Passing Phrase - www.learnhebrew.org.il

Megaleh Tefach Umechaseh Tfachayim/Tefachim

Literally: Showed a handbreadth but hid two
Idiomatically: To hide more than one reveals

This is a great phrase for a suspense writer but not so much for a politician. A "tefach" is a measurement of about 9 cm (Exodus 25:25). The word "Legalot" means to reveal, and something is revealed, it is גלוי "galui" (Numbers 24:4). And finally the word "mechaseh" stems from the root chaf-samech-hey כ'ס'ה meaning to cover (Genesis 9:23). Now that we have all that straightened out, the phrase itself is Talmudic (Nedarim 20:2; Berachot 23: a) and refers to someone who shows you a little bit but hides even more. A newspaper heading referring to the hidden losses of a major fashion empire stated

חברת האופנה: מגלה טפח ומכסה טפחיים.

"Chevrat ha'ofnah: Megaleh tefach umechaseh tfachayim."

The fashion company is hiding more than it reveals.

Interestingly enough another interpretation of the word "galui" means something known or rather is known to all (Baba Metzia 59b). I guess in this case information that the fashion company is probably not interested in discussing.


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