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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10
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5answers
4k 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
452 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
102 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
231 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
15k 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
406 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
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
262 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
311 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
376 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 ...
9
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
118 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
73 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
140 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
754 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
217 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
166 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
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 ...
8
votes
3answers
179 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
930 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
166 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
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4answers
1k 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...
2
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0answers
156 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 ...
14
votes
4answers
3k views

B'siyata D'shmaya or Baruch Hashem

Often, at the top of written work, Jews write either ב"ה, which stands for Baruch Hashem =blessed is the Name i.e., God, or בס"ד, which stands for b'siyata d'shmaya =with Heavenly help. What is the ...
11
votes
3answers
410 views

Meaning and pronunciation of יישר כחך

What is the exact meaning of the phrase "יישר כחך", and what is the gramatically-correct way to pronounce it?
6
votes
2answers
229 views

Formal Hebrew honorific for one's mother

Many men, when going up for an aliya, tell the gabbai their name as, e.g. "Reuven ben Rav Yaakov", even if "Yaakov," the father, isn't actually a Rabbi." I believe the reason for this practice is to ...
5
votes
1answer
337 views

Why is it called Bas Kol

Why is it called Bas Kol versus Ben Kol?
10
votes
3answers
483 views

Disparity between male and female pronunciation of Cholam

In many Yeshivish communities in the US, the male segment of the population vocalizes the cholam as "oi," while their female counterparts vocalize it as a long "o". How did this come about? Does the ...
4
votes
2answers
167 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"? ...
7
votes
2answers
190 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
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 ...
4
votes
1answer
74 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
94 views

How do I write in Hebrew for a Ketubah, “On the first day of the week, the thirtieth day of Adar I in the year fifty-seven seventy one”

How do I write in Hebrew for a Ketubah, "On the first day of the week, the thirtieth day of Adar I in the year fifty-seven seventy one"? Question was asked by Stephen Spiegel, I'm just posting it ...
11
votes
3answers
3k views

Where can I get the free Hebrew text of the Siddur or Benching?

Where can I get the text of the siddur/prayer book (or at least benching/grace, mincha/afternoon prayer, and/or ma'ariv/evening prayer) in a free computer friendly format? I'd like to be able to make ...
1
vote
2answers
165 views

Why is a Sholom Zochor called a Sholom Zochor?

Why is a Sholom Zochor called a Sholom Zochor?
8
votes
1answer
293 views

A Lubavitch custom of reciting zecher and zeicher in “Ashrei”?

My cousin, a Lubavitcher, says both zecher and zeicher (that is, both זֶכֶר with a segol and זֵכֶר with a tzeire) in "Ashrei". I noticed this when I visited him a good few years ago, and assumed it ...
2
votes
2answers
130 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?
3
votes
3answers
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 ...
9
votes
2answers
350 views

מרדכי = Mord'chi?

When learning with Jews of the Syrian community, I noticed that they pronounced מרדכי (the name of the halachic commentary on the g'mara) as "mord'chi", as if the final vowel were a chirik. Why is ...
5
votes
1answer
241 views

Are the Aramaic root ק.ב.ל and the Hebrew root ק.ב.ל related?

When the word מקבילות comes up in parashas T'ruma, Rash"i defines it based on the Aramaic root ק.ב.ל, commonly found in the preposition לקבל (against or opposite) to mean physically across ...
0
votes
4answers
488 views

Tzanua…Not Tznius! [closed]

People often say tznius when they mean to say tzanua. Do you know of any other examples in Hebrew, Aramaic, or Yiddish in which people use the noun but they really mean to use the adjective?
19
votes
2answers
494 views

Where did “shabat shalom” come from?

What is the source for the greeting "שבת שלום"? Where is it earliest attested in print? What does it mean?
6
votes
1answer
420 views

מֶה, מָה, מַה - Meh, Mah, Ma - What's the difference?

What causes the difference in vowelization of the Hebrew word for "what"? In some contexts it is מֶה, in others - מָה, and in yet others - מַה. The hypothesis that an acquaintance and I converged on ...
3
votes
2answers
155 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?
3
votes
2answers
354 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 ...
8
votes
2answers
290 views

Why is Hebrew Called “Jewish” in the Bible?

We see that in most of the Bible, the Jews are called "בני ישראל/Israelites"; only in later books are they called "יהודים/Jews" (e.g. Esther 2:5, Zechariah 8:23), after the loss of the 10 tribes. ...
10
votes
2answers
183 views

“m'nora” on Chanuka

My kid came home from school one day insisting that the thing we light on Chanuka is not a m'nora but a chanukiya. I replied that that's the word most Israelis use now but that m'nora is a perfectly ...
3
votes
1answer
43 views

Shir Urinanim- Whats the diffrence?

In Ma'oz Tzur, it says: וּמִנּוֹתַר קַנְקַנִּים נַעֲשָׂה נֵס לַשּׁוֹשַׁנִּים בְּנֵי בִינָה יְמֵי שְׁמוֹנָה קָבְעוּ שִׁיר וּרְנָנִים What is the Difference between Shirim and Rinanim?
8
votes
1answer
354 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.