Word of the Day / Lekhathila

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In Western law you've got distinctions between premeditated murder and manslaughter; if you brought your gun with you when you went to confront your friend about sleeping with your wife, you're more likely to be dead meat on the witness stand.

Jewish law makes a similar distinction, between lekhathila and bediavad (or bedieved); kashrut observers aren't supposed to intentionally put their cream cheese sandwich on a plate designated for meat (lekhathila), but if they forgot and did it anyway, then retroactively (bediavad) it's not that big a deal.

Both those terms have made their way into modern Hebrew, with lekhathila (le-khaht-KHEE-la) coming from tehila, or "beginning."

The term means "from the outset" or "in the first place," as in, "No, I'm not going to pay you extra to fix the wiring in my apartment, because if you would have installed it correctly lekhathila I would have been able to plug in my toaster without causing a blackout."

If you're lucky, an ounce of prevention just might give you the head start you need, lekhathila, and keep you from paying for a pound of cure.

To contact Shoshana Kordova with column suggestions or other word-related comments, email her at shoshanakordova@gmail.com. For previous Word of the Day columns, go to: www.haaretz.com/news/features/word-of-the-day.

If you find yourself in a court of law, make sure you know how things happened in the first place.Credit: AP

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