Yiddish: davnen (דאַוונען)

rubidou

Member
German
Hello everyone,

I've been wondering for quite a while now about the roots of the word for jewish prayer/praying: to daven/davening (Yinglish) resp. דאַוונען davnen. Somewhere I've come across the suggestion it may be traced back to "office divin" (french: divine service), but I have no confirmation.
Does anyone know for certain where the word comes from or else where to look for more reliable information?

Thanks in advance!
rubidou
 
  • ancalimon

    Senior Member
    Turkish
    devin, devinim means "kinesis", "to move with a repeating pattern", "to change from one spiritual mood to another spiritual mood", "the situation of a moving thing with reference to something which is stationary", "referring to two geometrical systems which, oriented perpendicularly to each other" in Turkish.

    Maybe related to wheel, turning in concept ? DÖN (turn)?

    http://www.seslisozluk.com/?word=devinmek
    http://www.seslisozluk.com/?word=devinim

    Also tepin (to stomp oneself, to hit your feet to the ground repeatedly with anger or rage) and tapın (to worship oneself) and taparu>doğru (towards, the right, correct)
     
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    rubidou

    Member
    German
    This idea of moving, changing moods, the whole connotation of dynamics might be of relevance in this context (I'm reminded of the Chassidim with their at times lively and dynamic way of praying), but then again I guess it's quite improbable that any link with the Turkish language can be established.
    The only Turkish word I came across in broad Jewish context is indeed dönme (sect/creed evolving from the Sabbatean movement), which seems to derive from dönmek.
     

    elianecanspeak

    Senior Member
    English - EEUU
    "...attributed to the American Jewish studies professor Arthur Green ... the word daven means "gift" in Lithuanian.
    When Jews trading in the marketplaces of Lithuania would break off their work in order to daven Minchah, the afternoon service, they would explain what they were doing by translating the word Minchah, which means "offering" or "gift," into the vernacular."

    http://www.thejc.com/judaism/jewish-words/daven
     

    rubidou

    Member
    German
    Interesting! I actually just looked it up on the internet (Lithuanian - English dictionary) and I found dovana (=gift).
    Sounds like another plausible explanation, doesn't it?

    I'm also a little embarrassed I didn't know that mincha means gift or offering (flower offering, as I read on Wikipedia). I always wondered where that word came from, but I guess I always associated it with מְנוּחָה.
     
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    elianecanspeak

    Senior Member
    English - EEUU
    Usage for "daven" in Yiddish related languages include :

    · Plattdeutsch (Low [ie lowland] German) : shake; tremble

    · Dutch :(obsolete) shake, tremble, waver

    · Modern German "toben" : throw a fit; rollick about; rant


    This could allude to the Chasidic custom of bodily movement while praying.


    (NB: When I tried to go to the site origami suggested http://www.google.com/search?q=site:http://mendele.commons.yale.edu/wp/category+davnen it was no longer available.)
     

    shmu26

    New Member
    English
    The shaking/trembling idea indeed sounds very convincing, but I have a question about it: does the use of the word daven precede Hassidism, and in which areas did it first appear? Hassidism has definable geographic areas. For instance, Lithuania is non-Hassidic.
     

    elianecanspeak

    Senior Member
    English - EEUU
    Rabbi Simche Sherer (a dayan of the Beit Din, Manchester, England) writes:

    According to the Admor (Rebbe) of Vishnitz, the explanation of word "daven" is as follows. It is not German, Latin, French or Hebrew. It is an original Yiddish word. The etymology of "daven"
    [NB: as noted in previous post #9 there are possible Germanic etymologies]

    Among possible etymologies already discussed on this thread Wikipedia Jewish prayer - Wikipedia includes “from Arabic (from diwan, a collection of poems or prayers”

    A number of sources note that “daven” is an eastern Yiddish term, while in western European areas the word used was “oren” from derivatives of the Latin “orare”

    Here is a discussion from Balashon the Hebrew Language detective” Balashon - Hebrew Language Detective: daven

    I am trying to find a reference to the first written usage as well.
     
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    shmu26

    New Member
    English
    Let's think this through: if "daven" was what non-Jews called Jewish prayer, it would make a lot of sense that they called it "shaking". After all, that is what they see.
    But as far as we know, it is not what non-Jews called it, it is what Jews called it. It is primarily a Yiddish word, not a German or Polish or Lithuanian word.

    In Yiddish, the shaking done during prayer is called to "shuhkel". No practicing Jew would say, "I am going to shuhkel now." It would be laughable to say that. Therefore, it does not make sense that "daven" means "to shake," because Jews would not describe their own prayers that way.
     

    elianecanspeak

    Senior Member
    English - EEUU
    I am also thinking of the idea of "fear and trembling before adonai" in the tanach :


    “To this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit and trembles at My word.” Isaiah 66:2.

    .דְּבָרִי-עַל וְחָרֵד ,רוּחַ-וּנְכֵה עָנִי-אֶל--אַבִּיט זֶה-וְאֶל


    Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Tehillim 2:11

    .בִּרְעָדָה ,וְגִילוּ ;בְּיִרְאָה יְהוָה-אֶת עִבְדוּ
    (NB : translation of יִרְאָה includes "awe, reverence ; piety," as well as fear or dread)

    In this context it would make sense that daven means "to shake" or "to tremble".
     
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    shmu26

    New Member
    English
    I am also thinking of the idea of "fear and trembling before adonai" in the tanach :


    “To this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit and trembles at My word.” Isaiah 66:2.

    .דְּבָרִי-עַל וְחָרֵד ,רוּחַ-וּנְכֵה עָנִי-אֶל--אַבִּיט זֶה-וְאֶל


    Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Tehillim 2:11

    .בִּרְעָדָה ,וְגִילוּ ;בְּיִרְאָה יְהוָה-אֶת עִבְדוּ
    (NB : translation of יִרְאָה includes "awe, reverence ; piety," as well as fear or dread)

    In this context it would make sense that daven means "to shake" or "to tremble".
    I like it!
     
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