If you are not a native Hebrew speaker, you probably have never heard of this word: firgun, or in infinitive form, lefargen. Firgun, in Hebrew, is used when a person shares in another’s happiness and joy for no personal or selfish gain, but rather for genuine and selfless reasons. Without expecting anything in return. Not saying that the spirit of firgun does not exist elsewhere. It sure does. But here in Israel, it got its own word.
While firgun is mainly used to describe these positive attributes, it can also be used to show someone’s support in a time of need or simply to lift the person’s spirits. To do something good for another simply to make the other person happier. The beauty of a diverse word such as firgun, in the way we speak Hebrew in our day-to-day lives, is that the concept surrounding the word brings about the best parts of life. When we can be there for one another whether it be in a work, community, family, or other setting, both in the good and bad times, we are able to achieve more together.
The word firgun is traced back to the Yiddish word farginen, which is related to the German word, vergonnen, meaning “to indulge.”
Learning and understanding the concept of firgun teaches us a very important lesson; that to do something so selfless of ourselves, especially when that is sharing in another person’s happiness, is one of the best things we can do as humans.
An additional meaning given to firgun is to go the extra length to make something special and generous. In the tech industry of Israel, start-ups and tech companies choose their own firgun, or ways that they can make the lives of their employees easier. This happens so often in Israel, that the tech scene is just one of the many communities that foster this shared positiveness, also including the military, schools in Israel, and due to the fact that a large proportion of the country lives in small towns and communities, this way of life encourages the concept of firgun.
So often in our societies today, when we celebrate the accomplishments of another, or simply celebrate one another, there is a tendency to be jealous, to feel victimized, generally speaking to hold a feeling of “why them” as opposed to sharing their joy and being happy for that person. Why not practice more firgun? Let’s share in another’s happiness and joy for no personal or selfish gain, but rather for genuine and selfless reasons. Without expecting anything in return. Just for the sake of being happy for them.
Inbal Arieli is a renowned entrepreneur with over 20 years in the buisness. She has been featured as one of the 100 most influential people in Israeli tech and as one of the top 100 tech business women speakers in the world.