by Mark L. Levinson
All due respect to Einstein, but time and space are separate things, aren’t they? I can’t help being irritated when people mention file synchronization. Since I have a day job in high tech, this means I can’t help being quite regularly irritated. But synchronization means making sure things happen at the same time, khronos being Greek for time. When you’re walking to the bus stop and you see the 501, the 531, the 551, and two 29s all pulling away at the same time before you have a chance of boarding, that’s synchronization among the buses. File synchronization has nothing to do with shared timing, it just means making sure that file hierarchies in the computer’s storage space have the same content. It’s an inappropriate term, but by now definitive.
Dictionaries tend to favor the spatial definition of לקראת: The Dvir dictionary says “to meet, towards,” and it mentions that the root is קרא (as in “Hey, you!”). Sivan and Levenston’s Bantam dictionary also says “towards” but it adds the meanings “for” and “in view of,” taking into account that as the time of an occurrence approaches, it influences our behavior. We might say we bought a new electric heater לקראת החורף and mean that we bought it because winter was impending. On the other hand, we might also say that לקראת החורף we bought a new electric toothbrush, merely mentioning when it happened rather than implying that the time of year caused anything.
Thus in translating לקראת we can face ambiguity if we’re unlucky. Suppose we face a sentence like לקראת הבחירות גברו מתקפות הטרור. Without more context, we’d have trouble understanding whether the writer meant that attacks were intentionally escalated in hopes of swinging votes or simply that while the one thing was approaching, the other thing was going on.
Nina Davis addresses לקראת in her glossary, with the majority of definitions on the intentional side: “in anticipation of…, in time for…, in honor of…, ahead of…, leading up to…, for the coming…” There’s no limit to the further ways of expressing the idea — “with the (whatever) impending,” “as the (whatever) came closer,” etc. — because generally you need a whole phrase to do so, although sometimes you can get away with less. If for example ראינו את הנבחרת מתאמנת לקראת המשחק, “before the game” would do.
Another common use of לקראת is neither spatial nor chronological. Because I have a day job, I generally handle translation jobs on the weekend; but if your job for midweek is quite small, simple, and urgent, אבוא לקראתך — that is to say, I will be flexible. I will compromise. I will oblige you.
Comments relating to לקראת are welcome below. Suggestions for other words to discuss should go to email@example.com instead and will not be used without credit. Shana tova.