LEFT (side) RaFeH Resh-Phey-Hey
Ra-FEH רפה [RF à LF]
ROOTS: The AHD cites lyftādl (paralysis) in demonstrating that Old English lyft means “weak.” Apololgies to LEFTIES to whom the LEFT side is not their weak side. The Slavic LV “left” words demonstrate that the T is not part of this liquid-bilabial root of weakness.
רפה RaFeH (weak, infirm, feeble -- Numbers 13:18). רפיון RiFYOAN is slackness, feebleness (Jeremiah 47:3). The designed opposite is רפא RaFAh (to heal, cure, restore – Genesis 20:17). See “THERAPY.”
BRANCHES: To begin with the Slavic family, where this was first discovered: LEFT (not right) is ľavá (Slovak), levá (Czech, Serbian), levi (Slovenian), levo (Macedonian), levyye левые (Russian), lewa (Polish), lievy (Belarusian), lijeva (Croatian), lijevoj (Bosnian), lyava (Bulgarian) and Ukrainian zliva.
Latin laevus means left, fumbling and bumbling .
If “weak” is a natural name for the weaker hand, there ought to be “left” words from other Edenic terms for “weak.” The most common “weak” word in Biblical Hebrew is חלש KHaLaSH. But this only has a few global possibilities like Basque eskerri (M312 S-L), Catalan esquerra, and, if the ח Het was dropped and the ל-ש Lamed-Shin got reversed, there is Kazakh and Turkish sol, and Uzbek so'l.
The stronger “weak” word here is רך RaKH; though it is usually translated “soft” or “tender.” German link means LEFT. The Dutch and Yiddish is links. (The extra Ns are from nasalization.)
Perhaps reversing this R-K is Indonesian kiri (left, awkward). Gaelic cli (klee) also means “left, awkward and feeble.” In Lithuanian į kairę means “to the left.” Kiri is left in Malay. See “WEAK.”
More remotely, Javanese and Sundanese kiwa might come from a reversed רך RaKH.
The PARA- of PARALYSIS is allegedly from the Greek prefix para (on one side, -- which should be from עבר [A]BHahR -- see “OVER.”) This strange etymology requires that the PARALYTIC have a weakness or looseness on one side. A more logical alternative involves a reverse רפה RaPHaH (weak) or רפף RaPHaPH (waver, WAFFLE, loosen… like Arabic raffa, it quivered) , combined with חלש [K]HaLaSH (weak) and other L-S words here. See “LOOSE.” Also see פלץ PaLaTS )to shudder) at “FLUTTER” and “PALSY.”
Palsy and paralysis are different medical conditions, of course, but early on they may have been grouped together as weakening, loosening ailments of the limbs.One must realize that our published etymologies are too often based on someone’s hunch, and that a lexicographer then spelled the word to fit that hunch.