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

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22
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3answers
325 views

Female praying in masculine language

When women daven (pray), even by ourselves, it is convention to daven with male-gendered words ("modeh" vs "moda" as one of many examples). Why is this; are there sources that say we should be doing ...
3
votes
2answers
121 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 ...
1
vote
4answers
1k views

Most original form of the Hebrew Bible/Tenach

Not sure if they are the same thing (the Hebrew Bible and the Tenach). I read in this link that "there are many different Jewish translations of the Hebrew Bible". This kind of confuses me because I ...
11
votes
5answers
323 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 ...
1
vote
2answers
162 views

What does adukin (אדוקין) mean?

Rashi, in Mesechta Gitin on דף טז עמוד א says שנים אדוקין. What does adukin (אדוקין) mean?
4
votes
1answer
1k 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?
2
votes
3answers
115 views

What is the meaning of the words כהיום הזה in the prayer על הניסים ?

What is the meaning of the words כהיום הזה in the prayer על הניסים ? Are there options other than the Artscroll interpretation, "unquestionable clarity"?
4
votes
3answers
123 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
69 views

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 ...
4
votes
0answers
54 views

How did the Parshiyot get their names [duplicate]

and what are the names' significance? Thanks Naomi Duplicate of: Where are the rules for naming parshiyot explained?
2
votes
4answers
636 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 ...
10
votes
1answer
157 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 ...
2
votes
0answers
154 views

Hebrew Grammar: How did Nif'al end up as the passive/reflexive of pa'al? [closed]

I have been trying to figure this out by comparing Hebrew binyanim to Arabic and Akkadian conjuations. But I cannot figure it out. Is Nif'al a natural part of the G-stem (like pa'al) or has it ...
3
votes
2answers
89 views

איש אחד What does the Echad refer to and where else in the Tanch is it found?

In Shmuel Aleph Perek Aleph Elkana is refered to as Ish Echad before his name is given. The Midrash, according to Meam Loez, says that the Echad means Singular or Special. I was wondering where else ...
7
votes
2answers
187 views

Why do many (most?) people call the upcoming holiday “Peysach”?

In some Ashkenazic dialects, lots of words in which the first syllable is accented and the vowel is segol are pronounced as though they had a tzeirei. Examples include "meylech," "tzeydek," and ...
7
votes
1answer
430 views

How is “Jerusalem” pronounced when reading a Ketubah?

"Jerusalem" is spelled the same way in Hebrew and Aramaic (if you ignore the vowels); but in Hebrew it's pronounced "Yerushalayim", and in Aramaic it's pronounced "Yerushleim" (as it appears in the ...
4
votes
2answers
186 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 ...
8
votes
2answers
296 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 ...
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 ...
11
votes
2answers
435 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
119 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
275 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, ...
4
votes
1answer
164 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
2answers
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..."). ...
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 ...
2
votes
0answers
231 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
154 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
169 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 ...
7
votes
4answers
849 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
138 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 ...
14
votes
3answers
484 views

Why aren't Tefillin called Totafot?

They're called Totafot in the Torah, so why do we call them Tefilin?
9
votes
2answers
241 views

Is there a difference between “p” and “f” when transliterating from English to Hebrew?

When transliterating an English name to Hebrew (e.g. for a Ketubah or Get), is there a way to distinguish between a "p" and "f" sound? E.g. Fine, NY vs Pine, CO. Would both just be spelled (assuming ...
7
votes
2answers
429 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
97 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
229 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 ...
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 ...
4
votes
3answers
389 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 ...
10
votes
1answer
687 views

Relationship between Samekh and Sin

What is the relationship between the letters samekh and sin? Did they ever have distinct sounds? Why do they exist as separate letters?
8
votes
1answer
325 views

Why shin and sin?

Why does Hebrew use the same letter to represent two different sounds: shin and sin? As far as I know, with the exception of when using a dagesh kal, no other Hebrew letter has this property.
5
votes
1answer
234 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 ...
2
votes
2answers
166 views

Yarden's River Name

Why is it called ירדן?
3
votes
3answers
367 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
72 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
112 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 ...
3
votes
3answers
140 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 ...
2
votes
2answers
162 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'?
6
votes
3answers
711 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
208 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 ...
11
votes
3answers
175 views

In the Bible, why did robbers bother tunneling into houses to rob them?

Exodus 22:1 speaks about the robber who was found "tunnelling in" to someone's house (vis-a-vis self-defense). Is that just a figure of speech, or did they actually go to that much trouble? (What ...