Why is the dairy armadillo
Why is Heather the hairy armadillo climbing on an old shoe? Kakha. Photo by AP
Text size
Wikipedia
Just so stories: How the rhino got his wrinkly skin. Photo by Wikipedia

Douglas Adams’ answer to the question of life, the universe and everything may be 42, but the Hebrew language has its own response: kakha (KA-kha), the ultimate answer to “why” (lama) that is both evasive and irrefutable.

Though “kakha” is akin to “because” in the context of a non-answer answer, it is generally used to mean “in this manner,” as in the verse from the Book of Esther that describes the evil Haman walking through the streets leading his archenemy Mordechai on the king’s horse and calling out: “Thus [kakha] shall it be done unto the man whom the king delighteth to honor.”

The flexible and utilitarian word also shows up in phrases like the dismissive “kakha zeh” (“that’s how it is”) and “kakha kakha,” the Hebrew version of “so-so.”

Kakha” also takes on the role of “so” in the Hebrew translation of Rudyard Kipling’s “Just So Stories,” that literary version of evolution that explains phenomena like how the leopard got his spots and how the camel got his hump. In Hebrew, the story collection has a variety of titles, all of which include “kakha”: "Sipurei Kakha Stam," "Sipurei Davka Kakha," "Sipurei Kakha Vekakha" and "Sipurei Kakha Zeh."

So why couldn’t Israeli publishers just pick one translation of the title of this classic work and stick to it? That’s easy: kakha.