Monday, March 20, 2006


Today's post is about charedim חרדים - the "ultra-orthodox" Jews. Aha, you think, he's got no more chametz words? Have some faith.

From what I've been able to see, the charedim took their name from the quote: "חרדים לדבר השם" - "tremble at the word of the God". Only thing is, I can't find a verse that exactly matches it. From Yishayahu 66 we have וְחָרֵד עַל-דְּבָרִי (verse 2) and שִׁמְעוּ, דְּבַר-השם, הַחֲרֵדִים, אֶל-דְּבָרוֹ (verse 5). I don't know when they first began using that term, but it does seem clear that the original singular was chared חרד, not charedi חרדי, and charedi חרדי was a later back formation of charedim חרדים.

What other group took their name from the same source? The Quakers. George Fox admonished his followers to "tremble at the word of the Lord". (Interestingly, the Online Etymology Dictionary states that "the word was used earlier of foreign sects given to fits of shaking during religious fervor". Perhaps the charedim were called such because of their shuckeling?)

Back in 1901, the Quaker Oats company was founded in America. It wasn't founded by Quakers, but rather they chose the name because of its association with honesty and integrity. They are one of the main manufactures of oatmeal, and when Israelis first saw oatmeal, they gave it the nickname based on a transliteration of the label on the box - kvaker.

You can now found 14,000 hits on Google for קווקר - but I wonder how many Israelis think of charedim when they eat their oatmeal...

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