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24
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3answers
5k views

Hebrew document found in grandfather's attic—what does it state?

I found this document in my grandfather's attic and would be thankful if someone could tell me (a) what this document is, (b) whether there are any names written, and (c) which, if any, religious ...
10
votes
2answers
2k views

What's the meaning of “Hashmal” (electricity in modern Hebrew) in the bible? (Ezekiel 1:4)

Ezekiel 1:4: I saw, and behold, there was a stormy wind coming from the north, a great cloud with flashing fire and a brilliance surrounding it; and from its midst, like the color of the Hashmal ...
10
votes
3answers
374 views

“Baruch shekivanti…”

There is a phrase of self-compliment people use when they find that they have independently arrived at the same conclusion as someone great. It begins with the words "ברוך שכיוונתי", translated ...
9
votes
4answers
229 views

Origin of the term Motza'ei Shabbos

I often hear that מוצאי שבת means "departure of the Sabbath," but it seems to me that the phrase for this should be צאת שבת (or יציאת שבת). The phrase מוצאי שבת seems to me to mean המוצאים של שבת, ...
6
votes
1answer
119 views

The lack of “ch” sound in Hebrew

As far as I know, there is no tradition of Lashon HaKodesh pronunciation in which there is a sound that matches the "ch" (IPA: t​͡​ʃ) of English. Is there any significance to this ...
6
votes
3answers
401 views

The Absolute Unity of G-d

As we all who know Hebrew can assert, the sufix "im" in the words usually means plurality. How can HaShem be Elohim or Elokim if He is absolutely One and the Only Lord?
5
votes
0answers
160 views

Good resource for learning vowel pronunciation

In trying to improve my leyning, I'm trying to get the finer points of vowel pronunciation down. What is a good resource to learn, e.g., the difference between a patach and chataf-patach or a ...
4
votes
3answers
7k views

Meaning and Difference between baruch and bar'chu

I'm sorry, I don't know a word of Hebrew, and I really want to know what these sentences mean: Bar'chu et Adonai ham'vorach l'olam vaed Baruch atah Adonai If I didn't write them correctly, ...
1
vote
1answer
137 views

Evolved minimal Hebrew pronunciation in halacha

Inspired by comments on this question: Say a person travels from place to place where there are certain traditional havarot (pronunciations) such that what were likely originally distinct sounds, are ...
18
votes
2answers
1k views

Relationship between Samekh and Sin

What is the relationship between the letters samekh and sin? Did they ever have distinct sounds? Why do they exist as separate letters?
15
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8answers
713 views

Why is “Shalom Aleichem” always plural?

Why do we say Shalom Alaichem to one person if Alaichem is plural? Is it saying you and all of the Jews? Is that why it's plural?
11
votes
1answer
419 views

הוא is he? Or is it?

The third-person feminine pronoun in Hebrew is היא, "hee." But in most instances in the Torah, the word is spelled הוא, with a vav rather than a yud as the middle letter. How does this make sense ...
11
votes
1answer
218 views

When do we read a vav prefix as “or” rather than “and”?

This answer cites the Ralbag as interpreting a (critical-to-the-question) vav prefix on a verb as "or". I've heard before that a vav prefix is not always "and" and can be "or" or even "but". Is ...
11
votes
2answers
1k views

חס ושלום! (whatever that means)

What on earth does חס ושלום mean literally, or what is its etymology? Why do people use that phrase in particular to "ward off" bad things? (That last part of the question is not asking whether saying ...
10
votes
1answer
438 views

What is the source of the expression המבין יבין?

The Forward writer Philologos in his most recent column claimed that the earliest uses of the expression והמבין יבין are found in the Ra'avad and in the Radak. Based on the fact that both these ...
8
votes
1answer
200 views

Is there a difference in meaning between קָדֹֽשׁ and קֹֽדֶשׁ?

I am helping my son lain parshat Emor. He's having a hard time seeing the difference between קֹֽדֶשׁ and קָדֹ֥שׁ esp. when they are written the same. Usually, when I train students to lain, I try to ...
8
votes
2answers
152 views

Is there a reason or pattern as to when the Torah uses אֵת instead of אֶת?

I noticed a mix of the two forms of the Hebrew objective marker commonly pronounced אֶת. in the Torah. (There is no English translation of this word. It is used only to notify that an object follows ...
8
votes
2answers
286 views

Is the bracha pronounced “ha-MO-tzee” or “ha-mo-TZEE”?

The blessing we say on bread, "hamotzee lechem min ha'aretz" -- on what syllable is the stress in the word "hamotzee"? Is the bracha pronounced "ha-MO-tzee" or "ha-mo-TZEE"? In Psalms 104:14 we find ...
8
votes
3answers
141 views

The difference between צדיקים and חסידים

What's the difference between צדיקים and חסידים? I assume that there is a difference because of Psalms 145:17. Also at the end of Nishmat Kol Chai where it says "uvdivrey tzadikim titbarach uvilshon ...
8
votes
2answers
662 views

Why can't Ploni Almoni be a real name, in Ruth?

The verse states (Ruth 4:1): וּבֹעַז עָלָה הַשַּׁעַר, וַיֵּשֶׁב שָׁם, וְהִנֵּה הַגֹּאֵל עֹבֵר אֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר-בֹּעַז, וַיֹּאמֶר סוּרָה שְׁבָה-פֹּה פְּלֹנִי אַלְמֹנִי; וַיָּסַר, וַיֵּשֵׁב Now Boaz ...
8
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2answers
214 views

הקדוש ברוך הוא אנחנו אוהבים אותך ‎— or אותו?

There is a popular song some of whose lyrics are "הקדוש ברוך הוא אנחנו אוהבים אותך". Does anyone have a source — besides some recent lyricist — for these words precisely, or a source for any instance ...
8
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3answers
196 views

Why is there a ה in “מוהל”?

The Hebrew word for the act performed at a circumcision is "לימול". The root appears to be נ.מ.ל. Following the exceptional rules for roots whose first letter is נ, the causative participle and ...
7
votes
1answer
262 views

How to pronounce the name of the last letter in the Hebrew alphabet?

I have heard mixed answers as to how to pronounce the letter תּ Is it taf or tav? (I'm referring to the halachic pronunciation not the common street way.) Is there a difference between Ashkenazi or ...
7
votes
1answer
175 views

גמר חתימה טובה gender

During the nine and a half days ending with Yom Kipur, we wish each other "גמר חתימה טובה" (an end to the good signing). This seems very strange. Shouldn't it be "גמר חתימה טוב" (a good end to the ...
7
votes
3answers
345 views

Resources for learning Hebrew from scratch?

I was raised as a Jewish identifying secular child, and it's only in my adolescence/adulthood I've really become at all observant. One of the problems is, of course, I've never had a Hebrew class! ...
7
votes
2answers
920 views

Hebrew letters Hey-Yud-Dalet after a name

I'd seen some stuff written about a man, with the Hebrew הי"ד (Hey-Yud-quotes-Dalet) after his name. What does that mean?
6
votes
4answers
156 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
243 views

How to vowelize “כתובה” (“marriage document”)?

The promissory note a husband gives his wife when they wed is called a כתובה. In my experience, people usually pronounce/vowelize this word "כְּתֻבָּה / k'suba". Such a form (mishkal) exists in ...
6
votes
2answers
226 views

What does נְחשֶׁת mean?

In Teruma (25:3), the verse says "וְזֹאת הַתְּרוּמָה אֲשֶׁר תִּקְחוּ מֵאִתָּם זָהָב וָכֶסֶף וּנְחשֶׁת". Chabad (as well as Artscroll) translates it as "And this is the offering that you shall take ...
6
votes
1answer
191 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 ...
6
votes
3answers
1k views

Hebrew for ice - and other “new” words

After reading MB OC 301:17:65 (thanks, YDK!) I am baffled by a nagging question regarding Modern Hebrew and Biblical Hebrew. Eliezer Ben-Yehudah is known to have revitalized Hebrew, in part by taking ...
6
votes
0answers
509 views

מֶה, מָה, מַה - Meh, Mah, Ma - What's the difference?

What causes the difference in vowelization of the Hebrew word for "what"? In some contexts it is מֶה, in others - מָה, and in yet others - מַה. The hypothesis that an acquaintance and I converged on ...
6
votes
2answers
441 views

Pronunciation of משנה הלכות

Are R' Menashe Klein's volumes of responsa pronounced "Mishna Halachos" or "Mishaneh Halachos"? Can someone provide the grammatical explanation please?
5
votes
0answers
66 views

Proper Reading of the Word זועה

The word זועה appears six times in tanach: Yeshayahu 28:19 Yirmiyahu 15:4 Yirmiyahu 24:9 Yirmiyahu 29:18 Yirmiyahu 34:17 Divrei Hayamim II 29:8 In each one of these instances except the first, the ...
5
votes
3answers
162 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
387 views

How do I pronounce “yod” when there is a dot inside of it?

I'm trying to brush up on my Hebrew. As an American Jew, it is still important to me to be able to recite my prayers from the siddur in their original Hebrew. How do I pronounce "yod" when there is a ...
5
votes
2answers
179 views

Pronunciation of חשמונאי

A friend today told me that the word חשמונאי traditionally pronounced "Chashmonai" should really be pronounced "Chashmunai" with the vav being read as a shuruk vowel instead of a cholom. Is this ...
5
votes
4answers
3k views

What does the Bible mean by “those that urinate against the wall” in I Samuel 25:22?

A more precise version of this vague question: What does the Bible mean by "those that urinate against the wall" in I Samuel 25:22? There are different translations for the phrase; what is the ...
4
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0answers
93 views

Use of speaking “Baruch HaShem” in 1492 Spain

I am writing a play that takes place during the Spanish Inquisition. A Rabbi is walking home from the King's court and his belongings are tossed to the ground by hooligans. A young Spanish girl picks ...
4
votes
1answer
75 views

Cognitive meaning of כפר

What is the cognitive meaning of the root כפר? It's applications (that I know of, feel free to add) are: כפיר - lion cub (Shoftim 14:5) כפר - village (Shmuel 1 6:18) כופר - Replacement (bamidbar ...
4
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0answers
190 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 ...
4
votes
0answers
137 views

Why does the prefix She- appear in only Tehillim, Shir Hashirim, and Koheles?

The prefix שֶׁ is very common in Mishnaic and Modern Hebrew, but in Tanakh appear rarely, except in Tehillim, Shir Hashirim, and Koheles, where it is all over the place. Why are these books the only ...
4
votes
2answers
233 views

Does “die” in Bereishit 2:17 imply the *beginning* of a process death, or simply *death*?

It is true that Adam and Eve didn’t die the exact day they ate, as some seem to think Genesis 2:17 implies. The Hebrew is die-die (muwth-muwth), which is often translated as “surely die” or ...
4
votes
2answers
278 views

Correcting tav/sav

If someone who usually pronounces the letter "ת" without a dagesh as "sav" is leining Torah, and he accidentally says "tav" in a place where he would normally say "sav", should the gabbai correct him? ...
4
votes
5answers
283 views

Why isn't Half Hallel called “85 percent hallel”?

When we say hallel on days like Rosh chodesh, we don't say parts of two prakim of tehillim. This is often called "chatzi" hallel, or half hallel. In fact, according to ...
4
votes
1answer
833 views

Hebrew Havarah?

Similar to this question Different parts of Eastern Europe had different dialects. For example, Ukrainian, Polish and Hungarian Jews pronounce a "Shuruk" as a EE, or a Komatz as an oo (so Boruch ...
4
votes
1answer
210 views

Meaning of Mappik in יה

One more question about mappik (I don't know what happened to me, but this topic somewhat disturbs me lately :)) What is the meaning of the mappik in the following Hebrew words: יָהּ הַלְלוּיָהּ ...
4
votes
1answer
151 views

Closing abbreviation ושכמ"ה

Every [anonymous] question asked in the responsum Torah Lishmah ends with an address to the answerer and the abbreviation ושכמ"ה (e.g.). The Otzar Rashei Teivos had only one entry for this ...
4
votes
3answers
133 views

Where and when is the earliest attestation of the word “mohel”?

Where is the earliest attestation of the word mohel for one who performs the act associated with a ritual circumcision? When was it written? What language is it? [Inspired by Why is there a ה in ...
3
votes
0answers
57 views

Does Rabbinic Literature misunderstand the infinitive absolute?

The infinitive absolute is a conjugation classified generally by a qametz under the first consonant, and a holem or holem - vav by the second. According to the Cambridge Introduction to Biblical ...