In Israel you might hear a youngster protesting to his mother in Hebrew, Zeh Loh Fair. The first two words mean “This is not…” The third word means exactly what it says in English—fair. The juvenile is saying that his mother is unfair. You see, there is no word in Hebrew for the concept of fair. He had no choice other than using the English.
This is because “fair” is a false concept with no reality. What does fair actually mean? That everyone should have the same housing, talent, looks, and destiny? No two people even have identical opportunity. The word means nothing at all.
Generally, English words for which there are no Hebrew equivalents are unreal concepts detached from reality. Here are two of them:
Adolescent: Permission for an adult to behave like a child while claiming the benefits due an adult. There’s no word for adolescent in Hebrew. You are either a child or an adult.
Coincidence: Demeaning Divine messages and camouflaging cosmic connection. There’s no word for coincidence in Hebrew. Why ignore synchronicity and live bereft of the significance of subtle suggestion?
For millennia, Hebrew has had an unbroken history of effectively conveying both verbal and written information. Its power lies not only in what you can communicate in Hebrew but also in what you can’t.
The most surprising word for which no Hebrew equivalent exists is—Religion. Nowhere in the entire Tanach, the Hebrew Scriptures, does the word religion appear.
Where does the English word, “religion” come from? One theory is that it derives from the Latin “relegere” which means to do something repeatedly. Others guess that it comes from the Latin “religare” which means to tie up or bind.
Recalling the Hebrew origins of Latin reveals the three root letters for the word behind both those theories—R, L, and G.
Let’s now glance quickly at Metathesis, the key to understanding languages and their evolution. Metathesis means that as language changes, people occasionally rearrange root letters. For instance, an early Scriptural garment, Joseph’s coat is called in Hebrew C-T-N. From this, English describes the material for making clothing—CoTToN, and by metathesis, an early Roman garment made of cotton, a TuNiC.
Similarly, the Hebrew for young goat KDI (or GDI) leading, by metathesis, to English KID. Also, the Hebrew for WORD is DaVaR. In early German, through metathesis of the Hebrew source, that became VORD or later WORT. (The German V is pronounced F and the W is pronounced V) English soon adapted it to WORD. (T and D are both sibilants and often indistinguishable.)
We can see how the linguistic origin of religion is the Hebrew, ReGeL, which means both a leg and anything ReGuLar like the three annual Biblical pilgrimage festivals, known as ReGaLim. What is the connection? In order to move our lives forward and experience our “march of progress” we need to move our legs regularly, one after the other.
Through the Hebrew source, we see that both Latin theories are linked. By repeating an action it becomes a habit and we become habituated or bound to that action.
Why no word in Hebrew for religion? Because it is not a separate part of life like working, cooking, or reproduction. Religion is not just something we do on Saturday or Sunday as we might do bowling on Monday and Little League on Wednesday. No, our relationship with God is part of how we approach every moment of our lives. It cannot be limited to a single word. Totally integrating our lives with our Creator unleashes our own creativity.
One effective tool for helping to bring about that integration with God so that ‘religion’ is not an external adjunct to our life but an inseparable element of it is through Bible study. We recommend our 2 CD audio training program Tower of Power-Decoding the Secrets of Babel.
Furthermore, this resource illuminates how once-healthy societies disintegrate. Our reduced priced 2-CD audio program, Tower of Power: Decoding the Secrets of Babel, unlocks many mysteries and reveals insights lost in the English translation. Arm and protect yourself and your family with the laser-sharp tools obtained by understanding the secret messages of Genesis.
This week’s Susan’s Musings: Blame Humans, Not God
The magazine was dated Fall 1997, full of inspirational, informational and enjoyable articles for the Jewish woman. After recently finding it in a closet, I reread it this Shabbat, figuring that most of the presentations would still have value. I found a lesson I did not suspect.
Tucked amid the pages was an article… READ MORE
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