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Plowing through History from the Aleph to the Tav

Topics Definition of Modern Hebrew Words


By Jeff A. Benner

Aliyah refers to the Jewish immigration to the land of Israel. Most modern Hebrew words are created out of Biblical Hebrew roots and the word עלייה (aliyah) is one of these. The root of this word is עלה (Ah-L-H, Strong's #5927), which means “to go up.” In Biblical Hebrew the word עלה (aleh, Strong's #5929) comes from this root and means a “leaf,” as in up in a tree.

In Jewish thought, Israel is at the top of the world and whenever one goes to the land of Israel they “go up” or “aliyah.” While aliyah refers to the process of immigrating, a male who immigrates is called an עולה (oleh) and a female is an עולה (olah).

The opposite of Aliyah is ירידה (yeridah), an immigration out of the land of Israel. Yeridah comes from the Biblical Hebrew root ירד (Y-R-D) meaning “to go down.”

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