Tuesday, April 29, 2014


A MOLE BY ANY OTHER NAME ... Word of the Day / Khafarperet: The word that means mole but shouldn't, The sages didn't realize Israel has no moles. Hint as to what khafarperet might mean: It probably isn't fruit-digger (Elon Gilad, Haaretz).
Rather more recently, a text of Isaiah [2:20] was found among the Dead Sea Scrolls, which in fact had the word khafarperet as a single word. But this doesn’t free us from the problem of what a khafarperet was, since as we already said - the Holy Land has no moles.


There may not be moles but there are spalax, which are blind rodents that live in holes, also known as mole-rats. The zoologically challenged might be pardoned for thinking the delightful rodents are moles, since they look like moles, dig like moles et cetera.

In modern parlance, when an Israeli sees a spalax (or more likely, a mound created by one), he'll probably tell you it's a khafarferet, not realizing that he's dead wrong and the species is actually a mole-rat, known locally as kholed. But that's okay, since that is probably what khafarperet originally meant anyway.
It's always good when an even number of mistakes makes you right.