Wednesday, 3 February 2010

What do you mean, "nice, bah" ?

Visiting the Kabbalah centre introduces you to all kinds of Hebrew phrases. Phrases which eventually become part of your own vocabulary.

Shabbat Shalom (peaceful shabbat)
Chodesh Tov (Good month)
Chag Samear (Happy Holiday)

These have been sliding off my tongue as though part of my native language for several months now. But recently a few others have started to creep in - those not related to moments in the calendar.

When I hear a phrase often enough I eventually ask what it means, rather than drop it in to my sentences in ignorance (something that I have a tendency to do with English! - like "Oh, he's so vacuous!" - I know what I think it means, and it sounds right, but if asked to define it I have no idea...)

One of the phrases is Baruch Hashem! (or 'Praise God!'). Easy enough to remember and use.

Last week, however, I received an email from W which kind of confused me. Her dog had been sick and I'd asked how he was. She replied "He's still in pain but improving. BAH! He'll be fine" and I thought that this was maybe a Yiddish version of the dismissive "Pah!" Pah! Whatev! He'll be fine!

Then this morning I rang my Lettings Agency. Let me make this clear: I am determined to move. I know that this will happen. I don't know how it will happen, or who I will live with - there are still so many questions unanswered and still so many things to sell before I have a 'house share' number of possessions and logistically it does not seem remotely possible - but I am focused on removing all doubt. I'm moving. So I plucked up the courage to call up the agency to give my one month's notice.

"Okay, well you can let us know that you want to move, but we cannot accept your notice until the 25th of February - because you are on a monthly contract and so everything has to be based on the full month. Plus it becomes complicated if you leave partway through the month because then we have to work out the number of days to charge you"
My little internal voice gave a deep sigh of relief. Phew! I cannot move until the 24th of March! I have 3 extra weeks to sell all of my stuff - that's far more realistic! Nothing I can do about it! They can't possibly divide my rent by the number of days in the month to work out how much I owe...

No, no, no, no, no. I have to move. I have to start my new life.

"Okay, well, here's the situation" I said "My financial situation is sooo not good, that if you tried to take a month's rent on the 25th of February, the bank would reject it because the money simply won't be there. So if there is anything that you can do..."
"Let me have a word with your landlord" she replied.

Ten minutes later she called back to confirm that I could leave by the 2nd of March, that there would be six days of rent to pay, and if there were any issues, this could be taken out of my holding deposit.

I emailed W to tell her what I had done. She emailed back:
"BAH! I am so proud of you! Your actions will bring such Light BAH!"

What? BAH!? I am so proud? So is she proud or mocking me? I didn't get it.

And then it clicked - she was abbreviating a term I had started to hear and use on a regular basis:
Bli Ayin Hara (pronounced 'Blee Ein Ha-rah') which means 'No Evil Eye'

It is a phrase of protection which is used (oh so frequently) whenever you put something out there in words that could be jumped all over by any negative forces (which, obviously, are just hanging around waiting for the perfect opportunity to stamp all over your hopes). The last thing you want to do is to tell somebody that they are about to bring such Light, or that everything will work out fine, or they are bound to get the job, or the event is bound to sell out, and have some nasty little gremlin grab hold of the words and stomp all over them, ruining whatever chance they had.

So saying "Your actions will bring such Light! Bli Ayin Hara!" is basically keeping the positive statement true.

And she was also not mocking her dog.

An hour or so later I emailed my teacher to give him an update of how I was getting along - how I felt after the Mikveh, that I was still scanning the Zohar for 30 minutes a day without the need to stand on my head or listen to music, and the certainty I had grasped with the Lettings Agency earlier in the day. I didn't expect a response, but received an email in reply which simply read:

"Nice, bah"

Oy vey, Baruch Hashem that I worked that one out beforehand....


  1. Well, things are moving ahead...good for you, BAH!

  2. Thank You. Ha! You catch on quick! BAH!

  3. Thank you for enlightening me. I thought BAH was a transcript error from Israel over the internet. That is actually quite beautiful.