Word of the Day / Lehatzbia

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Tuesday is Election Day in Israel this year, the day when, one hopes, most of the population will be going out to vote, or in Hebrew, lehatzbia (le-hots-BEE-ya).
Lehatzbia also means "to point" or "to indicate." The Even-Shoshan dictionary's first definition for hatzba'a (the noun form) is "raising a finger or hand at an assembly as a sign of agreement and support of the proposal that was made." In other words, it seems the generic word for "voting" came from a specific form of voting, namely pointing or raising one's finger or hand in the air.

One example of the use of lehatzbia to mean "indicate" can be seen in a Hebrew health article about itchiness that could lehatzbia al scabies, meaning that itchy skin could indicate – or point to, if you prefer – the possible presence of that skin disease. This makes sense because indicating, like pointing out, is sort of a figurative pointing that doesn't actually require any finger exercise.

Getting back to the issue of the day – the kind of hatzba'a that involves ballot boxes – there is a popular Hebrew get-out-the-vote message that uses the singular masculine present-tense form of "to vote" (matzbia) and translates roughly as

"Those who vote have an influence." It sounds better in Hebrew, though, and today is the best day of the year to remind those eligible to vote in the Israeli election that, as the Hebrew slogan goes, "Mi shematzbia mashpia."

If you're voting and you know it, raise your hand...Credit: AP

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