Monday, June 22, 2009

Attention dikduk/grammer geeks: Niftar???

I've heard this word at work, and read it in the Jewish Press newspaper and on various blogs, and it seems to mean "died," but not quite--people seem always to say, "s/he was niftar."

Is "niftar" related to "poter"? The text of Ba-meh madlikin (Mishna, Shabbat, chapter 2), found in Orthodox siddurim/ prayer books between the Kabbalat Shabbat and Maariv/Arvit/Evening Services for Shabbat/Sabbath tells us, "Rabbi Yosé poter b'chulan, chutz min ha-p'tilah, mipné sheh-hu osah pecham, Rabbi Yosé absolves him in all these cases except that of sparing the wick, because he thereby turns it into charcoal."

So "s/he was niftar" means "s/he was absolved," presumably of sin? This is a euphemism, to say that the deceased had sinned rather than that the deceased died???

And what's the connection, if any, between "poter" absolved, and "mutar," permissible?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very good question. When Jews refer to someone as niftar it means that they are no longer obligated in the mitzvot. It comes from the Hebrew word puter. It is not in anyway demeaning the person.

Mon Jun 22, 10:59:00 PM 2009  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Holy Moses, I misinterpreted completely. So "niftar" means absolved from the obligation to perform mitzvot, and is perfectly respectful of the deceased. Thanks for the explanation.

Mon Jun 22, 11:26:00 PM 2009  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

it might also mean "was dismissed" or "excused themself"

Wed Jun 24, 03:52:00 PM 2009  
Blogger Unknown said...

It means departed, left.

The abbreviation
(nun bet lamed " ayin)

-- commonly inscribed on gravestones before the date of death -- stands for
נפטר לבית עולמו\נפטרה לבית עולמה
(niftar le-vet olamo/ nift'ra le-vet olamah)

= who departed (this world) for his/her enternal home.

It has nothing to do with "absolved".

Wed Aug 18, 02:45:00 PM 2010  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Thanks for the information, Yaabetz.

Wed Aug 18, 10:19:00 PM 2010  
Blogger Soleil said...

I understand that the mais is the deceased body, and the niftar is the soul leaving the body and returning to HaShem.

Thu Jan 05, 11:57:00 PM 2012  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Thanks, Soleil.

Sat Jan 07, 08:09:00 PM 2012  

Post a Comment

<< Home

<< List
Jewish Bloggers
Join >>