For example,

אַל תְּשַׁקְּצוּ אֶת נַפְשֹׁתֵיכֶם בְּכָל הַשֶּׁרֶץ הַשֹּׁרֵץ וְלֹא תִטַּמְּאוּ בָּהֶם וְנִטְמֵתֶם בָּם (al t'shaq'tzu...)

is commonly called בל תשקצו (bal t'shaq'tzu),

אֵת כָּל־הַדָּבָר אֲשֶׁר אָנֹכִי מְצַוֶּה אֶתְכֶם אֹתוֹ תִשְׁמְרוּ לַעֲשׂוֹת לֹא־תֹסֵף עָלָיו וְלֹא תִגְרַע מִמֶּנּוּ (... lo-soseyf...)

is commonly called בל תוסיף (bal tosif), and

לֹא-תַשְׁחִית אֶת-עֵצָהּ לִנְדֹּחַ עָלָיו גַּרְזֶן (lo sashchis...)

is commonly called בל תשחית (bal tashchis).

Why בל (bal)? And what significance does בל (bal) have that it is used for some mitzvos and not others?

  • 2
    בל is an Aramaic synonym for אל. I assume it is related to Hebrew בלי and בלתי. Page 170
    – WAF
    Oct 31 '14 at 1:18
  • @WAF Of course the meaning is the same. Question is why we don't just keep the names as the Torah has them, just as we do with "lo signov" and "lo sisgodedu".
    – Adám
    Oct 31 '14 at 16:07
  • 1
    Isn't "because we speak Aramaic" a sufficient answer (at least for some values of "we")?
    – WAF
    Oct 31 '14 at 17:36

"Bal" is used in Hebrew. You say the word "bal" at least 3 times weekly in the davening:

אף תכון תבל בל תמוט

from Tehillim 93:1

The word means "lest". It probably has a better usage than the term "al" or "Lo" used before negative mitzvoth, as in the Torah context, the commandment is in the "active" voice - "Don't do ...". When speaking about the mitzvah as a subject or title, the term "bal" meaning "lest", may be a more desirable grammatical usage.

Example (somewhat "yeshivish") - "Don't waste that good food - It's bal tashchis". If you took away the word "it's" then, it may sound better, as if your saying, "Don't waste the food LEST you destroy it."

  • 1
    How does this answer my question? It should be a counter- comment to WAF's claim that "bal" is Aramaic. I asked why we change the original phrase.
    – Adám
    Oct 31 '14 at 16:12
  • @NBZ, actually you asked "What is the significance of the word בל (bal)?".
    – msh210
    Nov 2 '14 at 16:58
  • @msh210 That was just meant as a follow-up question. The main question is the "Why" in the title. I'll clarify.
    – Adám
    Nov 2 '14 at 17:28

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