Tuesday, August 29, 2006


One of the basic words in the vocabulary of the Gemara is Teiku, a word that is used to express the idea that a question that was asked cannot be answered using the knowledge that we have. But what does the word literally mean?

Someone pointed me to the Aruch on the root Teik. The Aruch says that Teiku is derived from the word "teik", meaning pouch, referring to the idea that the answer is, so to speak, placed in a pouch whose contents are unknown to us (Schroedinger's teirutz, as it were). He then quotes "Binyamin" (which, I was told, refers to the Mosaf HaAruch) who says that it's a contraction of "isht'ku", meaning "be silent". This is an interesting twist on the word, in that it does not only acknowledge our inability to answer the question, but actually implies that we should not even try to answer it, that any time expenditure on the topic is not worthwhile. Next, he quotes R' Yaakov Sisportas of Oran, who says that it's a contraction of "teikum", meaning "let it stay as it is", unanswered; the Aruch then states that this third answer is the correct one.

The Aruch notes that the famous d'rash of the word as being an acronym for "Tishbi Yitareitz Kushios V'havayos" is merely a siman, and not the true definition of the word.



At 5/29/2007 3:28 PM, Anonymous mm said...

thankyou so much.i was looking for the explanation of teiku and googled it. and your blog came up.

At 5/30/2007 9:21 AM, Blogger Josh M. said...

Thank you for your comment. Providing easily findable answers to questions that I was unable to easily find myself online is one of the motivations behind some of my posts, so I'm glad that you found this post useful.


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