“If we have data, letโ€™s look at data. If all we have are opinions, letโ€™s go with mine.”
Jim Barksdale

Understanding in Hebrew


For Dan and “The Understanding Group” ๐Ÿ™‚

What follows is a flow of thoughts about “understanding” in the Hebrew language … my knowledge of language (both Hebrew and English) is more intuitive than formal … so some of this stuff may not be “exactly true”!

Hebrew is built upon root words which typically have three letters. For example the root for the variants of “understanding” is:

ื‘ ื™ ื 

The root then takes on different shapes and forms:

  • Understand (as in “I/you understand” masculine): ืžื‘ื™ืŸ (mevin)
  • Understand (as in “I/you understand” feminine): ืžื‘ื™ื ื” (mevina)
  • Understanding (as in “an understanding”): ื”ื‘ื ื” (havana)
  • Wisdom: ืชื‘ื•ื ื” (tvuna)
  • Insight: ืชื•ื‘ื ื” (tovana)
  • Intelligence: ื‘ื™ื ื” (bina)
  • In a positive (understanding) spirit: ื‘ื”ื‘ื ื” (behavana = in understanding)
  • Intuition: ื‘ื™ื ืช ื”ืœื‘ (binat halev = an understanding of/in the heart)
  • Introspection: ื”ืชื‘ื•ื ื ื•ืช (hitbonenut)

The hebrew alphabet assigns numerical values to letters. This means that a word can be given a numerical value by adding up the value of its letters:

  • ื‘ = 2
  • 10 = ื™
  • ื  = 50

A total value of 62. Sometimes, by changing the order of the letters of the root word you arrive at new roots new roots (which lead to new words). For example:

ื‘ ื  ื™

Is the root that morphs into words related to “building” (as in construction) … and it has the same numerical value … a shared root value!

So, another re-arrangement of the same three letters gives:

ื  ื™ ื‘

… which means “to bring forth” or “yield” … and has the same numerical root value … and suggests that there is something shared at the root of words such as: understand, build, yield.

I find it curious that in English the word “understanding” in the context of “the understanding group” seems (to me) to occupy some construct (maybe if I had a more academic grasp of language I could name it) … it seems to imply some kind of continuous state of reality … a kind of “state of understanding” … the essence of this is outside the set of other meanings – eg:

  • A group that has an insight
  • A group that creates meaning
  • A group that is open and compassionate

All of these I can translate to Hebrew. I cannot translate “The Understanding Group” … there is something evasive about it … as if the Hebrew language is whispering to me that “there is no such thing as a state of understanding”.

On a similar note (and this may be just conjecture on my part), a literal reading of the root of understanding:

ื‘ ื™ ื 

… directly read and means “between.” I read that as “that which is between” … Hebrew seems to be implying that understanding is a dynamic relationship.

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