Nakhes

The Book of Human Emotions: From Ambiguphobia to Umpty - 154 Words from Around the World for How We Feel - Tiffany Watt Smith 2016

Nakhes

“I didn’t know they made Ninth Place ribbons,” observes Robert De Niro’s all-American patriarch Jack Byrnes as he skeptically examines the Wall of Gaylord, a shrine to his Jewish son-in-law’s “accomplishments” in the parental home. Jay Roach’s comedy sequel Meet the Fockers pokes fun at the cultural divide between the ultra-supportive atmosphere of Gaylord Focker’s upbringing and the rugged frontier spirit Jack represents. Excessive parental PRIDE might be a worn trope in Jewish humor. But really, everyone recognizes the DELIGHT and SATISFACTION felt at a child’s—or even younger sibling’s—accomplishments. Perhaps your youngest has just crawled for the first time, or your oldest has cooked a quiche. Seeing a child achieve something—anything!—can make the heart feel like it’s about to burst with joy.

In Yiddish there’s a special word for this feeling: nakhes (pronounced: na-khez, with the kh pronounced like the ch in loch). It makes parents kvell (crow with delight) over even the littlest achievements of their squirming offspring, binding the generations together in a shared feeling of success.

See also: MUDITA.