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Alcoholic drinks (and drunkenness) and reward seem like rather disparate ideas! Is there a reason why they might imply one another and do any commentaries interchange between the two to bring some deeper understanding?

A relevant example can be found in Pirkei (6:2) where it says "... do not read ('inscribed') חָרוּת, but rather חֵרוּת ('freedom')":

וְאוֹמֵר (שמות לב) וְהַלֻּחֹת מַעֲשֵׂה אֱלֹהִים הֵמָּה וְהַמִּכְתָּב מִכְתַּב אֱלֹהִים הוּא חָרוּת עַל הַלֻּחֹת, אַל תִּקְרָא חָרוּת אֶלָּא חֵרוּת, שֶׁאֵין לְךָ בֶן חוֹרִין אֶלָּא מִי שֶׁעוֹסֵק בְּתַלְמוּד תּוֹרָה.


Examples can be found here.

Example of שכר for reward:

"וַאֲכַלְתֶּם אֹתוֹ בְּכָל מָקוֹם [...] כִּי שָׂכָר הוּא לָכֶם חֵלֶף עֲבֹדַתְכֶם בְּאֹהֶל מוֹעֵד." (במדבר יח, פסוק לא)

Example of שכר for alcohol:

"מִיַּיִן וְשֵׁכָר יַזִּיר, חֹמֶץ יַיִן וְחֹמֶץ שֵׁכָר לֹא יִשְׁתֶּה; וְכָל מִשְׁרַת עֲנָבִים לֹא יִשְׁתֶּה. " (במדבר ו, פסוק ג)

  • Etymologically, Shekar seems to be a foreign word coming from Akkadian, Aramaic and Arabic (see Even Shushan dictionary). – Al Berko May 16 at 11:36
  • To close voters: The OP asked his question based on words in Tanach, not just words in Hebrew. That’s Hebrew as relevant to Judaism. – DonielF May 16 at 14:48
  • Why did you bring Avos? What does it prove? – Al Berko May 17 at 9:58
  • @AlBerko it's not too prove anything. Just an example of when the same word, with different meanings, has been used interchangeably to provide a 'deeper' meaning – bondonk May 17 at 15:18
  • To prove your point I'd bring Tehhilim 119 where Sin is extensively used instead of Shin: שָׂרִים רְדָפוּנִי חִנָּם ומדבריך [וּמִדְּבָרְךָ] פָּחַד לִבִּי׃ שָׂשׂ אָנֹכִי עַל־אִמְרָתֶךָ כְּמוֹצֵא שָׁלָל רָב׃ שֶׁקֶר שָׂנֵאתִי וַאֲתַעֵבָה תּוֹרָתְךָ אָהָבְתִּי׃ – Al Berko May 18 at 22:06
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According to the Etymological Dictionary of Biblical Hebrew, based on the works of Rav Hirsch, the word שכר, “to get drunk, to express unreal thoughts” (p. 262) and the word שׂכר, “to compensate, to fill a void” (p. 278) are among a set of words which refer to different nuances of blocking or expressing movement. This set also includes סגר, “to close”; סכר, “to seal”; שיר, “sing”; שקר, “lie”; שגר, “cast forth”; שׂקר, “look penetratingly”; ציר, “connect”; סיר, “contain”; and זכר, “store in memory.”

  • HM?! Booze and reward and sing "blocking or expressing movement"? Sometimes the explanation is so abstract it's useless. Should I downvote you or the dictionary? :) – Al Berko May 17 at 9:56
  • @AlBerko What’s wring with that? Booze restricts one’s self-control, singing expresses one’s emotion, etc. – DonielF May 17 at 12:07
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Look very well.

The first verse, it is written as "שׂכר". In the second verse, it is written as "שׁכר". Do you see that little point? This distinguish between Sin and Shin. This is why the writing in the first verse is Sachar (payment), when the second one is Shachar (Alcoholic drink). Hebrew might get confusing, so look well on the Nikud.

  • The OP said as much. What he asked is if there’s any connection between the two words, since they’re spelled identically, but have different vowels, akin to his example of cheirus and charus, which are both spelled חרות. – DonielF May 16 at 14:50
  • What is your point? – The Shwarma May 16 at 15:00
  • My point is that you’re not providing any information not already included in the OP. This is a Q&A forum, not a general discussion forum. – DonielF May 16 at 15:04
  • Shin and Sin are the same letters. Like Bet and Vet or Taf and Saf. the ABC goes קרשת not קרששת. while the nikkud is different it is written the same letters in the Torah. – Al Berko May 17 at 10:00

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