Passing Phrase - www.learnhebrew.org.il

Pach Ashpa

Literally: Trap for garbage
Idiomatically: Garbage can, rubbish bin

Although this may not be the most intellectual phrase, well, it had me curious. "Ashpa," or garbage is easy - it comes directly from the Talmud (Baba Metzia 5:7). But I had a problem with "pach." There were two schools of thought: One, that it stemmed from the word "pach" which usually refers to a thin sheet of metal (Exodus 39:3), and since garbage cans are made out of metal…. Another thought was that the word "pach" can also mean a trap (Proverbs 7:23) and the idea was that the garbage can traps the garbage. A bit of a stretch? Well, considering how much trash seems to find its way outside my neighborhood garbage bin, it may be referring to Psalm 124:7: "HaPach nishBar ve-Anachnu Nimlatnu" - the trap broke and we escaped. Or it could just be kids who didn’t close it properly.

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