Today’s word is me•sha•ge•a, fascinating, terrific, gorgeous, etc. The strange thing is the closeness of that word to the expression that describes excitement and extreme happiness. Is it possible that this is just another example of the closeness of extreme opposites in life, such as love/hate and genius/crazy that we discussed yesterday?
The use of the same root in Hebrew for these two extreme opposites indicates that there is some truth in this assumption. But do we really need something to almost ‘drive us crazy’ in order to be excited and utter the words terrific and gorgeous? You don’t need to go that far and suspect only the Hebrew language. The word ‘terrific’ is close enough to the terrifying, which comes from feeling terror – just another example of extreme opposites that are in fact so close to each other.
The prefix ‘me’ in today’s word ‘me•sha•ge•a’ is a special pattern in Hebrew grammar that indicates that the verb is causative. Causative verbs are simply verbs that cause actions to take place. For example, ‘to dictate’ is to cause someone to write or act as instructed; ‘to amuse’ is to cause someone to laugh; to play (music) is causative because it makes others or ourselves hear it, etc.
Hence, ‘me•sha•gea’ literally means ‘causing madness,’ but as we discussed before, we linguistically equate madness with excitement and great pleasure. Just as you can use this expression to describe music, scenery, and art, it is also attributed to people. Just remember that the word is informal, and unlike the word, meshuga, you won’t find this one in the Bible.