Attention! I made some mistakes on the original post due to how similar the vowel points look on the HTML editor, hopefully enough people will see this on my blog and see that I’ve fixed them. Sorry :(
As a part of thispost about beginning to learn a language, I’d decided to translate 300 basic words and phrases into Hebrew.
Note: all words will be written in defective spelling (ktiv haser) and with vowel points for ease of pronunciation
A hyphen (מָקָף) indicates the preposition / conjunction is immediately attached to the next word, and a dot underneath the hyphen is a dagesh, a bowel point indicating change in pronunciation of ב, כ, פ from the expected mid-word soft pronunciations (v, kh, f) to the hard ones (b, k ,p, respectively).
Verbs are given in their simplest form: 3rd person, male, past tense. modal verbs are exceptional in Hebrew, so they are given in their most common form.
be - no equivalent. The subject and the complement are simply put one after the other in the case of an adj. (which is conjugated according to number and gender), and connected with a 3rd person pronoun conjugated accordingly in case of a noun complement (הוּא/הִיא; הֵם/הֵן)
there is - יֵשׁ, past הָיה
have - יֵשׁ לְ־
(there is to subj.) past הָיָה לְ־
do - עָשָׂה
go - הָלַךְ
want - רָצָה
can - m יָכוֹל / f יְכוֹלָה
need - m צָרִיךְ / f צְרִיכָה
think - חָשַׁב
know - יָדַע
say - אָמַר, הֵגִיד
like - אָהַב (same as love)
speak - דִּבֶּר
learn - לָמַד
understand - הֵבִין
that (as in “I think that…” or “the woman that…”) - ּשֶׁ־
(i think that…, the woman that… all tenses), הַ־ּ (the woman that… alternative to present tense)
and - וְ־
or - אוֹ
but - אֲבָל
because - in decreasing order of frequency - כִּי, בִּגְלַל שֶׁ־ּ, מִשֹּוּם שֶׁ־ּ, (מִ)כֵּיוָן שֶׁ־ּ, etc.
in decreasing order of frequency - לַמְרוׁת שֶׁ־ּ, עַל אַף שֶׁ־ּ, אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁ־ּ, etc.
so (meaning “therefore”; e.g. “I wanted it, so I bought it”) - אַז, לָכֵן
if - אִם
When used with pronouns, Hebrew prepositions are always conjugated with a specific ending for each pronoun.
of - של
to - אֵל (direction), לְ־ (all other uses tbh)
from - מִ־ּ
in - ְבְּתוֹך (inside),
at (a place) -
at (a time) -
with - עִם (with a noun), אֵת (with a pronoun, conjugated as ָאִתִּי, אִתְּך, etc.)
about - עַל
like (meaning “similar to”) - כְּמוֹ, כְּ־
for (warning, this one has several meanings that you need to take care of) - בִּשְׁבִיל (intended to)
before (also as a conjunction) - לִפְנֵי/לִפְנֵי
after (also as a conjunction) - אַחֲרֵי/אַחֲרֵי
during - תּוֹךְ כְּדֵי
bonus: direct obj. marker - אֵת (used with a defininte noun, conjugated ָאוֹתִי, אוֹתְך but אֶתְכֶם, אֵֶתְכֶן
who - מִי
what - מָה
where - אֵיפֹה
when - מָתַי
why - לָמָּה
how - אֵיךְ
how much - כַּמָּה
which - אֵיזֶה
a lot - הַרְבֵּה
a little - קְצַת, מְעַט
well - טוֹב
badly - רַע
only - רָק
also - גַּם
very - מְאֹד
too (as in “too tall”) - מִדַּי (lit. (more) than enough)
too much - יוֹתֵר מִדַּי
so (as in “so tall”) - m כָּזֶה, f כָּזֹאת; or כָּל כַּךְ
so much - כָּל כַּךְ
more (know how to say “more … than …”) - יוֹתֵר
less (know how to say “less … than …”) - פַּחוֹת
as … as … (e.g. “as tall as”) - … כְּמוֹ …
comparative (more, -er) -
superlative (most, -est) - הֲכִי
now - עַכְשָׁו, כָּעֵת
then - אַז
here - פֹּה, כָּאן
there - שָׁם
maybe - אוּלַי
always - תָּמִיד
usually - בְּדֶרֶךְ כְּלַל
הַרְבֵּה, לְעִתִּים קְרוֹבוֹת
sometimes - לִפְעָמִים, מְדֵּי פַּעַם
never - אַף פַּעַם (used with neg. verb / copula)
today - הַיּוֹם
yesterday - אֱתְמוֹל
tomorrow - מַחַר
soon - תֵּכֶף
almostֹ - כִּמְעַט
already - כְּבָר
still - עָדַיִן
even - אַפִלּוּ, אַף, גַּם
enough - מַסְפִּיק
the, a (technically articles) - הַ־ּ, no indef. article
this - m הַזֶּה, f הַזֹּאת
that - m הַזֶּה, f הַזֹּאת or
m הָהוּא, f הָהִיא
good - טוֹב
bad - רַע
all - כָּל
some - כַּמָּה
no - שׁוּם
any - שׁוּם
many - הַרְבֵּה
few - קְצַת, מְעַט
most - רֹב
other - אַחֵר
same - m אוֹתוֹ
, f אוֹתָה
different - שׁוֹנֶה
enough - מַסְפִּיק
one - m אֶחָד, f אַחַת
two - m שְׁנַיִם, f שְׁתַּיִם
a few - כַּמָּה
first - רִאשׁוֹן
next - הַבַּא (in time), לְיַד, עַל יַד (both in place)
last (meaning “past”, e.g. “last Friday”) - שֶׁעָבַר, הַקּוֹדֵם
last (meaning “final”) - הָאַחֲרוֹן
easy - קָל
hard - קָשֶׁה
early - מֻקְדַם
late - מְאֻחָר
important - חָשׁוּב
interesting - מְעַנְיֵן
fun - כֵּיף, כֵּיפִי
boring - מְשַׁעֲמֵם
beautiful - יָפֵה
big - גָּדֹל
small - קָטַן
happy - שָׂמֵחַ
sad - עָצוּב
busy - עָסוּק
excited - מִתְרַגֵּשׁ, נִרְגָּשׁ
tired - עָיֵף
ready - מוּכָן
favorite - הָאָהוּב עַל …
new - חָדָשׁ
right (meaning “correct”) - (e.g. a right answer) נָכוֹן; (e.g. to have the right answer) צוֹדֵק
When Zev Shofar, a 14-year-old from Takoma Park, started going to Jewish summer camp seven years ago, the children all learned the Hebrew words to introduce themselves. “Chanich” means a male camper; “chanichah” means a female camper.
But what if Zev didn’t feel male or female — neither a chanich nor a chanichah?
Zev’s camp didn’t have a word that worked for Zev. In fact, the Hebrew language doesn’t have any words. Like many other languages — Spanish, French and Russian, for example — Hebrew assigns each noun a gender.
In Israel, or anywhere else that Hebrew is spoken, there’s no linguistic solution, either. But now there is at camp. Zev is a chanichol.
The seven Habonim Dror camps, spread across North America, are pioneering a new gender-neutral form of Hebrew this summer. They hope to set an example that Hebrew-speakers worldwide might someday follow.
Those cheers have had to be rewritten this summer to fit the new gender-neutral Hebrew. Plural masculine nouns in Hebrew — including any group of people that includes at least one man — typically end in im, while feminine nouns end in ot. At Camp Moshava, all groups of both boys and girls now end in a blend: imot.
In Israel, some LGBT communities have adopted the –imot plural, but few seem to have decided on a non-binary singular.
So Habonim Dror decided on its own that –ol would be its singular non-binary ending, based on the word kol, which means “all.”
I bet you’ve been dying to know about verbs ever since last lesson you learned about sentence structure. Well - Here it comes!
Verbs are arguably the most important part of speech in a spoken language. They convey the core meaning of a sentence and in many cases simply knowing the verb is enough to know the meaning of a sentence. Therefore I found it fitting to teach them at such an early stage of this series - now!
Hebrew verbs are generally made of two components: a root (שֹׁרֶשׁ shóresh) and a stem (בִּנְיָן binyán - literally meaning ‘building’). The root contributes the consonants and the stem contributes the vowels (along with its intrinsic prefixes), both make up the full word. Think about it like this: the verb ‘meet’ has its consonants (m-t) and its vowels (ee), both make up the verb. Of course, in English it works nothing like that, but that is the basic morphology of Hebrew verbs: the verb פָּגַשׁ pagásh ‘he met’ has its conosnants פגשׁ and its vowels םָםַם.
Unlike English, where any word can just be put in the middle of a sentence and suddenly become a verb, all Hebrew verbs have to be comprised of a verb and a root. New roots can be coined from loanwords (this is done quite a lot these days), but it always has to be the root that is coined and inserted into an existing stem.
Each verb can be thought of as a plant of sorts. With a consonant root, a vowel stem, and leaves. The leaves, of course, are the different conjugations applied to it - person, number, tense and more (there are not called leaves though!!! that’s just weird). However unlike an actual plant, different leaves can be applied that change the overall pronunciation (which can be thought of as the shape of the plant)
Roots provide the core meaning to any word in Hebrew. Native roots are almost always comprised of three consonants, with some rare native verbs comprised of four. For example: the root שׁ־מ־ר sh-m-r carries the meaning ‘to keep, to save,’ the root א־כ־ל ‘-k-l carries the meaning ‘to eat’ and the root מ־ל־ח m-l-ch carries the meaning ‘salt.’ Combining them with different verb and noun stems creates different words, whose meanings all relate to the meaning of the original root:
שׁ־מ־ר - to keep, to save:שָׁמַרshamár ‘to save, to keep,’ שִׁמֵּרshimér ‘to conserve,’ שׁוֹמֵרshomér ‘guard’, etc. א־כ־ל - to eat:אָכַל‘akhál ‘to eat,’ אִכֵּל ‘ikél ‘to corrode,’ אֹכֶל ‘ókhel ‘food’, etc. מ־ל־ח - salt:מֶלַח mélach ‘salt,’ מָלוּחַmalúach ‘salty,’ הִמְלִיחַhimlíach ‘to salt (food),’ etc.
Side note: roots can be written in a number of ways. Using hyphens or maqafím (Hebrew hyphens; פ-ע-ל or פ־ע־ל), gersháyim (פע״ל), periods (פ.ע.ל) or even square root signs (√פעל). I prefer hyphens and maqafim.
A term that’ll come up frequently (that I think I just made up) is radical letter (from Latin radix, meaning‘root’). By saying that I refer to the letter of the root as they’re pronounced in the word. In the root פ־ע־לp-’-l, פ is the 1st radical, ע the 2nd and ל Is the 3rd radical letter. In the word נִפְעַלְנוּ each letter פ, ע, ל will be referred to as the 1st, 2nd and 3rd radical letter in the word respectively. For each root, they do not appear in a different order no matter how you manipulate them. The root ח־ט־ב ch-t-b (‘to log/cut trees’) is fundamentally different to the root ח־ב־ט ch-b-t (‘to hit’), for example.
Some roots have irregular conjugations, depending on the consonants they have. Each irregular conjugates differently under each stem, and you will learn more about that later on. Other than that, roots are pretty straightforward. Stems are where things get interesting.
Hebrew has seven verb stems. They’re named by inserting the root פ־ע־לp-’-l, meaning ‘verb’ or ‘action’ into the most basic conjugation of the stem - 3rd person, masculine, singular, past tense. The stems are:
- פָּעַלpa’ál (also called קַלqal) - נִפְעַלnif’ál
- הִפְעִילhif’íl - הֻפְעַלhuf’ál
- פִּעֵל pi’él - פֻּעַלpu’ál - הִתְפַּעֵלhitpa’él
The stems are divided in groups of two (and one of three), where each has an active stem and a passive stem.
I’ll be teaching more about each stem in upcoming lessons. This lesson I’ll be concentrating on the first two: פָּעַל pa’ál & נִפְעַל nif’ál. These are the two most basic stems.
פָּעַל is the simplest and most common stem in the language. Verbs of this stem generally have only a basic meaning directly related to the meaning of the root. for example: שָׁמַר shamár ‘to save, to keep,’ אָכַל ‘akhál ‘to eat.’
נִפְעַל is generally considered its passive counterpart. For most פָּעַל active verbs, there is a נִפְעַל passive counterpart: נִשְׁמַר nishmár ‘to be saved, to be kept,’ נֶאֱכַל ne’ekhál ‘to be eaten.’ However, contrary to other passive stems, not all נִפְעַל verbs are passive. For example, the verb סָגַר sagár means ‘to close (a door),’ and its passive counterpart is נִסְגַּר nisgár ‘(for a door) to be closed.’ However, the same verb נִסְגַּר nisgár also means ‘to close,’ as in “the door is closing,” without stating whether someone closed it, or it closed by itself. To put it differently: נִפְעַל has a double role, as a passive verb stem (describing a subject who is being acted upon), and as a stative verb stem (describing a state the subject is in).
Other examples are:
שָׂרַףsaráf ‘to burn’ - נִשְׂרַףnisráf ‘to be burnt’ or ‘to be burning’ רָאָה ra’á‘to see’ - נִרְאָהnir’á ‘to be seen’ or ‘to seem’ צָפָה tsafá ‘to watch’ - נִצְפָּהnitspá ‘to be watched’
Another different nuance נִפְעַל has is to describe some sort of process, usually changes in position. For instance, you would use שָׁכַב shakháv to describe someone who is already lying on a bed, whereas you would use נִשְׁכַּב nishkáv to describe someone in the process of lying down onto a bed. Other examples are:
עָמַד ‘amád ‘to stand’ - נֶעֱמַדne’emád ‘to stand up / be standing up’ שָׁפַךְshafákh ‘to pour’ - נִשְׁפַּךְnishpákh ‘to be poured’ or ‘to pour in/out’ (“The water poured out of the bottle.”) שָׁבַרshavár ‘to break’ - נִשְׁבַּרnishbár ‘to be broken (by someone)’ or ‘to break’ (“My arm broke.”)
Generally, the one aspect in common with all נִפְעַל verbs is that none of them can take direct objects; but that’s about it.
Now let’s talk conjugations!
There are only three tenses–past, present and future–and constructions such as perfect and progressive tenses simply don’t exist.
The most important part to about conjugating Hebrew verbs is knowing their tense. As you know, verbs are always conjugated according to person, number, gender and tense. Within each tense the conjugations share many similarities, however between the tenses the patterns vary considerably.
Past tense conjugations are characterized by suffixes. For each person-gender-number combination a unique suffix is added which encodes information for all three of these. They are as following:
Before I begin explaining, I need to say one more thing. When talking about verb conjugations, syllable stress plays a big role in pronunciation, as you will see in the next paragraphs. Stress in Hebrew words classically falls in one of two places: the ultimate (last) syllable, or the penultimate (second-to-last) syllable. Colloquially, it can fall on other syllables, especially in proper names and loanwords, but this is technically incorrect.
The first three rows are very simple - just add the corresponding suffix to the basic verb form, and that’s it. שָׂרַף > שָׂרַפְתִּי saráf > saráfti (‘burn’), נִשְׁבַּר > נִשְׁבַּרְתְּ nishbár > nishbárt (‘break’).
The fourth row, 2nd person plural, marked with a 1, works similarly, yet there are some notable differences. The stress moves to the last syllable (the suffix), instead of staying on the 2nd radical letter, as with other conjugations. As a consequence, the 1st radical letter in the פָּעַל stem gets reduced to a shva (the null vowel point): שָׂרַף > שְׂרָפְתֶּם saráf > sraftém. As with the copula you learned last lesson, informally it is pronounced as if it was like the first three rows: שָׂרַף > שָׂרַפְתֶּם saráf > saráftem.
The double pronunciation situation going on with these (in the formal pronunciation) is because some clusters are easily producible while others aren’t. When the first letter can be easily clustered it is pronounced with a null vowel, when it isn’t it is pronounced with an /e/ (rarely as /a/). For example: שָׁמַר > שְׁמַרְתֶּם shamár > shmartém; but מָרַח < מְרַחְתֶּם marách > merachtém (‘smear, lather’), and עָרַך > עֲרַכְתֶּם ‘arákh > ‘arakhtém (‘set (a table); edit’).
The last two rows are a bit more complicated. Instead of being pronounced with the stress still on the 2nd radical letter, it also moves to the suffix. However, here it is the 2nd radical that gets reduced to a shva. שָׂרַף > שָׂרְפָה saráf > sarfá, נִשְׁבַּר > נִשְׁבְּרוּ nishbár > nishberá. Consonant clusters of more than 2 consonants aren’t possible, so the shva in the נִפְעַל conjugation is pronounced as a /e/ instead of as no vowel.
You might’ve noticed the last rows, marked with a 2, have that pesky double pronunciation going on. This is because פ־ע־לp-’-l is an irregular root.
As I’ve said earlier, roots are irregular depending on their letters. In פ־ע־ל, the ע is the irregular. It is part of the guttural letters, called so because they’re classically pronounced deep in the throat (guttur in Latin). These letters are א, ה, ח, ר, ע, contracted as הָאָ״ח רַ״ע / רֵ״עַ (ha’ách ra’ ‘the brother is bad’ or ha’ách réa’ ‘hooray, a friend’). Three of these letters–א, ע, ה–cannot take a null shva (שְׁוָא נַח), simply because it is hard to pronounce. (The other two can, but also give rise to some problems in other instances.) Therefore they are usually pronounced with a dummy vowel inserted, depending on the surrounding vowels. This dummy vowel is usually notated as a tnu’á hatufá (סֱ סֲ סֳ) - hence the complicated origin I didn’t explain in the 1st lesson!
The right pronunciation, not marked with the 2, is the general case. The left one is the specific pronunciation with the gutturals.
While the past tense is characterized by suffixes, the future tense is characterized by prefixes, sometimes combined with suffixes. These prefixes are always one of four letters: א, י, ת,נ - contracted as אֵיתָ״ןeytán. It is fairly simple, and goes as following:
The variation between /o/ and /a/ is weird and really only depends on the verb. The only way to know which it is is to memorize: it’s תֹּאכַל tokhal (‘she will eat’) and תִּפְתַּח tiftach (‘she will open’), but תִּשְׁבֹּר tishbor (‘she will break’) and תִּשְׂרֹף tisrof (‘she will burn’).
As you can see, the characteristic נ prefix of the נִפְעַל stem is gone in the future conjugations. This is because it underwent full assimilation into the following consonant (effectively it melted into the following consonant): יִנְשָׁבֵר > יִשְׁשָׁבֵר > יִשָּׁבֵר yinshavér > yisshavér > yishavér. The dagesh in the 1st radical letter signifies that assimilation, as will be explained in a future lesson. An important consequence of this is that any בג״ד כפ״ת letters in the 1st radical position are pronounced hard, in all future נִפְעַל conjugations.
The irregular conjugations are marked with an asterisk in both tables. These have double pronunciations for the same reason as in the past conjugations: the word-final stress causes the 2nd radical letter to be reduced, and because the root פ־ע־לp-’-l has a guttural 2nd letter (ע), it cannot be pronounced with the reduced shva and gets a reduced /a/ instead. Again: the right pronunciation is the general case, while the left is specific to gutturals.
2nd and 3rd person feminine plural conjugations, as you can see, are put in parentheses. This is because, as you remember from last lesson about copulae, these days the feminine and masculine conjugations have merged into the masculine form. It would be very rare these days to see a 2nd or 3rd person female plural verb conjugated as תִּפְעַלְנָה / תִּפָּעֶלְנָה instead of יִפְעַלוּ / יִפָּעֲלוּ. This is true for all verbs, so I’m not going to say this after teaching each stem’s conjugations.
Before I move on I need to make one remark about the obviously missing tense - present tense. The present tense in Hebrew works differently to the two others, so I found it more suitable to introduce it after I finish past and future for all stems/
OK so that was quite a bit for one lesson - but it doesn’t mean you don’t need to exercise what you’ve just learned!
For the next ten lessons, I’ll leave out the verb and you need to fill it out according to the root and tense given. Each subject will have its pronoun in parentheses (if it isn’t a pronoun anyway), so you can practice those too. On we go!
1. אָכַל. hakélev akhál harbé basár. “The dog ate a lot of meat.”
2. פָּרְשָׁה.achotí parshá mehalimudím. “My sister dropped out of school.”
3. יִשְׂרְפוּ. hem yisrefú et ha’etsím. “They will burn the tree / wood.”
4. פָּעַל. rósh hamemshalá Rabín pa’ál letovát hashalóm. “Prime Minister Rabin acted towards peace.”
5. אַחֲטֹב / אַחְטֹב. aní achtóv / achatóv etsím rabím, “I will log / cut down many trees.”
6. חָשַׁבְתָּ. atá chashávta lo nakhón. “You were thinking wrong,”
7. תִּגְדַלְנָה / יִגְדְּלוּ. hachatulót tigdálna / yigdelú harbé ‘im hashaním. “The cats will grow up a lot as years go by.”
8. שְׁבָרְתֶּן. atén shvartén et hashulchán. “You broke the table.”
9. אָהַבְתְּ. at ahávt otó me’ód. “You liked him a lot.”
10. יָשַׁבְנוּ. anáchnu yashávnu sham. “We sat / were sitting there.”
That’s it for this lesson!
Talk about dense information.
Next lessons I’ll be explaining the conjugations of the other two verb stem groups (הִפְעִיל&הֻפְעַל, פִּעֵל&פֻּעֵל&הִתְפַּעֵל), then the elusive present tense. They won’t be as information dense, hopefully, since I already explained a lot of the basics this lesson.
[GIF description: Image of a man and a woman chatting beside an open window overlooking the ocean at sunset. The text reads “firgun (פירגון) (n.) the simple, unselfish joy that something good has happened, or might happen, to someone else”
This lesson I’ll finally be finishing up Hebrew verb stems with the last group of stems: פֻּעַל, פִּעֵל and הִתְפַּעֵל - also called the heavy stems (בִּנְיַנְים כְּבֵדִים binyanim kfvedim) or the double stems (בִּנְיַנְים כְּפוּלִים binyanim kfulim).
The main feature distinguishing them from other stems is a dagesh on the 2nd radical letter, which also gives them their names (note that because ע is a guttural letter it cannot take a dagesh, so it doesn’t appear in the very name of the verb stems - but it’s there). Historically, this dagesh signified gemination, or doubling of a consonant, much like an Arabic shaddah. For instance: כָּתַב ‘(he) wrote’ would be pronounced katav, whereas כַּתָּב ‘reporter’ would be pronounced kattav. These days letters with a dagesh are not pronounced differently than the same letter without a dagesh, but its effect can still be seen - for example in בג״ד כפ״ת, that did not go under ‘softening’ when geminate, and therefore retain their hard pronunciation in verb and noun stems that contain a dagesh.
Now let’s leave the technicalities aside and dive into the verb stems’ individual meanings.
In Hebrew some prepositions are single words, just like in English, while other times they are prefixes that are added onto the word that follows. One example is the prefix מ, which means from and depending on what letter the word begins with will determine whether the vowel e or i will be added. If the word starts with guttural consonant (ח,ה,ר,א) e will be used otherwise i will be used with every other word. You can look at the table below to see how this is demonstrated
It is also good to keep in mind that Hebrew doesn’t have a present tense form of the verb to be and there is also no indefinite article (a or an) in Hebrew either, although there is a definite article which is ה, a prefix that attaches to the noun that comes after it.
In Hebrew, questions that can easily be answered with כן (ken) or לא (lo) can be made by adding questions marks to the end of affirmative sentences and using question intonation. That means the sentence in the first box can be turned into a statement simply by removing the question mark and using different intonation. That’s all for now, see you next week!
honestly loshon hakodesh is so beautiful and logical and profound - the structure, the grammar, the shoreshim, the connections, gematria - its so beyond human intellect, and i get overwhelmed by the fact that i’m zoche to be learning this language that is so beyond me, the language that hashem communicated to my forefathers and foremothers in, the language of miracles and holiness.
so as i just wrote out a kick-butt list to @henrymaxm, i’ll reprise it for you (and anyone else who cares) here:
Great Places To Learn Hebrew (on the internets and beyond)
1. Kol Israel Reshet Bet – straight up news. Listen on the half-hour for 5-minute news summaries. Beware, the accent is always a bit on the formal side.
2. IsraLA – oldies from the west (best?) coast. If you’re an east coaster like me, remember that 9am your time is 6am their time, so the mood may be a bit more mellow.
3. Galgalatz – IDF/צהל official radio. They play a lot of English-language music, the suckers.
4. My own personally curated (and also open/collaborative!) Spotify playlist. 2+ days of Hebrew hits and counting.
5. But if you REALLY want to learn Hebrew, you’ve got to go here. It’s the bomb dot com as the kids used to say, and it whipped me into Hebrew shape real good and real fast.
Hope that helps all the Mediterranean-style linguaphiles out there.
PS You can always try the tried and true method of finding an Israeli boyfriend/girlfriend, OR, the patented Trugman-style method of finding your run-of-the-mill Hebrew-speaking toddler and assaulting him/her with nonsensical conversation. Toddlers are, personally speaking, by far my best audience.