Saturday, December 3, 2011


I hope everything is BESEDER at your end wherever you are.
I thought that it might be interesting if I shared one of the things that I have been teaching during the past week, something out of the Scriptures. Recently, I started to explore in much more depth the process that the biblical Hebrew has undergone from the era in which it was written, until "modern" life. As I find the subject so fascinating, I was thinking that I might write a little on this subject with each blog that I post. Hopefully, I won’t bore you…☺
Each week in my lessons I like to include some of the Torah portion from the previous Shabbat. It is always easier to speak to students about things they may have already read rather than talking about something which is completely new to them. The students who haven’t read the Parasha do get a general background during the lesson.
Last Shabbat we read the portion called TOLDOT, my Bar Mitzva portion. (It was my birthday last Friday!). "Toldot" literally means 'biography' (same root in Hebrew as the word birth). In this portion we read about Esav selling his birth rights to Ya'akov and as a result, Ya'akov receives the blessing from Yitzchak (not getting into the argument about that one…). When Esav came back from the field and finds out about what has happened, he said to his ABA, Yitzchak:
"הלא אצלת לי ברכה?"
Did you not keep a blessing for me in you?
Esav is using the verb: ATSALTA, which does not exist in Modern Hebrew. In its place in Modern Hebrew we find the preposition: ETSEL ("אצל") which is used when something/one is found in someone's personal space.
"אני אצל משה"
"I am at Moshe's"
Interestingly enough, the same root is used in the verb used in Biblical language as the preposition used in modern language.
If any of you would like to comment on anything that I have written about, please feel free to do so:
Back to life….. This week in Ulpan has definitely been a week of "Goodbyes". Tamara, our right hand, has gone back to Europe for 6 weeks and Ruth, one of our long-term students who has been in Israel for the past 3 months, has also left for a couple of months. The big project that we are currently running in Northern Israel for students from Australia finishes this week and has been a great success; meaning Saray (TLV teacher) will be back in Ulpan full time as from next week. I couldn’t be happier but as she is my sister, I certainly won’t be telling her that!!! Also, this week two very nice students finished their courses here in TLV. How much can one teacher take? The comfort in all this I guess is that endings usually point to new beginnings…..
As for Ori Avraham (the NB), he is not a great fan of sleep and decided that he would not let us sleep much for the past month. It is a good job that he is just so cute, otherwise…….. ☺
Shavua Tov to you all!
Gil Pentzak
Ulpan Aviv- Director

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