Questions pertaining to the Hebrew language, as related to Judaism. See the help center: http://judaism.stackexchange.com/help/on-topic

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119 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
86 views

Why is the word שמך vocalized differently in different places?

Gen 32:29 says: וַיֹּאמֶר, לֹא יַעֲקֹב יֵאָמֵר עוֹד שִׁמְךָ...‏ Thy name shall be called no more Yaakov... But in 30 it says: וַיִּשְׁאַל יַעֲקֹב, וַיֹּאמֶר הַגִּידָה-נָּא ...
3
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1answer
168 views

Importance of learning grammar

What are the traditional Jewish opinions about the importance of learning and speaking Hebrew with proper grammar (dikduk)?
10
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1answer
270 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 ...
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1answer
135 views

Why is there a Vuv with a Patach in וַיִּקְרָא?

What is the reason for the patach under the vuv in וַיִּקְרָא, the first word of the third book of the Pentateuch? I would expect a schva, which, at least in modern Hebrew, is what sits under a vuv ...
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1answer
61 views

hebrew grammar query, Bamidbar 31:17

I seek to understand Bamidbar sedra mattos Chapter 31 verse 17. Specifically, the word הֲרֹגוּ is stumping me. It is not the kal impererative masculine plural. The word Hirgoo, הִרְגוּ, appears as the ...
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0answers
65 views

Regional Ashkenazi Pronunciation

I don't know if this is the right forum to ask this, but I would like to find audio tracks of Jews from different Ashkenazi communities speaking Hebrew (be they leyning, davening, discoursing or ...
10
votes
1answer
183 views

Prounciation - IM vs YIM? with ים ending

I've read that ידים is to be pronounced ya- DAI - im, yet שמים is to be pronounced sha-MAI-yim. Both end the same, but are pronounced differently. (This was from a text purporting to teach "Biblical ...
1
vote
1answer
57 views

Why is birkas kohanim in the masculine singular?

If the kohanim are blessing the entire people, one would think that it should be worded, "יברככם...וישמרכם" Why is it in the singular form? On a related note, if a father places this blessing on his ...
14
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4answers
388 views

Zeraim Moed Nashim Nezikim Kodshim Taharos - why not Moadim?

The names of the Shisha Sidrei Mishna (Six Orders of Mishnah) are: Zeraim, Moed, Nashim, Nezikim, Kodshim, Taharos. All of them besides Moed are in plural form. However Moed is in singular form. Why ...
2
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1answer
140 views

What is the meaning of this painting?

I am in possession of this mysterious painting with Hebrew characters, but I do not know what words mean. I suspect that they may provide a clue to what is being represented in each of the painted ...
2
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0answers
97 views

Netzach, Selah, Vaed - what is the difference between these words?

Eruvin 54a says that it was taught by Rabbi Eliezer ben yaakov that wherever it says Netzach, Selah, or Vaed it means it will remain so forever. "כל מקום שנאמר 'נצח' 'סלה' 'ועד' – אין לו הפסק עולמית" ...
3
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1answer
123 views

Will all Jews speak Hebrew when Mashiach comes?

This question just kind of popped into my head, so I'm not sure whether it is really a good question for this site, but I wonder if anybody has written about it. I would imagine that since when ...
2
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3answers
288 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 ...
2
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0answers
186 views

Can we teach reading Hebrew without using the full names of the letters and vowels?

I've heard in Chabad and elsewhere that when teaching children to read Hebrew, one must call the letters and vowels only by their full traditional name. This is in my opinion very distracting for a ...
0
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1answer
154 views

What's the Hebrew idiom for “what's his name” or “What's his face”

I vaguely remember some phrase used in Torah discussions such as "moni palomy" or "moni plamoni" that means "John Doe" or "What's his name" or "John Q Public". Seems like it was used in Ester, but I ...
5
votes
1answer
170 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 ...
1
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1answer
136 views

Do we read it as directing or breaking the ear?

Rashi to Shemos 31:17 states: וינפש: כתרגומו ונח, וכל לשון נופש והוא לשון נפש, שמשיב נפשו ונשימתו בהרגיעו מטורח מהמלאכה. ומי שכתוב בו (ישעיה מ כח) לא ייעף ולא יגע, וכל פעלו במאמר, הכתיב מנוחה ...
2
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1answer
58 views

Singular and plural language in Vaikra 10:1

In parashat shemini, chapter 10, verse 1 it is written: וַיִּקְחוּ בְנֵי אַהֲרֹן נָדָב וַאֲבִיהוּא אִישׁ מַחְתָּתוֹ וַיִּתְּנוּ בָהֵן אֵשׁ וַיָּשִׂימוּ עָלֶיהָ קְטֹרֶת וַיַּקְרִיבוּ לִפְנֵי ...
4
votes
2answers
222 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 ...
3
votes
3answers
798 views

Translation of the word “nimshal”

Rabbinic writings (e.g. * Rabbah and other midrash) use the words "mashal" (noun) and "nimshal" (verb). What do these terms mean in English? I've heard "parable" or "allegory" for the noun but I am ...
2
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2answers
86 views

Niqqud for שְׁיָרֵי in Zevachim mishnah

I am really no expert in Hebrew grammar and I know there are many variants of same word. In particular I think there is no tradition for the puntuaction of the Mishnah. However in my siddur ...
2
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1answer
101 views

Why “מִי וָמִי” instead of “מִי וּמִי”?

I have always thought that as a general rule, the vav conjunctive prefix is usually a "וְ". But, when the word being "prefixed" either starts with a shva or starts with a "lip-letter" (בומ"פ), the vav ...
3
votes
0answers
80 views

Difference between 'rafa' and 'ripa'

The root רפא, "heal", is used in various places in Tanach, sometimes in binyan paal and sometimes in binyan piel. I wonder what the difference is between these. Does any Tanach commentator, or the ...
4
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0answers
59 views

Levana or Yareach?

In the entire Tanach the moon is generally called Yareach. There are 3 instances where it is called Levana. One is ישעיהו: כד. כג. וחפרה הלבנה ובושה החמה. Another one is ישעיהו: ל. כו. והיה אור הלבנה ...
4
votes
3answers
209 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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3answers
251 views
3
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2answers
490 views

Different words for clothing

Whats the difference between kasah (covering) and labash (covering)? And when we look to clothes then what's the difference between kesut and lebush? And what about beged (cloths) ? Please show me ...
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votes
2answers
323 views

Can the root ש ל ם be used to mean “Submission”?

In Arabic, the root S-L-M (س ل م) has a general meaning of "Peace", but can also be used for "Submission" (such as in the words Islam/Muslim). Given the close relation between Hebrew and Arabic, I'm ...
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2answers
1k views

What does Psalm 82 mean?

6 I -- I have said, 'Gods ye are, And sons of the Most High -- all of you, http://yltbible.com/psalms/82.htm So how many gods are there? Who are "you" here? Are we all gods? Here is the context. ...
5
votes
1answer
75 views

“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 ...
5
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2answers
121 views

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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1answer
1k views
13
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4answers
741 views

Why “Lach” not “Lecha” in “Modim Anachnu Lach”

Could someone please explain why the "Lach" in Modim Anachnu Lach is not "Lecha"... I guess this is some grammatical point rather than the use of the feminime "you"?
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3answers
424 views
4
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3answers
120 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
3answers
258 views

Definition of Baal Nefesh

I have seen "Baal Nefesh" used frequently in various contexts: sometimes as one who is scrupulous in halacha, other times as someone who is a quality person. What is its simple translation/meaning?
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4answers
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Can anyone help decipher the bottom two lines of this inscription?

I've recently been fortunate to find a photo of the gravestone of one of my ancestors, R' Nosson (ben Meir) Maas, Shochet of Frankfurt-am-Main (d. 1836). The inscription is quite laudatory: פ"ט הזקן ...
5
votes
4answers
321 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
171 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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4answers
2k 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 ...
2
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2answers
413 views

Which pasuk in Tanach has the most letters?

I'm attempting to build a database with every pasuk in Tanach, I'm trying to determine the size of the varchar needed for this. Which pasuk is this and how many letters does it have?
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1answer
96 views

Did Achashveirosh and Haman speak Hebrew?

Tosfos in Megilah (13b, s.v. הַכֶּסֶף נָתוּן לָךְ ) expound the pasuk in Esther (3:11) וַיֹּאמֶר הַמֶּלֶךְ לְהָמָן, הַכֶּסֶף נָתוּן לָךְ; וְהָעָם, לַעֲשׂוֹת בּוֹ כַּטּוֹב בְּעֵינֶיךָ - And the ...
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votes
5answers
361 views

Learning Hebrew on my own?

I am trying to learn Hebrew on my own. I currently am not in a position to be attending Hebrew classes, and I tend not to do so well in a classroom environment. I wish to learn biblical Hebrew ...
5
votes
1answer
450 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
2k views

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 ...
15
votes
8answers
542 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?
3
votes
7answers
540 views

Hebrew Pronunciation of the Conservative Movement

Why does the Conservative Movement pronounce Hebrew in a quasi-Sephardic pronunciation, even though their engagement in Wissenschaft Des Judentums would have led them to embrace the Yemenite ...
7
votes
3answers
274 views

Why the emphasis on Hebrew in Judaism?

Why does Judaism have such an emphasis on Hebrew phrases in their religion and seems reluctant to translate them to English or another language?
7
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1answer
158 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 ...