Friday, May 18, 2007

chalitza and chultza

I'm still waiting for an solution for quiz #4, but lets take a look back at quiz #3. The word was חולצה - which can either be a shirt (top) - chultza, or "she was rescued" (like Jessica Lynch) - also chultza. That quiz (and this post) was actually meant for those who have recently started learning Masechet Yevamot, where another word from the same root is used often - חליצה chalitza - the removal of a shoe which came as the replacement for a levirate marriage.

So lets look at the various meanings and derivations of the root חלץ. We'll start with Klein. He points out that there are two separate roots. One means "to draw off, draw out, withdraw, rescue, deliver". From here we get chilutz חילוץ - "rescue", and chalitza (the "drawing off" of the shoe.) Stahl points out that the Arabic word halas (which has entered Hebrew slang as well) meaning "finish, enough!" comes from this sense as well. The Arabic cognate halas means "finish, complete, remove".

The second meaning of חלץ that Klein provides is "to gird, to strengthen, equip for war". He writes that a derivative of this root is chalutz חלוץ which originally meant "a troop equipped for war", and in Modern Hebrew means "a pioneer". (This led someone to once joke, "Why can't a kohen marry a kibbutznikit? Because she's a chalutza" - female pioneer / a woman who's performed chalitza and forbidden to a kohen.)

A third word is cheletz חלץ - "loin". From here Joseph Klausner coined the word חולצה chultza - "blouse, shirt", because "it is worn over the loins".

Klein does not appear to connect any of the above three roots. Not surprisingly, others do.

Stahl says that the soldier was known as a chalutz, because he would remove most of his clothing in order to run quickly. On the other hand, Kaddari says the soldier would hang his weapon by his loins. (Kaddari also quotes Stahl's view, and says that both were mentioned by medieval Jewish scholars.)

Jastrow places all the roots under one entry, but in an unusual way. He gives one meaning as "to surround, fortify; to gird, arm" and from here the meaning of "loins". The second meaning is the opposite of the first - "to untie, loosen, tear out; to strip, lay bare". He doesn't explain the development of the meanings - maybe this is an autoantonym like we've discussed before or maybe he's included two unrelated meanings under the same entry.

No comments: