[Avodah] What does "teruah" mean?

Micha Berger micha at aishdas.org
Mon Sep 9 09:07:09 PDT 2019

On Mon, Sep 09, 2019 at 08:57:01AM -0400, Sholom Simon wrote:
> What does "teruah" mean?  Most definitions I've seen are along the lines of
> something like "shout with joy"...
> It seems somewhat related in Tehillim 27 (zivchei teruah)...
> Both of those seem to have positive connotations.
> But it's not apparent to me how this definition squares with "Yom Teruah"
> (ok, maybe), but harder is the shofar sound of teruah, which is supposed to
> be a sigh (or cry?).

The gemara disputes which aspect of Sisera's mother's crying for her
son a teru'ah reenacts. Whether it should be genuchei gana (a shevarim
in modern parlance), or yelulei yalal (what we call a teru'ah) -- or
both. A machloqes between whether teru'ah refers to a moan or a whimper.
And the targum for "Yom Teru'ah" is "Yom Yevavah". Not happy stuff.

According to RSRH, ra means evil because of its derivation from the
shoresh /reish-ayin-ayin/ to shatter. /reish-vav-ayin/ is a different
shoresh, but RSRH would consider them related. R' Matisyahu Clark,
in his dictionary systematizing RSRH's methodology, talks about the
general relationship between vav-hapo'al roots and pei-ayin-ayin ones.

So I think the fact that the sound is broken is the primary etymology
of the word. A short, stocatto, sound.

And "haleluhu betziltzelei seru'ah" -- most say this is describing the
crash of symbols. Metzudas Tzion says chatzotzros, which doesn't disprove
our point, but does defuse this example as an indicator.

And from there, broken sound that expresses emotion.

After all, Middle Eastern women ulelate at the joy of a family simchah,
or in morning (as in the gemara's "yelulei yalal" of Eim Sisera).

But that part, about the extreme emotion being the cause of the sound
rather than what kind of emotion, was said by others.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger                 Between stimulus & response, there is a space.
http://www.aishdas.org/asp   In that space is our power to choose our
Author: Widen Your Tent      response. In our response lies our growth
- https://amzn.to/2JRxnDF    and our freedom. - Victor Frankl, (MSfM)

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