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Hebrew Lesson Number 41:

Once Upon a Time

Welcome to the magical world of legends and fairytales: Waiting for you in this enchanted Hebrew lesson are beautiful princesses, charming princes, monsters, sorcerers, giants, and dwarfs.

Introduction to Lesson 41: 

Once Upon a Time

Learn Hebrew Pod - Lesson No. 41

Once upon a time, in the magical Kingdom of Learn Hebrew Pod, lived the fair maiden Liat and the handsome prince Eran.  But Liat and Eran were more than just fair and handsome, they were also extremely talented . . . the most well-known and admired actors in all the kingdom.  Indeed, on the day before our story begins, they had been summoned to perform for the royal court in a special production of 
Puss ‘n Boots.

החתול במגפיים

Also in the Kingdom of Learn Hebrew Pod lived the Wizard Jonathan, known throughout the kingdom as the wisest and most mysterious wizard of all time.  Not only did Jonathan exceed all the other wizards in his knowledge of teaching Hebrew, but he also seemed to know a little bit about everything.  He knew, for example, that the Brothers Grimm hadn’t exactly written Puss ‘n Boots, but that they had been the ones to collect the story orally and record it in written form.

האחים גרים

Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm began collecting their stories just after the turn of the 19th Century by inviting storytellers to recount their tales and then transcribing what they had heard.  (Interesting . . . there are many Hebrew texts that were written in just the same way. Oral stories and traditions were passed down from generation to generation.  Finally, someone decided to record them to make sure that they didn't get lost.)  

By the time the first edition of Brothers Grimm’s collected stories was published in 1812 and 1815, it included over 150 fairy tales.  (That’s sure a lot of “Once Upon a Time”s!)  It is very likely because of Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm that we know some of our favorite fairy tales today: Snow White, Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood . . . the list goes on and on.

סינדרלה / לכלוכית

What most people don’t know, though, is that the Grimm Brothers were primarily linguists. Their famous collection of fairy tales actually grew out of their interest in the study of language.  (No, it wasn’t Hebrew!)

And speaking of the study of language, it seems that we have come right back around to the Hebrew-teaching Wizard Jonathan, the fair maiden Liat, and the handsome Prince Eran . . . and what they will be adding to our study of language in Learn Hebrew Pod shiur mispar araba-im ve-achat. 

First, we will learn--in Hebrew and in English--even more about Brothers Grimm.  Then we will get to meet our fifth Hebrew building block for conjugating verbs--building block Pu-al.  And though conjugating verbs may not be quite as easy as waving a magic wand, Eran, Liat, and Jonathan are certain to bring you under their spell.

Team Conversation from the Lesson:

Liat: hey Eran, hayta hazzaga mezzu-yenet etmol, nachon?

Eran: ken, mamash! That was really an excellent performance yesterday. ha-ka-hal ha-ya ne-hedar - the audience was great, and it was very exciting to know that your niece, Maya, was watching us.

Eran and Liat

Our Intermediate Level Hebrew Teachers

Liat: ken, ani mamash hitragashti! – I was really excited! ba-shavu-a she-avar - last week, kshe-hizmanti ota la-hazzaga - when I invited her to the show, ani moda - I admit, kzzat chashashti - I was a little bit concerned…

Eran: I can understand that, as the style we are using in the play is the style of the Commedia dell'arte… and we are constantly changing characters and masks during the show…

Liat: bedi-yuk… ve-hi bat shmone, She's eight years old, so I was not sure if she would like that, aval… hi me-od a-hava et ze, she liked it very much… ve-hi chashave - and she thought, she-ani nesicha maksima - that I'm a charming princess. kmo ba-agadot - like in the fairy tales :)) 

נסיכה מקסימה כמו באגדות

Eran: Liat, at be-emet nesicha maksima, kmo ba-agadot - like in the fairy tales J

Liat: aval hachi mazzchik - funniest, was when she met us backstage, achrey ha-hofa-a - after the performance… hi histakla alecha - she was looking at you… and because you change 3 masks and 3 characters throughout the play…

Eran: hi lo yad-a - she didn't know, if I was the miller – ha-tochen, the king – ha-melech or the evil sorcerer – ha-mechashef ha-rasha… ze ha-ya mazzchik - that was funny… ve-et ha-chatul hi a-hava - and did she like the cat?


Liat: kamuvan. She liked the cat very much. Well, after all, he is the hero of the play: "Puss in Boots" – "ha-chatul be-magafa-im".

Eran: Brothers Grimm - ha-achim Grim… they were really amazing! They wrote such wonderful stories and fairy tales - sipurim ve-agadot.

Liat: But you know Eran, they didn't actually write the stories and fairy tales, they were more… collecting them…


Eran: Collecting them? Collecting stories? Where from? – me-heychan?

Liat: Well, I have to admit that I didn't know that either, but here… tistakel al ze - look at that.

Eran: Wow, eyze sefer yafe - what a beautiful book, it looks like a children book - kmo sefer le-yeladim, Is that for Maya?

!איזה ספר יפה

Liat: Yes it is! Maya's birthday is next week, and, as she enjoyed the play and the story so much, I thought it might be a wonderful idea. It's been recently published. It's a collection of many of the stories of the Brothers Grimm.

Some Grammar from This Lesson:

The Concept of Passive vs. Active 

in Hebrew

!אני אוהב / אוהבת דקדוק

Jonathan: As we have probably noticed, when translated into English, all of the verbs are preceded by 'Was' or 'Were'.  'Was' or 'Were' are forms of the 'to be verb'.

The formula for creating a passive form in English is:

First indicate the subject of the sentence, meaning, 'the thing receiving the action',

Add the appropriate 'to be' verb',

Add the 'past participle' of the verb,

And then, we usually put the thing doing the action.

An example for this formula:

The books were (to be verbwritten (past participle) by the author.

The 'to be' verb will change according to the tense and the personal pronoun that we would like to use:

Present Tense of the 'to be': 'am', 'are' or 'is'.

Past Tense of the 'to be': 'was', or 'were'

Perfect Form: 'have' or 'has' + 'been'

Progressive Form: 'am', 'are' or 'is' + 'being'

Building Blocks

Well… of course we are not in an English course here…But, just as in the case of the ‘cheese cream rule’, where we acknowledged a fundamental difference in the way Hebrew and English use nouns and adjectives, here it becomes important to understand the difference in the way Hebrew and English create passive vs. active sentences.

While in English, in order to create the passive form, we actually use the combination of 'to be' verbs and the 'past participle' form, in Hebrew we use different building block for that.

Except for the Hitpa-el, all the other six Hebrew building blocks actually come in pairs of an active and a passive building block.

The Nif-al is the passive Hebrew building block for the Pa-al.

Today's new building block, the Pu-al, is the passive Hebrew building block for the Pi-el.

Let's demonstrate that by using the same root letters in these four building blocks:

For the root letters:  ShM & R – shinmemve-resh.

In Pa-al the verb is active – shamar - kept, guarded, safeguarded.

In Nif-al, the verb is in the passive – nishmar - was kept, was guarded or was safeguarded.

In Pi-el, the verb is again active – shimmer - preserved, maintained.

In Pu-al the verb is again passive – shumar – was preserved.

*Read and listen to the Full Hebrew Grammar Discussion - Join the Learn Hebrew Pod Intermediate Speaking Hebrew Program.