JEWISH WORDS TZEVIUT

Rabbi Ju­lian Sin­clair’s dip into the dic­tio­nary

The Jewish Chronicle - - Judaism -

WHEREAS THE word hypocrisy has its roots in the Greek for play-act­ing, the He­brew tzeviut de­rives from

tze­vah, which means colour or dye. A tza­vua per­son dyes him or her­self to give off a false ap­pear­ance.

The Tal­mu­dic term for hyp­ocrite is to­cho aino kevoro — one’s in­side ( toch) is not the same as one’s out­side ( bar). In the Tal­mud (Yoma 72b), Rava pro­claims that who­ever does not meet the stan­dard of to­cho kevoro is not con­sid­ered a talmid hacham, a wise stu­dent.

The value of one’s in­ner life match­ing one’s outer ap­pear­ance is learned from the bib­li­cal in­struc­tions (Ex­o­dus 25:11) to coat the ark con­tain­ing the Deca­logue in pure gold, both in­side and out ( see right). Any­thing or any­one who houses the To­rah must be con­sis­tent in their val­ues.

Rabbi Elazar ben Azaria, how­ever, dis­agreed and al­lowed even those who had not yet reached the level of to­cho kevoro to en­ter his academy. As a re­sult, ad­mis­sions rock­eted and hun­dreds of new benches had to be in­stalled in the study hall (Tal­mud, Ber­a­chot 27b). Al­though mod­ern He­brew uses tzeviut as the equiv­a­lent of hypocrisy, the for­mer bears the con­no­ta­tion of de­lib­er­ate ma­nip­u­la­tion, of some­one choos­ing to paint him or her­self and fool other peo­ple and is a much stronger term of de­nun­ci­a­tion.

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