Monday, September 03, 2007


What holiday tradition could be more fun for fans of Balashon than that of the puns we recite about food on the first night of Rosh HaShana? What a great way to start the New Year! Over the next few days before the holiday, I'll try to write a bit about these "simanim".

We already discussed tapuach - apple (plus it's not really a pun), so let's go to the next word: כרתי karti - "leek". Klein writes that it is "a secondary form of כרשה". Kreisha is the proper Hebrew word for leek today, although we do also see the word luf, as we saw here. However, in the Mishna (Shviit 7:1), we find both wild luf and kreisha - so they were then known to be different species.

Karti is also used as a color - "leek green", which is used to describe the sky (Berachot 1:2) and an etrog (Sukka 3:6). This identification was used by the Greeks as well - they called the Indian Ocean the "Leek-Green Sea".

The biblical word for leek was chatzir חציר - see Bamidbar 11:5. However, chatzir in the Tanach primarily means "hay, grass", and that is its meaning today, so don't ask for chatzir in the supermarket if you're looking for leeks.

On the other hand, don't make the same mistake I did many years ago, and say karish כריש - instead of kreisha. Most supermarkets in Israel probably don't carry shark. It's not kosher (and not related to kreisha etymologically either)...

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