The Modern Passover Plagues

3 min read
Noa Lara Meir, Citizen Cafè teacher
Noa Lara Meir, Citizen Cafè teacher

Most of us are familiar with the Jewish Passover story. The one with the ten plagues and how God used them against the Egyptians to free the people of Israel. And here we are, thousands of years later, chilling in the promised land. Things have changed quite a bit since Moses’ time, as have the things that we struggle with. We brought you our take on the modern Passover plagues and the Hebrew words you can use to describe them.

But first, what is the meaning of Passover?

Passover, or in Hebrew- Pesach, is the holiday in which the Jewish people, celebrate the date when God took us out of Egypt, where we were slaves. On that day, God told Moses, who then told the jewish people, to mark their doors in a special sign, so God will know to which houses to send the last plague (which was the death of the first-borns) and on which houses to pass over. And that’s why this holiday got its name- because of God passing over the Jewish houses. In Hebrew it’s called Pesach, and has the same meaning!
If you are invited to Seder- the traditional Jewish Passover dinner- don’t forget to greet your host with “happy Passover!” or in Hebrew – “Chag Sameach!”


And now- ready for our modern Passover plagues?

Traffic | פקקים | Peh-kah-keem

Israel’s traffic has worsened tremendously over the past few years, and nowadays it is impossible to trust the estimated arrival time your navigation app provides. Expect to spend a lot of time in your car (or other modes of transportation) if you’re on your way to a Seder. Our tip: podcasts. Or a long Hebrew music playlist

Procrastination | דחיינות | Dahch-yah-noot

Have you ever heard the Hebrew phrase “אחרי החגים” (Ahch-rehi Hah-chah-geem)? It literally means “after the holidays” and is usually used during the holidays of Tishrei, when there are several back-to-back holidays such as Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. As Passover is such a long holiday, it’s only natural for procrastinators to say, “I’ll get to it after the holiday.” If you’re a procrastinator yourself, then good for you, we just offered you the ultimate Israeli excuse! If not, well, good luck with waiting for everyone else. Stay patient, they’ll get there!

Too much talking (חפירות) | Chah-feeh-roht

The Hebrew noun “חפירות” literally means “excavations,” but in slang it’s used to describe a situation when someone is talking so much or asking so many questions, that it feels like they are “digging” through your brain. Passover is the perfect holiday to use this expression. From unwanted questions from all of your relatives about your life, to a lifetime of Haggadah reading before you can actually eat something, and, of course, the overall (very long) duration of the entire Seder, there is plenty of ״חפירות״ at the Passover seder. Thank goodness for all the wine!

Sales | מבצעים | Meev-tsah-eehm

Sales sound like a good thing, no? Who wouldn’t want to buy a cheaper set of cotton sheets or a last-price vacuum cleaner? Well, it’s a slippery slope when there are so many sales and an actual danger for your wallet, mind, and house (which later explodes with stuff you don’t use and will probably throw away during your next Passover clean-up).

Lines | תורים | Toh-reem

Following the point above, as everyone gets pumped about the crazy Passover prices and the urge to buy presents for everyone they’ll meet at the seder, there’s a lot of line waiting to be done. Try going shopping with a friend. If you’re stuck in a line of other gift shoppers, at least you can have some quality time together.

Off-key singers | זייפנים | Zahy-fah-neem

From Had Gadya to Ahad Mi Yodea, the seder invites all participants to engage in harmony as they sing along together. This becomes a problem, though, when the off-key singers start singing out of tune, which causes the whole room to squeak. If your ears are sensitive, we recommend strategically choosing your seat at the table…or, you could just drink more wine.

Despite these potential threats, Passover is all about freedom, family, and spring vibes. Quite the good combo, we would say! So Chag Sameach and לחיים! (Leh-chah-yeem) to life!

Get a FREE practice and find your Hebrew level!
Join us and get 10% off
your first Digital Course!
Sign up to stay in the loop with Hebrew tips, tricks, and awsome content!

You’ve got options

Learn Hebrew online from anywhere in the world with live classes taught by our local teachers!

Learn Hebrew Online

Join us IRL at our Tel Aviv campus with intimate class sizes and our amazing community of locals.

Learn Hebrew in Person
Skip to main content

Keep in touch!

Join our Newsletter and get your Hebrew going

Sign up to stay in the loop with tips, tricks, and more for learning Hebrew!