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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Why don't translations of Tehilim 119 translate נשף like the Gemara?

The Gemara on Berachos 3b asserts that נשף can mean either "dawn" or "evening", and cites Tehilim 119:147 as an instance of "evening". However, every translation I have seen of this verse - the ...
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161 views

Clothing and shame, etymologically speaking

I have been unable to find an etymological connection between the root for shame בשש (especially as it turns into the forms of בושה בושת) and the word for "clothe" לבש. Shame was introduced in ...
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137 views

Goy Versus Leum

The Posuk Says (Gen. 25,23): שְׁנֵי [גיים] גוֹיִם בְּבִטְנֵךְ וּשְׁנֵי לְאֻמִּים מִמֵּעַיִךְ יִפָּרֵדוּ Translated as: Two nations are in your womb, and two kingdoms will separate from your ...
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165 views

Learning Hebrew

If I have a decent Hebrew knowledge, but not great, what books (i.e. dictionaries, lexicons, etc.) should I have at hand when I'm learning a sefer, such as the Mishneh Torah?
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מַלְאַךְ ה׳—“the angel of GOD” or “an angel”

In various places the Torah refers to מַלְאַךְ ה׳; e.g., twice in Bereishis 22. Mechon Mamre’s JPS translation renders this as “the angel of the LORD”, but is the definite article implicit in this ...
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131 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 ...
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200 views

etymology of “Bnei Blial”

The term "בְּנֵי בְלִיָּעַל" appears several times in Shmuel (e.g., 1Sam 2:12). It is usually translated along the lines of "dishonorable people". Where does בְלִיָּעַל come from? Are there other ...
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537 views

What coin is this?

It is a little over an inch diameter, thicker and heavier than any coin would be. The lettering almost seems random....or maybe the middle word is a name? Can someone help me identify this coin? ...
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3answers
200 views

Conventions for derivation of Hebrew names

How is a Hebrew name chosen for a person whose legal name is English (or other vernacular)? Is the name chosen based on phonetic resemblance to one's English name, a resemblance in meaning, or mere ...
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2k views

Wishes to a mourner in addition to “Hamokom Yenachem Eschem”

I have heard some people say in Yiddish after "Hamokom Yenachem Eschem B'Soch Shaar Aveilei Tzion V'Yerushalayim" ("May God comfort you alongside the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem"), "Zulst Mer Nisht ...
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106 views

“Ramba”m“ or ”The Ramba“m”?

I often hear the Hebrew abbreviation for Maimonides appended to a definite article but don't quite understand why it should be there when the unabbreviated name would (I think) never warrant such an ...
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387 views

What's the etymology of the Hassidic term “b'sho'oh” for a chaperoned quasi-date?

I've heard in the Hassidic world, if two families decide that one's young fellow should meet the other's young lady, the couple has a brief, chaperoned, meeting, known as a b'shoh (spelling?), to ...
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198 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 ...
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108 views

Altering the Spelling out the Hebrew Year

In 1983-1984, the Hebrew year was 5744. Normally, the year would have been spelled out in Hebrew letters תשמ״ד, but according to my rabbi then, Rabbi Phillip Rabinowitz, zt'l, as pronounced the word ...
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950 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 ...
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628 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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134 views

Why does “ateres roshi” mean “my parent”?

The phrase "עטרת ראשי" (ateres roshi == my head's crown) appears in many Hebrew texts to refer to respectable individuals. I heard in a shi'ur recently that it specifically refers to the father of the ...
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141 views

Is there a single syntactic class “פעיל” in Biblical Hebrew?

Is there a unique class of Biblical Hebrew words of the form "פעיל"?Is the putative class of Biblical Hebrew words strictly a class of nouns or adjectives?If not, is it strictly divisible into two ...
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311 views

Kel (Melech) Chanun V'Rachum — do you say Melech?

Some siddurs have the phrase "Ki Kel Melech Chanun V'Rachum Ata" at the conclusion of Ya'aleh v'Yavo. Some have Melech in parentheses; some don't have it at all. Can anyone tell me something about ...
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Compare Devarim 14:11 and Devarim 14:20- Is there a difference in meaning between “tzipor” and “of”?

The two verses Devarim 14:11 and 14:20 appear to say the same thing except that v 11 uses the word "tzipor" and v 20 uses the word "of". Aren't they the same thing? If yes, what is the second verse ...
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87 views

Solitary Aramaic word in 'Al HaNissim

In the standard Ashkenazi Siddur, why is the Aramaic word פורקן used in the otherwise entirely Hebrew prayer of על הנסים?
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90 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 ...
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Hamracheim or Hammerachim?

In Modim in the Shmoneh Esre we say המרחם כי לא תמו חסדך the question is whether the מ in המרחם should have a daggesh or not, and thus what sort of Shva should be under said מ?
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215 views

Difference between the words zachor and pakad

What is the difference between the words zachor and pakad? They are used with what seems like very similar meanings throughout the Rosh HaShanah davening, as well as in the Chumash. Here are some ...
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164 views

How do you pronounce the הוי״ה in hataras nedarim (annulment of vows) before Rosh HaShanah?

In the siddurs I've seen, we ask for annulment for vows made "with the name הוי״ה ". That word is left unvowelized. How is it pronounced?
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70 views

Why is the word “mitzvos” treated as grammatically masculine in certain prayers?

The prayer accompanying several mitzvos (such as putting on tallis and tefillin) expresses the desire that it be considered that the mitzvah is fulfilled as well as all the "613 mitzvos dependent on ...
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271 views

What's the most efficient method for learning biblical Hebrew?

I have gone through some basic schooling at a modern yeshiva. For 10 years I haven't touched a Chumash, but would like to get back into it. I have started reading the Artscroll Chumash--reading the ...
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175 views

How could different pronunciations arise when we are obligated to pronounce the Shema precisely?

If one does not pronounce the Shema correctly, one has not fulfilled their obligation (שולחן ערוך או"ח סימן סב). If so, then how could different pronunciations of the Hebrew words arise? Shouldn't at ...
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219 views

Conceptual Relationship Between “River” (יאר) and “Light” (אור)

There seems to be a relationship between the words "river" (יאר) and light (אור), that is only underscored by the fact that "river" in Hebrew (נהר) is essentially the same word as "light" in Aramaic ...
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174 views

Importance of learning grammar

What are the traditional Jewish opinions about the importance of learning and speaking Hebrew with proper grammar (dikduk)?
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69 views

Picking out the alephs

How can you quickly pick out all the alephs on a page of Hebrew printed text?
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81 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 ...
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115 views

Intonation of questions in ancient Hebrew [closed]

That is, when someone asks a question in English, their pitch goes up at the end. When someone makes a statement in English, their pitch goes down. This is not universal: In German, only some ...
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3answers
319 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 ...
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99 views

Does the greeting “Good Yom Tov” contain a redundancy?

Does the greeting "Good Yom Tov" contain a redundancy? Doesn't "Yom Tov" mean "Good day"? So you are saying "Good good day?"
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167 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
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577 views

Where can I find Hebrew etymologies?

In what reliable source can I look up the etymology of English (or other) words stretching all the way back to Semitic languages, especially Hebrew? I often have suspicions that certain words might ...
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2answers
76 views

Shaarei Teshuvah by Rabbeinu Yonah online

Does anyone know where I can find the Hebrew text of שערי תשובה by Rabbeinu Yonah online?
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1answer
80 views

Paroh vs. Faroh in Parshat Bo

I am used to פרעה being pronounced as "Paroh" as it has been for the last few parshot, but I noticed today that in Parshat Bo (Shemot 10:11) it is to be pronounced "Faroh". What causes this change? ...
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2answers
138 views

Why does the book (Megillah) of Esther never use the Hebrew word “armon” for palace?

It talks about the capital and "the king's house", but never uses the Hebrew word for "palace", "armon", as appears in Psalms and elsewhere. (Or does it appear and I missed it?) Why not?
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142 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 ...
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4answers
803 views

Looking for a good English-to-Hebrew translation software

I'm looking for a translation software, or website, that accurately translates entire sentences and paragraphs from English to Hebrew, without grammar mistakes or funny language usage. Anyone know of ...
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1answer
138 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 ...
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2answers
170 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'?
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1answer
248 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 ...
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2answers
172 views

Yarden's River Name

Why is it called ירדן?
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1answer
146 views

Schwa+Heh Pronunciation

How should a heh with a schwa under it be pronounced in an intermediate position in a word? E.g. פדהאל, or נהדר
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141 views

Are there any letters that do not have a distinct pronunciation?

Are there any two letters which do not have a distinction between their pronunciation in any tradition of pronunciation? To ask the inverse, is there at least one tradition of pronunciation for each ...
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3answers
492 views

Best way to learn Hebrew to read Torah

I didn't have the opportunity growing up to learn Hebrew. My goal is to be able to sight-read the Hebrew in Torah. I have taken several classes in grammer and syntax, and my vocab is moderate. What ...
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1answer
64 views

How is סדר טהרות properly pronounced or pointed?

The last seder of the Mishnah is טהרות, but I can find no agreement on the vowels for this word. Some variations I have seen: טְהָרוֹת טַהֲרוֹת טָהֳרוֹת There may be others. Which answer makes the ...