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

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2
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2answers
106 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
37 views

Why does kaftor vaferach mean “very nice”?

I have seen sefarim, and heard people giving derashos, use the expression "kaftor vaferach" to mean that an idea works out very nicely, or everything comes out very cleanly. The words kaftor vaferach ...
4
votes
1answer
98 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, ...
0
votes
2answers
37 views

What is the meaning of the phrase לצאת ולבוא?

What is the meaning of the oft-repeated phrase לצאת ולבוא as in Deuteronomy 31:2 ? I realize it means "to conduct business" or "to lead", but I was hoping for more of a deep dive (does it come from a ...
7
votes
2answers
988 views

What is the original meaning of the world “hevel”?

I am not religious myself, but lately I have found myself somewhat attracted to Ecclesiastes. Reading about it, I am fascinated about what seems to be endless meanings and interpretations of the word ...
6
votes
2answers
382 views

Pronunciation of “Two”s in Hebrew

Thomas O. Lambdin calls out the words שְנַיִם and שְתַּיִם as exceptions to "shewa as the initial vowel in a word is always vocalized," i.e. it is "shtayim" and "shnayim". That's a secular expert's ...
3
votes
2answers
85 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 ...
10
votes
2answers
170 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 ...
0
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1answer
24 views

In the phrase זכר למעשה בראשית in Kiddush, is the word זכר an adjective?

Usually, a word that has a segol such as "zecher" gets a tzerei when it becomes an adjective. Example - "mateh" becomes "matei" when used as an adjective as in "matei Levi". Q - in the phrase זכר ...
5
votes
1answer
66 views

“Qof, Qof” What does this mean?

An old (formerly used) synagogue building in my town has this sign on the front of it. The text says "Shaaray Torah", the name of the congregation, but what is the meaning of the two qofs above it?
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0answers
54 views

How does “Jezebel” translate into English? [closed]

I've heard some Christian ministries preach that the name-word "Jezebel" can be translated into modern English as: "One with whom there is no cohabitation" They then later expound that the "women's ...
0
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0answers
13 views

A spectral analysis of Hebrew pronunciation, looking for source [migrated]

I recently was shown this article that claims that the Hebrew alphabet, when viewed in what appears to be a spectrogram, the actual frequencies in which the letter hits creates a shape of the physical ...
1
vote
0answers
31 views

vowels on vav before mem

Can someone explain why the following examples, all from parashat ki tzetzeh - כִּי תֵצֵא, are written with a kamatz: "vamet" - וָמֵת - (D'varim 21:21) "vameta" - וָמֵתָה - (D'varim 22:21) "vametu" ...
3
votes
1answer
25 views

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 ...
0
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2answers
35 views

What do “Batél Beshishim Lechatechila” and “ Mevatél Issur Lechatechila” mean?

What do "Batél Beshishim Lechatechila" and "Mevatél Issur Lechatechila" mean?
3
votes
1answer
260 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 ...
0
votes
1answer
35 views

Hebrew word/image HELP for Paintings [closed]

I am an artist and have completed five paintings of 5 different Hebrew words for our prayer room. I don't speak Hebrew, but was told that the images and words were correct, but one was in question ...
2
votes
1answer
63 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
1k views

Is this a mistake in a Torah scroll or intended decoration?

In the following pictures, is the superscript addition a correction or intended decoration? Are corrections like this kosher?
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0answers
41 views

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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0answers
25 views

What is the significance of this twirly pe? [duplicate]

The picture below shows two examples of the letter pe. They are both written on the same piece of vellum, in Genesis 23. One pe is written normally, whereas one has a twirl. What's the significance ...
4
votes
2answers
106 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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vote
0answers
49 views

“Hello” and “sincerely” when writting letters

Not sure if this falls on the side/outside of the scope of this page. If so, let me know, and I can delete. I have heard of shalom aleichem among people and the reply aleichem shalom, or simply ...
2
votes
2answers
54 views

Were Jews enslaved by Egypt or instead corvee labor?

Richard A. Gabriel has a military interpretation of the Exodus. A key part of his analysis is that Avadeem is not the word for slave, it is the word for “worker” or even servant. If this is ...
2
votes
1answer
69 views

Shva na after meteg on short vowel

When a long vowel has a meteg, there is a difference of opinion if the shva after it is na or nach. What about a short vowel with a meteg? Is it vayihi chen or vayhi chen? Is it tihiyeh or tihyeh? Is ...
5
votes
1answer
367 views

Etymology of the word “trope”

The word Trope seems to me to be a Yiddish word. What is the source of this word? How do you say this word in Hebrew? Taamei Hanegina?
3
votes
0answers
74 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
48 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
68 views

Theological Aspects of Hebrew Grammar

Are there any aggadic, kabbalistic, halachic or other theological teachings related to the grammar or morphology of Hebrew? I am not referring to the orthography (or anything at all related to ...
1
vote
1answer
84 views

Jebediah​​​ (?)

Some claim that Jebediah is a Hebrew name. Is it a Jewish name? Either way; what does/would it mean, and how is it/would it be spelled and pronounced in Hebrew?
2
votes
1answer
326 views

What is the prayer uttered by Michael Ginberg's dad in Mad Men?

In the second last scene of episode 5x03 of Mad Men, Michael Ginsberg (one of the Jewish characters on the show) comes back home from the grocer's to be greeted by his dad. The latter encourages ...
1
vote
2answers
144 views

What does this piece of jewelry say?

A classmate showed me a pendant that she recently acquired. It was described to her as representing some sort of blessing for marriage. None of the people who looked at it could figure out what the ...
6
votes
4answers
427 views

What is the meaning of tehom?

Throughout the Tanach, and I've seen it in Midrashim as well, there is a concept of the "Tehom", translated as "Deep Waters". It appears in the creation story in Bereishis, and in the song at Yam Suf. ...
1
vote
1answer
29 views

Ancient Biblic Hebrew [closed]

My question concerns the Biblical Hebrew. In fact I'd like to know whether you know some online course (MOOC or otherwise) which might allow me to study the Biblical Hebrew. I'm interested in ancient ...
0
votes
1answer
42 views

Why does Koheleth 12:1 use בוראיך instead of בוראך?

Koheleth 12:1 says: וּזְכֹר, אֶת-בּוֹרְאֶיךָ, בִּימֵי, בְּחוּרֹתֶיךָ: עַד אֲשֶׁר לֹא-יָבֹאוּ, יְמֵי הָרָעָה, וְהִגִּיעוּ שָׁנִים, אֲשֶׁר תֹּאמַר אֵין-לִי בָהֶם חֵפֶץ. 1 Remember then ...
2
votes
2answers
69 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?"
5
votes
2answers
299 views

Davening not in Hebrew

Isn't it better to daven in your first language rather than davening in Hebrew and only knowing part of what you're sayig?
9
votes
4answers
186 views

What's “chelek Eloka mimaal”?

I have frequently heard the human (or only the Jewish?) soul referred to as "חלק אלוק ממעל", literally "portion/section/piece/allotment of God (from) above". What does this mean? Who's the first to ...
7
votes
1answer
225 views

What was the language spoken by Jews in Israel in 16th century

Did the Jewish inhabitants of Safed and Jerusalem (contemporaries of Rav Yosef Karo and the Ari) speak Hebrew when they learned Torah or did they speak Arabic, Ladino or some other language? I saw a ...
1
vote
2answers
51 views

Is there a book / document that explains the proper use of kamatz katan in the Torah?

I am a Ba'al Kri'ah. I am quite confused regarding the rules of "kamatz katan". Another Ba'al Kri'ah explained that a kamatz katan occurs when a kamatz is used in a word (usually a verb) when the root ...
28
votes
6answers
2k views

Which alphabet were the original Torah scrolls in?

I've assumed that the Torah scrolls we read today as the same that Moses wrote. I always assumed it's been the same alphabet. However lately I came across documents explaining the evolution of the ...
1
vote
1answer
61 views

שאול - Sha-ul vs She-ol

Ignoring vowelization, Sha-ul and She-ol is spelled the same way שאול We know that Shaul's name was derived from the root radical שאל = to question. However, She-ol is pronounced like ש - אול ...
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votes
1answer
32 views

How do you say He who darkness -> light in Hebrew

In describing Ha'Shem how do you say who brings light to darkness in Hebrew with phonetic verbalisations? That is to say do you say He brings light to darkness or that He brings light from darkness?
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votes
1answer
35 views

what does the hebrew word chavivus - חביבות - mean

The Gemoro mentions the concept of chavivus - חביבות - in numerous places. what would be the most acurate english translation / explanation of chavivus?
1
vote
1answer
98 views

When, and why did the term “am ha'aretz” come to mean “ignoramus”?

In Tana'ch, the term "am ha'aretz" meant either "the tribal counsel" as we see when Abraham wanted to purchase the Cave of Machpela, he bowed down to the "am ha'aretz". It also meant "the nation" or ...
4
votes
3answers
79 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 ...
0
votes
1answer
56 views

Hebrew Text of Petition for Peace

Reading in my Koren Siddur, I am working on the Hebrew words. I noticed that in the petition for peace in the Mincha text for the weekday Amidah (the same is present in the Ma'ariv) the English reads ...
2
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0answers
83 views

When did the “Israeli accent” come into existence? [closed]

When did the "Israeli accent" (for speaking Hebrew) come into existence? I believe that Hebrew as a spoken language was introduced in the late 19th century with the creation of modern Zionism. ...
5
votes
3answers
94 views

Etymology of מחילה

I am looking for a possible etymological root for the word מחילה as meaning forgiveness. The word מחל does not appear in Tanach1, and neither does מחילה, nor does מוחל, and I was unable to find any ...
1
vote
1answer
63 views

Any Rules for Qamets Chatuph When Khaf Follows Chet?

In my slow but constant pursuit of Hebrew knowledge, I have not yet resolved the rules for the Qamets Chatuph (the Qamets that produces an "o" sound as opposed to an "a" sound). Fortunately, some ...