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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5
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4answers
401 views

What color is Yarok?

Yarok ירוק in modern Hebrew means green. What color does it refer to in Mishnaic Hebrew? I have heard that it refers to yellow and not green because the Mishna in Sukkah (on 34b) discusses a citron ...
33
votes
6answers
4k 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 ...
16
votes
2answers
997 views

Different traditions in Hebrew pronunciation

The theme of Hebrew pronunciation is one that facinates me and, as such, I want to get some feedback on some issues I've been thinking about for years. I have already discussed some of these issues ...
12
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7answers
25k 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?
8
votes
2answers
550 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 ...
11
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4answers
367 views

All you need is love?

I once had a Hebrew professor state with absolute determination that "Ahavah" (the Hebrew word for "love") does not, in fact, mean love. His proof was twofold: 1. G-d could not have commanded us to ...
8
votes
1answer
337 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 ...
14
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4answers
4k 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 ...
14
votes
1answer
189 views

First-Temple-Era names of the Hebrew months?

The Chumash refers to the months simply as "the first", "the second", and so on. Today we know them by their Babylonian names (Nisan, Iyar ...) Occasionally the Prophets from the First-Temple Era use ...
6
votes
5answers
786 views

Chassidic Rebbes don't use Hebrew Grammar?

I have not witnessed enough test cases to statistically verify anything, but I have heard various Chassidic Rebbes make b'rachos and daven out loud, and without fail, they mispronounce a majority of ...
3
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2answers
381 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 ...
12
votes
1answer
365 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, ...
11
votes
4answers
3k views

Is Hebrew the mother of all languages spoken today in the world?

I often wonder what language Adam, Seth, Noah and Abraham (may peace and blessings be upon them) used to speak. What was their native tongue? Was it classical Hebrew? If yes, then would it be right to ...
10
votes
2answers
214 views

“־הם” versus “־מו”

Usually, the suffix "־הם" is used to mean "them" as an object, as is "להם" or "אליהם". Or it is used to mean "their" in possessive form, as in "כליהם" or "אבותיהם". But sometimes, the very same usage ...
9
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5answers
496 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 ...
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7answers
2k views

Hard Yeshivish phrases to translate [closed]

Does anyone ever have trouble finding good English translations of certain yeshivish phrases, especially when in conversation with someone who would not understand the original? Post your favorite ...
15
votes
6answers
15k views

What does Kadosh really mean?

What do the terms קדוש (Kadosh), קדושים, קדושה, and קדיש really mean?
9
votes
2answers
416 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 ...
4
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4answers
356 views

Is there a Mitzva to speak Loshon Kodesh?

Is it a Mitzva to speak Loshon Kodesh? (sources)
12
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1answer
7k 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 ...
20
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2answers
603 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?
13
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5answers
473 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 ...
9
votes
4answers
357 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, ...
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2answers
2k 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 ...
17
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5answers
345 views

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

What is the nature of the numeral ashtei-asar (meaning 11) as in (BeMidbar 29:20, Parashat Pinchas): וּבַיּוֹם הַשְּׁלִישִׁי פָּרִים עַשְׁתֵּי-עָשָׂר What is the basic word? Is this using ...
7
votes
1answer
13k 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
220 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
196 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?
1
vote
1answer
785 views

What is the difference between gerim, nochrim and zarim?

What is the difference between gerim, nochrim and zarim? Both halachicly and denotatively.
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4answers
1k views

Most original form of the Hebrew Bible/Tanach

Not sure if they are the same thing (the Hebrew Bible and the Tanach). I read in this link that "there are many different Jewish translations of the Hebrew Bible". This kind of confuses me because I ...
12
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3answers
4k 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
185 views

Does G-d only hear one language?

I'm a little confused by Rambam Hil. Tefilla 1:4. Consequently, when someone would pray, he would be limited in his ability to request his needs or to praise the Holy One, blessed be He, in ...
5
votes
3answers
4k 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 ...
26
votes
4answers
453 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 ...
16
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3answers
728 views

Why aren't Tefillin called Totafot?

They're called Totafot in the Torah, so why do we call them Tefilin?
13
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4answers
1k 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"?
12
votes
4answers
4k 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 ...
10
votes
2answers
195 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 ...
8
votes
2answers
236 views

Are there any studies that compare Biblical Hebrew to modern Hebrew?

(I am a Hebrew speaker) When reading the Bible, one encounters sometimes words whose meaning in modern Hebrew clearly does not correspond to what was meant in the text (in Kohelet for example, "מסכן" ...
6
votes
3answers
402 views

How much is Classical Hebrew (in which the Hebrew Bible is written) is different from the modern Hebrew? [closed]

How much is Classical Hebrew (in which the Hebrew Bible is written) is different from the modern Hebrew? In which areas lie the main differences? Can any Jew or Israeli today understand what is ...
6
votes
2answers
296 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 ...
6
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2answers
393 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?
4
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2answers
343 views

Is Aggadah the same thing as Midrash?

(Inspired by a comment on this question.) What characteristics define Aggadah and Midrash, and how are they related? If the distinction is merely that Aggadah is a more general category of "legend" ...
3
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2answers
174 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
709 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? ...
3
votes
1answer
363 views

Translation of haggadah section titles

What are the litteral translations of the different section titles of the haggadah? (i.e. What exactly do kadesh, urchatz, etc. mean)
3
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2answers
147 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 ...
17
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6answers
592 views

Silent letter in Yisachar

Why don't we pronounce the second ש in יששכר?
11
votes
4answers
394 views

What's “chelek Eloak 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 ...
6
votes
4answers
238 views

Shalom Alaichem and vice versa

Why do people respond Alaichem shalom when someone tells them Shalom Alaichem? Doesn't it mean the same thing?