My original blog, lo those many years ago (2005??? Good GOD I’ve been blabbering that long?), was titled “Ezer K’negdo” and I wrote anonymously under that pseudonym.
Why did I choose “Ezer K’negdo” as my blog-o-nym? So many reasons. My initial fake name was “Toaster Queen” but the blog had not been up for 48 hours and my very good friend, EmaPizza, called and asked me “Hey – are you the ‘Toaster Queen’ that has been commenting on other people’s blogs? I recognized the name from a story you told me once.”
So much for that. How many other people had I told my famous toaster story?* I had to pick another fake name. I can’t remember exactly when it came to me, but I realized the term “Ezer K’negdo” has so many layers, just like my life. What was it Shrek said? “Ogers are like onions. They have many layers.” Not that I’m comparing myself to Shrek. I’m just saying.
Several people have asked me recently why I refer to my husband Joshua as “Mr. EK”, including my Dad who apparently has found this blog. Hey there, Dad! Did you see the post about your new license plate?
When I blogged anonymously, I was EK and he was, of course, Mr. EK. We have a very elderly congregant whom I love, who refers to me as “Mrs. Rabbi” and this was an homage to her (she’s in her 90’s and reads this blog. I knew she’d get a kick out of that. Seriously, when I’m 90, God Willing, I hope I can still chew my own food let alone surf the web).
I still refer to Joshua as Mr. EK because, well, he is my Ezer K’negdi. It’s 2010 . . . it’s not just for women anymore :-)
There are several translations of the phrase “Ezer K’negdo“, but the most popular is “Helpmeet”. Not exactly modern. I am partial to Everett Fox’s translation of Beresheet (Genesis) 2:18:
“. . . a helper corresponding to him.”
In the notes, Fox mentions that “k’negdo” can be translated as “counterpart”, which seems accurate, as the Hebrew, “k’negdo,” can mean both “opposite him”, and “alongside him.” The English word “counterpart” is comprised of 2 words, “counter,” which can mean contrary to or opposite, and “part,” which means a portion or share of something. So a “counterpart” can be someone who is contrary to, and yet a part of someone else. Someone who is partnered with another, but in an opposite or different role.
“Neged” in Hebrew has several meanings that appear to contradict one another. It can mean both “against” AND “alongside” or “opposite to.” The word “opposite” in English has similar contradictory meanings. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, opposite has several meanings. Amongst them are:
1: being the other of a pair that are corresponding or complementary in position, function, or nature.
As in, George Burns and Gracie Allen worked opposite one another; meaning together but in different, complementary roles, which has a positive connotation (counterpart).
2: occupying an opposing and often antagonistic position.
As in, Michael J. Fox and Rush Limbaugh are on opposite sides of the stem cell debate. Which has a decidedly negative connotation.
3: diametrically different (in nature or character)
As in, men are from Mars and women are from Venus :-)
So the Hebrew and English words “k’negdo” and “counterpart” are both comprised of a combination of words that have opposite, yet in some ways complementary meanings.
Talk about a metaphor.
I hate my microwave. I much prefer a toaster oven, and for a long time I had a really fancy convection toaster oven. I loved it. When we were first married and living in NYC, we got ambitious and invited, oh, I don’t know, 16 or 17 people for Shabbes. That Friday morning, my stove died. Dead. Never coming back. The superintendent, of course, was out of town. I managed to cook 3 courses for 17 people in my toaster oven, and the dinner was fantastic. I modified my menu to foods that tasted good at room temperature, and it was quite successful. My husband proclaimed me “the Toaster Queen”, hence the moniker. My poor toaster didn’t survive the move to our current location, as it was not used to being dropped from a moving truck onto the street. I am still too broken up about it to have it replaced :-). That, and it cost a gazillion dollars.