User:Shlomif/Hebraic Proverbs

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This page is for Hebrew proverbs, in alphabetical order, with English translations. כאן יש מספר פתגמים עבריים, על-פי סדר האלף-בית, כולל תרגומים לאנגלית.

See also the "discussion" page for the errata and todo list.

א[edit]

  • אבן נגולה מעל לבי
    • Even nagolah me'al libbi
    • Translation: a stone was removed off my heart.
    • Meaning: I was relieved from a mental burden.
  • אדם לאדם זאב
  • אותה גברת בשינוי אדרת
    • Otah Gevereth Beshinuy Adereth
    • Translation: the same madame with another coat.
    • Meaning: the same thing with a small difference.
  • אחרי מות, קדושים אמור
    • Achrey mot, q'doshim emor
    • Translation: After death, say holy.
    • Meaning: Say only good things about people after they die.
    • Origin: The Hebrew names of the Leviticus "portions" 16-18,19-20,21-24 are "After death", "Holy" and "Say" respectively, so the table of contents spells the Hebrew phrase (which is grammatical in Hebrew).
    • References: for Hebrew names of the portions, see [1] [2] [3]
  • איך נפלו גיבורים
    • Ekh Naflu Giborim
    • Translation: how the mighty have fallen.
    • Meaning: how the competent (or otherwise those that were heavily anticipated to succeed) have failed.
    • Origin: the Bible - 2 Samuel 1 19
  • אין ארוחת חינם
    • Eyn Aruhath Hinam
    • Translation: there isn't a free meal.
    • Meaning: someone has to pay for a man to support himself.
    • English Equivalent: there ain't no such thing as a free lunch.
  • אין הנחתום מעיד על עיסתו
    • Eyn Hanah'tom Meid Al Eesato
    • Translation: The baker shouldn't comment on his dough.
    • Meaning: A person who makes something should not speak its praises.
    • English equivalent: He that tooteth his own horn, the same shall not be tooted. Hezekiah 4:44 (not a real Scripture, only an inference that this saying is true and ancient/respectable)
    • English equivalent: Don't blow your own horn.
  • אין חיה כזאת
    • Eyn Hayah Kazoth
    • Translation: there's no such animal.
    • Meaning: it [= the topic of the conversation] does not exist or is impossible.
  • אין משיחין בשעת הסעודה פן יקדים קנה לושט
    • En mesihin bisha'ath hase'oda pen yaqdim qaneh levesheth
    • Meaning: don't talk during the meal lest the trachea will precede the esophagus
  • אין עשן בלי אש
    • Eyn Ashan Bli Esh
    • Translation: There is no smoke without fire.
    • Meaning: a side-effect has a cause.
    • English equivalent: "No smoke without fire", or "Where there's smoke, there's fire".
  • אליה וקוץ בה
    • Aliyah Veqotz Bah
    • Translation: a fat tail (of the sheep) with a thorn in it.
    • Meaning: a mixed blessing.
    • English equivalent: there's a fly in the ointment.
  • אל יתהלל חוגר כמפתח
    • Al yithalel hoger kimfate'ah
    • Translation: he who buckles [his armor] should not boast as the one who opens it.
    • Meaning: he who goes into battle should not boast as much as the one who has won it.
    • Origin: The Bible - Kings 20, 11
  • אל תסתכל בקנקן, אלא במה שבתוכו
    • Al tistakel baqanqan, ela bemah shebetokho
    • Translation: Don't look at the jar, but at what's inside it.
    • Meaning: don't be fooled by external appearances - find the real value.
    • English equivalent: Don't judge a book by its cover.
  • אל תקנה חתול בשק
    • Al Tiqneh Hatul Basaq
    • Translation: Don't buy a cat in the sack.
    • Meaning: Don't buy an uncertain good.
    • English equivalent: Don't buy a pig in a poke.
  • אל תתן לחתול לשמור על השמנת
    • Al Titen La'hatol Lishmor Al Hashameneth
    • Translation: Don't let the cat guard the cream
    • Meaning: Don't give something to someone who is likely to take it for himself.
    • English equivalent: Don't let the fox guard the hen-house.
  • אם אין אני לי, מי לי; וכשאני לעצמי, מה אני; ואם לא עכשיו, אימתי.(פרקי אבות, פרק א, משנה יד)
    • "Im ein ani li, mi li; uchshe'ani le'atzmi, ma ani; ve'im lo achshav, eymatay?" -- Ethics of the Fathers, Chapter 1, Episode 14
    • Translation: "If I am not for myself, who is for me? And when I am [only] for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?"
    • See also the Chabad page about this sentence
  • אם בארזים נפלה שלהבת, מה יגידו אזובי הקיר?
    • "Im Ba'arazim Naflah Shalheveth, Mah Yagidu Ezovey Haqir?"
    • Translation: "If a flame has caught the firs, what will the moss on the wall say?"
    • Meaning: if the leadership has become corrupt, what can one expect of lesser folks?
    • Origin: from the Biblical Talmud.
    • See also this page about the phrase from safa-ivrit.org.
  • אם ההר לא יבוא אל מוחמד, מוחמד ילך אל ההר.
    • "Im ha'har lo yavo el Muhammad, Muhammad yelekh el hahar.
    • Translation: "If the mountain won't come to Muhammad, Muhammad will go to the mountain."
    • Meaning: if reality does not adapt itself to one's personal whims, one must adapt himself to reality.
  • אמר את המילה האחרונה
    • Amar eth hamilah ha'ahrona
    • Translation: (he) said the last word
    • Meaning: He had the last laugh, his was the final word

ב[edit]

  • בדקה התשעים (בדקה ה-90)
    • Badaqah Hatish'im
    • Translation: in the 90th minute.
    • Meaning: in the last moment; in the nick of time.
    • Origin: from Soccer games which last 90 minutes, and there can be a goal in the 90th minute.
  • בור ששתית ממנו מים אל תזרוק בו אבן
    • Bor she'shatitah mimenu mayim al tizrok bo even.
    • Translation: don't throw a stone into a well you drank from.
    • Meaning: a person must show his gratitude to all, even to an animal or an object.
  • בין הפטיש לסדן
    • Beyn hapatish lasadan
    • Translation: between the hammer and the anvil
    • Meaning: between two evils
    • English Equivalent: Between a rock and a hard place
  • בכל רמ"ח איבריו
    • Bekhol Ramah Eivarav
    • Translation: in all 248 of his bones.
    • Meaning: (said of a person) fully, completely.
    • Origin: from the Halakha, after the 248 "Do commands" in the Bible, which Hazal believed to be the number of bones in the human body.
  • במה הועילו חכמים בתקנתם?
    • Bameh ho'ilu hakhamim bethaqanatham?
    • Translation: how did the wise men help with their ruling?
  • ברומא התנהג כרומאי
    • Be'Roma hitnaheg ke'Roma'i
    • Translation: in Rome act like a Roman
    • Meaning: one has to adapt oneself to his environment
  • ברחל בתך הקטנה
    • Be'Rahel bitkha haqtanah
    • Translation: by Rachel your younger daughter
    • Meaning: spell out every detail
    • Origin: from the Bible (Genesis 29, 18).
  • בשר תותחים
    • Besar totahim
    • Translation: cannon fodder
    • Meaning: a live wall.

ג[edit]

  • גדול המצווה ועושה - משאינו מצווה ועושה
    • Gadol Ha'Metsoo've ve'oh'se mi'mee she'ay'no me'tsoo've ve'oh'se
    • Transtaltion: Greater is he who is obligated to do it, than he who volunteers to do it.
    • Meaning: Its harder for a person to do his job, than a volunteer. Moreover the volunteer can walk away at any time, whereas the obligated one, cannot.
    • Origin: Talmud in the name of Chananiah ben Teradyon

ד[edit]

  • דומים כמו שתי טיפות מים
    • Domim Kmo Shthey Tiputh Mayim"
    • Translation: similar like two drops of water.
  • דמו בראשו
    • Damo berosho
    • Translation: his blood is in his head.
    • Meaning: his problems are his own fault.

ה[edit]

  • הזורעים בדמעה - ברינה יקצרו.
    • Hazor'im bedim'a - berina yiqtsoro
    • Translation: they who seed with tears - will reap with song.
    • Meaning: those who worked hard, will reap the fruits of their labour.
  • היהפוך כושי עורו ונמר חברבורותיו?
    • Hayahafokh kushi oro venamer hhavarborotav
    • Translation: can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots?
    • Meaning: certain things cannot be changed, because it is against their nature.
    • Origin: Jeremiah 13/23 from the Hebrew Bible
  • היופי הוא בעיני המתבונן
    • Hayofi hoo be'eyney hamitbonen
    • Translation: beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
  • הבדל של שמיים וארץ
    • Hevdel shel shamayim va'arets
    • Translation: a difference of Sky and Earth.
    • Meaning: a very significant difference.
  • הפוסל במומו פוסל
    • Haposel Bemumo Posel
    • Translation: the one who disqualifies, disqualifies based on his own fault.
    • English Equivalent: Pot calling the kettle black
  • המטרה מקדשת את האמצעים
    • Hamatarah meqadesheth eth ha'emtsa'im
    • Translation: the cause makes the means holy. (i.e: in place).
    • Meaning: the ends justify the means.
  • הניח כספו על קרן הצבי
    • Henia'ch kaspo al keren ha'tsvi
    • Translation: placed his money on the gazzele's horns
    • Meaning: risked his money
  • הסנדלר הולך יחף
    • Hasandlar holekh yahef
    • Translation: the cobbler walks barefoot.
    • Meaning: a professional does not apply his profession upon himself.
    • English equivalent: the shoe-maker has no shoes.
  • השמיים הם הגבול
    • Hashamayim hem hagvul
    • Translation: the sky's the limit.
    • Meaning: said on something that if performed, there will be very vast possibilities.
  • התפוח לא נופל רחוק מהעץ
    • Hatapuakh lo nofel rahoq meha'etz
    • Translation: the apple does not fall far from the tree.
    • Meaning: children resemble their parents.
    • English Equivalent: Chip off the old block

ו[edit]

  • ובא לציון גואל
    • Uba Letziyon Go'el
    • Translation: and a savior came for Zion.
    • Meaning: and the salvation/solution for a problem will come (and everyone will be happy).

ח[edit]

  • חיים ומוות ביד הלשון
    • Hayim oo'maveth beyad halashon
    • Translation: life and death in the hands of the tongue
    • Meaning: what you say can have a large effect on your future.
  • חיפש את האתונות ומצא את המלוכה
    • Hipess eth ha'atonoth oomatsa eth hamelukha
    • Translation: looked for the female donkeys and found the kingship.
    • Meaning: looked for something minor and found something much greater.
    • Origin: from the Bible, in regards to the story about Saul that was anointed as a king after looking for his father's donkeys.

ט[edit]

  • טוב להיות זנב לאריות מאשר ראש לשועלים
    • Tov Lihiyoth Zanav La'arayoth Ma'asher Rosh Lashu'alim
    • Translation: Better be a tail for the lions than the head of the foxes
    • Meaning: It is better to be a minor member of a good group, than a prominent leader of a bad group.
  • טובה ציפור אחת ביד משתיים על העץ
    • Tova Tzipor Ahath Bayad Mishtayim Al Ha'etz
    • Translation: "One bird in the hand is better than two on the tree".
  • טלית שכולה תכלת
    • Tallith Shekulah Tkheleth
    • Translation: a Tallit which is entirely azure.
    • Meaning: someone who is a purely benevolent person. Usually said negatively: "he isn't a Tallit which is entirely azure".

י[edit]

  • ירד לטמיון
    • Yarad letimyon
    • Translation: went to the government's treasury
    • Meaning: to get lost; to go down the drain.
  • יש גבול לכל תעלול
    • Yesh Gvul Lekhol Ta'alul
    • Translation: there's a limit to every act of mischief
    • Meaning: enough is enough.

כ[edit]

  • כורת את הענף שעליו הוא יושב
    • Koreth eth ha'anaf she'alav hu yoshev
    • Translation: He cuts the branch that he is sitting on.
    • Meaning: he is hurting something that he depends on.
  • כי בתחבולות תעשה לך מלחמה
    • Ki betah'boloth ta'aseh lekha milhama
    • Translation: because with tricks you should do a war
    • Origin: The Bible - Pslams 24, 6
  • כל הדרכים מובילות לרומא
    • Kol hadrakhim moviloth le'Roma
    • Translation: all the roads lead to Rome.
  • כל שני וחמישי
    • Kol Sheni va'Hamishi
    • Translation: every Monday and Thursday
    • Meaning: often and continuously (every few days).
    • Origin: from the days of the Torah reading, besides Saturday, which in turn originated from Market days in Judea during the Second Temple.
  • כמו כוסות רוח למת
    • Kmo Kosoth Ru'akh Lameth
    • Translation: like fire cups for the dead.
    • Meaning: like something useless.

ל[edit]

  • לא דובים ולא יער
    • Lo Dubim Velo Ya'ar
    • Translation: No bears and no forest.
    • Meaning: Never happened.
  • לא היו דברים מעולם
    • Lo hayu dvarim me'olam
    • Translation: (these) things never happened.
  • לא תמיד אתה מפספס את האוטובוס, לפעמים האוטובוס מפספס אותך
    • Lo tamid atha mefasfes eth ha'otobus, lif'amim ha'otobus mefasfes otkha.
    • Translation: You don't always miss the bus. Sometimes, it misses you.
  • להכות בברזל בעודו חם
    • Lehakoth Babarzel Be'odo Ham
    • Translation: hit the iron while it's hot.
    • Meaning: exploit the opportunity while it still exists.
  • לחפש בנרות
    • Lehapes Baneroth
    • Translation: to search using candles.
    • Meaning: to search thoroughly (in obscure places, etc.).
  • למען יראו וייראו
    • Lema'an Yir'u Va'yira'u
    • Translation: so (people) will see and fear.

מ[edit]

  • מדברים על החמור (והחמור בא)
    • Medabrim al hahamor (ve'hahamor ba)
    • Translation: speaking of the donkey (and the donkey comes)
    • Meaning: said when someone appears shortly after he has been discussed.
    • English Equivalent: Speak of the devil
  • מהר יצא עכבר
    • Mehar Yatza Akhbar
    • Translation: a mountain ended up as a mouse
    • Meaning: something that was hyped to be very significant, turned out to be much less so.
    • English Equivalent: Made a mountain of a mole hill
  • מה ששנוא עליך - אל תעשה לחברך
    • Mah Sheshano'a Aleikha Al Ta'aseh Lehaberkha
    • Translation: don't do to another what is hated by you.
  • מחט בערמת שחת
    • Mahat Be'aremath Shahath
    • Translation: a needle in a pile of hay.
    • Meaning: "a needle in a haystack", trying to find something specific in a big surrounding of no interest to the person who looks for it.
  • מי שאוכל לבד - מת לבד
    • Mi she'okhel levad - meth levad
    • Translation: he who eats by himself, dies by himself.
    • Corollaries:
      • מי שאוכל לבד - אוכל יותר
        • Mi she'okhel levad - okhel yother
        • Translation: he who eats by himself, eats more.
        • Origin: the motto of the Cheetos snack in Israel
      • מי שאוכל לבד, מת לבד, אבל מי שמשתף אחרים, מת מרעב
        • Mi she'okhel levad, meth levad, aval mi shemashatef aherim, meth mera'av
        • Translation: he who eats by himself, dies alone, but he who shares his food, dies of hunger.
          • (Therefore he who eats alone will die with his stomach full)
  • מי שטרח בערב שבת, יאכל בשבת
    • Mi shetarah be'erev Shabbath, yokhal beshabath
    • Translation: "He who labored on Shabbath' Eve, will eat on Shabbath".
    • Meaning: he who labored in preparance, will enjoy the fruit of his labor.
  • מי שלא מרים עשר אגורות, לא שווה עשר אגורות
    • Mi shelo merim eser agoroth, lo shaveh eser agoroth
    • Translation: he who doesn't pick up a dime, isn't worth a dime.
  • מי שנכווה ברותחין יזהר בפושרין
    • Mi Shenikhwah Berot'hin Yizaher Beposhrin
    • Translation: He who got burnt in boiling water, will be careful in mildly warm water.
  • מכל טוב הארץ
    • Mikol Tuv Ha'arets
    • Translation: from all the good things of the land.
    • Meaning: "from all the riches of the land" - a lot of good things.
  • מן הפח אל הפחת
    • Min hapah el hapahath
    • Translation: from the trap to the pit.
    • Meaning: from the frying pan into the fire.
    • English Equivalent: From bad to worse
  • מרבה נכסים - מרבה דאגות
    • Marbeh Nekhasim - Marbeh De'agoth
    • Translation: (he who) proliferates possessions - proliferates worries
    • English Equivealent: more money - more problems.
  • מרוב עצים לא רואים את היער
    • Merov etzim lo ro'im eth ha'ya'ar
    • Translation: Can't see the forest for the trees.
    • Meaning: the subject is obscured by the details.

נ[edit]

  • נאה דורש - נאה מקיים
    • Na'eh doresh - na'eh meqayem
    • Translation: he who demands well, should fullfill his demands well.
    • English equivalent: "You've got to practice what you preach".
  • נהרוג טורקי - ננוח
    • Na'harog Turqi - na'nuahh
    • Translation: let's kill one Turk, then rest.
    • English equivalent: "One job at a time".
  • נכנס יין - יצא סוד
    • Nikhnas Yayin - Yatza Sod
    • Translation: "Wine Entered - Secret Went Out".
    • Note: in Gematria the values of "wine" and "secret" are the same - 70.
  • נפל האסימון
    • Nafal Ha'asimon
    • Translation: the token has fallen down.
    • Meaning: something was finally understood.

ס[edit]

  • סנונית אחת אינה מבשרת את בוא האביב
    • Snonith ahath eyna mevasereth eth bo ha'aviv
    • Translation: one swallow does not herald the coming of spring.
    • Meaning: one occurrence does not indicate a general pattern.
    • Origin: Aristotle's "Nicomachean Ethics".
  • סערה בכוס מים
    • Se'arah bekos mayim
    • Translation: a storm in a glass of water.
    • Meaning: a large fuss with little effect on the outside.
    • English equivalent: "Tempest in a teacup/teapot".

ע[edit]

  • עבר זמנו - בטל קורבנו
    • Avar Zmano - Battel Qorbano
    • Translation: Its time passed - its sacrifice is cancelled
    • Meaning: it's no longer relevant to take the necessary measure, because it's long past when it would have helped.
  • עוד הזרוע נטויה
    • Od Hazro'a Netuyah
    • Translation: And the arm is still erect.
    • Meaning: It is still going strong.
    • Origin: probably from the Bible, where in a battle with the Amaleq, the Israelites were winning when Moses' arm was erect and losing when his arm was down.
  • על ראש הגנב בוער הכובע
    • "Al Rosh Haganav Bo'er Hakova"
    • Translation: The hat burns on the head of the thief.
    • Origin: reportedly from a folk tale in which a community leader found the identity of a thief by gathering the town and saying that he sees the thief's hat burning, and then observing the real thief feeling his hat with his hands.
  • עם האוכל בא התאבון
    • "Im Ha'okhel Ba' Hate'avon"
    • Translation: "the appetite comes with the food."
    • Meaning: once you start something, you feel like doing it.
  • עם יד על הלב
    • "Im Yad Al Halev"
    • Translation: with a hand on the heart.
    • Meaning: sincerely.
  • עם קצת רצון ועם קצת יכולת גם פיל יזיין תרנגולת
    • "Im Qtzath Ratson Ve'im Qtzath Yehuleth Gam Pill Yezayen Tarnegoleth"
    • Translation: With some will and some ability, even a elephant will f*ck a chicken
    • Meaning: If you want something, you can achieve it

פ[edit]

  • פה קבור הכלב
    • Po Qavur Hakelev
    • Translation: "The dog is buried here."
    • Meaning: this is the main issue.
  • פוסח על שני הסעיפים
    • Pose'ah al shney ha'se'ifim
    • Translation: "skips on two branches"
    • Meaning: "cannot decide between two options and does a little of both".
    • Origin: Bible, prophet Eliyahu's quote - "Ad matay tifsehu al shtey ha'se'ifim".
  • פעם שלישית גלידה
    • Pa'am shlishith glidah
    • Translation: third time icecream.
    • Meaning: said when two people accidentally meet twice during a short period, saying that the next time, the other person should buy some icecream to the speaker.
    • English Equivalent: Third time's the charm.
    • See this page in the Hebrew Wikipedia about it.
  • פרה פרה
    • Parah Parah
    • Translation: Literal: "Cow. cow" or "A cow, A cow". Meaning: "One cow at a time."
    • Meaning: one should accomplish two or more things by tackling them one at a time.
    • See also this resource in the MSN learn Hebrew forum

צ[edit]

  • צדק - צדק תרדוף
    • Tsedeq Tsedeq Tirdof
    • Translation: Justice, Justice you shall pursue.
    • Origin: from the Torah - Deuteronomy 16, 20
  • צוחק מי שצוחק אחרון
    • Tsoheq mi shetsoheq aharon
    • Translation: laughs he who laughs last.
    • Meaning: the winner is the one who won at the end.
  • צרות באות בצרורות
    • Tsaroth ba'oth bitsro'oth
    • Translation: troubles come in packs.
    • English equivalent: when it rains, it pours.
    • Corollaries:
      • צרה צרורה
        • Tsarah Tsrurah
        • Translation: a packed trouble.
  • צרת רבים - חצי נחמה
    • Tsarath rabim - hatzi nehamath
    • Translation: The trouble of many - half of the consolation.
    • Meaning: It is better to share your troubles with people.
  • צרת רבים - נחמת טיפשים
    • Tsarath rabim - nehamath tipshim
    • Translation: The trouble of many - the consolation of fools.

ק[edit]

  • קרח מכאן ומכאן
    • "Qere'ah Mikan Oomikan"
    • Translation: "Bald from here and from here"
    • Meaning: deprived in both senses.
    • Story behind: a man who has two wives: one young and one old. The young one removes his old hair, and the old one removes his young hair, and thus he becomes "bald from here and from here".

ר[edit]

  • רומא לא נבנתה ביום אחד
    • Roma Lo Nivnetha Beyom Ehad
    • Translation: "Rome wasn't built in a day."
  • רוקד בשתי חתונות
    • Roqed Bishtey Hatunoth
    • Translation: "Dancing in Two Weddings".
    • Meaning: "Does two different things (or is committed to two different entities) at once."
  • רחוק מהעין - רחוק מהלב
    • Rahoq Meha'ayin - Rahoq Mehalev
    • Translation: "Far from the eye - far from the heart".
    • English equivalent: "out of sight - out of mind"

ש[edit]

  • שושנה בין החוחים
    • Shoshanah Beyn Hahhohhim
    • Translation: a lily (or incorrectly a rose) between the thorns
    • Meaning: an excpetionally good woman within a bad society.
  • שניים רבים - השלישי זוכה
    • Shnayim Ravim Hashlishi Zokheh
    • Translation: two are fighting - the third wins.
  • שעיר לעזאזל
    • Se'ir La'azazel
    • Meaning: scapegoat.
    • Origin: from the bible. (Leviticus 16)
    • English Equivalent: Scape goat.
    • Corollaries:
      • הולך לעזאזל
        • Holekh La'azazel
        • Translation: goes to the Azazel.
        • Meaning: goes to hell, goes down the drain.

ת[edit]

  • תפסת מרובה - לא תפסת
    • Tafasta Merubeh - Lo Tafasta
    • Translation: (tried to) caught a lot - didn't catch.
    • Meaning: if one tries to achieve too many goals at once, he'll achieve none or few of them.

א ב ג ד ה ו ז ח ט י כ ל מ נ ס ע פ צ ק ר ש ת