Idioms

Hebrew In Israel | Place a Heart- Ancient Idiom – Learn Torah

Yoel Halevi No Comments
An ancient idiomatic expression found also in Hebrew is
לשים לב
Lasim Lev
“To place the heart”
ל-Preposition meaning “to”
שׁים- Place
לב-Heart
The meaning of this expression is to pay attention or to care about something.  The heart in the ancient world was where thought was, hence attention and mind were in the heart.

Examples:

יָשִׂימוּ אֵלֵינוּ לֵבוַיֹּאמֶר הָעָם לֹא תֵצֵא, כִּי אִם-נֹס נָנוּס לֹא- וְאִם-יָמֻתוּ חֶצְיֵנוּ לֹא-יָשִׂימוּ אֵלֵינוּ לֵב–כִּי-עַתָּה כָמֹנוּ, עֲשָׂרָה אֲלָפִים; וְעַתָּה טוֹב, כִּי-תִהְיֶה-לָּנוּ מֵעִיר לעזיר לַעְזוֹר
But the people replied, “Don’t go out; because if we flee, they won’t care about us. Even if half of us die, they won’t care about us. But you are worth ten thousand of us; so it is better now that you stay in the city and be ready if we need help.”  2Samuel 18:2
וַיְדַבֵּר אֵלַי הָאִישׁ, בֶּן-אָדָם רְאֵה בְעֵינֶיךָ וּבְאָזְנֶיךָ שְּׁמָע וְשִׂים לִבְּךָ לְכֹל אֲשֶׁר-אֲנִי מַרְאֶה אוֹתָךְ–כִּי לְמַעַן הַרְאוֹתְכָה, הֻבָאתָה הֵנָּה; הַגֵּד אֶת-כָּל-אֲשֶׁר-אַתָּה רֹאֶה, לְבֵית יִשְׂרָאֵל
The man said to me, “Human being, look with your eyes, hear with your ears, and pay attention to all the things I am showing you; because the reason you were brought here is so that I could show them to you. Tell everything you see to the house of Isra’el. Ezekiel 40:4
Some trace the idiom to Egypt and the “weighing of the heart” trial of the afterlife where a person who died would have their heart weighed to see if they were good.  The heart was placed on a scale against the feather of truth which was carried by Maat.  The placing of the heart was paying attention to the persons deeds, hence the idea of paying attention.
Originally Published:  17 February 2016
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