THERE IS a Yiddish word, "chutzpah," that has all but worked its way into the English language by now. It means--more or less--"gall" or "nerve" or "brass." But none of these translations will really quite do. And so people spend a lot of time trying to define "chutzpah" by anecdote or example.

There are, of course, many such stories. But we think we can do them all one better with what we read in the papers and saw on television yesterday and the day before. It was Yasser Arafat and a number of other Arabs complaining, if you can believe it, that the Israeli inquiry into the circumstances of killings in the Shatila and Sabra camps was not nearly thorough or tough or far-reaching enough.

This, mind you, when there has been no effort-- none--either to apprehend or discipline those Lebanese soldiers who actually did the savage killing or those Lebanese officers and officials to whom they report. The Lebanese prime minister, nonetheless, was not embarrassed to get into the act himself, with the grotesque observation that the report "at least uncovered to the world who was really responsible." How conveniently he seems to forget who pulled the trigger.

The Israeli act of self-scrutiny and self-criticism is an example that shames the weak, dishonest responses of these men. So disregard all previous definitions of chutzpah. You saw it live Tuesday night on TV. You'll never have to ask again.