In Parashat Bechukotai, the word קרי comes up often to describe intransigence. What is this word? Is it ever still used?

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    – mbloch
    Commented May 30, 2016 at 18:07
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    Can you clarify what you mean by "What is this word?" so people can better answer you? Clearly you don't need identification of the word, since you've already identified it as קרי.
    – msh210
    Commented May 30, 2016 at 19:16
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    When you ask "Is it ever still used?" do you mean in modern Hebrew? What "still" are you referring to?
    – Rish
    Commented May 30, 2016 at 19:45
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    – mevaqesh
    Commented Jan 5, 2018 at 6:31

2 Answers 2


The word קרי appears only seven times in tanach*, and all of them are here in this section, (according to the Mesorah Ketana,) so there's some dispute about exactly what this word means and what its root is.

*I'm including the word בקרי, also only found here, in this count.

I've seen the following explanations:

Happenstance (1)

The ספרא, as brought by Rashi, defines it as ‏**עראי (the opposite of קבוע, fixed). (The implication of the ספרא, according to Rashi, Rashbam and others, is that the word is related to מקרה, happenstance, "ולא תדיר, כאדם שאינו הולך תדיר אצל בוראו" "And not consistent, as a man who does not walk consistently with his creator.")

**spelled עריי in the ספרא itself, but עראי as brought by Rashi.

Happenstance (2)

Rambam, citing the phrase והלכתם עמי, בקרי. והלכתי עימכם, בחמת קרי at the beginning of הלכות תענייות, also treats the word as meaning happenstance, but specifically explains that the phrase והלכתם עמי בקרי is what happens when G-d sends troubles so that people will repent, and instead of doing so, they treat it as happenstance, and so G-d responds with greater troubles - "I will walk with you בחמת קרי." Radak, in his Sefer haShorashim, translates word and phrase the same way. ("If you say that the suffering I bring upon you is happenstance and do not repent for your sins..." - applying the word קרי to our response to events in our lives, rather than service of G-d.) This interpretation appears in other commentaries as well.


Saadiah Gaon (in the backtranslation of his Arabic translation of the Torah found in the תורת חיים edition of the chumash) translates קרי as מריכם - rebelliousness. The linguist Yonah ibn Janach, who considers it part of the קרה root, also says ענינו קשי ערף ומרי - it refers to stubbornness and rebellion.


The early linguist Menachem ben Saruk, as brought by Rashi, explains it as ענין מניעה - resistance. (He treats it as one definition of the two-letter root "קר".)

Targum Onkeles (also brought by Rashi) translates קרי as קשוי, hardness. Rashi explains this as also referring to resistance - hardening one's heart to resist becoming close to G-d.


Rav Moshe Shternbuch suggests that may also be לשון קרירות: coldness - that is, serving G-d without feeling and without hiddur ("beautifying" the mitzvot).

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    +1 Excellent answer. I'll just add that coldness and resistance could be the same linguistic situation.
    – Double AA
    Commented Jun 1, 2016 at 2:03
  • @DoubleAA Since Rish includes my source in his (far more thorough) answer, would it be more proper to fold my answer into his?
    – Lee
    Commented Jun 5, 2016 at 17:54
  • Related: Commentators from the Dubnow Maggid to R. Yosef Shalom Elyashiv ztl on what the sin of behaving casually with HKBU קרי means israelnationalnews.com/news/327994 Commented May 25, 2022 at 11:49

RaSh"I on Wayiqra 26:21 states:

ואם תלכו עמי קרי: רבותינו אמרו עראי, במקרה ...

And if you treat me as happenstance: Heb. קֶרִי. Our Rabbis said that [this word means] temporary, by chance (מִקְרֶה)

  • See a similar usage of the word מִקְרֶה in Devarim (Deut.) 23:11. Has the same definition, and I think that verse is a good example.
    – DanF
    Commented May 30, 2016 at 21:48
  • @DanF No, that is מִקְּרֵה with a Dagesh in the ק.
    – Double AA
    Commented May 31, 2016 at 2:53
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    @haim I've heard this explained as if we treat things happening in the world as happenstance and not attributed to God, then he will let things actually happen by happenstance, which often ends badly.
    – andrewmh20
    Commented May 31, 2016 at 4:40
  • @andrewmh20 Rabbe'inu Baḥya says this in the introduction to Sha'ar HaBitaḥon: "[...] If one does not place his trust in G-d, he will place his trust in something else, and whoever trusts in something other than G-d, the Al-mighty will remove His providence from such a person, and leave him in the hands of the one he trusted [...]."
    – Lee
    Commented May 31, 2016 at 6:49

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