Questions pertaining to the Hebrew language, [as related to Judaism](http://judaism.stackexchange.com/help/on-topic).

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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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160 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 ...
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283 views

What color is Yarok?

Yarok ירוק in modern Hebrew means green. What color does it refer to in Mishnaic Hebrew? I have heard that it refers to yellow and not green because the Mishna in Sukkah (on 34b) discusses a citron ...
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364 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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186 views

Rav Yonason Eibeschitz's puzzle

There is a story that the Jews were oppressed and there were harsh decrees and Rav Yonason Eibschitz was challenged by the governor to write "am yisroel chai l'olmei ad" for every Jew who lived in his ...
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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 ...
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393 views

What is the difference between adonai and adoni?

I'm sure I've missed something quite obvious here, but I've always been told that adonai is "my Lord", and so I always assumed that it was adon with 'my' stuck to it. But, that would be adoni, with a ...
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320 views

Why is it called Bas Kol

Why is it called Bas Kol versus Ben Kol?
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421 views

Silent aleph (no, I mean really silent)

Please explain what is going on with the letter aleph in certain places in Tanakh (e.g. the second to last word of Devarim 3:12, the first word of Tehilim 34:10) where the aleph contributes neither a ...
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84 views

The meaning of the word חטא

The word chet is "sin" and is used as such (and in related ways -- sin offering, guilt from sinning, cause others to sin etc.) over 200 times according to my Even-Shoshan. It seems to be connected to ...
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Translation of Ex. 4:8–9

Sh'mos 4:8–9: וְהָיָה אִם לֹא יַאֲמִינוּ לָךְ וְלֹא יִשְׁמְעוּ לְקֹל הָאֹת הָרִאשׁוֹן וְהֶאֱמִינוּ לְקֹל הָאֹת הָאַחֲרוֹן.‏ וְהָיָה אִם לֹא יַאֲמִינוּ גַּם לִשְׁנֵי הָאֹתוֹת הָאֵלֶּה וְלֹא ...
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Why is the word “tzvi” ambiguous?

The word tsvi (צבי) is traditionally considered to mean "deer". For example, the Hebrew name "Tsvi" has the Yiddish equivalent "Hersh", and "Hirsch" means "deer" in German. On the other hand, in ...
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BinyOn or binyAn adai-ad in one of the sheva brochos?

At a chupah today, in the brocho of “asher yotzar es ho’odom betzalmo” a learned Rabbi said the word “binyOn” before “adai-ad” rather than the more usual “binyAn”. “binyOn” is the text in the Baer ...
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299 views

Davening not in Hebrew

Isn't it better to daven in your first language rather than davening in Hebrew and only knowing part of what you're sayig?
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112 views

How and when did the word “Kollel” come to mean “an institution for paying scholars to study Torah”?

How and when did the word "Kollel" come to mean "an institution for paying scholars to study Torah"? If I'm not mistaken, the Hebrew word "kollel" means "includes." But today we've all heard of the ...
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resource for learning proper sefardi pronunciations

I learned Hebrew at an Ashkenazi school, but my heritage is Sefardi. Over the years I have tried to learn the mainstream Sefardi pronunciations (probably the way Rav Ovadia Yosef would pronounce ...
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223 views

Different expressions for “permitted” in the gemoro and elsewhere

The Gemara and other sources use different words to say that something is permitted. There are "shari" "muttar" "leis lon boh". Is there any difference in shades of meaning between these and others ...
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“Vashti the queen” vs. “Queen Vashti”

Is there a peshat difference between the usual wording, “ושתי המלכה” Vashti the queen (or “אסתר המלכה” Esther the queen), and the wording used twice in Chapter 1 (verses 12 and 15), “המלכה ושתי” the ...
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Are the Aramaic root ק.ב.ל and the Hebrew root ק.ב.ל related?

When the word מקבילות comes up in parashas T'ruma, Rash"i defines it based on the Aramaic root ק.ב.ל, commonly found in the preposition לקבל (against or opposite) to mean physically across ...
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117 views

Community/Synagogue Honorifics

I visited the Rare Books section of the JTS in New York in Dec. 2009, to view an old manuscript from Kezmarok, Slovakia. I selected certain pages that I was interested in translating, on behalf of ...
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Saying “Elokim” when not referring to Hashem

People often say "Elokim" instead of "Elohim" when speaking in order to avoid taking God's name in vain. I have observed, however, that some people always substitute the word "elokim" for "elohim" ...
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134 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 ...
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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, ...
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265 views

Is there a Mitzva to speak Loshon Kodesh?

Is it a Mitzva to speak Loshon Kodesh? (sources)
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232 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 ...
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552 views

Chassidic Rebbes don't use Hebrew Grammar?

I have not witnessed enough test cases to statistically verify anything, but I have heard various Chassidic Rebbes make b'rachos and daven out loud, and without fail, they mispronounce a majority of ...
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367 views

Is there a chart available displaying all Hebrew letters and vowels?

I'm looking for a nice chart that will give me the following things, so I can print it out and keep it handy: Picture of each letter in traditional "book" font = Picture of each letter in ...
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164 views

Copula insertion in “Jewish American vernacular English”

What explains the unnecessary insertion of copulas before Hebrew and Yiddish participles used in English contexts? For example, why the common formulation "he is yotze" rather than simply "he yotze"? ...
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152 views

How do Jews understand this idiom in Psalm 40:7

Inspired by http://christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/1294/hebrew-ot-translation-to-greek-nt, I wonder what Jews interpret this idiom, "אָזְנַיִם כָּרִיתָ לִּי," to mean. The English Standard ...
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What is the Hebrew for “Codes”?

Two of the best-attested genres of halakhic literature are (in English) referred to as codes and responsa. The former includes the Mishne Torah, the Arba'ah Turim, the Levush and the Shulchan Arukh ...
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150 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 ...
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195 views

Remember the Sabbath day: meaning of “Sabbath”

Is the word "Shabbat" in Scripture, or anywhere really, ever translated as anything but "Sabbath" by Jews? IF so, what? Based on the Tanakh, that says to "Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy," ...
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98 views

Father the mercy

Lubavitch prayer books include the words אָב הָרַחֲמִים where other prayer books have אַב הָרַחֲמִים (specifically, in the amida of musaf and mincha of Shabas Shuva, and in a prayer said after ...
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118 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 ...
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900 views

What is the meaning of 'Tishbi' in 'Eliyahu haTishbi'?

I've heard theory that it's a place, but have never heard of a place with a similar name...
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46 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 ...
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150 views

What is the correct pronunciation of 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 ...
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'amel' vs. 'osek'

We speak of being עָמֵל בַּתּוֹרָה (e.g., Rashi to B'chukosay 26:3 and :14) and also of being עוֹסֵק בַּתּוֹרָה (e.g., birchos haTora in the morning). What is each (especially as contrasted with the ...
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182 views

sameach vs. samach

Nusach S'farad, in the amida ("sh'mone esre") of holidays and Shabas, has "וְשַׂמַּח נַפְשֵׁינוּ בִּישׁוּעָתֶךָ" ("v'samach..."), but in sheva b'rachos it has "שַׂמֵּחַ תְּשַׂמַּח" ("sameach..."). ...
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Is Aggadah the same thing as Midrash?

(Inspired by a comment on this question.) What characteristics define Aggadah and Midrash, and how are they related? If the distinction is merely that Aggadah is a more general category of "legend" ...
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Davka, Mamash, and B'Emet [closed]

When speaking in primarily English but using the words Davka, Mamash, or B'Emet: How do you define them into English? What is the difference between them? How do you use each one properly?
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Translation Issue, Exodus 21

Exodus 21:22 - This verse deals with two men fighting, and injuring a pregnant woman causing her to [miscarry] | [give birth prematurely]. The bracketed terms are in dispute due to different ...
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why does Ruth 1:8 use עמדי instead of עמי?

Ruth 1:8 says: ח וַתֹּאמֶר נָעֳמִי, לִשְׁתֵּי כַלֹּתֶיהָ, לֵכְנָה שֹּׁבְנָה, אִשָּׁה לְבֵית אִמָּהּ; יעשה (יַעַשׂ) יְהוָה עִמָּכֶם חֶסֶד, כַּאֲשֶׁר עֲשִׂיתֶם עִם-הַמֵּתִים וְעִמָּדִי. 8 And ...
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Parshat Zachor - Do you need to understand or just hear

The responsibility of reading Zachor is in order to remember to wipe out Amalek. Therefore we read it annually. Does someone who hears the words of Zachor, but does not understand them, still ...
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204 views

Why is the Haggadah written in Hebrew?

The Haggadah was written during the Talmudic period, so I would expect it to be written in Aramaic. Especially since the entire purpose of the Haggadah is the telling over of the story of ...
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188 views

The essence of a thing is in its Hebrew name?

Based on this comment here. According to Kabbalah, how do physical objects derive their life-force from their Hebrew name, if Hebrew doesn't have names for everything?
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129 views

What does חיו“ש וכט”ס stand for?

What does this abbreviation stand for? It is part of the greeting section of a letter written in Hebrew from the late 19th century. The phrase in which it appears is: שפעת חיו"ש וכט"ס לכבוד הרב ...
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105 views

Hebrew of the Mishneh Torah

In what type of Hebrew did Rambam write the Mishneh Torah? I just started to learn Biblical Hebrew and when I have learned basics I will start to read Pentateuch in Hebrew with some help The next ...
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56 views

Tutorials for learning more about Jewish practice

I wish to learn more about the steps for "Hazara betshova" (Getting stronger) preferably in Hebrew. I have no knowledge of the Jewish practice at all so a place which assumes no past knowledge will be ...
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122 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 ...