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Jan 23, 2022
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Words borrowed from Hebrew

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AWADmail Issue 1021

A Compendium of Feedback on the Words in A.Word.A.Day and Other Tidbits about Words and Language

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From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: Interesting stories from the Net

How the English Language Conquered the World
The New York Times

Aranese: Spain’s Little-Known Language

From: Elizabeth Block (elizabethblock netzero.net)
Subject: Mitzvah

In Yiddish it is softened to a good deed. Visiting your pain-in-the-neck grandma is a mitzvah. Shovelling your neighbour’s driveway is a mitzvah. Let’s all do a mitzvah a day.

Elizabeth Block, Toronto, Canada

From: Fred Glienna (fglienna aol.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--cherub

The ordering and ranking of angels brings to mind the elegant, if non-grammatical, observation of the great Red Sox outfielder Ted Williams: “If you don’t think too good, don’t think too much.”

Fred Glienna, Pasadena, California

From: Devin McLachlan (revmcdev gmail.com)
Subject: cherubim and putti

The baby-like image cherubim are due to a Renaissance design conflation with putti (singular putto, Latin for “little man”), the Greco-Roman figures depicted in association with Cupid. Biblical cherubs are not depicted as baby-like -- the only time they are described in any detail is in Ezekiel, where they are given a symbolic description (with little indication that it is meant to be literal -- despite the modern tendency to read the poetry of religious writings as if they were meant to be literalist cookbooks of divinity), as being roughly human shaped, with four faces: that of a human, a lion (on the right side), and ox (on the left side), and an eagle.

Devin McLachlan, Chicago, Illinois

From: Bob Richmond (rsrichmond gmail.com)
Subject: cherub

The poet Ogden Nash (1902-71) had his order of angels upside down when he wrote (in 1933):

Kindly Unhitch That Star, Buddy

I hardly suppose I know anybody who wouldn’t rather be a success than a failure,
Just as I suppose every piece of crabgrass in the garden would much rather be an azalea,
And in celestial circles all the run-of-the-mill angels would
rather be archangels or at least cherubim and seraphim,
And in the legal world all the little process-servers hope to
grow up into great big bailiffim and sheriffim.
Indeed, everybody wants to be a wow,
But not everybody knows exactly how.

Bob Richmond, Maryville, Tennessee

From: Mark I. Wallach (mwallach walterhav.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--cherub

Cherub is also the term traditionally used to describe participants on the Northwestern University Summer Institutes -- which include debate, journalism, drama, etc. I was a cherub in the summer of 1966.

Mark I. Wallach, Cleveland, Ohio

From: Lorraine Newman Mackler (lnmackler gmail.com)
Subject: Angel hierarchy

Perhaps the angel hierarchy you describe is established in Christianity, but Judaism has different hierarchies, posited by different thinkers. In some, seraphim are below cherubim. This is something to ponder when important matters are all fully resolved!

Lorraine Newman Mackler, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

From: Linda Salvay (linda.salvay gmail.com)
Subject: Cherub

The Hebrew word for cherub, כְּרוּב (k’ruv, k’rub), also means cabbage. Perhaps these baby-faced angels were actually the first Cabbage Patch Kids. Just a thought.

Linda Salvay, Lafayette, Colorado

From: Don Fearn (pooder charter.net)
Subject: The god of triangles

If triangles had a God, he would have three sides. -Charles de Montesquieu, philosopher and writer (18 Jan 1689-1755)

If triangles had a three-sided god would their cherubim be an order of angles?

Don Fearn, Rochester, Minnesota

From: G. Taylor (Krapserves aol.com)
Subject: Wordsmith and theology

The man might have added that the said triangles would kill each other in disputes about whether he was equilateral or isosceles.

G. Taylor, Lasswade, Scotland

From: Aidan Tolhurst (atolhurst honywoodschool.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--tzedakah

There is an Arabic word, transliterated as sadaqah, which also means charitable giving. It is an adjunct to one of the Five Pillars of Islam.

Aidan Tolhurst, Coggeshall, UK

From: Lucy Kashangaki (lkashangaki gmail.com)
Subject: Tzedakah

Sadaka in Swahili, via Arabic. It’s used very commonly for money offered in the collection during church services.

Lucy Kashangaki, Princeton, New Jersey

From: Diane Sunar (diane.sunar bilgi.edu.tr)
Subject: tzedakah or zedakah

In Turkish (presumably taken from Arabic), sadaka means “alms, charity, benevolence”, etc., while sadakat means fidelity, loyalty, trustworthiness.

Diane Sunar, Istanbul, Turkey

From: Chana Neumann (chana mindspring.com)
Subject: Tzedakah

I’m very much enjoying this week’s words. You could actually fill volumes just from today’s word alone.

The word tzedakah comes from the root tz-d-k, which means justice. One explanation to connect these two words is as follows: the fact that some are poor and some are wealthy is an inherent injustice of our world. When we give tzedakah we are righting a wrong, we are moving the world toward a place of greater justice for everyone.

Chana Neumann, New York, New York

From: Andrew Pressburger (andpress sympatico.ca)
Subject: tzedakah

According to the 12th-century Jewish scholar Maimonides, the highest form of charity is when neither the donor nor the recipient is aware of the other’s identity.

Andrew Pressburger, Toronto, Canada

Email of the Week --Brought to you buy The Official Old’s Cool Education -- “How do you get down from an elephant?”

From: Joan Perrin (perrinjoan aol.com)
Subject: Tzedakah

As a Hebrew School teacher, I always instruct my students about tzedakah, charitable giving as a vital part of each Jewish holiday. It is also one of the 613 commandments (mitzvoth) in the Torah. Sometimes we do a craft project to make tzedakah boxes for the students to save their coins for donation to a worthy cause. I came across one such project that made me laugh. It was to decorate using pictures of a popular ‘60s singer-songwriter to make a Neil Sedaka box.

Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York

From: Marilyn Brown (marilyn9421 att.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--sabbath

Typically, a Fri is considered a day of Sabbath by Muslims, Sat by Jews (and some Christians), and Sun by Christians. Why not convert to Islam, Judaism, and Christianity and take a three-day weekend off?

I am a Christian by family heritage, but as the years have marched on, an amalgamation of the three (plus Buddhism, though I don’t think they keep a Sabbath). I never thought of putting the three days together, but am going to start today. Thanks for a great idea! Now I need to learn more about Hinduism.

Marilyn Brown, Pacific Grove, California

From: Charles Peek (cpeek.cp gmail.com)
Subject: Sabbath

When I was in Israel in 1986, our little group found a number of small shops in the old town with three people on the staff, a Jew, a Muslim, and a Christian, precisely because everybody could take the sabbath off and there would still be two others on site.

Sadly, I’m told that extreme politics in the region have made citizens less amenable to such a sane arrangement.

Charles Peek, Kearney, Nebraska

From: Jonathan Danilowitz (jonathan.danilowitz gmail.com)
Subject: shabbath

The three-letter Hebrew root is sh-b-t. The same root is also used for sitting, striking (work stoppage), seventh (as in “He rested on the 7th day”), Sabbath, out-of-service (i.e., not working), and more.

Jonathan Danilowitz, Shoresh, Israel

From: Ronald Ivey (ronaldjivey gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--sabbath

And in Spanish sábado, the root came down to mean Saturday.

Ron Ivey, Washington, DC

From: Andrew Pressburger (andpress sympatico.ca)
Subject: sabbath

Several operas and other musical works feature witches’ sabbaths, notably the Symphonie fantastique by Hector Berlioz, Mefistofele by Arrigo Boito, and Lohengrin by Richard Wagner.

In another connection, the word sabbatical, originally used for taking a day off to celebrate a holiday, nowadays means a furlough of diverse length, or simply a vacation. Sometimes it’s even used as a substitute for retirement, in a humorous context.

Andrew Pressburger, Toronto, Canada

From: Robert Burns (robertburns oblaw.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--tzedakah

A word in English you cannot this make! I grew up immersed with Jewish Americans and cannot recall ever hearing it. It’s just Yiddish or whatever and likely uncommon at that. You have an ethical duty to separate linguistic meteors here and novel crass and vulgarisms there from rightful elements of English.

Robert Burns, Ocean Beach, California

Bottoms Up
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: cherub and shekel

I have to admit that my cherubic scenario is a tad cheeky. Titian, Tiepolo, Raphael, and Michelangelo often depicted putti (Italian for cherubs) in their dramatic, celestial-bound liturgically-themed paintings, seeming to relish in their beatific youth. Of course, the mythic Cupid is one of the most revered and frequently painted (and sculpted) cherubs, linked to the kindling of romantic love.

Gelty as Charged
Shekel, schtickle, and shtetl... three similarly sounding Hebrew/Yiddish words. Shekel, the current coin of the State of Israel; schtickle meaning a pinch or small amount; shtetl, a small Jewish town or village in bygone eastern Europe. My pondering the word shekel brought to mind the the fictive shtetl, Anatevka, the village of the humble milkman, Reb Tevye, from Fiddler on the Roof and its signature song, “If I Were a Rich Man”, sung with gusto by Reb Tevye. He dreamed of lifting himself and his large family out of poverty and a life of drudgery. More than a mere few shekels would help for starters. Alas, it couldn’t hoit!

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California


This week’s theme:
Words borrowed from Hebrew
1. Mitzvah
2. Cherub
3. Tzedakah
4. Shekel
5. Sabbath
= 1. His/her vow
2. The fat towheaded babe
3. Bestow
4. Cash (embezzler, huh?)
5. Mr, Mrs, & the kids’ work break
     Hello! This week’s scouted out theme is words borrowed from Hebrew
1. Mitzvah
2. Cherub
3. Tzedakah
4. Shekel
5. Sabbath
= 1. Kid to adult
2. Sweet-faced berk razzled
3. HH bestows home, herb-bush
4. Wealth maker vs. hobo
5. Rouse her; it’s chowtime
     Theme is: Borrowed words
1. Mitzvah
2. Cherub
3. Tzedakah
4. Shekel
5. Sabbath
= OK words work
1. Aid
2. The babe
3. Alms
4. The cash, bribe them
5. Duh have rest, zz
-Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com) -Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com) -Julian Lofts, Auckland, New Zealand (jalofts xtra.co.nz)

Make your own anagrams and animations.


Mitt Romney once did a good deed,
Bringing health care to people in need.
But one of my mitzvahs
Was better than Mitt’s was.
I voted for Biden. Agreed?
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

“I know you’ve been baking all night,”
says he, “but I’ve no appetite.
Yet, if you insist, ma,
I will, as a mitzvah,
take ever so tiny a bite.”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

At Benny’s Bar Mitzvah today,
He showed that he knows how to pray.
His voice cracked a bit
‘Cause puberty’s hit,
And that’s when he muttered, “Oy vey!”
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

You needn’t be Jewish, you know
A mitzvah’s a mitzvah, and so
God won’t ask your religion;
If you do a smidgeon
Of good, you’ll still rate a “Bravo!”
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

“Señor Arnold’s phrase ‘Hasta la vista
Ees the same theeng I told to Batista,”
Said Fidel. “I was manna
From heaven; Havana
Was schmoozing, ‘He deed such a meetzvah!’”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

The cherub, a biblical guard,
In Renaissance art also starred.
A scarier aura
He had in the Torah,
He’s now on a Valentine’s card!
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Teachers weren’t sure whether to chastise
this mild boy, a Tom Thumb in size.
But here lay the rub:
Backstage the sweet cherub
would quietly all ruckus organize.
-Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com)

He looked up at her full of surprise.
“Did you suspect me?” asked his eyes.
“Could sweet cherub like me,
Do such skullduggery?”
But, the pup was an imp in disguise.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

Said Mama one day to her bear cub,
“In your bed there’s some curly blonde cherub.
And she ate all our food,
Broke your chair -- not too shrewd.”
So they woke her with, “Out of our lair, schlub!”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Scrooge works on his taxes, “Let’s see,
I need more deductions!” says he.
“One time, in Oaxaca,
I gave, as tzedakah,
three pesos to some charity.”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

Tzedakah is so easy for her.
A trait that she will always prefer.
Since she has it to give,
It’s how she wants to live,
Always happy to help another.
-Lois Mowat, Orinda, California (lmowat1810 gmail.com)

I’m giving tzedakah, it’s true;
I know it’s the right thing to do.
I always feel pleased
When lives I have eased;
They say it’s deductible, too.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

If you’re Jewish, that blue and white box
You saw even more than, say, lox!
Tzedakah’s our sole
Obligational role --
Non-observant or frum (Orthodox).
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

Said Han Solo one day to Chewbacca,
“Let’s give the storm troopers tzedakah.
That scene was a ‘blast’,
So I’ll take the whole cast
To a Greek place I know for moussaka.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Mister Hyde, he was happy to heckle
Poor Jekyll who had a small schmeckel.
That explains very well
How from grace Jekyll fell.
Read the book. It costs only one shekel.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

“One owner, low mileage, you see.
This car is a bargain!” says he.
Says she, “That old wreck’ll
cost many a shekel
to fix. And there’s no guarantee!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

Her ambition in life? To be svelte!
And to travel from mountain to veldt!
But first was a must:
Find a rich guy or bust!
Forget shekels, she needed real gelt!
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

Said an old Jewish woman named Sadie,
Who always sat where it was shady,
“If I had a shekel,
For my every freckle,
Oy vey, I would be a rich lady.”
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“I’m lonely and haven’t a shekel,”
In his lab one night mused Dr. Jekyll.
“But amusement as Hyde
I shall not be denied;
At a club some poor comic I’ll heckle.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

It followed the act of creation,
When God took a one-day vacation!
The Sabbath’s unique,
That one day each week
We rest in divine emulation.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Said Oog’s wife, “Why you lie around cave?
Is not how my man should behave.”
“Today is the Sabbath;
Me no go hunt mammoth,”
He answered. She said, “At least shave.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


Behind her back, the students called the buxom young teacher Mitzvah-va voom!
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“I shall help you dress for the Senate hearing on how to help the poor by cutting taxes on the rich,” said Mitzvah-let.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“For a nice polish to your wooden cherub on some linseed oil,” said the household tips guide.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“I give generously to charities for people who find breaking up hard to do,” said Neil Tzedakah.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“Boy, you’re a real shekel and Hyde,” said the unruly drunk when the bartender shouted at him to leave.
-Janice Power, Cleveland, Ohio (powerjanice782 gmail.com)

“If we keep this up, sooner or later Chiang Kai-shekel flee to Taiwan,” said Mao.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Said the musically inclined toddler, “My favorite composer is Johann Sabbath-tian Bach.”
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

He take-sabbath every single day!
-Lois Mowat, Orinda, California (lmowat1810 gmail.com)

“I don’t see why I should have to pitch on Sundays,” said CC Sabbath-ia.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: Colossus Erodes and Diplomatic Stalemate

Colossus Erodes
Trump has become the de facto leader of the Republican Party, hellbent on running again in 2024. He and his legions of sycophants and enablers, riding on the crest of his Big Lie, are systematically trying to undermine the pillars of democracy, encouraging voter suppression, and turning a blind eye to the rise of extremist right-wing hate and paramilitary groups. My caption is a play on another “colossus”, as the poet Emma Lazarus so eloquently put it: “the brazen giant of Greek fame with conquering limbs astride from land to land,” the Colossus of Rhodes.

Diplomatic Stalemate
Tensions continue to brew on the eastern flank of the Ukraine where over 100,000 Russian troops and artillery have amassed, despite recent overtures by the US and NATO to try to de-escalate the threat. Here, America’s leading diplomat, Secretary of State Tony Blinken, and Vladimir Putin square off as chessmen, reacting to the most subtle tells. Putin is clearly playing the brinkmanship card.
Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

One can acquire everything in solitude -- except character. -Stendhal (Marie-Henri Beyle), novelist (23 Jan 1783-1842)

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