Passing Phrase -

Even Negef

Literally: Stumbling block
Idiomatically: Obstacle

The word "negef" is usually associated with the word "mageifa" מגפה meaning a plague (Exodus 12:13). It can also refer to hurting someone (Exodus 21:22). The way we use it today as a hindrance can be traced to the book of Ben Sira (32:20) while the phrase itself can be found in Isaiah (8:14). As in English, the phrase can be used to denote a physical obstacle or an intellectual one.

המצב יכול להיות אבן דרך ולא רק אבן נגף.

Hamatzav yachol lehiyot even derech velo rak even negef. The situation can become a stepping stone and not just a stumbling block.

As an aside the phrase is also used to describe the Stolperstein Project in Germany. Begun by artist Gunter Demnig in 1992, it consists of a brass plaque placed in the pavement commemorating someone's last residence before deportation or murder by the Nazis. The name was chosen for an anti-Semitic saying, that whenever someone would stumble in the street "a Jew must be buried here." As of 2020 there were over 75,000 such plaques, mostly around Germany.

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