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Lesson Transcript

Hi everybody! Idit here. Welcome to Ask a Teacher, where I’ll answer some of your most common Hebrew questions.
The question for this lesson is…
What are some common Hebrew idioms?
Every language has its everyday idioms. In English, for example, we have idioms like “What’s up?” or “It’s raining cats and dogs.” In this lesson, you’ll learn some everyday Hebrew idioms.
The first one is--
לדחוף את האף
(lidħof et ha-af)
It literally means “pushing/shoving one’s nose.” As you can probably guess, it means to meddle in other people’s business.
The next one is--
לעשות סיפור
(la’asot sipur)
It literally means “to make a story,” and it’s used like the idiom “to make a big deal” in English. For example--
אל תעשה מזה סיפור
(al ta’ase mi-ze sipur)
“Don’t make a big deal out of this.”
The next idiom has to do with superstitions--
לפתוח פה לשטן
(liftoaħ pe la-satan)
It literally means “to open one’s mouth to the devil." It originated from the Jewish prohibition against saying bad things about yourself or other people. Today, however, it’s used in a similar way to the expression “Don’t tempt fate;” don’t say good things, because you might “jinx” your luck.
For example--
אני חושבת שאני אעבור את המבחן, אבל אני לא רוצה לפתוח פה לשטן.
(ani ħoshevet she-ani e’evor et ha-mivħan, aval ani lo rotza liftoaħ pe la-satan)
“I think I’ll pass the exam, but I don’t want to tempt fate,”
Our last idiom represents a life philosophy--
בא לי
(ba li)
It literally means “comes to me,” but it means something like “I want,” with a whimsical edge to it - a lot like the expression “I feel like.” It was considered a children’s idiom, but quickly became common among people of all ages. You can use it with nouns, like in
בא לי פיצה
(ba li pitza)
"I feel like (eating) pizza.”
Or with verbs, like
לא בא לי ללכת לעבודה
(lo ba li la’lekhet la-avoda)
“I don’t feel like going to work.”
Note that this is a slightly cheeky expression, so you shouldn’t use it in formal situations or with people you don’t really know - it can come off as rude.
How was this lesson? Pretty interesting right?
Do you have any more questions? Leave them in the comments below and I’ll try to answer them!