October 27, 2004

by Reb Yudel
Origin of Hol Hamoed?

From the H-Judaica mailing list comes this interesting bit of eytmology:

I would like to suggest the following explanation: The origin
of Chol: The root is H (Het)-l-l (cf. Hullin, Hillul), and not
connected to Hol "sand". Etymology: "to break (the sacred; cf Eng.
"to break the Sabbath"), to untie, to allow (the sacred, the
forbidden"; cf. Arabic Halal "permitted, kosher" = Hebrew muttar
"untied" vs. 'asur 'tied'). Hol ha-Mo'ed is then "the break, the hole
between the Holidays"; yom Hol = "the day that work, etc., are
allowed, or the hole, the gap, the break, between one Shabbat and
another; cf. also Hebrew Halil - "hole-y instrument, flute'; Halal =
"murdered body (punctured by arrows, etc.); Hallon = "a hole for
wind, window". One may add that since l and r often interchange (cf.
miracle: milagro; margaret: margalit), also Hebrew Hor (Hrr) = "hole"
is a variant.

Yona Sabar, Professor of Hebrew and Aramaic

Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures

UCLA, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1511