Sunday, June 26, 2011

Slang Army Hebrew: Klalot (Curses)

Updated (8/7/2011): Ashkenazi, Chalavi, Dati liDaati, Datlash, Kooseet, Ma nisgar itcha, Pa'ur, Shavuz, Shikdei marak, Shwarma, Smar'toot, Tzair.

In Arab society, insulting someone’s female family members, mother or sisters, is considered a grave insult. Even friends would never do so when messing around with each other. Israeli society, especially the army, is far more forgiving: ‘your momma’ jokes and gabs about each others sisters supply much of the slang and humor.

Curses compromise a disturbing slice of soldier speaks. It took me well over a year in the army to realize this. My poor Hebrew in the early goings of my service only partially explain my lack of understanding. Two other factors played a role. First, cursing was largely absent in my former unit. Part of the reason is that as one of the more elite (and elitist) units in the IDF, my former unit draws a more upper-class, mature crowd who are less inclined to run their mouth at every opportunity. Soldiers avoid excessive cussing not only because of privileged backgrounds but also out of fear of making a bad impression that could lead their peers and officers to send them packing during the frequent peer evaluation-elimination sessions (sociometry). So my cluelessness was not because my former mates were a crew of English peers; fear and mature restraint simply made my early environment a place where cursing was seen yet not heard.

Hebrew is the second reason why it took me so long to recognize the scale of cursing in the army. In English I find cursing distasteful – I myself almost never curse and when people do, the Midwesterner in me has to consciously constrain himself from asking them to watch their language. I find cursing needlessly vulgar and poserish. But in Hebrew, curse words lack the same sting. If anything, I find them humorous and curious. So while I do not use many of the following terms, I do find reason to smile and admire the buzz of vulgar slang my peers throw back and forth with impunity.

WARNING: Do not read further if cursing, in any language, offends you.


Ahabal Doofus, dumbass.

Comes from Arabic, as do most of the curses in Hebrew slang.

Despite the risk in giving him a gun, I wouldn’t trade the ahabal in my platoon for anything. His screw-ups are just too funny.

li’Aber To cheat, to lie.

The source of li’Aber is the word oober (embryo) as if those one is cheating/lying to are children, as if they are, in the English colloquial, ‘born yesterday.’

Do not try to li’Aber during tonight’s navigation. Because what, you think I was born yesterday? I’ll know and you will suffer for cheating.

Aiza basa ‘What a shame;’ Damn, that sucks.

Basa seems to be Arabic for shame. Prefaced by the simple Hebrew term aiza (which, that), the expression takes on an angrier meaning: ‘that sucks,’ i.e. damn it! Similar terms (see defs.) include Inal deenak, keebineemat, and koos emek.

You promised me time off, get someone else to do it. Aiza basa! (courtesy of 'You Don’t Mess With the Zohan')

Arse (pl. arsim) Low-class Israeli male punk.

Defining the arse properly requires a separate article (or simply watch this bizarre video). The reason is not simply because the stereotypes surrounding the arse are so extensive and colorful. The main reason is that the typical arse is, in broad brushstrokes, a large slice of lower class Sephardi youth, and so all the pejoratives assigned to the arse come with the historical tension with which Ashkenazi dominated Israeli society has viewed and treated the Sephardi minority (see here for a quick perspective). The typical arse is also a fair description of the average young male Arab (the likeness between Sephardim and Arabs, of course, is part of the racist tension both communities face. As a Moroccan Jew in the previous link says, “When I look in the mirror I see an Arab. I’ve been taught to hate my own self image all my life.”), providing a further sense of the broader sociopolitical tension behind the use of the class slur arse.

That said, most teenage army soldiers use the term with no broader message other than to describe the sort of low-life greasers they either look down on or confidently embrace as their own biography. The arse they speak of is defined by his fashion, ethnicity and behavior. Gender is also important: arsim are male. While female arsimarsiot—do exist, they tend to be weirdly manly and unappealing even to most arsim. The female equivalent of the male arse is the female frecha (see def.). As for etymology, arse is unsurprisingly an Arabic word, where it has a range of meanings, including pimp, bastard, hero and cuckold.

Fashion-wise, the clothes of the typical arse are tight and loud: the pants close to the hips, the tops covered in fancy (and fake) labels, often replaced instead by a plain wife-beater. Like American gangstas, jewelry is on prominent display: gold chains and a flashy magen david (star of David) or chai (life) are the ice of choice. Up top, the arse will have his hair styled, gelled, slicked, partially dyed platinum or otherwise spiked into some form befitting the derogatory arse nickname: kipud, hedgehog. The arse is rarely seen without proper shoes, an oddity in a country full of barefoot hipsters and sandal slapping settler types.

Most arsim are Sephardi Jews of Moroccan, Persian or Yemenite descent (though Ashkenazi arsim exist as well). This Middle East heritage explains much of arse culture, especially language and location. Hebrew slang, heavily informed by Arabic, is the common tongue of the arse. A friendly arse, drawing off the rich legacy of Middle Eastern hospitality, is quick to call complete strangers endearing slang terms like kapara (see def.) and motek (sweetie). Because most moshavim and kibbutzim were established by the state’s Ashkenazi founders well before most Sephardi immigrants arrived in the 1950s, these communities are largely free of arsim. The arse is essentially an urban blight, most prevalent in towns such as Bat-Yam, Netanya, Petach Tikva, Ashdod, Lod, Beer Sheva and various neighborhoods in South Tel Aviv, Lower Haifa and parts of Jerusalem. In all these locales, the arse can typically be found late on weekend nights spoiling for a fight, ready to respond to any perceived injustice violently. Like his lower class peers across America, the arse on the brink of provoking needless violence will ask his friends to “hold him back” before he “makes prison mistakes.”

Despite (or because of) his violent temperament, the arse rarely serves as a combat soldier (the one exception is the Golani Brigade, known for a high percentage of arsim—and for a high number of combat accidents). Instead he is usually a cook, quartermaster or driver. The arse makes up for this lack of manliness outside the army by carrying a switchblade and broadcasting loud and annoying Arabic style Israeli pop (known as mizrahi, or eastern) music on his cellphone. Trance music is another fave, though there is no surer way of ruining an outdoor trance nature party than a party of arsim showing up uninvited.

The violent attitude of the arse is also expressed in his political, religious and sport preferences. Right wing parties, either the Likud or the Shas Sephardi Religious Party, claim his vote. God claims his faith, though the arse’s spiritual leanings are typically limited to occasionally doffing a cheap kippa and referencing Sephardi luminaries like Ovadiah Yosef while casually disregarding the finer details of religious life. His devotion to a favorite soccer team is more genuine. The arse team of choice is Beitar Jerusalem, providing the yellow and black with a rabid fan base well known for starting fights and mocking opposing players.

After such a long explanation, you have only yourself to blame if you fail to avoid arsim in Israel.

Ashkenazi ‘Jews of German, and more broadly European descent;’ Cracker, aka skinny white guys.

Ashkenazi refers more to appearance and state of mind than ethnicity. While the ashkenazi tends to be an extremely pale, awkward person whose family tree is mired in central and eastern Europe, the true ashkenazi suffers from a lack of emotions, humor, spontaneity, and appreciation for Arabic style Israeli pop (mizrahi) music and spicy food. A similar, though rarely heard, slang expression is yogurt, which has been described as “a fair skinned, well-off Ashkenazi geek with a tendency towards vegetarianism.” In other words, yours truly!

Look at that ashkenazi, awkwardly trying to dance to the pulsating mizrahi music and make eyes with all the cute Sephardi girls. Loser!

At/a chai beseret ‘You (f/m) live in a movie;’ To describe someone as ridiculous, absurd or ignorant.

Ata chai beseret can also be used affectionately, to suggest someone is out of touch minus the malice. Most of the time, however, the expression carries enough contempt to qualify as a dis.

You think girls dig the red beret? You wish, ata chai beseret.

Autist ‘Autistic;’ Moron.

You see how he pointed the gun at himself while trying to unjam it? What an autist!

Bach’yan ‘One who cries;’ Complainer, whiner.

The suffix an is added to many adjectives to describe someone who personifies that adjective. Bo’che means ‘cry,’ and so with the ‘an’ at the end its becomes ‘someone who cries/whines.’ There are many examples of this ‘an’ ending on this list, like chapshan, chartitan, kapshan, etc.

He is simply a bach’yan, I cannot ask him to do anything without him whining.

Beezayone Disgrace.

She is such a beezayone. Her day off and she did not move out of her bed once.

Ben-zona Son of a whore.

Is used as a common insult (the Israeli equivalent of ‘son of a bitch’) or to express how awesome something is.

You ben-zona, we missed the movie because of you. And I heard the film is really ben-zona!

ya’Boozdinak Holy crap, good lord.

“A dirtier version of Golly Gee” is how an Israeli friend defined the term. Really! Has Arabic roots, though I have no idea what they are.

Ya’Boozdinak, we are in a desert and it is raining! I cannot believe this.

Bunker Miser, miserliness.

Bunkers are such a universal military position that the English term is adopted wholesale by nearly every army in the world. Army Hebrew adds an extra slang use to the word, drawing off the association from the strong defensive redoubt to describe the most extreme of misers. Bunker has the same meaning as kamtzan and garzen (see defs.), only it carries a stronger sense of stinginess than those synonyms.

Don’t waste time asking him for anything. He is such a bunker, an army of sappers could not convince him to share his stuff with you.

Chalavi ‘Milky;’ Cowardly, weak, unmanly.

Cow muscle (yep, that what your steak is) is manly, cow milk is not. Or at least that is what this common pejorative suggests. A less common takeoff is the expression ‘milky way,’ the English term crossing over into Israeli slang to express (a) taking the path of least resistance, (b) displaying such cowardice/weakness that it is as if you have entered your own galaxy of unmanliness.

Being unable to remove the hand guards (makpitzim) on your M16 is a sure sign you are chalavi.

Chapper Someone who does the minimum or fulfills a task in the poorest way possible.

Sounds Yiddish, right? Beats me what the source of the term really is.

A poor lieutenant will have a platoon full of chapperim (plural).

Chapshan A lazy soldier.

Chayal PaSHut, ‘simple soldier,’ is the most accepted source for this term. miCHAPesh taSH, ‘search out tash,’ is another possible source. Either way, a derogatory—and considering the culture of this army, a very common— expression.

Honestly, who in our battalion is not a chapshan at heart?

Charman Horny person.

Serving in the infantry would make anyone a charman. Blame all the crawling and lonely sentry posts.

Charta biPita ‘Shit in a pita;’ BS.

Yes, the image is horrible. But Israelis love their pita so much that macabre expressions of this kind make it into the slang lexicon.

Our training is all charta biPita. We run around like headless chickens and don’t learn any real military skills.

Chartitan Bullshitter.

Charta +an = someone full of shit, i.e. a bullshitter.

What a chartitan! This base is nothing like what he said.

Chatichat charah/zayin Piece of shit/penis.

You chatichat charah, one more word out of you and I’ll tear your cheeks off.

Chatzuf Rude.

A chatzuf has no respect and is full of—care to guess? Chutzpa, of course. Chatzuf serves as both an adjective and a noun (like most words on this list), while the similar term chutzpan has the same meaning yet is only a noun. See also pa’ur.

The first soldier punished in basic is always a shockist (see def.). The second? A chatzuf.

Cheekmook Slob, messy.

Describes a soldier’s appearance and/or the condition of his gear. A related pejorative is Cheekimooki, someone so cheekmook they resemble a monkey more than a man.

I don’t even need to inspect your gear. One glance at your unkempt dress is enough to see how cheekmook you are. Your nothing but a cheekimooki!

Chi’noon Nerd.

The Paratroops has many a chi’noon, that’s what happens when you put so many nerdy Ashkenazim together in one brigade.

Chofer Annoying person.

The slang term comes from the word l’chafer, to dig, since an annoying person just keeps digging, getting under your skin, with his annoyance.

Leave me alone, you chofer. Go annoy someone else already!

Cholei (cholat) nefesh ‘Sick soul;’ Messed up.

Tends to be used mostly by girls, hence the feminine cholat nefesh is more common. In short, a girly cussword.

Honestly, you are cholat nefesh, stop saying nice things about me when I know you don’t really love me.

Chooshee’ling Especially, completely.

This Arabic root word is usually applied to negative circumstance. Foo-sheeling is the same word pronounced by folksy Midwesterners trying to fake it in the Middle East.

It is cold chooshee’ling outside.

Cocksineel Faggot.

In French ('coccinelle') this word means ladybug and is also a derisive term for guys in drag. The popularity of French slang in Israel in the 1950s accounts for the army's embrace of the word (As explained by Daniel L!).

Of course our commander hates me. He is a cocksineel.

Dafook Idiot, idiotic.

Dafook is one of several words that all describe, more or less, a moron. The list includes: ahabal, autist, dafook, dibeel, gazur, mitoomtam, saroot and tembel. Each word has its own nuance, though distinguishing between these words is difficult. Someone dafook does things that just scream of idiocy. A dafook is assertively idiotic rather than passively so like the more benign tembel.

You are so dafook, you were supposed to organize the platoon’s rations, not eat all of them!

Dapar, Daparit
Derug Psihotechni Rishoni, ‘Initial psychometric ranking;’ Stupid.

Dapar is one of the parameters used to classify new recruits, drawn from a pre-draft psychometric test. The dapar forms much of a soldier’s kaba, the numbered grade that largely decides where a soldier can serve (a high kaba is necessary for officer school and most elite units). Because receiving a low dapar suggests low intelligence, the term is slang for stupid (noun & adj).

You are really not funny at all, just plain dapar.

Dati liDaati ‘Religious per his mindset;’ Religious when he wants to be.

Datlash dati lishe’avar ‘Religious in the past;’ Someone who once was religious.

Many nonreligious soldiers in the army love to mess with religious soldiers by questioning the latter’s religiosity. Such comments play off the fact that some religious soldiers do indeed lose their faith or falter in their observance during the army. Realities and snide remarks have created a need for slang like datlash and dati lidaati to comment on the phenomena of faltering faith. Of the two expressions, dati lidaati is harsher, designed not to describe an overly intellectual type whose picks and choose based on his own rational calculus but an indiscriminate sort who brushes aside observance when it is inconvenient or not to his benefit.

On the descent into apostasy, dati lidaati may come before datlash but it is the far more hypocritical phase.

Dibeel Imbecile.

A dibeel is just plain stupid.

Can you believe he fell asleep while the instructor was staring at him? A complete dibeel.

Dromi ‘Southerner;’ Residents of southern Israel with arse like tendencies.

Anyone from Beersheva to Eilat, most often found in small development towns like Arad and Dimona. Dromi are arse like punks, saved from complete arsedom only by their relative backwoodness from the urban sleaze that defines the true arse.

On my first night in Israel on birthright, a bunch of dromi punks stole my wallet. Now that I joined the army, these are the guys I serve with.

Fadicha Embarrassing mistake.

A fadicha is more than a faux pas. It is a slip-up that verges on the pathetic yet promises definite laughs when recounted later in the safety of friends. A similar Arabic term is fashla (see def.).

Sometimes I wonder whether joining the army is the fadicha or the fashla of my life?

Faltzani Phony.

Describes one who puts on airs, intellectually/culturally. Derived from the verb lihafleetz, to fart.

My friend warned me I would come across as faltzani if I told other soldiers about my travels in the Middle East before the army.

Fashla Disastrous mistake.

While a fadicha is embarrassing and even humorous, a fashla tends to be a more serious slip-up. Israelis, always keen to embrace the extreme, tend to throw fashla around for trivial catastrophes, to the extent that the word even has a verb form, leFashel.

Throwing a practice grenade at a friend would have been a real fashla had someone gotten hurt. As it is, it will probably go down as my biggest fadicha in the army.

Frecha (pl. Frechot) Tart.

A ditzy girl with too much make-up, too short a skirt, and designer nails that would make Edward Scissorhand jealous. Often accompanied by an arse, so familiarizing oneself with the definition of the arse is enough to avoid frechot as well.

I thought Israel was a land of Bar Rafaelis and hot soldier girls. So where do all these frechot fit in?

Friar Sucker, dupe.

Sort of the opposite of the arse, though both are negative expressions. The arse takes advantage of people. The friar gets taken advantage of. Two role-models no one wants pinned on their shoulder.
Our officer is such a friar, letting the other squads get here first and sign on all the good gear.

Fuk (pl. Fukeem) A screw-up for which soldiers are punished.

Translating fuk as ‘screw-up’ explains how the origin of this term is the English swearword fuck. Despite deriving from the most vulgar of English cusswords, fuk has zero sexual association. Officers and soldiers alike use the word all the time to refer to, for instance, a fuk b’rashmatz (screwing up the inventory list) or a fuk b’ameenut (‘breaking trust,’ dishonesty, among the most serious infractions in the army).

Anyone who does that many fukeem is bound to be kicked out.

Ganoov ‘Stolen;’ Out of your mind.

Describes someone acting crazy, as if his mind is stolen.

What, are you ganoov? Heading off to sentry duty in slippers and not regulation combat boots?

Garzen ‘Axe;’ Miser.

A garzen does not release his goods for anything. He is a bigger miser than the kamtzan, less than the bunker.
I may be a kamtzan but I am not the garzen you are. To prove it, I’ll give you something—here, you can have my dirty laundry.

Gazur Messed up (in the head).

The source of this word—liGzor, to cut—suggests that a crucial nerve in the brain is damaged, causing someone to be messed up. A screw loose, in other words. Saroot (see def.) also suggests someone is brain damaged, except as a result he acts super intense rather than mentally challenged.

He is such a gazur I have doubts whether he should be issued a weapon.

Goel nefesh
‘Disgusting soul;’ Disgusting.

Like cholat nefesh, only nasty rather than messed up.

Anyone who thinks eating cereal with water is disgusting does not know the meaning of goel nefesh.

Inal deenak, inal Sherlock Damn.

Like choosheeling and aiza basa, these twin Arabic expressions are used in the face of a bad situation. Inal Sherlock has another kink, suggesting that the situation is so bizarre or miserable that it requires the powers of a Sherlock Holmes to solve. Similar terms include aiza basa, keebineemat, koos emek.

Inal deenak, I have no idea what to do from here onward in this navigation.

Jeefa Nasty trash, slimy dirt.

Arabic in origin, describes trash or anything dirty and disgusting.

Clean all this jeefa up from the bathroom and our work here is done.

Jobnik Non-combat soldier.

From the English word ‘job,’ with the Russian suffix ‘nik’ (like kibbutznik): someone with a military job, i.e. a desk job, rather than the real work performed by an infantry grunt. Although there are elite non-combat assignments in military intelligence, combat soldiers widely consider all desk soldiers pansies and fit for mockery. Jobnik hence usually carries a pejorative meaning, though the expression can and is also used purely descriptively.

In the infantry, they teach us to love the suck. And to despise the jobnik.

Kader Klitah Derekh Reglaiim, ‘Absorption through the legs;’ Any pointless, unpleasant army activity.

This expression wrapped up in an acronym suggests that running is the route to edification, an apt philosophy for a term that denotes senseless military activity. Kader has expanded past its roots in the physical to encompass everything soldiers deem senseless or unpleasant. So reporting to the army on Saturday night after a weekend leave? Kader. Using inferior equipment? Kader. Waking up early to exercise? Kader. Faulty logistics? Kader. Some say the source of the term is kadoor, ball, from a typical kader in basic training: sprinting back and forth between two random points like a bouncing ball. Bullshit. But no more bullshit than kader itself. Kader is so pervasive that like its yin-yang twin, tash, the entire army experience can be divided between tash or kader.

We wake up to kader, go to sleep to kader. Good Lord, who knew I was drafting to the Israel Kader Force.

Kamtzan l’Kamsetz ‘to hoard;’ Miser, cheap.

Carries the same basic meaning as bunker and garzen, except with a lighter sting and a greater use.

Israeli guy: You are such a kamtzan, what are you, Persian?
Me: Um, Persian?
Israeli Guy: Yeah, Persian, because Persians are so cheap. Only Americans are worse.

liKastaich Kisui tachat; Cover your ass.

When a soldier tries to disguise subpar work or when an officer tries to pass the buck onto his subordinates, they are performing a time honored army custom: liKastaich, covering one’s ass.

You can liKastaich in training but when the shit hits the fan in the field, it ain’t gonna help.

Keebineemat Damn.

This Russian curse sounds better when said with a whiny, Russian accent. Similar terms include aiza basa, inal deenak, koos emek.

Our driver drank too much vodka last night and now isn’t coming to pick us up? Keebineemat!

Kelev, ya Kelev Dog.

Israeli soldiers have nothing against dogs. The intent with this common insult is much the same as calling someone a ben-zona or maniac (see defs.).

Elyakim, ya kelev, go guard the entrance already.

Kriat tachat ‘Ripped ass;’ Suffering.

Any kader (see def.) that makes one feel like they are getting their ass ripped wide open can be described as kriat tachat.

All our training is kriat tachat.

Kooseet Babe, hot girl.

Despite the vulgar etymology—kooseet is Arabic for cunt—the term is widely used, by girls as well as guys. Or as another dictionary suggests, “You won’t actually get hit for using this as a compliment but some find it a little vulgar to flatter a girl by mentioning her intimate anatomy.” A less common term with the same meaning is the Latin word for cousin, koozeena.

Arguing over whose girlfriend is a real kooseet is a classic way to pass the time on a long hike.

Koos emek ‘Your mother’s cunt (Arabic);’ G-d damn it, motherfucker.

Easily the most common swear word in the army. Has a harder edge than aiza basa, inal deenak, and keebineemat, three similar terms. Arse (see def.) is sometimes added to the end of the curse, koos emek arse, to say one of several disputed expressions: (1) damn it, you arse; (2) your mother’s an arse; (3) an arse owns your mother’s cunt. A related curse is koos ima shel(cha/o), ‘your/his mother’s cunt,’ ‘motherfucker,’ in actual use.

Koos ima shelcha, I hate you. Don’t ever talk to me again.
Koos emek. There goes my last friend in the platoon.

Laf-laf Goofball.

That laf-laf kills me with his antics.

Ma’afan Below par.

Piss poor work is described as ma’afan, a term with Arabic roots that is rarely applied to people.

Your shiftzurim (see def.) are ma’afan. You are going to have to tear off the tape and start over from scratch.

Matzav shtayim ‘Second position,’ Pushup position.

Why is pushup position described as numeral deuce? Because the first position is standing at attention, the second position is dropping down on your hands and toes, ready to pump ‘em out at command. And third position is with chin touching the ground, bent down almost to the ground. Since no one can reasonably remain in position three very long, and because placing a soldier in second position makes him ready to bust out pushups at a moments notice, matzav shtayim is the classic military punishment position. While not a verbal expression as such, matzav shtayim qualifies for this list as the physical embodiment of cursing someone out.

Considering what the real army is like, if you want to prepare it makes more sense to work on staying in matzav shtayim than doing endless pushups.

Malsheen Snitch.

A tattle-tale, the goody-goody that rats on the boys. Especially if the boys are arsim, since malsheen is an expression especially popular among arsim. Also serves as a nickname for lieutenants, since any soldier who becomes a commissioned officer has pursued the path of the malsheen.

Part of building a strong team bond, in my unit at least, means a zero tolerance policy for the malsheen.

Ma’niac Fucker.

Despite the similarity of this very common curse to the English word ‘maniac,’ the source lies in Arabic, where the term is equivalent to the English F word. In army slang, ma’niac describes someone who is, as an Israeli friend explained “kinda bad, but not super bad.” In other words, a douchebag but not a total jerkowitz.

Did you see that dude just threw an egg at me from his window? Bat Yam, what a town full of ma’niacs.

Ma nisgar itcha ‘What is closed with you?;’ What is wrong with you?

If someone is acting messed up, stupid or simply annoying, ma nisgar itcha is a tried and true way of putting him in his place.

Ma nisgar itcha? How many times must I tell you to shut up and listen to the instructions?

Mastool Stoned, stoner.

A mastool is not really someone who takes drug but someone so out of sorts, acting so weird, that he seems like he must be bopped up on something.

How this mastool was allowed to enlist into the infantry, I will never understand. He is simply bonkers.

Mefager Retard.

Mefager actually means medically retarded, one of those cusses that is not ashamed to take a word with real meaning and throw it around for maximal damage.

You mefager, if I have to show you one more time how to tie your laces, I’ll tie them around your neck!

Mitoomtam Moron.

No common sense. Plain stupid. Even stupider than a dafook (see def.). Synonyms: dafook, dibeel, gazur, saroot and tembel.

What a mitoomtam! He fell asleep on sentry duty despite knowing a group of senior officers were scheduled to come by his post.

Mizdayen Fuck

Mizdayen is rarely used as a curse itself but serves as the root of some of the most common swear words, including: Ani mizayen otcha, fuck you, literally ‘I’ll fuck you,’ probably the most common curse in the army; Lech teezdayen, go fuck yourself, fuck off; Mizayen et haMoach, fuck with my mind; Mizdyneem, fuckers. The root of miZdaYeN, of course, is zayin, penis.

You just like to mizayen et haMoach with your orders. Well, you can lech teezdayen. No way I am doing what you Mizdyneem want. What? I have to!? Ani mizayen otcha.

Mizken Pity, pitiful person.

This word is not slang but it qualifies as a curse because in addition to its sympathetic regular meaning, it also functions as a putdown, meaning something like ‘cry-baby.’

Did you see the size of his backpack? What a mizken!

Mizrachi ‘Easterner, aka Jews from Arab countries;’ Excessively ethic and clannish Jews from Arab countries.

Like ashkenazi (see def.), mizrahi rendered into slang is less about ethnicity and more about appearance and behavior. So while the formal term denotes Jews from the Arab world (Mizrahi and Sephardi have the same meaning, except in Israel—unlike the rest of the Jewish world—the former is the more common of the two) mizrahi as slang describes anyone with dark complexion who favors whining Arab style pop music sung by someone named Peretz, nurtures a fiery inferiority complex, and is unnecessarily clannish with other such types. In short, anyone who exhibits exaggerated stereotypical ethnic Mizrahi behavior gets tagged as mizrahi.

Avi Peretz, Kobi Peretz, Wilfred Peretz…enough already! Stop being so mizrahi and put normal music on.

Moor’al ‘Poisoned;’ A soldier who loves the army with overwhelming and at times annoying zeal.

A moor’al soldier is poisoned with love for the army, as if the passion comes from something in his blood.

It is normal to be moor’al when you enlist, strange to be so motivated a year or so later.

Nochel Crook, schemer.

He talks like a gentleman with the ladies but we all know he is a
nochel, all he wants is sex.

Oketz, akatz (v) ‘Sting;’ Someone who avoids grueling army activity.

Like the movie The Sting, an oketz scams like no other to get out of grueling military activity. While generally used to say ‘you good for nothing lazybones,’ oketz is also used in the descriptive sense. Not to be confused with the IDF canine unit named Oketz, despite the fact that both the men and dogs there succeed in avoiding the tougher military duties.

Daniel Solomon akatz his entire service. He is the biggest oketz I know.

Partzoof tachat ‘Butt-face;’ Unhappy looking.

Like pornography, a partzoof tachat is one of those things you know when you see it.

Don’t be such a partzoof tachat. You’ll get to go on a mission next week.

Pa’ur 'Wide-open;' Cheeky rookie soldier.

A pa'ur is not simply rude like the chatzuf (see def)but displays a lack of respect all the more unconscionable because a pa'ur is, by suggestion, a no-nothing tzair (see def.)who should be seen and not heard. Pa'ur can also have a less pejorative meaning, referring only to the general naivete of rookie soldiers.

The way he talks back to our commander, I knew he was a classic pa’ur the day he joined the platoon.

Rakuv ‘Rotten;’ Lazy.

Calling someone rakuv means there are lazy to the point of rotting, decomposed and beyond the world of activity forever.

Most soldiers are rakuv, good for nothing, every day of the week save Monday and Tuesday.

Reetook 'Confinement;' A punishment that involves losing home leave (i.e. staying in the army) for up to thirty-five days straight.

Though not a verbal curse, rituk is the most common army punishment after losing a single weekend home leave. One wonders what effect closing twenty-eight or thirty-five days straight in the army is supposed to have on a punished soldier’s morale.

Because soldiers in the Israeli army go home several times a month, getting punished with a rituk really sucks.

Rosh katan ‘Small head;’ A person or action that shows no initiative and does only what is absolutely necessary.

The opposite of the rosh katan is the rosh gadol, the ‘big head,’ who takes initiative and goes above and beyond the call of duty to fulfill the spirit, and not just the letter, of the law. While acting like a rosh gadol sounds praiseworthy, in the army soldiers can be criticized for following either approach (and likewise, both rosh katan and rosh gadol can be terms of praise). Taking initiative, displaying independence, is not always the path to win acclaim in a rules-bound institution run by twenty year old commanders insecure about their own authority and decision making.

The army has taught me that success is not so much about being a rosh katan or rosh gadol but about reading a given situation and bearing in mind the temperate of my superiors.

liSanjer, (n) sanjeran To screw someone over, getting screwed over.

As much as the army talks up unit cohesion, the true social ethic of the army is screwing over others. A sanjeran is someone who keeps getting stuck with tasks nobody wants to do. He may think he is selflessly volunteering but everyone else knows better.

My peers lisanjer me all the time, every night I wind up with the worst hour of guard duty.

Saroot Cracked, too intense.

Like gazur, saroot suggests one is mentally unbalanced. But here the mental problem issues forth with irrational levels of intensity.

My squad leader is so saroot, ask him to comb the hill for further enemy and he gets down on all fours and searches every speck of sand.

Satlan Stoner, Hippie.

Unlike a mastool (see def.), the ‘stoner’ acting all crazy and keyed up on drugs, a satlan describes the grungy, lazy, indifferent stoner, the apathetic hippy.

I would take a platoon of mastool soldiers over the satlan I serve with. Sure, they’d be nuts, but at least they would give a damn about something.

Shachor ‘Black;’ Culture of breaking the rules.

To be shachor is to be black as sin, since going black in the army means to not follow the rules. Shachor is the opposite of tzahov (yellow). And just as a yellow soldier carries a whiff of a despised teacher's pet, to be shachor often qualifies as cool in army circles. Shachor met (black as death) is a similar expression, describing someone or something that is utterly shachor (met, 'death,' is often used in Hebrew as an adverbial expression for 'really,' like: 'I am met to do that, I really want to do that).

It is not a coincidence that the symbol of my unit is a big ol’ black bird. Cuz’ we are shachor met, and proud of it.

Shachtzan Show-off.

The word chizon, ‘appearance,’ seems to be the source for a term that describes someone full of himself. A sachtzan thinks and acts like he is the best at everything.

It sucks having an officer who is a shachtzan. Trust me, I speak from experience.

Shamen Fatty.

Like other words on this list (ashkenazi, mizrahi), a shamen is used to describe behavior more than body size or ethnic identity. Sure, someone called shamen usually is overweight. But the real use of the slang term captures how someone acts like a fatty, constantly preoccupied by his appetite and overly excited by food.

He is so shamen. The only thing he remembers from the gibush (see def.) is the meals.

Sharmoota Slut.

Arabic. Otherwise, the term speaks for itself.

In English they would call her the village bicycle. Here we just call her sharmoota.

Shavuz, shvizoot Shavur zayin, ‘Broken penis;’ Army depression.

Impotent may be the simplest definition. Despair, depression and disinterest are the three Ds that sum up the shavuz soldier feels. Yet to truly understand the term shavuz, you must enter the mind of the disappointed soldier. Like elderly men before Viagra, shavuz soldiers cannot rally any excitement to perform their tasks. Their will is broken.
Shvizoot yom alef (Sunday shvizoot) is a common slang expression that serves as the army equivalent of the Monday blues, that disappointed feeling coming back to work for the start of what is sure to be another draining week. The term is a play on the expression tarbut yom alef (cultural Sunday) that designates a Sunday set aside for educational tours.

Can you imagine the shivzoot? The day he returns from sick leave they made him work in the kitchen for three months straight! No wonder he is so shavuz.

She'elat kitbeg ‘Kitbag question;’ A stupid and superfluous question that results in the questioner becoming newly obligated in a matter he was previously exempt.

The apocryphal origin of this expression lies in basic training with the large canvas bag soldiers are issued to house their equipment. A group of soldiers are ordered to run somewhere. An especially dim soldier raises his hand and asks, “With my kitbag?” “Since you asked,” replies the commander, “yes, you have to run with your kitbag.”

Our training would have been far easier were it not for the she’elat kitbeg asked every day.

Shikdei marak, ‘Soup nuts (croutons);’ A squad of by-the-book (tzahov) soldiers.

A squad of by-the-book troopers, so tzahov (see def.) that they stand perfectly at attention, their beds are perfectly made and everything about their appearance is uniform and perfect. These overly eager soldiers are like the bright yellow croutons that float in perfect rows in soup.

In basic training, my elite unit stood out from the regular grunts like a bunch of shikdei marak in black lentil soup.

Shockist Someone in shock.

Those Army Hebrew slang terms with English roots are particularly captivating. Shockist and shock are the most common examples, with dazed and confused American volunteer soldiers ironically being the most common targets for the derisive term.

What, are you in shock? You never know what is going on, just a total shockist.

Shwarma ‘Sliced lamb cooked on a revolving spit;’ Red and chafed skin on the sides of the waist and back.

Shwarma are the result of sweating on a long army marches as a heavy vest or backpack rubs against the skin. While strategically layering medical tape over key areas can head off part of the problem, there is no true remedy for painful shwarma.

As traumatizing as the night long march was, what really ticks me off is the painful shwarma I still have up and down my sides and back.

Smar’toot ‘Mop;’ A total zero, weak and messy.

Like a measly, old mop, someone described as smar’toot is a mess who would be better served assigned to cleanup duty than the military activity he is supposedly working on. See cheekmook.

He carries himself like such a smar’toot, I cannot stand marching next to him.

Sociomat Egoist.

One of the worst, and common, names to call a soldier is a sociomat. Someone who thinks only of himself and does not care about others is the ultimate enemy of unit cohesion, the most celebrated and desired principle in the military. Sociomat also describes a miser, much like bunker, garzen and kamtzan.

We did not even need to call a vote to kick him out of our unit. The fact that he is a sociomat is obvious to everyone.

Soteh Pervert.

An infantry platoon of nineteen year olds is a surprisingly forgiving place. All the grime and grueling tasks, not to mention the familial vibe that comes from living on top of each other, means soldiers are ready to excuse most behavior. So getting tagged as soteh is a rare, and especially humiliating, occurrence.

The cafeteria never serves warm apple pie. I’d like to think it is not because they think my unit is a bunch of soteem (plural).

Tembel Fool.

This lighthearted slang term for a fool is most famous as the name for the agricultural hat that is something of an Israeli national symbol, the kova tembel or tembel hat.

What a tembel, he was told to go to the kitchen (mitbach) and he showed up with his gun at the firing range (mitvach).

Tihiye baree ‘Be healthy;’ Take care.

The expression is used in the literal sense to someone who is ill or otherwise impaired. Yet usually tihiye baree is said in a derisive tone, to comment on another’s foolish intentions. As in, “take care with that, you moron.”

I thought my commander had my best intentions in mind when he wished me tihiye baree as I left base on sick leave. But then when I saw him giving me the finger, I figured out what he was really getting after.

Tzahov ‘Yellow;’ Rule-abiding.

While in English yellow suggests cowardice, in Hebrew army slang the color describes a goody two-shoes, a by-the-book trooper who never dips into the gray while scrupulously following every letter of the law. Since most soldiers enjoy nothing better than flouting military doctrine, a yellow soldier is often a social pariah, albeit one granted a certain grudging admiration for his virtuous orthodoxy. The opposite of tzahov is shachor ('black,' see def.), as American rapper Wiz Khalifa seemed to know when he rhymed ‘Yeah ah ha, you know what it is, Black and yellow, black and yellow, Black and yellow, black and yellow.’

What the heck is wrong with that kid? Why he got to go and be so tzahov with the rules all the time?

Tzair ‘Youngster;’ Rookie.

Like many terms on this list, tzair has a descriptive/proper meaning—a soldier in his first two years of service (a vatik, see ref., is a veteran soldier) — and a normative/slang meaning: a mocking way to call someone a rookie. Since inexperience in the army tends to translate into greater discipline and selflessness, displaying such behavior is a surefire way for the overweening rookies to be tagged as tzair. Dropping a well timed tzair is one of the joys of Army Hebrew— the context is universal, the shame on the receiving end only expunged by shared joy in the application of the term.
Tzair is used in the less common slang shi’tze (shtoke tzair, shut up youngster), an expression used to shut up uppity new soldiers.
A similar term that has fallen out of general use is chong, a complete tzair whose etymology is said to be 'green' in some Semitic language or the nickname for little kids in India that push wheelbarrows around. A more common play on chong is the term chongiot, an expression for the colored shoulder straps soldiers wear at the start of a course (including basic training) that, unintentionally, screams out that they are tzair!

He voluntarily gave up his weekend leave? Tzair!

Tzfoni ‘Northerner;’ Snotty, rich white guy.

The proper use of tzfoni describes a soldier who resides in northern Israel and hence gets out extra early on weekend leave. The slang use has another meaning entirely, derisively describing the snobby, rich residents of northern Tel Aviv, one of Israel’s wealthier neighborhoods.

Look at the running shorts on that tzfoni, what does he think this is, his parents private country club in northern Tel Aviv?

Yatzur ‘Creature;’ Creep, weirdo.

The army is said to make men out of boys. Its effect on the yatzur the next tent over is less productive.

Zayin/tachat sheli ‘My penis/ass;’ No way in hell.

Zayin, tachat and chara— penis, ass and feces—are the basis of many Hebrew profanities. Adding the simple self possessive sheli makes a term that expresses frustration and unwillingness to cooperate. Often the term is prefaced with al ha, ‘on,’ as in: al haTachat sheli, ‘on my ass,’ to sharpen the meaning: ‘I have zero interest in that.’ Kol hazayin, ‘all the penis,’ has a related though distinct meaning. Instead of rejecting out of hand, this response says: ‘it sucks but I’ll do it.’

You want me to do what!? Al hazayin sheli, I won’t do that miserable work. I have to? Kol hazayin!

Zambura otcha I will fuck you up.

You ate my Bamba while I was out? Zambura otcha, you bamba eating coward.

Zrikat zayin ‘Throwing penis;’ Not giving a damn.

When a superior says his soldiers are displaying zrikat zayin, it usually means he is pretty pissed and they are about to suffer.

By the end of our six month deployment, soldiers were zrikat zayin about everything.

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Final Battle?

You are zero. Your eighteen months of training are worth nothing. And all the effort and commitment you displayed over your service mean squat.

My lieutenant did not actually say these exact words to me this Monday. He used other words, framed in obscure military jargon and polite circumlocution, to share the same devastating message: That having finally arrived at the start of the active service I have trained for over eighteen arduous months, I would not be serving with my peers as a combat soldier. For reasons that defy goodwill and common decency, my officer has relegated me to serve the remaining three months of my military service as an assistant logistics boss (sarsap) for new recruits. An assignment that spells the end of my stillborn dream of serving as a combat soldier in the IDF.

I had trouble believing what my lieutenant was telling me. Like everyone else, I knew several soldiers from my unit would soon be assigned to jobs—medics, logistics, training instructors— that would take them away from our forthcoming deployment. Rookie platoons like my own are always forced to fill these slots, losing a few soldiers that return to the platoon after completing their six to eight month long external assignments. Because I only have three months left in the army, and because my platoon has its share of indifferent types that would like nothing better than a cushy external assignment, I was sure I would have nothing to do with this bit of sorry military redistricting.

My platoon leader clearly felt differently. He explained that the assignment was based on his conclusion that he cannot rely on me (that is, I make him look bad), pointing to the bus and kitchen incidents from the last two days as proof of my instability. When I pointed out that my name had been fully cleared in both incidents, and that if anything they said more about poor judgment by senior officers than by yours truly, he inanely replied that I have been negatively involved in a hundred other similar incidents. My attempt to point out that a hundred similar incidents of nothing still add up to nothing failed to make an impression. As did my reminders that my effort and results through every facet of our training have been amongst the very best in the entire company. As did my request that he bear in mind how far I have come and sacrificed to serve as a combat soldier in this army. Does the fact that every other soldier in my platoon could be assigned this logistics job and later return with our unit to a future combat deployment mean nothing? Or the fact that quite a few of them would be happy to bounce out to a cushy logistics posting for a few months? The bottom line, my commander stoically responded to everything I said, is that I do not want you with me.

What he did not say, and what I later came to understand from conversation with other officers, is that the decision to ship me off to the island of logistics purgatory was shaped by the fact that I have only three months of service remaining. External postings like this logistics job are known for softening up soldiers, leaving them with little motivation for the far more grueling duties of a combat soldier on their return. As a result, combat units like my own dislike releasing their soldiers to such postings. Sending me, especially if my platoon leader does not care for me, is thus perfect since I will soon discharge and  in any case would not have returned from this posting for future combat deployment.

Having butted heads with my commander to no avail, I turned to friends and family on my kibbutz and considered my options. The simplest and most distasteful route would be to bend my head and accept the lowly logistics assignment. Every alternative would necessitate a grand display of stubbornness and help from friends within and without the military system. The best outcome would see the assignment canceled and deploying as a combat soldier with my squad. A second best route would be transferring to another unit that will allow me to serve as a combat soldier. A final option means recognizing that my dream of serving in combat is finished and instead trying to bring my service to an early end (kitzur sherut), an unsavory though preferable conclusion to three months of dreary aimlessness. While considering which of these battles was worth waging, I reminded myself what to me was already obvious: by no means would I accede and while away the rest of my service as a silly deputy logistics boss.

My resolve was tested over the remainder of the week through a series of ugly and even dramatic encounters with various senior officers. Following my initial chat with my lieutenant, logic suggested turning to his superior, my company commander (mem’pei). Logical? Perhaps. Yet not helpful since this senior officer is well known in our unit for having the split personality of a Jekyll and Hyde. When I approached him for a meeting several hours after having first spoken with my commander, the mem’pei turned on me with an almost visceral snarl and yelled that he had no interest in speaking with me. My vain attempts to convince him otherwise merely enraged him further and I was forced to back off from the almost foaming excuse of a man entrusted with leading some eighty men into battle.

After slipping a call the next morning over to Zvika Levy, a well known advocate for lone soldiers, I joined the rest of my unit for the day’s hike through Wadi Kelt and around Gush Etzion. The natural springs and secluded monastery of Wadi Kelt steadied my nerve while the tour around Gush Etzion left me with the uneasy feeling that instead of concluding my service defending the same stretch of turf I once called home as an overseas yeshiva student, I may be saying farewell to my squad and this territory with today’s frivolous sightseeing.

Wednesday evening brought the most theatrical encounter of this dragged out drama. The entire battalion was waiting to enter an assembly hall and begin a ceremony to commemorate the First Lebanese War when the battalion officer responsible for manpower issues (shalishut) approached me. In plain sight of everyone, mere feet away from the entire senior officer corp of the battalion, the manpower boss blasted me with the following outburst.

“I hear (from Zvika Levy, as I later discovered) that you have this tremendous desire to serve as a combat soldier. Well, come to my office on Sunday morning and I will reassign you to the Home Front Command (a co-ed force that is at once the newest and least respected combat unit in the army).”

“Excuse me? I trained for the last eighteen months, and was recognized this past March, as a trained combat soldier in the Recon Paratroopers. With all due respect, here is where I deserve to serve as a combat soldier.”

“Oh yeah? Well, if you want to serve here you need to add a extra year to your service time. All combat soldiers in this unit serve a full three years, and you are signed to just two.”

At that point I tried to provide the manpower chief with a brief summary of how, when I came to the Paratroops in December 2010, I made very clear to the relevant manpower officer that I had zero interest in signing a third year and hence was ready to pass on the special forces recon battalion. And how nevertheless I was shuffled into the special forces, trained for six months, and acknowledged at a pretty ceremony in March as a certified special forces combat soldier. The idea that with three months left in my service I will be pressed into serving another year that many older lone soldiers never are asked to serve is preposterous, especially when the only reason for this pressure is the senior officers' desire to shuffle me off to a silly job that has been dropped in my lap because I am discharging in three months! “Special forces soldiers may in fact have to serve the full three years,” I concluded to the manpower chief, “But to drop the requirement on me now, in this circumstance, after blithely ignoring the rule while I gave my all over a year and a half of training...I mean, really?!”

The manpower boss was ready to explode by the end of my remarks. Before he could, however, the overall commander of the Recon Paratroop Battalion, whom had been observing this whole tragicomedy from a foot away (along with every other soldier in the battalion), gestured the manpower fellow over and instructed him to tell me I would instead meet with the battalion commander. A good sign, I hoped, since having failed to even hold a conversation the other day with my company commander, the battalion commander was the next step up the military pyramid.

My company commander must have read my mind for at that very moment he came over to speak with me. The man who drew me to the side for a brief chat had transformed back into Dr. Jekyll from the monstrous Hyde I encountered two days before (thanks, it seems, to a chat from Zvika Levy!). Choosing his words carefully, he insisted he genuinely cares for me and understands the challenges of lone soldiers. He then prattled off a lot of nonsense about how the logistics assignment they are sending me to is a great honor that I am especially suited for. Before I had a chance to pop the sugary confection he was spinning, the memorial service began and our chat came to a sudden halt.

The next day was the company "pool day," a bizarre coda to a week that was designed to be fun and games and instead become a live-action horror show. It was clear to me that whatever else happened by the pool, I needed to let my superiors know in no uncertain terms where I stood on this whole story. As the pool day was drawing to a close, I finally saw my chance and approached the bipolar company commander. Looking him straight in the eye, I politely informed him that I had no intention of accepting relegation to the deputy logistics job. Hyde seized control and, with barely concealed fury, the little man hissed that my refusal to follow orders had brought me a hearing (a mishpat, whose punishment tends to be losing home leave for a month straight and serving as a glorified garbageman during that time) the day we returned to base. He did not have to add that the judge, jury and executioner at the hearing would be the company commander himself.

With the hearing scheduled for my return to base (I am away next week on a mandatory week-long post-army career-advice workshop for lone soldiers, an opportunity the company commander tried to prevent me from attending), I remain wrestling with the question of what to do. Do I stick to principle and suffer the consequences? Or bend my neck, "for the meek shall inherit the earth" and slide away to three months of counting toilet rolls and bed sets.

Update: While I would still appreciate feedback to the question, I would be remiss if I did not include the answer whose roots are firmly anchored in my heart and mind. That answer is very simple: Live by what you believe in. I would not be in the army in the first place if I had not acted on that credo. Imagine how fast we'd run if we knew where we are going. No, the future is not very clear, but that does not mean I am ready to abandon the faith that took me this far. A faith that leaves me ready to face whatever the coming months may bring.


My back and forth with my officers has brought another lone soldier’s story to my attention. Mike, signed for two years in the army as a participant in Garin Tzabar, was sent to medics course seventeen months into his service. He left with an understanding with his officers that he would add on some time to the two years he was serving to make it worthwhile for him to attend the three month long medics course. The understanding is that he would sign on four more months. Unbeknownst to Mike, while he was at the course his officer signed him up to another year in the army. To do so, the officer signed his own name where Mike's name is required. Many arguments later, as of this writing Mike is suing his lieutenant in civilian court. Hear hear!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Bus and Kitchen Blowups

Foreshadow: To present an indication or a suggestion of beforehand.

In retrospect, the two obnoxious incidents that came my way at the start of this week should have been fair warning for the real misery that lay in wait. Blind to these hints, the only lesson I took from the week’s bumpy start was the sorry state of leadership in the Israeli army.

The first incident took place on a bus. The bus in question was parked outside the Joe Alon Museum of Bedouin Culture, the first stop on a week devoted to unwinding (nightly barbeques and dance parties) and educating (nature hikes and history tours) my unit about the territory we will be responsible for patrolling starting next week. I was sweating my shirt off on the unconditioned bus, having volunteered to watch our bags while my peers entered the museum. Suddenly I heard an infernal hollering. I stepped outside to discover the deputy commander of the Recon Paratroops yelling that he wanted to speak with whoever was guarding the bus, namely, me.

“Why were you sleeping on the job?” the senior officer snarled.

“Sleeping?!” I managed to mutter through puzzled lips. “I was wide awake the entire time…”

“Now you lie to my face? Your next weekend leave is cancelled (closing Shabbat, in army parlance), and you are lucky I do not keep you on base twenty-eight days straight (a rituk) as further punishment.”

Fast-forward twenty plus hours to the following afternoon. Again, I was minding house while my peers gallivanted around in the hills. I had volunteered this time for kitchen duty, attaching myself to the crusty and irritable Mizrahi fellow in charge of our meals. This supervisor is widely known for exaggerating his displeasure with the soldiers assigned to work for him. So I thought nothing of his occasional outbursts as the day dragged on. Until the rest of my unit arrived for dinner, that is, and informed me our company commander had remanded me to kitchen duty for the rest of the week as punishment for sloughing off today.

Neither punishment stuck. In the first case, I pointed out to my unsympathetic platoon leader (mafkatz) that the senior officer had seen the driver, not me, sleeping on the bus. When another soldier came forward to verify my story, the lieutenant spoke with the deputy chief and the affair was brushed under the table. The kitchen duty fiasco fell apart even quicker when the kitchen boss spoke to my company commander on my account and clarified I had been an exemplary worker.

Despite slipping past both incidents unscathed, I was left with a bitter taste of my officers' leadership approach. For starters, angry yelling is the de rigueur form of communication. As someone who values keeping cool in heated situations, the average officer’s hollering strikes me as a lack of self-control rather than confident authority. Worse than the yelling is that authority types in this army tend to fall on their subordinates immediately. The average officer never grants his soldier the benefit of the doubt or, shudders, stop to consider whether his soldier’s version of events may be contrary to the impression the superior has gathered from secondary sources. For some men granted authority in the army, this crapping on those beneath them seems to act as a churlish boost to self-esteem. For others, blaming the simple soldier comes as merely the easiest way of resolving a problem. My superior is blaming me for something one of my soldiers is said to have done? Fine, let me just lash out at the soldier and the problem is solved. Passing the buck downward, in short, seems to be the menial leadership ethos embraced by far too many authority figures in the Israeli army.

If I turn the lens inward, and ask myself how I stumbled into two ugly incidents on what is supposed to be a week of vacation, four answers suggest themselves. (1) Stop volunteering for crap jobs. (2) Bad luck, which is about as unsatisfactory an answer as there can be. (3) Uncouth commanders. (4) My own attitude, which after a year and a half in the army can more or less be summed up as not taking crap from anybody. I say more or less since I exclude taking the normal crap any soldier must expect when serving as a simple grunt in this man’s army.

Slang Army Hebrew: Tash

Updated (7/31/11): Ad mati, Aftare, Chaver Bamba, Cheerboon Bayit Rishon, liHeetafetz, Katlani, Miklachat Tachat, liNaker, Patur, Sh'pitz, Teroof, Yom Sidureem (previous updates: li’Asrel, Choter, Doogri, Kapara, Tash, Totach, Wassach).

Many foreign volunteers like myself enlist in the Israeli army determined to learn Hebrew. The army, so they say, is the best ulpan (Hebrew language school). As I have mentioned before, the reality is something else entirely. That something else is a Hebrew unlike the sentence structures and vocabulary used by the rest of the population. Soldiers speak a Hebrew vernacular that has only a casual respect for formal grammar and whose vocabulary can be divided into one of three categories: tash (chilling), klalot (cursing) or mivsa’ee (military acronyms).

During my early months in the army, a need to understand my peers had me scribbling down their slang phrases in a palm-sized notebook. That first notebook has been succeeded by dozens of others, with my fascination for language and culture providing the necessary motivation to build what has become a veritable dictionary of Hebrew army slang. Language is one of the surest ways to understanding a culture, a truth this dictionary will hopefully illuminate.I have divided my sea of terms into the three categories mentioned above. Keep reading for the list of tash terms. The klalot and mivsa’ee selections will follow shortly.



Nearly all the following words have to do with lazing around or snacking, the two activities soldiers busy themselves with whenever possible. Get ready for the world of chilling.

A’chat haDevarim ‘one of the things;’ One of the best, especially.

Used as a general formula to single out something as special. A noun or adjective can also replace the term devarim ‘thing’ in the phrase to give a more specific reference to the expression. As in, achat haSeforim ‘an especially good book’ or achat haMagilim ‘something really disgusting.’
Beautiful restaurant. It really is
a’chat haDevarim.
Thanks. Have you tried the pita?
Wow, this pita is achat haTa’amim (‘one of the tastes;’ a really tasty dish).

Achi ‘my brother;’ Dude, buddy.

Generic name for everyone in the army, friend and stranger. Ach Sheli, ‘my brother’ with the suffix separate, is also used. Gever, mister, is the main alternative to refer to someone by anything but their name.
Achi, have we met before?
Achi, it has been great serving by your side for three years.

Ach’la Wonderful.

An Arabic word, as common in day-to-day Israel as in the military. In Hindi, a similar word means earth or balanced, providing a nice undertow to our grasp of wonder.
If everyone is ready then, ach’la! Lets lock and load.

Ad mati ‘Until when;’ Forbidden slogan that encapsulates the soldier’s desire to be done with the army.

The slogan of the shavuz (see def.) soldier, or simply any soldier fed up with whatever he is assigned to do. The army equivalent, essentially, of the quaint expression “fmylife.” Whether ad mati is uttered in jest or misery, soldiers get in trouble if overheard muttering the forbidden phrase. Officers don't like the "screw this" mentality the words convey, no doubt because they at times share the shame frustration as the troops. The ban likely adds to the enduring popularity of ad mati, ensuring that no day or bathroom stall escapes a cry or spray-painted scrawl of ad mati.
Ad mati is joined in the list of forbidden phrases by at least two other terms: kama ode and aifo kulam. Kama ode, "how much more?," shares the same virulent message of ad mati. Aifo Kulam, "Where is everyone?," is more subversive when asked of an officer, since the unstated answer is Thailand, namely the exotic land the rest of the officer's draft class has escaped to while he/she remains mired in the military.
My soul is utterly confounded, and You, my G-d, ad mati? (Psalms 6:4)

Aftare ‘After;’ Vacation from the army for one day.

Short for ‘after duty’ or ‘after hours,’ since the typical aftare starts in the afternoon after the day’s work, as if it were, is over and grants the vacationing soldier a break until the following morning. Many jobnikim (see def.) that suffer the difficulty of not sleeping at home (most jobnikim serve on bases that they commute to from home) have the right to an aftare as often as once a week. The term dates from the British Mandate period, as do most slang expressions with English roots.
If you are a lone soldier and a jobnik on a closed base, it is important to schedule your aftare and your monthly yom sidureem strategically for maximum vacation time.

Aize gever ‘this is a man;’ What a man.

Compliment. Especially to a guy who does something courageous or manly.
Aize gever! I wish I could eat two cans of loof (canned meat) at one sitting.

Al haKefek Excellent.

An Arabic term used only by officers, never regular soldiers. My first, less than admired, platoon leader used this term incessantly, so if I add that the phrase expresses a sense of smug arrogance you will have to forgive me.
If I hear that bunghole say Al haKefek one more time I will punch his lights out. Contrary to his words, all is not necessarily so kef.

li’Asrel Aseer she’rah lo, ‘unsatisfied prisoner;’ To pretend to work.

You could wash the floors with rabak (see def). Or you can do what everyone else does and just li’asrel the job.

Beese A portion of someone else's food.

The terms bisele (Yiddish) and piece (English) seem to be the source of this word. Often slang Hebrew words that start with a ‘b’ sound derive from terms that start with a ‘p’ sound. This comes from the Arabic tendency to replace a ‘p’ with a ‘b’ since Arabic lacks the ‘p’ sound.
C’mon, give me a beese of that Kit-Kat Bar (strange but true: No in the chocolate-wafer crazy Israeli army has ever heard of eaten a Kit-Kat Bar).

Be’tist, Bettim On-base medical exemption from physical training.

The term derives from the second letter of the Hebrew alphabet, BET, based on an unclear classification whereby Alef means healthy, Bet means medically impaired and Gimel means medical home leave. Every soldier wants gimelim because it means time at home. A be’tist, a soldier with Bettim, can suffer from anything: upset stomach, leg brace, even cowardice if he plays his cards right.
Did the doctor give you gimelim for your sore thumb?
Nope, just
bettim. It sucks, but hey, now I am a be’tist!

Chaf’shash chufshat shichrur, ‘vacation dismissal;’ Vacation time preceding the end of military service.

Combat soldiers go on vacation a month before the end of their military service. Jobnikim, non-combat soldiers, have a break calculated from the number of their remaining vacation days, for a maximum of twenty-one days off before their dismissal. The reason in either case, especially pressing for combat soldiers, is that the army lacks sufficient gear. In order for new draftees to receive the necessary equipment, soldiers on the way out must recycle theirs onward. By turning in their gear as they start chaf’shash in October, for example, the draft class of November 2008 provides the army with enough time to recycle and prepare sufficient gear for the new draft class of November 2011.
Who isn’t counting down every day until his chaf’shash?

Chamshoosh chameeshee sheeshee, ‘five/six’ or ‘Thursday/Friday;’ Weekend home leave that starts on Thursday.

Weekend leave normally starts on Friday morning, known also as a shoosh (from sheeshee, Friday). Jobnikim, non-combat soldiers, always leave on Thursday. Some even are so spoiled to enjoy a ravoosh (from rivee’ee, four or Wednesday), starting leave on Wednesday. See also chamshoosh amral, chamshoosh cornflakes, ravush, shoosh kidush.
What a spoiled jobnik, leaving the army for the weekend on another chamshoosh.

Chamshoosh amral chameeshee sheeshee + emtza’ee ri’ee’at layla, ‘five/six’ or ‘Thursday/Friday’ + ‘night vision gear;’ Leaving the army for weekend home leave late on Thursday evening.

Amral refers to any night-vision device used in the IDF. Attaching it to the slang term chamshoosh suggests that a soldier gets home on Thursday once darkness has fallen. A chamshoosh amral is the short end of a good deal. On the one hand, it means a soldier starts his weekend home leave early, before the regular Friday morning exit. Yet it is a Thursday exit in name only, as by the time the soldier gets home the day is over. That said, waking up in your bed at home on Friday morning is exhilarating to the Israeli soldier who otherwise would be woken up in the predawn hours to clean up before leaving base.
It might only be a chamshoosh amral, but I am still happy I got out of the army on Thursday.

Chamshoosh cornflakes chameeshee sheeshee + cornflakes, ‘five/six’ or ‘Thursday/Friday;’ Leaving the army for weekend home leave early on Thursday morning.

Making it home on Thursday morning in time to eat cornflakes, breakfast, is the best of the best. The standard every soldier wishes for when leaving the army a day earlier. Leaving base before seven AM qualifies as a chamshoosh cornflakes.
I got out so early on a chamshoosh cornflake the stores were still closed and I had to eat my cereal at home without milk. Still, awesome!

Chaval al haZman ‘pity about the time;’ Waste of time, amazing.

Can be used in either the literal, negative, sense or as a positive expression with the opposite meaning: what an excellent use of time! See this blog devoted to the Hebrew language for a fascinating discussion of the expression.
That movie? Chaval al hazman!
So if it sucks, what is worth seeing?
Sucks? No, I meant the movie is awesome!

Chaver bamba ‘A Bamba friend;’ A fair-weather friend.

The expression comes from the otherwise obnoxious cur that suddenly becomes your best friend when you produce a snack food like the eponymous Bamba.
If you come to the army with too many extras, expect to attract a lot of chaver bamba types early and often.

Cheerboon Bayit Rishon Churban Bayit Rishon + Cheerboon ‘Destruction of the First Temple + Defecate;’ The first crap at home after spending twenty-one days straight in the army.

Going to the bathroom in the army, especially when the bathroom is a simple squat somewhere in the wild, lacks many of the pleasant associations of partaking of the same activity at home. Indoor army bathrooms are typically rank cesspools whose only positive is providing a hideaway to use the phone when such an activity is otherwise forbidden. Taking a crap in the great outdoors is a challenge of balance, flexibility and leg strength, not to mention comfort with squatting with your pants down in aural if not visible distance of your squad (best to avoid mentioning how the experience is affected in the absence of toilet paper). In either case, the poor quality of army food means the experience is all the more regrettable. This is especially true after a week or more in the field when the exclusive diet of combat rations leads to high-fiber dumps that produce ginormous fudge dragons. All this boils down to a moment of unadulterated relief when a soldier arrives home and immediately drops a doozy in the fine comforts of the home facilities.
Churban Bayit Rishon, the destruction of Solomon’s Temple by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 BCE, is a traumatic date in Jewish history, commemorated with sorrow by observant Jews on the summertime fast day of the Ninth of Av. Switching the similar words churban and cheerboon creates a term that expresses how profound a soldier’s first crap is at home after weeks in the army. The term also suggests that the poor army food consumed over the preceding week lead the first crap at home to create a traumatizing stench in the bathroom and possibly screw up the plumbing to boot.
My cheerboon bayit rishon this weekend was legend. I did not know whether to flush or name the craposaurus that was left in the bowl when my work was done.

Choopar Unexpected treat.

The source of this term is a mystery.
Who would ever have believed our home leave would start a day early? What a great choopar!

Chooki’lookeem Snack/junk food.

Cookies, Bamba and wafers are all typical chooki’lookeem, one of the most common terms in the infantry. Other military branches use other slang terms, such as digoomeem in the artillery (totchanim) or even neesh noosh (see def.). The source is unclear, though ‘chocolate’ (shokolad in Hebrew) seems to have inspired at least the first half of the term. The noun, like most slang terms on this list, can also be made into a verb, l’chak’lake ‘to snack (on junk food).’
The meals on base may be awful, but hey, that is what chooki’lookeem are for.

Choter, Chatran, To/one who chase(s) after tash (see def.).

Choter (verb) and chatran (proper noun) come from the word chatirah, to row (a boat), as if one is rowing, i.e. chasing, after tash.
Some units have a culture of excellence. Our unit has a culture of chatranut. Everyone tries to choter all the time.

Doogri Honestly, straight talk.

Someone who speaks doogri “tells it like it is.” Hebrew borrowed the word from Arabic, which in turn adopted the term from the Turkish dogru, which means ‘straight, true.’
Can you believe his BS? Doogri, sometimes I just want to record his hanfatza (see def.) and play it back to him.

Gazlan ligzol, ‘to rip-off;’ Ice-cream van.

No matter where military exercises are located, a gazlan can always be counted upon to come rolling up with that familiar suburban tune, ready and willing to sell ice-cream and soft-drinks to desperate soldiers for exorbitant prices.
Tra na na na la la…You hear that? I cannot believe the gazlan managed to find us here in the middle of nowhere.

LiHanfeetz ( n. hanfatza) To bullshit.

Lihamtzeem, ‘to imagine,’ seems to be something of a source for a word with no true origin. Sort of like pornography, you know hanfatza when you hear it: pure BS, the sort of talk that goes on and on with little relevance to reality. See also, stall bet.
I can’t take a single word our commander says seriously. All he does is lihanfeetz everything.

liHeetafetz Ayafoot Tzavait ‘Army tiredness;’ To doze.

A soldier who drowses off, especially when taking a nap is forbidden, such as during sentry duty or a lecture. Commanders are always warning soldiers lo liheetafetz ‘do not doze off.’
Do not worry if you liheetafetz during sentry duty, you will be punished by staying on base for the weekend (closing Shabbat) so you will have lots of time to catch up on sleep!

liHeetarake litroke ‘to slam (the door);’ To throw oneself into sleep.

This word tends to set up a good took (see def.), suggesting a soldier is so exhausted that he is prepared to throw himself into sleep like one slams a door, with utter abandon and singleness of purpose.
We finished cleaning our guns. Long past time liheetarake.

Kapara, Kapara Alecha ‘atonement, atonement for you;’ Dearest, as in a heavily sugared term for a friend.

As in Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement set aside on the Jewish calendar for fasting and forgiveness, this term literally has something to do with penitence. The day before the fast, a curious ritual known as Kapara (or plural, Kaparot) has Jews swing a chicken over their heads while declaring: ‘This is my exchange, my substitute, my atonement…this chicken will go to its death while I will enter and proceed to a good long life and peace.’ The chicken is then slaughtered and donated to the poor. While modern Israelis aren’t thinking of squawking chickens when they refer to their dear ones as kapara, our dearest friends do share something with the sacrificial bird who takes us at our worst and with whom we form a deep, if albeit brief, spiritual bond.
While kapara implies strong affection, it is often used with total strangers or to defray or mask annoyance with others. Similar words include: eina’im sheli (lit., ‘my eyes’), mohmee (honey), motek (sweetie), neshama (lit., ‘soul’).
Kapara Alecha can also express ‘you cannot be serious’ or ‘calm down,’ in a jovial, even thankful, sense.
Lets go kapara (in Hebrew, yalla kapara!)! We’re going to be late.
Kapara Alecha! I’m not even dressed yet. Give me a few more minutes.

Katlani ‘Deadly;’ Intense, awesome.

Like teroof (see def.), similar to the way a California surfing dude would describe a great wave as ‘killer.’ See teroof, rabak.
It was just katlani how quickly he pulverized his opponent in Krav Maga.

Loof canned meat. Kosher spam.

The basic ingredient in manot krav, field rations, was a pink blob of canned meat named loof. A chosen few love it. For the rest of us, loof is a culinary catastrophe. The army has heeded the majority and over the last few years, loof has been phased out of use (replaced by tuna!).
Eating loof with pleasure is like kissing Jabba the Hut. Most of us simply lack the intestinal fortitude for such torture.

Miklachat Tachat ‘Butt Shower,’ Airing out your rear with the wind.

The miklachat tachat is a reaction to the sweat covered backside that results from climbing a steep mountainside in heavy gear. Upon reaching the summit, soldiers drop their packs, unleash their belts, and let the cool mountain air cool things out down yonder.
I fantasize about warm baths during tough army marches so the occasional miklachat tachat is a promising sign of seeing my dreams realized.

liNaker ‘To woodpecker;’ To head-bob while dozing.

The tired soldier in a boring lecture has a tendency to imitate the woodpecker (Nakar in Hebrew; the verb liNaker formally means ‘to poke’), drowsy neck muscles allowing the soldier’s head to slowly fall downward some ninety degrees before briefly regaining consciousness and snapping straight back up. The cycle repeats itself, to the great amusement of head-bobbing fans in attendance. This activity happens when a soldier is in a state of heetafutz (see def.).
Moshe gets the best neck workouts during boring lectures. To see how quickly he starts to linaker is truly a wonder to behold.

liNash naish To snack (on junk food).

When chookilookeem (junk food, sweets, etc. see def.) emerge, the nashing is not far behind. liNash naish seems to have a Yiddish root, since ‘to nash’ is also a favorite slang of Jews in exile the world over. This verb even comes with its own less heralded noun: neesh noosh, a synonym for chookilookeem, junk food in the common tongue.
As tired as I am, I always have energy liNash naish. Bring on the chookilookeem!

Patur ‘Exemption;’ A medical excuse from participating in normal military activity.

Soldiers seek a patur from the army doctor for anything, including shaving, kitchen duty and all forms of physical activity.
I cannot guard the base at night because I have a patur from the dark.

Ravush rivee’ee, ‘four or Wednesday;’ Weekend home leave that starts on Wednesday, Yom Rivee’ee.

The few, the happy few, that band of brothers and sisters that go home on Wednesday are spoiled rotten jobnikim (non-combat soldiers.)
Enlisting to the infantry means forever banishing the word ravush from your vocabulary.

Sachbak Friend.

Not the most common of Arabic terms embraced as Hebrew slang, yet still dropped with abandon here and there.
A sachbak in need is a sachbak indeed.

Sha’pash siddurim, inyunim, po v’sham ‘organizing things here and there;’ The free hour before bedtime in the Nachal Brigade.

During basic training, soldiers receive an hour of free time before lights out. This is the time for using cellphones, throwing back junk food (chookilookeem) and getting ready for bed. Considering one also needs to shower and prepare ones personal gear for the morning, the hour tends to fly by way too fast. Outside of Nachal, this free hour is called sha’tash (see below). No one is quite sure why the men of the neon green beret use a separate term.
Nothing says amazing like that moment every evening when our sergeant announces the start of sha’pash.

Sha’tash sha’a trom sheina, ‘hour before sleeping;’ The free hour before bedtime.

What everyone in the army except Nachal (see sha’pash) use to describe the free hour soldiers receive before bedtime during basic training to do whatever they want. Many are under the false impression that sha'tash is an acronym for sha'a tash (hour of tash). They are wrong.
My boyfriend in Nachal never calls me. He claims he does not get sha’tash time to use his cellphone every night like the rest of the army. What a doosh.

Sh’natz shaina tza’arayim ‘afternoon sleep;’ Nap in the afternoon.

The goal of any chapshan (see def.) or Laotian. The consummate soldier realizes that lunch break is designed as much for the sh’natz as for eating. And afternoon bus rides? Thank you Lord. Like the best slang terms on this list, sh’natz is at once both a verb and noun. I sh’natz, you sh’natz, we all sh’natz a sh’natz together!
Life is just too short to not pull off a sh’natz when you feel like it.

Sh’nab shaina boker ‘morning sleep;’ Nap in the morning.

Any schlub can pull off a quick sh’natz (see def). The real vet is he who makes time for a refreshing sh’nab before noon. Considering most days in the military begin at dawn, there is enough time and easily enough motivation to slip in a quick sh’nab.
A sh’nab is my way of offering morning grace to the god of took (see def.).

Shlook A portion of someone else’s drink.

The liquid equivalent of a beese (see def).
You open a bottle of Nestea, you’d best be ready to hand it over for many a shlook.

Shoosh kidush Arriving home from the army late on Friday evening.

Shoosh (from sheeshee, ‘six,’ ala the sixth day: Friday) is slang for weekend home leave that starts on Friday, that is a regular weekend leave for combat soldiers. Kidush is the benediction over wine at the start of the Friday night Shabbat meal. Hence a shoosh kidush suggests that a soldier gets out of the army so late on Friday afternoon that by the time he arrives home the Shabbat evening meal is about to start. In short, the worst type of weekend leave!
I would rather close Shabbat on base then get out on a shoosh kidush.

Sh’pitz ‘Tip;’ A soldier that excels in a given task.

Like the tip of the spear, the sh’pitz is front and center in his accomplishments.
Did you see how fast he ran the bochen maslul (obstacle course). What a sh’pitz!

Stall bet To verbally mess with someone.

Although as used in the army stall bet suggests verbally working someone over, taking them for a ride, the slang term can also be self reference to suggest one is chilling out. See also, l’hanfeetz.
Are you stall bet with me? Or did you really hook up with Scarlett Johansson this weekend?

Tash t’nai sherut ‘service rights’ All the good things in the army.

There are rules in the army ensuring that soldiers receive a certain number of meals and hours of sleep per day, weekend home leaves after a certain maximum length of time in the army (thirty-five days), and all the special assistance the army may provide to lone soldiers or soldiers from financially disadvantaged backgrounds. These rules are the formal source of the term tash. Every unit even has a (female) soldier, called the ma’shakeet tash, whose job it is to ensure and assist soldiers in getting their various tash privileges.
In practice, tash has a far wider meaning, encompassing all the good things in the army. Easy training? Tash. Good food? Tash. Serving as a jobnik (noncombat soldier)? Tash. New equipment? Tash. Midday naps? Super tash! Tash is so pervasive that the army can arguably be divided into one of two experiences: tash or kader (see def).
Tash sh'tayim, 'tash two,' describes getting off from the army two days a week or more regularly than regular soldiers. Soldiers who receive tash sh'tayim have home issues-low income, parents ill or in jail- that compel them to return home to work or help the family.
They say in the infantry you have to love the suck. That’s fine, I just wish the tash didn’t suck as well.

Teroof Intense, crazy, awesome.

Like katlani, similar to the way a California surfing dude would describe a great wave as ‘out of control awesome.’ See katlani, rabak.
How was my shower? Teroof!

Took ‘off;’ (pronounced tuke, like duke). Nap.

The source of this word is unclear. It seems to be a rare Hebrew word for ‘off,’ because the US-issued Hebrew lettered radios used by the IDF are inscribed with the terms ga and took, on and off. More importantly, the simple translation does not capture the splendor that this term evokes in the midst of a tiring week in the army. For me the term evokes the simple bliss of Tolkein’s shire (Perrigen Took of Lords of the Rings providing the link), hobbits lazing around with grubby feet, drinking, resting, drunk on life’s simple pleasures. Took mitkadem means what it translates to, a tongue in cheek statement of fact: advanced stage of sleep.
Took is my favorite slang Hebrew term, hands down.
I would cross miles for you, my love, my soul, my daily took.

Totach ‘Cannon;’ Impressive, standout guy.

Aside from the Freudian implication of referencing the alpha male by the most phallus-like of weapons, there is not much to say about totach. Like aizeh gever, the totach demands and receives respect for his imposing abilities.
What a totach! I did not think it was possible to finish the obstacle course in under seven minutes!

Wassach Wallah sachtein (Arabic), 'yeah (walla) impressive/congrats (sachtein); Anything displayed or performed in order to look cool or impressive.

Pimp my ride is the motto of the wassakist, the soldier who goes all out in making his gear, especially his gun, look as pimped out and spiffy as possible. This tends to involve adding as many extras (forward hand grip, flashlight, laser sight, fancy scopes, etc) to the standard rifle as possible.
He is so full of himself. Look at all the extras he attaches to his rifle. Pure wassach.

Yalla Lets go.

Arabic term used indiscriminately in Hebrew, as a greeting, goodbye and for applause. Ya’alla, a similar Arabic term, can have a similar meaning or be used to say “I cannot believe this!”
Everyone, get up! Yalla Orev (Orev is the nickname of my unit)!

Yom sidureem ‘Organizing day;’ A day off from the army to take care of pressing civilian needs that lone soldiers are entitled to once a month.

Yom sidureem is designed to provide lone soldiers (see def.) a chance to take care of concerns like bank accounts and phone plans they otherwise would not have time for on the regular weekend leave. Most lone soldiers, however, are not too proud to use a yom sidureem for more leisurely pursuits, requesting a day to square away their rent checks but actually spending the day chilling on the beach with chums. Although lone soldiers have a right to one day off each month, whether they receive the day depends on the goodwill of their officer, and the gumption of the lone soldier and his masheekat tash (see def).
A strategically scheduled yom sidureem is such a breath of fresh air.