Word of the Day / Davar Akher: That Which Shall Not Be Named

You may be familiar with famous personified pigs like Babe, or Wilbur from Charlotte's Web. But to a certain population in Israel, these characters are something else entirely.

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Some like them: Marcel, a 30 month-old pig-wild boar crossbreed plays with Chloe Lutz in Strasbourg.
Some like them: Marcel, a 30 month-old pig-wild boar crossbreed plays with Chloe Lutz in Strasbourg.Credit: Reuters

The name of the Lord is not the only thing religious people refrain from taking in vain. A long list of not-so-kosher items is also verboten, which a pious Jew would not be caught dead uttering. A particularly interesting example is khazir (kha-ZEER), the Hebrew word for pig, which boasts many a euphemism.

While basar lavan, which was already explored in this column, refers to pork, davar akher (Da-VAHR a-KHER), literally "another thing" or "something else," is how an ultra-Orthodox would describe a different porcine incarnation: the animal itself.

This ecclesiastic eggshell-walking reached heights of absurdity last week, when the Haredi newspaper Hamodia reported that two middle-aged Israelis were killed in the West Bank after their car collided with two "davar akher bar," that is, "wild something else" or, put simply (yet sinfully), "wild boars."

Secular Israelis, who don't mind calling a spade a spade and raising God's wrath in the process, might remember davar akher as the legendary satirical section of the now defunct newspaper Davar, which migrated to Yediot Aharonot after the Labor-affiliated publication went bankrupt in 1996. Alluding to its irreverent content, the section name disclosed that it presented a take on the news that readers were unlikely to find in the other pages of the high-brow, solemn newspaper.

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

You know what this is, even if you won't say it. Credit: AP