[Avodah] kesher

via Avodah avodah at lists.aishdas.org
Tue Jul 7 17:01:24 PDT 2015

From: Eli Turkel via Avodah  <avodah at lists.aishdas.org>

The word kesher in Hebrew has several  meetings. Is there any deeper
connection between them besides the more  obvious which is a little

1) knot
2) connection
3)  conspiracy

Eli Turkel

The deeper connection is -- connection!  All the words formed from  this 
shoresh are words that have "connecting" as their basic meaning.
In Edward Horowitz's fascinating and entertaining book, "How the Hebrew  
Language Grew," he has a chapter on how sounds made in the same part of the  
mouth sometimes interchange to form words with similar or closely related  
meanings.  One example he gives is the word kesher, and the related word  
gesher -- a bridge, which connects two places, two sides of a river, two sides  
of a road and so on.
Keshes, a rainbow, is something like a bridge connecting two parts of the  
Another example of these interconnected words (this one I've also seen  in 
the Hirsch commentary on Chumash) is the word "tsachak" to laugh, to which a 
 number of other words are related in a phonetic way:
Change the ches to an ayin and you get "tsa'ak."  Both tsachak and  tsa'ak 
involve emitting loud sounds -- sounds of mirth or of alarm or  distress.  
(Ches and ayin are both formed in the back of the throat.)
Change the tsadi to a sin and instead of "tsachak" to laugh you get  
"sachak" to be happy, to rejoice.  (Tsadi and sin are both  sibilants.)
Going back to the word tsa'ak, if you now change the tsadi to a zayin you  
again get a closely related word, "za'ak."
And if you take the word "tsa'ir" (young) and change the tsadi to a zayin  
you get "za'ir" small.
Change the sin of saraf to a tsadi and instead of burning (saraf) you  get 
refining (tsaraf) gold or silver -- which is done through heat.  
Change the zayin of "zahav" to a tsadi and instead of gold you get  
"tzahov," the color yellow.
Horowitz points out that these kinds of phonetic relationships can  also be 
found in English, Latin and other languages, but nevertheless I find it  
especially fascinating to trace these connections in Lashon Hakodesh.

--Toby Katz
t613k at aol.com


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