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פרשת וירא (כא טו): וַיִּכְלוּ הַמַּיִם מִן הַחֵמֶת וַתַּשְׁלֵךְ אֶת הַיֶּלֶד תַּחַת אַחַד הַשִּׂיחִם

Genesis 21:15: And the water in the bottle was spent, and she cast the child under one of the shrubs.

also found in this context: וכל שיח השדה טרם, מלוח עלי שיח, בין שיחים ינהקו

פרשת חיי שרה (כד סג): וַיֵּצֵא יִצְחָק לָשׂוּחַ בַּשָּׂדֶה לִפְנוֹת עָרֶב וַיִּשָּׂא עֵינָיו וַיַּרְא וְהִנֵּה גְמַלִּים בָּאִים

Genesis 24:63: And Isaac went out to meditate in the field at the eventide; and he lifted up his eyes, and saw, and, behold, there were camels coming.

also found in this context: היום היא שיחתי, עדותיך שיחה לי, שיחה לפני אל [so that no one should suggest that the word שוח has no connection to the word שיח]

Why is siach is used in the context of a bush and also in the context of prayer? Are these two meanings connected?

by the way:

מצאנו מדרש (וירא נג יד) שמקשר ב' פירושים וז"ל "ותשלך את הילד תחת אחד השיחם, אמר ר' מאיר שכן דרך הרתמים להיות גדלים במדבר, א"ר אמי תחת אחד השיחם ששם השיחו עמה מלאכי השרת".

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    The word means to discuss or converse not to pray. – Double AA Nov 6 '15 at 0:13
  • There's no connection. One is שיח and one is שוח – Seth J Nov 6 '15 at 17:45
  • @IsaacMoses correct, whoops. – Seth J Nov 6 '15 at 19:32
  • @SethJ, corrected. – Noach MiFrankfurt Nov 6 '15 at 19:36
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    @NoachmiFrankfurt SethJ corrected it, then you uncorrected it, then I recorrected it. It's correct now. – Isaac Moses Nov 6 '15 at 19:48
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Linguistically, either there is no connection, or they are closely related, depending on which root you decide is being employed. Ernest Klein's Etymological Dictionary (page 654) has 2 separate words spelled שיח. One is "speak, talk, converse" and is traced to the Arabic (was diligent) and is also spelled with a samech. The other means a shrub, traced to the Syriac and Akkadian (there are two other entries for words spelled this way, one being a swimmer and the other a pit or a ditch). So if both instances were employing one form (as will be shown in a moment) then they are linked. If the two instances are just two separate words which share a spelling then there is no connection.

While Rashi says that lasu'ach is "lashon tefilla" and cites Tehillim (and calls forth a fascinating Siftei Chachamim), the Ibn Ezra disagrees. He says that lasu'ach means "lalechet bein hasichim" to go among the sichim, (my translation) -- with sichim being the trees or shrubs. The Rashbam says that he was simply walking among the trees (he doesn't mention talking or prayer at all) whereas the Sforno says that Yitzchak wandered off the road to "pour his conversation (si'ach) bfore God in a field" so he went (I am surmising) among the shrubs (sichim) in order to talk (si'ach).

  • Perhaps then another translation can work as well. דאגה בלב איש ישחנה. This means to put it out of your mind. So, Yitzchok was going to 'chill out'. – HaLeiVi Nov 6 '15 at 1:59
  • Yitzchok was one of the Ovos and didn't chill-out only Amolek did that - Korcho baderech. we must display derech eretz when speaking about great people! – rabbi Nov 6 '15 at 6:16
  • @Danno there is no concept in Hebrew that two words sharing the same letters have a different source meaning. they have a SINGLE meaning which incorporates a number of concepts. its often not easy to determine the underlying definition – rabbi Nov 6 '15 at 6:18
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    @rabbi Hebrew is a language. Unless you think it is the proto-language from which all other languages develop and it was created from nothingness with no overlap in the use of letters, you would have to accept that b-ch-r in Yeshayahu 60:6 comes from a root different from other uses. Ch-kaf-hey could mean wait/hope or fish hook, depending on the root-origin. – rosends Nov 6 '15 at 12:09
  • @Danno, even if the etymologies are different, there could still be meaning inherent in the same letters ending up meaning different things, if we assume that God may have chosen to direct the development of the language. More to the point, His choice in using words with the same letters in these apparently different contexts is worthy of investigation for embedded meaning. – Isaac Moses Nov 6 '15 at 17:37
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R' Samson Raphael Hirsch, in his commentary on these two verses and on Genesis 2:5, says that "שיח," in both contexts, refers to "growth."

In 21:15, R' Hirsch interprets "תַּחַת אַחַד הַשִּׂיחִם" as, generically, "under something that was growing there," underlining Hagar's panicked indifference to where she dropped Yishmael, to the point of not taking note of whether the vegetation would be the comfortable kind or the harmful (e.g. thorny) kind.

Slightly differently, in 2:5, R' Hirsch interprets "שִׂיחַ" as referring not to the vegetation (which Genesis 1 had told us predated mankind) but "the activity of growth," which was awaiting rain, which God was yet to grant to the land as a gift to mankind.

Finally, on 24:63, R' Hirsch comments that

שיח denotes the inner growth of spirit and feelings, gathering thoughts and feelings. Like התפלל steeping one's inner self with thoughts and feeings of purity and integrity.

(Parenthetical notes elided here. - IM)

Similarly, in an aside in his comment on 2:5, he says

Praying, looked at from this point of view, is simply drinking from the source of all spiritual life, accordingly, watering all the fibres and filaments of our inner being to produce new blossoms.

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    "!אין השאלה אומרת אלא "הרב הירש, דרשני – Isaac Moses Nov 6 '15 at 17:27
  • There's no connection. One is שיח and one is שוח – Seth J Nov 6 '15 at 17:45
  • @SethJ R' Hirsch frequently makes connections between roots more apparently dissimilar than those. – Isaac Moses Nov 6 '15 at 17:51
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It's not really a matter of context. It is a word and it happens to be the name of an object. Connections of this type are typically very weak and are therefore endless.

The basis for these connections are often more Kabbalistic, based on the idea that the letters define the life of the concept. Therefore, same letters = same life force. But don't expect a straightforward answer.

But if you still want to hear suggestions, the bush might be named as such because it wispers. Or perhaps, the other way around. People hold private conversations near a bush. Kind of like the connection between the eave and eaves dropping.

  • There's no connection. One is שיח and one is שוח – Seth J Nov 6 '15 at 17:45
  • I have edited the question and there IS a connection! – rabbi Nov 7 '15 at 17:25
  • @rabbi That's Drush. Not necessarily a linguistic connection but rather that the Torah used this word as a לשון נופל על לשון, or a spin on words. But it works according to my second explanation. – HaLeiVi Nov 8 '15 at 5:23

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