Hebrew In Israel | A Note On Two Words Of The Seventh Month – Learn Torah

afflict your soul, feast of trumpets, leviticus 23, yom kippur fasting, yom teruah

Hebrew In Israel | A Note On Two Words Of The Seventh Month – Learn Torah

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Yom Teru’ah

One of the interesting discussions which exists is what does זִכְרוֹן תְּרוּעָה-Zikhron Teru’ah mean (Vayiqra/Leviticus 23:24).  Many identify this as being a memorial of some sort.  Rabbinic Judaism interprets that when the day falls on Shabbat we only commemorate the sounding of the Shofar, but not actually sound it.  This is in opposition to the term יום תרועה “Yom Teru’ah” (Bamidbar/Numbers 29:1), which is understood as a day where we actually use the Shofar. 

The Akkadian definition clearly states that the root ZKR is about sounding a voice.  This meaning can also be found in the Hebrew such as the case of Exodus 3:15 where the זכרי is a parallel of the word שמי. A more minor use of the root is Memory/Memorial, but the combination with the word Teru’ah clearly indicates that the function of the root is of actual sounding.

Some may use this as a rebuttal against using an instrument during Yom Teru’ah, but we also need to take into consideration that cheering during a feast was conducted with both instrument and voice.  I say cheering due to the fact that the book of Nehemiah 8:9-12 openly rejects the notion that the day is sad, or a day for repentance and crying.


To add to the above, I find it interesting that one of the functions of the root is “to name a king”.  This reminds me of the common practice in Judaism where YHWH is proclaimed as king during prayers.  This idea has also been an understanding for many years in academia that Yom Teru’ah is also the enthronement of YHWH (Gunkel.H, Mowinckel.S).  If this is the case, wouldn’t it be logical that we are to cheer before God in voice and instrument as He is proclaimed as king over the earth?

Pages are from “The Assyrian Dictionary”, Oriental Institute Chicago, Vol Z, pp.16-22


Yom Hakippurim

Sometimes looking at other languages we might find some help in explaining things in Biblical Hebrew.  One of the common discussions around this time is what does “afflicting the soul” mean?  We commonly use the word “soul” for נפש (Nephesh), but as I have argued many times, most words in Hebrew have a much more physical meaning.  The word נפש can be found with the meaning of person, life, and breath.  We can also find these meanings in Akkadian.

Another side to this is that translating the word as “soul” when the word ענה (‘ana) is as the verb to the noun is incorrect.  In Biblical Hebrew ענה is a physical situation, hence the affliction is physical.  Taking into consideration these points, it is clear that the affliction relates to the body and not the mind.  The most common affliction known is fasting and some mourning practices such as being barefoot and not bathing.  Because the word נפש relates to breathing and the throat, it is much easier to argue that the act of affliction is fasting.

Yom Hakippurim is not described in the Torah as a mourning day, but as a Moe’d (appointed time) as part of the Holy Days of YHWH.  The days of YHWH are not days of sorrow, but of joy.  Having a day when YHWH forgives our sins and cleanses us is a reason to be happy.  Repenting can happen any time of the year, but Yom Hakippurim is the day of cleansing, and should be seen as a happy day where we get closer to YHWH.

Images from the CAD dictionary, Vol N 1, pp. 288-289, 298

One comments


September 30, 2022 at 8:14 am

Good perspective on the day of Yom Kippur.

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