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It seems that people use the word machalah to refer to cancer not only as a translation of the word (although there might be a more specific and correct translation) but because they do not want to say that someone has cancer. Why do people do this?

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    Maybe you should say that in the question...
    – Double AA
    Apr 14, 2013 at 19:59
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    @DoubleAA - In Chassidic / Yeshiva communities it is basically a universal convention to refer to cancer as "the machlah" (the disease) or "yenna machlah" (that disease). Even when writing in English, they will often call it "the dreaded disease" rather than use the c-word.
    – Dave
    Apr 14, 2013 at 22:33
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    @Dave Like the Tropic of Machalah?
    – Double AA
    Apr 15, 2013 at 3:59
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    @DoubleAA - you know what I mean... I think...
    – Dave
    Apr 15, 2013 at 5:47
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    @msh210 - if they were following her example, they wouldn't talk about the illness at all, even using generic terms.
    – Dave
    Apr 15, 2013 at 13:41

2 Answers 2

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The Gemara refers to Tzaraas as "Davar Acher" - "lit. Something else".

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  • I see that this could be a source. Any explanation as to why the gemara does that?
    – Gavriel
    Mar 8, 2017 at 21:52
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Satmar rov reb yoel said if you call it that then it will hopefully dissapear

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    citing a source would greatly improve your answer Apr 16, 2013 at 12:48
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    Why would calling it "the disease" make it disappear? Am I missing something?
    – Dave
    Apr 16, 2013 at 13:35
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    Alzheimers and Parkinsons can't disappear
    – Zachariah
    Apr 16, 2013 at 14:57
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    @NewAlexandria מי שם פה לאדם? If you are relying on God's help then I don't see the difference.
    – Double AA
    Apr 16, 2013 at 15:16
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    I wonder that Satmar rov reb yoel is saying the choice of words here is not a minhag, but that to use the name of thing thus עֲשִׂיתֶֽם, but maybe if you don't use the name then it is like a prayer that Hashem may עָשָׂ֔הוּ otherwise.
    – Zachariah
    Apr 16, 2013 at 16:19

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