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Hebrew Lesson Number 42:

Becoming a Handyman

Now that Eran has gotten settled in his new apartment, it’s time to make a few improvements.  In this Hebrew lesson we will find out if he can become a ‘do-it-yourselfer’.  Maybe we can too!

Introduction to Lesson 42: 

Becoming a Handyman

Learn Hebrew Pod - Lesson No. 42

So, you just spent the afternoon on a do-it-yourself project.  You replaced the light switch in the bedroom, and indeed, you did it all by yourself!  The moment of truth has arrived . . . you flip the switch . . . and . . . 

Did the light in the bedroom begin to shine?  Or did the TV in the living room turn on instead?  Oh no . . . that couldn’t possibly have been the garbage disposal in the kitchen sink!


Of course, after listening to Learn Hebrew Pod shiur mispar arba-im ve-shtayim, you won’t have to worry about such disasters (even if the directions for your project are in Hebrew!)  

As Eran gets some training to become a handyman, we will get some training to become a little handier ourselves.  We will learn Hebrew words related to tools, electricity, and home improvements.  And we’ll add another new tool to our toolbox--our sixth Hebrew building block, binyan hif-il.

But wait . . . what’s that light bulb that just popped on??  (I thought we hadn’t gotten that switch working quite right yet.)  Oh, of course . . . that’s the light bulb of a ra-ayon mezzu-yan.  Join us for Learn Hebrew Pod . . . the best idea of all!!

Team Conversation from the Lesson:

Eran: Ah Jonathan, this is my very good friend, a wonderful actor himself, Michael… you remember I told you I might be having a guest today? Remember? I told you that Michael Is my friend, a very talented actor and actually a native English speaker that moved to Israel, made Aliya, when he was… how old were you, Michael? - ben kama ha-ita kshe-alita la-arezz?


Michael: hmm… ten years old - ben eser… so I'm actually…

Eran: Michel is actually bilingual - du-leshoni. He speaks English and Hebrew, perfectly!  So I was thinking that maybe one day…

Jonathan: So… Michael, you have actually came today for introducing yourself, see how we're working and maybe check the option of participating in one of our future shows… nachon?

Michael: hmm… ken, ken.

Jonathan: So back to the message I left you Eran, Liat called me yesterday, she and her dance company were suddenly invited to perform in a festival in Italy, that is of course a wonderful opportunity for them, so she's asked me if I can find a replacement for her, for the recordings of today’s Hebrew lessons…. I agreed, but actually was not able to find immediately an actor or an actress - sachkan o sachkanit, that can speak English and Hebrew fluently, but now… I think… Michael? Will you be interested in participating instead of just watching?


Eran: Jonathan, Michael is the perfect guy for the job! Not only is he a wonderful actor, medaber Ivrit ve-Anglit be-ofen shotef - and speaks Hebrew and English fluently… he might also have an interesting topic for us to discuss in today's Hebrew lesson, Michael, ma ata omer?

Michael: hmm… this is all very sudden… but of course - kamuvan. I would love to! What is the topic you're referring to Eran?

Eran: Well, you remember you said that you will be able to instruct me in taking my first steps in becoming a handyman today, nachon? So what do you say about telling us, right here and right now, about how to replace an electrical socket? - keyzzad le-hachlif sheka chashmali?

שקע חשמל

Michael: betach! Jonathan, would you like that?

Jonathan: Well, that's a very interesting topic which we haven't had yet, and I myself would really love to know how to do it… but… I was actually thinking about teaching a new Hebrew building block today… the Hif-il building block, hmmm… can you, maybe… tell us how to do that while, no… that's too much to ask…

Michael: Jonathan, I know what you're saying. When Eran invited me here, I listened to a few of your lessons, and I know what you're looking for. You would like to have the Hebrew text intertwined with the grammar topic you're teaching. No problem - eyn be-aya. I can use the Hif-il building block. Would you like me to start?

Jonathan:  Ah… that's great! Yes please, be-hazzlacha!

Some Grammar from This Lesson

Hebrew Building Blocks (Binyanim) Review


Jonathan: Let's now introduce our main grammar topic for Lesson 42. It is…

Eran: Our Fifth Hebrew building block,

Michael: The Hif-il building block!  

Eran: As we very well know, the names of all of the Hebrew building blocks are derived from their past tense masculine third person singular conjugation.

 The Pa-al building block, is called Pa-al because its masculine, third person singular conjugation in the past tense uses the pattern of Pa-al.

Michael: The root letters 'P', 'A' and 'L' - 'pey''ayin' and 'lamed' act as the variables of the root letters. But in addition to the root letters, the Hebrew system of building block conjugations also employs special prefixes, infixes and suffixes. 

Different Hebrew building blocks use these differently in different tenses and for different personal pronouns.

כינויי גוף

When these prefixes, infixes or suffixes are added to the past tense masculine third person singular conjugation of the building block, they dictate its name.

Eran: Pa-al uses just the root letters, with no suffixes, prefixes or infixes, for the masculine, third person singular conjugation in the past tense. 

The vowel sounds used by the Pa-al are 'A' for the first and the second root letters: Pa-al

Pa-al is considered 'an active' Hebrew building block.

Michael: In Nif-al, the masculine, third person singular conjugation in the past tense includes the prefix 'ni'Nif-al.

Nif-al is considered the 'passive partner' of Pa-al. It often indicates the receiver of an action made by a Pa-al verb.

Taught – Was Taught

lamad - nilmad

Eran: Just like Pa-alPi-el uses just the root letters with no suffixes, prefixes or infixes, for its masculine, third person singular conjugation in the past tense.

Although it does have what we refer to as 'infix vowels' the 'I' sound it uses for its first root letter and the 'E' sound it uses for the second root letter in this conjugation: Pi-el.

Pi-el is considered 'an active' Hebrew building block.

Michael: Just like Pa-al and  Pi-elPu-al uses only root letters with no suffixes, prefixes or infixes, for its masculine, third person singular conjugation in the past tense.

Although it does have what we refer to as 'infix vowels' the 'U' sound it uses for its first root letter in this conjugation: Pu-al.

The Hebrew building block Pu-al, is considered the 'passive partner' for Pi-el. it often indicates the receiver of an action made by a Pi-el verb.

Recounted – Was Recounted

siper – supar

Eran: In Hitpa-el, the masculine, third person singular conjugation in the past tense includes the prefix 'hi' and the infix 'T', the letters 'hey' and 'taf'. Together they form the prefix 'hit': Hit –pa-el.  In this conjugation, the second root letter gets an 'E' vowel sound.

Michael: Many of the verbs we use in the Hebrew building block Hitpa-el, indicate an action in which the subject conducting the action is by himself, and is also the receiver of that action! 

In other words, it denotes a state of being where the subject is the only agent (that acts and is acted upon).  

Jonathan: Today we start learning our third pair of passive and active Hebrew building blocks.  Hif-il and soon after that, its passive partner Huf-al.

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