pazatzta
Pazatsta. Photo by Gil Eliyahu
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If you haven't served in the army, you probably were never ordered to perform a pazatsta, but if you've ever seen an Israeli soldier suddenly execute something like a head-first slide into second base from a standing position, that's probably what you witnessed.

A mainstay of basic army training, pazatsta is a maneuver performed under enemy fire. The term is an acronym for "fall flat, crawl for cover, locate the source of attack, aim and fire." So in training, when the commander shouts "pazatsta," that’s your cue to drop to the ground.

It’s an order repeated in drills ad nauseum, the goal being to go from an unassuming standing position to prone on your stomach within the blink of an eye and to make it a reflexive action where the body responds even before the mind has a chance to comprehend.

So if little Yossi suddenly drops to the ground face first, an appropriate, if slightly twisted, remark might be: "How cute! Not even in the army, and he's already doing pazatstot."

Shoshana Kordova will resume enlightening and entertaining Word of the Day readers on October 9.