The dictionary definitions of patience are quite similar, both in Hebrew and English: ability to wait quietly or face rejection or delay; ability to bear calmly and with self-control frustrating and upsetting situations. But the Hebrew word suggests the primal feeling one experiences when being patient: suffering. Sav•la•noot comes from ‘sevel,’ which means pain, suffering, agony (see a separate Hebrew Word of the Day).
In English, this lingual connotation is non-existent, or for the most, very vague. Unlike Hebrew, the English definition of ‘patience’ is believed to be borrowed from Old French, which in turn was borrowed from Latin. Only in Latin does it have the primal feeling we mentioned above: patientia – ‘suffering.’ The word ‘pathology’ is also related to the same feeling; it means ‘suffering’ and ‘disease’ in Greek.
Patience has another word in Hebrew which is also biblical: E•rech Ru•ach (literally, ‘long breath’). It appears once in the Bible as an important gift of the spirit:
“Better is the end of a thing than its beginning; and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit”
On a lighter note, in the early years of the State of Israel, this was the first word new immigrants to Israel learned upon arrival when they experienced the snail-slow speed at which things were done. For example, up to the early 80’s the only phone company in Israel was the government. During those years, it took between 5 to 8 years to get a phone line from the day you placed the order. You surely needed much ‘sav•la•noot’ in Israel during this time. And a sense of humor was definitely a real plus…