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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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 ...
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120 views

What is the Hebrew term for the drawing of the hands inward during lighting of Shabbos candles?

Someone elsewhere asked what is the Hebrew term for the drawing of the hands inward during lighting of Shabbos candle. For example, Chabad.org describes the custom, Extend your hands over the ...
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405 views

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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157 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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665 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 ...
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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, ...
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4answers
343 views

Is there a Mitzva to speak Loshon Kodesh?

Is it a Mitzva to speak Loshon Kodesh? (sources)
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4answers
432 views

What is an appropriate hebrew translation of 'ought to be put into geniza'?

I have some texts that are not religious (like dictionary) but contain The Name. And because it's not obvious that one should not recycle them, but rather put to geniza, I want to mark them somehow. ...
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5answers
276 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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2answers
208 views

How does a Braille siddur work?

A member of our minyan has a degenerative vision problem and has, for a time, been using a home-made very-large-print siddur. After an absence, she returned this Shabbat with a guide dog and said she ...
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1answer
118 views

What does והבוכ"ע mean?

I have found this word a few times in the Satmar Rebbe's Divrei Yoel (such as here, for example, in Parshat Metzora'). I am assuming that it is an acronym, rather than a transliterated Yiddish word, ...
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2answers
192 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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3answers
150 views

Why is the reading from the Prophets on Shabbat called הפטרה?

The reading from the prophets that is done on Shabbat morning, is called הפטרה. This seems to come from the root word פטר meaning "to exempt". What, if anything, is being "exempted"?
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1answer
166 views

Meaning of the (Hebrew?) abbreviation Ka"H

I saw this on a frum forum: It bothers me when my daughters keep hearing about their (ka"h) appearance,and no one talks about character. I had never seen this abbreviation before. Does anyone ...
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3answers
237 views

Have any of you ever heard anyone pronouncing ayin as “ng”?

I have read historically the letter ayin was pronounced by some Dutch, Portuguese, and Italian Jews as a velar nasal consonant (ng as in sing). Reference to this can be found here, here, and here. I ...
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1answer
1k views

According to Jewish sources: which language came first, Hebrew or Aramaic?

I've heard that Aramaic and Hebrew are similar languages in vocabulary, syntax, and structure. There is, however, some debate about which is the older, or original, base language. After a bit of ...
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3answers
88 views

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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230 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
396 views

Are there analogs to “Abba” & “Ima” for in-laws? [closed]

I know that “אבא” and “אמא” are originally Aramaic translations of the Hebrew “אבי” and “אמי” which have become adapted to Hebrew, especially in the accusative case. Are there similar forms in ...
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1answer
103 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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3answers
130 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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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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1answer
71 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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'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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193 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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175 views

Studying the Written Torah in English

In terms of fulfilling the Mitzvah of Talmud Torah, when studying the Written Torah, must one learn the translation in tandem with the Hebrew words? Or is it sufficient to understand the meaning, ...
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213 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 ...
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2answers
325 views

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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2k views

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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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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How do you pronounce numbers 248, 365, and 613 in the siddur?

In the meditations before putting on the tallit and tefillin in the morning, there are three numbers — 248, 365, and three instances of 613. They’re written out in standard Hebrew letter notation in ...
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364 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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3answers
224 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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1answer
139 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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2answers
111 views

Is the Hebrew vocabulary used in the Tanakh/(other recognized Hebrew books) the same as the what is considered Hebrew today?

There are many Hebrew resources available in the mainstream world, i.e. Webster's, Google, etc. Is the Hebrew used in the Tanakh/(other recognized Hebrew books, i.e. the Mishna, Rambam, etc.) ...
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2answers
125 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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1answer
70 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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1answer
203 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 ...
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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 ...
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1answer
64 views

Uniqueness of the phrase “Shabbat Shalom”

Why does only Shabbat get described as "Shalom," as in the greeting "Shabbat Shalom"? I don't hear anyone saying "Yom Tov Shalom" or "Purim Shalom", etc.
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219 views

Difference between חֵטְא and עֲבֵרָה

Is there a difference between a חֵטְא (cheit) and an עֲבֵרָה (aveira)? I translate both of those words as "sin." Maybe they signify a different level of magnitude? Or maybe one word is simply ...
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763 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 ...
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44 views

Difference between Slumber and Sleep

In Tehillim 121, David says of Hashem "הִנֵּה לֹא-יָנוּם, וְלֹא יִישָׁן שׁוֹמֵר, יִשְׂרָאֵל." At first glance, this appears redundant, נום means slumber and שנה means sleep. What is the difference ...
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68 views

Why are the names of some mitzvos changed to from “al” or “lo” to “bal”

For example, אַל תְּשַׁקְּצוּ אֶת נַפְשֹׁתֵיכֶם בְּכָל הַשֶּׁרֶץ הַשֹּׁרֵץ וְלֹא תִטַּמְּאוּ בָּהֶם וְנִטְמֵתֶם בָּם (al t'shaq'tzu...) is commonly called בל תשקצו (bal t'shaq'tzu), אֵת ...
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261 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? ...
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81 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 ...
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353 views

Difference between El and Eloah

El(אל) and Eloah(אלוה) are both singular forms (nouns), but its אל thats being used to form the plural Elim (אלים), and אלוה thats being used to form the plural Elohim (אלוה׳ם). Both singular forms ...
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What's “צרה שלא תבא”?

There's an expression I've read many times in slightly variant forms: "איזה צרה שלא תבוא" or "על כל צרה שלא תבא" or the like. It means something like "any tragedy that should not happen" and it's used ...
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175 views

Gentiles praying in Hebrew

Can a gentile pray in hebrew, and recite the Psalms? I am a Noahide (Chassidic Gentile) who is interested in going through the conversion process to Reform Judiaism. Is it okay for me to pray the ...
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166 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 ...