a great post!

Batya said...

sd, thank you!
Shabbat Shalom