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

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7
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3answers
223 views

Shiluach HaKen: why not “Hatzipor”

If you send away the bird, why is Shiluach HaKen called that, meaning "sending the nest", and not "Shiluach Hatzipor", "sending the bird"? The nest is staying in place!
6
votes
2answers
155 views

יִבָּנֶה הַמִּקְדָּשׁ עִיר צִיּוֹן תְּמַלֵּא — why not תִּמָּלֵא?

The Shabas table song "Tzur mishelo achalnu" contains the following line: יִבָּנֶה הַמִּקְדָּשׁ עִיר צִיּוֹן תְּמַלֵּא yibane hamikdash ir Tziyon t'male the Temple should be built; you ...
4
votes
2answers
184 views

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 ...
8
votes
3answers
3k views

Two words for “redeem”: what's the difference?

When we talk about "redeeming" a first-born son or a captive, we use "pidyon" (root פדה). When we talk about what God does for us we use "goel" (גאל). My dictionary translates both of these roots as ...
10
votes
1answer
150 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 ...
12
votes
4answers
648 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"?
5
votes
2answers
1k 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 ...
9
votes
2answers
189 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?
11
votes
2answers
621 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 ...
17
votes
2answers
1k views

Why does the Hebrew alphabet not have letters representing vowels?

(Re-asking this question in a way more suited to SE.) The Hebrew alphabet is actually an abjad rather than a "true" Western-style alphabet, in that every letter represents a consonant, and vowels, if ...
5
votes
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 ...
11
votes
2answers
420 views

What does “prohibited l’chatchila” mean?

To me the phrase prohibited l’chatchila seems a bit confusing. Can someone explain what this means in plain and simple english? (context: someone says "action X is prohibited l’chatchila")
5
votes
1answer
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 ...
12
votes
1answer
263 views

Kubutz and shuruk in Polish/Hungarian pronunciation

What is the origin or basis of the Polish and Hungarian prevalence for pronouncing "oo" vowels as "ee"? The variants of other vowels are easier to understand in the context of phonological shifting, ...
7
votes
1answer
5k views

what is “kodesh”?

What does the word קֹדֶשׁ (sometimes קודש), kodesh, mean? Its form is that of a noun, like אֹכֶל or בֹּקֶר or לֹבֶן. But קדושה is a noun, and (I'm pretty sure) it means "the state/quality of being ...
11
votes
5answers
310 views

Meaning of ודו"ק

It is fairly common to find the abbreviation ודו"ק at the end of a complex explanation of a Torah thought (Maharsha, for example, famously does this very often). Roughly, it means: "I didn't explain ...
5
votes
3answers
3k views

What is the meaning of יוֹם (yowm) in Bereshit?

I've heard conflicting reports of how the creation days , יוֹם (yowm), in Bereshit are interpreted in the Jewish community. How do actual Hebrew scholars define day in Bereshit? six 24 hour periods or ...
3
votes
2answers
41 views

בישול Versus שולק

The Shulchan Aruch and the Gemara use two words that to me seem to mean the same thing: "Cooking". My question is what is the difference between שולק (Sholek) and בישול (Bishul)? Please provide ...
2
votes
0answers
211 views

Are there any good podcasts in Hebrew? [closed]

One of the things I'm missing in the US is lack of easy access to spoken modern Hebrew. Can anyone recommend a good podcast featuring news (as well as possibly other subjects) in Hebrew for offline ...
4
votes
1answer
162 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
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 ...
5
votes
1answer
167 views

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 ...
8
votes
4answers
286 views

Ashkenazic vs. Sefardic grammar tendencies

I notice that when referring to God in the second person in a possessive form, Sefardim often use the female form where Ashkenazim use the male form. For example, where Ashkenazim say in kedusha, ...
0
votes
2answers
979 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
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 ...
4
votes
2answers
122 views

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 ...
14
votes
3answers
467 views

Why aren't Tefillin called Totafot?

They're called Totafot in the Torah, so why do we call them Tefilin?
8
votes
5answers
3k 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 ...
7
votes
2answers
420 views

לשון הקדש: the oldest language?

Rashi to B'reshis 2:23 says that the language Adam spoke was one that Rashi calls לשון הקדש, lashon hakodesh (or l'shon hakodesh), and that contains the words אִשָּׁה and אִישׁ. Keeping to Rashi's ...
2
votes
1answer
93 views

Is there a chart which details the major common pronunciations of Hebrew?

I learned how to pronounce Hebrew from the book "Teach Yourself to Read Hebrew" which describes pronunciation with Sephardic vocalization. For example, patach and kamatz, according to the book, are ...
12
votes
5answers
226 views

What is the nature of the numeral “ashtei-asar” (11)?

What is the nature of the numeral ashtei-asar (meaning 11) as in וּבַיּוֹם הַשְּׁלִישִׁי פָּרִים עַשְׁתֵּי-עָשָׂר (Pinchas 29:20): What is the basic word? Is this using semichus, as in ashtaim of ...
4
votes
1answer
99 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 ...
11
votes
6answers
12k views

Nefesh, neshama and ruach as words for “soul”

All three words can mean something like "soul", e.g., neshama in גלגול נשמות, and ruach in וַתְּחִי רוּחַ יַעֲקֹב אֲבִיהֶם (Bereshit 45:27). So, what is the difference?
4
votes
3answers
370 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 ...
8
votes
5answers
335 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
224 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 ...
8
votes
2answers
284 views

Meaning of ח-ל-צ

Words of the root חלצ seem to have contradictory meanings. On the one hand it is used in the sense of "removing," as in בית חלוץ הנעל and כי חלצת נפשי ממות. On the other hand, warriors are called ...
3
votes
3answers
355 views

Hillel ben Shahar on gravestone

A follow up question to this one about my ancestor's gravestone. The bottom two lines of the inscription have a mysterious (to me) reference to Hillel ben Shahar, and unfortunately are partially cut ...
8
votes
1answer
3k views

Does ב"ה actually stand for Boruch Hashem?

We asked here about writing either ב"ה or בס"ד on the top of a letter. In the question it was assumed that ב"ה stands for Boruch Hashem. Do we have a source that ב"ה actually stands for Boruch ...
2
votes
1answer
110 views

How does the word “Talmud” derive from root LMD? Is the word Aramaic?

I know what "Talmud" means and that it derives from the root Lamed Mem Dalet. But I cannot figure out how the word derives. Is it Aramaic (i.e. not Hebrew) and/or are there any other words that follow ...
4
votes
2answers
71 views

'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 ...
4
votes
1answer
137 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 ...
6
votes
3answers
689 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
199 views

Are “tzipor” and “tziporen” related?

Are the words ציפור (bird) and ציפורן (finger nail OR a spice [found in k'tores]) etymologically related? I heard that both were connected to the root צ.פ.ר (arise) or to anatomical protuberance but I ...
2
votes
2answers
161 views

Why is “Merkos L'inyonei Chinuch” spelled that way?

In the title Merkos L'inyonei Chinuch, why is the word מרכז transliterated with an 's' in place of a 'ז' rather than a 'z'?
4
votes
3answers
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 ...
8
votes
3answers
175 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
4answers
785 views

Does “ki” have four meanings or one?

There is a well-known statement by Resh Lakish in Gitin (90) that כי" משמש בד' לשונות: אי, דלמא, אלא, דהא" "ki" expresses four meanings... There has been discussion over the ages as to what ...
2
votes
3answers
159 views

Meaning of the a word in an magen david

I have a magen david with שוי writen inside and I want to know the meaning
4
votes
4answers
905 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...