About the history and origins of words.

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Relationship between *segulah* and violet color

We have a tradition, very often used in drush, that words deriving from the same root are really manifestations of the same idea in different facets. In this context, what is the relationship between ...
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6answers
5k views

Etymology/connection between Ari, Aryeh, Yehudah, Leib, and Leibel

What is the relationship between the following names that often go together is some combination? Ari/Aryeh Yehudah Leib/Leibel I've encountered many men, young and old, with the following first ...
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3answers
287 views

Why is the Machzor called a Machzor?

The Siddur we use for Yom Tov is known as a Machzor. What does it mean and where did this originate?
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1answer
105 views

Source of Term “Shiur”

What is the source for referring to a rabbinic lecture as a "shiur" which literally means 'measurement'? When did this usage begin? What is its significance?
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2answers
72 views

What is the origin of the name “Artscroll” [closed]

If I were naming a company dedicated to bringing Jewish soures to the masses, I would choose a name more descriptive of the mission than "Artscroll". What is the origin of this name?
10
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1answer
136 views

What exactly does “Lord of Hosts” (צְבָאוֹת) mean?

When I think of the Judaism, I don't think of Angelic armies attacking the armies of evil directly. G-d usually works in far more subtle ways than this, e.g. appearing as a burning bush to motivate ...
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0answers
29 views

Book, commentary, or other source that explains the Biblical usage of “compass” directions

IIRC, there may have been a M.Y. question that referred to a source that explained the Biblical usage of the 4 directions. I.e. it explained why: קדם is East ים is West נגב is South צפון is North ...
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1answer
67 views

Source for the Usage of “Kabbalah”

What are the earliest sources that refer to Jewish mysticism in particular as "kabblah". (Preferably the answer should include an indication that the word was associated with this in particular, ...
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1answer
45 views

Source of “Koteret”

I have heard Rambam's presentation of the mitzvos at the beginning of each set of halachos referred to as the כותרת (koteret). What is the source for this usage?
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1answer
35 views

How did the term “Shalom Bayit” come to mean “matrimonial harmony”?

A follow up to this M.Y. question : The answer there (so far), addresses the source of the term, in general and cites Talmud Shabbat which seems to address the importance of lighting Shabbat candles. ...
3
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1answer
92 views

When did the word challa start being used to mean our Shabbos bread?

In the Torah we seem to only find this word associated with Temple related breads. In Rabbinic writings the word challa was the word referring to the amount of dough separated to be given to a kohen. ...
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3answers
102 views

Why is it called “Eden”?

God planted a garden in Eden (Genesis 2:8). Why is it called Eden? I don't see that any of the commentaries in my mikraos g'dolos discuss this.
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2answers
92 views

Source that “Teiku” References Eliyahu?

What is the earliest source that indicates that "teiku" (תיקו) references Eliyahu? Any source earlier than the Tosafos Yom Tov who provides an alternative explanation?
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3answers
108 views

Source of the word “teva” for nature

I was told by someone who I consider to be very reliable that the word טבע, which means nature, does not have a source in Biblical or Talmudic literature, and it is a word that first emerges in ...
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2answers
73 views

The word 'Halakhah'

When and under what circumstances did the word "halakhah" (also spelled "halacha", "halachah" or, in Hebrew, הלכה) come to mean Jewish law?
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4answers
462 views

Etymology of the word sanhedrin

what is the root and source of the term "sanhedrin," the name of the Jewish high court and of a tractate in the Talmud? As far as I know, it is not from scripture.
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2answers
76 views

What are the origins of Qayin?

This article is expressing that "Qayin" derived from the 1st millenium BC South Arabic word Qyn, and that Cain is not a name old enough in Bible times of the 2nd millenium. Is it plausible that this ...
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2answers
97 views

First use of the term “Taharat HaMischpacha ”

When and by whom (and why) was the phrase "טהרת המשפחה" ("family purity") first used to describe the halachot relating to niddah?
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1answer
372 views

What is the origin of “shul”?

What is the origin of the word "shul", meaning "synagogue"? It seems derived from the German "Schule", meaning "school". Moreover, Italian Jews call synagogues "scuola", which also means "school" ...
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2answers
70 views

What is the meaning of the phrase לצאת ולבוא?

What is the meaning of the oft-repeated phrase לצאת ולבוא as in Deuteronomy 31:2 ? I realize it means "to conduct business" or "to lead", but I was hoping for more of a deep dive (does it come from a ...
6
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2answers
60 views

etymology of the word “Kittel”

What is the etymology of the word "Kittel"? (Kittel is a white garment worn by many at the Pesach Seder and on Yom Kippur by Davening)
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1answer
402 views

Etymology of the word “trope”

The word Trope seems to me to be a Yiddish word. What is the source of this word? How do you say this word in Hebrew? Taamei Hanegina?
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2answers
128 views

Niqqud of the name of the מהר"ץ חיות

What is the correct niqqud to put on the name of the מהר"ץ חיות? Wikipedia claims that his last name is spelled Chajes in English, and that Chayes or Hayot may also be seen. This seems to imply that ...
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0answers
52 views

Is there a reference that explains the literal meaning and etymology of the names of the Hebrew months?

Is there a reference that explains the literal meaning and etymology of the names of the Hebrew months? I am looking for something that explains both the common Babylonian names as well as the Tana"ch ...
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2answers
2k views

Origin of the term Yoshke?

I have often heard Jews refer to Jesus as "Yoshke". Is the origin of that appellation based on halachic issues regarding mentioning names of foreign deities, or some other Jewish law or custom? When ...
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1answer
159 views

When, and why did the term “am ha'aretz” come to mean “ignoramus”?

In Tana'ch, the term "am ha'aretz" meant either "the tribal counsel" as we see when Abraham wanted to purchase the Cave of Machpela, he bowed down to the "am ha'aretz". It also meant "the nation" or ...
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1answer
103 views

First Use of the Phrase “Cheit HaMeraglim”

The negative report given by the people who are sent to scout the land of Cana'an before Bnei Yisrael go in, resulting in the punishment that they have to wander for another 38 years in the desert, is ...
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3answers
122 views

Etymology of מחילה

I am looking for a possible etymological root for the word מחילה as meaning forgiveness. The word מחל does not appear in Tanach1, and neither does מחילה, nor does מוחל, and I was unable to find any ...
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1answer
128 views

Pronunciation of Yerushalayim

In the Tanach, the word Yerushalayim is almost always written without a yud between the lamed and mem, but pronounced as if there is a patach under the lamed and a yud following it. We find though ...
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0answers
118 views

The difference between Chazal and Razal

I have heard it said before that Chazal (חז"ל = חכמינו זכרונם לברכה; "our sages of blessed memory") refers to sages of the Mishna and Gemara, while Razal (רז"ל = רבנים/נו זכרונם לברכה; "our/the ...
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34 views

Grammatical origins of names in Tanach

Almost all nouns in Hebrew fit into one of several standard "templates". For example, מִבְחָן comes from the root בחנ combined with the pattern מִפְעָל (already used by many other words). There would ...
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3answers
121 views

Is there a substantive difference in meaning when the Torah uses the Hebrew verb root דבר rather than אמר?

Is there a substantive difference in meaning when the Torah uses the Hebrew verb root דבר rather than אמר, or do they both pretty much mean "to say" or "to speak"? Do any sages see the choice of one ...
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1answer
100 views

Etymology of “yochevetzville”? [closed]

I've heard several Ashkenazic Jews (particularly those from the Midwest), both religious and secular, who use the word "yochevetzville" as synonymous with "nowhere". (e.g. "Of course he can't find ...
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1answer
102 views

How did it happen that the m'chaber came to be called that?

The author of Shulchan Aruch, in his capacity as the author of Shulchan Aruch, is often called "the m'chaber", or "ham'chaber", literally "the composer" or "the author". (Obviously, many authors are ...
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4answers
2k views

Is Hebrew the mother of all languages spoken today in the world?

I often wonder what language Adam, Seth, Noah and Abraham (may peace and blessings be upon them) used to speak. What was their native tongue? Was it classical Hebrew? If yes, then would it be right to ...
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4answers
347 views

What's the origin of the name “Jew”?

Why are we called "the Jews"? Did Hashem pick out this name for us? What does the word "Jew" mean?
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3answers
287 views

Why is Shmoneh Esreh referred to as 18 blessings when there are actually 19?

Originally Shmoneh Esreh only had 18 blessings, thus the name "Shemoneh Esreh." However, subsequently a 19th blessing was added of Velamalshinim regarding the heretics. If there are 19 blessings now, ...
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1answer
597 views

Etymology of the word “Vasikin”

What is the etymology of the word "Vasikin", used for the Minyan that starts Shemona Esrei at sunrise? Also, is "Vasikin" Hebrew or Aramaic?
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0answers
171 views

Origin of Yisha'yahu (Isaiah/יְשַׁעְיָהוּ)'s name

Does Jewish tradition teach us anything that might explain the origin of the name Yisha'yahu/Isaiah/יְשַׁעְיָהוּ? I am referring to the prophet who bore the name. If his name means, as it seems to, ...
2
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3answers
342 views

Root of word צְלוֹתְהוֹן?

Looking at the Kaddish Shalem focusing on the words תִּתְקַבֵּל צְלוֹתְהוֹן, what is the etymology of the word tzelot-hon? Is this construct even hebrew? I found the root צְלָא meaning "pray" with ...
6
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1answer
183 views

What is the Shekhina?

To what are people referring when they talk about the Shekhina? Is it a form of God? A part of God? An attribute of God? Perhaps it is something else entirely? Also, what is the etymology of the ...
10
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2answers
218 views

Why do we call the Festival of Matzos “Passover”?

Today we observe what we call "Passover" or "Pesach" beginning on the evening of the 15th of Nisan, and then for seven days in Israel and eight days elsewhere. But the Torah, at Lev. 23:5 and Exodus ...
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1answer
71 views

Understanding the usage of וגומר and וכולו

Why are the terms וגומר and וכולו used instead of just writing out the rest of the sentence? When were these terms first instituted?
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2answers
131 views

Why is hell termed Gehinnom?

Why is the place that that wicked are punished for their sins after death termed Gehinnom? Is there is an association with Gei ben Hinnom where idolatry was performed? If so why was this place singled ...
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2answers
7k views

What is the origin and meaning of mabrouk?

Instead of mazal tov, some sefardim use the term mabrouk(sp?). What does that term mean and what is its origin?
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1answer
109 views

Where was it first said that “The generation is diminishing and diminishing”? (הדור הולך ופוחת)

in Hebrew we have an adage that says “הדור הולך ופוחת” ("Hador holekh wepocheth"), meaning “the generation is getting more and more diminished", which may have meant that there are fewer and fewer new ...
4
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1answer
268 views

Does 'Levi-' as half of a surname indicate a family of Levites?

I've come across a number of surnames of the form Levi-[Something]: Tullio Levi-Civita was from an Italian Jewish family. Claude Lévi-Strauss was from an Alsatian Jewish family. Rita Levi-Montalcini ...
6
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3answers
574 views

What is the origin for Reform to call their synagogues a “Temple”?

Why does Reform typically call it a Temple, vs a Beit Knesset, a Beit Sefer, or a shul? I imagine the Hebrew would have been the obvious go to, if they chose to ignore the yiddush. Not that I know ...
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2answers
229 views

What does the word לאַטקעס (latkes) mean?

לאַטקעס is the Yiddish word used for the potato pancakes commonly eaten on Chanukah. Where does the word לאַטקעס come from originally? What exactly does it mean?
3
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3answers
209 views

Etymology of “Krepel”

What is the Etymology of “Krepel”? Krepel is a 3 cornered stuffed piece of dough that we eat on Purim, Hoshana Rabah, and Erev Yom Kippur.