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13
votes
4answers
170 views

Is pharisaical - or any similar allusion to the Pharisees - offensive to modern Jews?

This question is inspired from an English Stack Exchange question: http://english.stackexchange.com/questions/182014/what-is-the-word-for-a-pious-person-who-never-helps-others In short, is the term ...
12
votes
1answer
279 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
2k 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 ...
11
votes
1answer
186 views

Where Rashi uses a Russian word in Nach?

I heard that Rashi uses a Russian word where he deals with the building of the Beis Hamikdash by King Shlomo. I also heard that he uses a Polish word. Does anyone know where it is?
11
votes
2answers
721 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 ...
10
votes
1answer
328 views

Is there a rule for Rashi's French transliterations (Laaz)?

Rashi frequently uses French words in his explanation to Chumash or the Gemara. However, he doesn't write it in the original language, but he writes it in a "transliteration" of French in Hebrew ...
10
votes
0answers
202 views

What is the source of the expression המבין יבין?

The Forward writer Philologos in his most recent column claimed that the earliest uses of the expression והמבין יבין are found in the Ra'avad and in the Radak. Based on the fact that both these ...
9
votes
2answers
150 views

Is there a law against saying obscenities?

Is there a law against saying obscenities? If yes, what is considered obscene? Does it apply to any language or only to Hebrew?
9
votes
1answer
94 views

אמת at the end of קריאת שמע when not saying the brachot

When saying k'riat sh'ma al hamitah, many (all?) people say the word emet at the end of the third paragraph. Also, I believe that the common practice when saying keriat sh'ma without the brachot (for ...
9
votes
3answers
250 views

Did any Achronim Write Books Comparing Arabic to Hebrew?

Did any achronim write books comparing Arabic to Hebrew?
9
votes
1answer
93 views

Was a sefer torah ever actually written in Greek?

This answer to a different question states that the only other language a sefer torah can be written in and be kosher is Greek. (Rambam, Hilchot Sefer Torah 1:19 says that this Greek no longer exists ...
8
votes
4answers
1k views

Hard Yeshivish phrases to translate

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 ...
8
votes
3answers
582 views

What is Rashi proving with words in different languages

There are many places in Rashi's commentary where he uses a foreign language to translate a word used in the Torah. For example, Bereshit 6:14: בכפר: זפת בלשון ארמי. ומצינו בתלמוד כופרא With ...
8
votes
1answer
146 views

What are some good resources for finding the meaning of unfamiliar Hebrew and Aramaic words in Acharonim?

I have no trouble using Jastrow for Tanach and Shas but I find it difficult to apply to Acharonim. How might I use it more effectively? Are there peculiarities of grammar I'm missing? For a few ...
7
votes
2answers
166 views

Speaking Yiddish vs. the host language at home

I understand that, before World War Ⅱ, the Jews of Hungary and Germany mostly spoke Hungarian and German, respectively, amongst themselves (at home), whereas the Jews of Poland mostly spoke Yiddish ...
7
votes
3answers
154 views

Why did Yosef's brothers speak freely in the presence of the interpreter?

In Parashat Miketz, Yosef's brothers encounter him disguised as the viceroy of Egypt, and he accuses them of espionage, jails them for three days, and makes a demand that they know their father would ...
7
votes
1answer
535 views

Keeping in mind the meaning of every word of prayer, vs. being mindful of general concepts

If I were to sit down with my prayer book, I could translate it. I know what the words mean, and I know what they are saying conceptually. However, when I'm praying, if I try to translate in my head ...
7
votes
2answers
286 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. ...
7
votes
1answer
242 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
90 views

Is there a difference between “להלן” and “לקמן”?

There are many times when Sefarim and commentaries reference something that is brought later on. Sometimes the word "לקמן" is used (example) and sometimes the word "להלן" is used (example). Is there ...
6
votes
1answer
149 views

Is the ketuba enforceable in American law?

The Ketuba is written in Aramaic, so it might not be easily understood by an English-speaking judge; however, it is still a contract. On the other hand, the ketuba is not (necessarily?) signed by ...
6
votes
1answer
84 views

Why is the kesuba not written in a native language?

The kesuba (marriage contract) is written in a smattering of Hebrew with Aramaic thrown in. It is possible that onr or both parties may not know what all the words in the kesuba mean. Furthermore it ...
6
votes
1answer
166 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
164 views

Are the seventy distinct languages and nations listed?

It's a well known concept that there were 70 nations and 70 original languages. Is there any agreement about which ones they were/are? I found this which lists the nations, but I'm interested in ...
5
votes
4answers
241 views

Amalekim's disguise as Canaanites in Chukas

Rashi (in parshas Chukas perek 21 pasuk 1) says that Amalek attacked the Jews, and that the pasuk calls them Canaanites because the Amaleikim had learned the Canaanite language (so the Jews would pray ...
5
votes
5answers
496 views

Arabic and Angels

The angels in Heaven are said to not be able to understand Aramaic because it represents a deviation from the Hebrew language. My question is: Do they understand the Arabic language (as is very close ...
5
votes
2answers
309 views

Source of appellation “Shimshon HaGibor”

I've heard it claimed that the expression "Shimshon HaGibor" (Samson the Mighty) [as a descriptive of Shimshon in Tanach] was invented by the Zionists, to promote their "strong Jew" narrative. Is this ...
5
votes
4answers
369 views

Why was the Gemara written in Aramaic?

The Gemara (the Bavli and Yerushalmi) are the fundamental texts that we possess of the Oral law. Why were they written in Aramaic? At first glance, Ravina and R' Ashi probably knew that this will be ...
5
votes
1answer
122 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
122 views

May one make obscene gestures?

I was told that sign language does not qualify as actual speech (ergo one cannot make a beracha via sign language) as such would obscene gestures be permissible (since they would ostensibly not ...
5
votes
2answers
277 views

When did the use of Rashei Tevot, Heh Kuf, הק׳ in writings, books, letters, etc., begin?

Perhaps I'm among the last to have found this out, but it took me quite a while to understand why, in a signature, the name was preceeded by a הק׳. THe Ozar Rashei Tevot book has 31 different ...
5
votes
0answers
201 views

Saying “Elokim” when not referring to Hashem

People often say "Elokim" instead of "Elohim" when speaking in order to avoid taking God's name in vain. I have observed, however, that some people always substitute the word "elokim" for "elohim" ...
4
votes
4answers
279 views

Is there a Mitzva to speak Loshon Kodesh?

Is it a Mitzva to speak Loshon Kodesh? (sources)
4
votes
5answers
141 views

Prominent Spanish Language Rabbinic Works

Does anyone know of any Jewish religious works written in Spanish or Ladino by a prominent Jewish scholar (eg, Ibn Ezra, etc.)?
4
votes
2answers
221 views

Why is the Haggadah written in Hebrew?

The Haggadah was written during the Talmudic period, so I would expect it to be written in Aramaic. Especially since the entire purpose of the Haggadah is the telling over of the story of ...
4
votes
1answer
75 views

Can sign language be used for public Torah reading?

We would like to perform a minyan for the deaf. All the participants can speak verbally, but cannot hear, including the Torah reader. Can he sign the words that he is reading during Kri'at Hatorah, or ...
4
votes
1answer
48 views

Would a Greek sefer torah be read from in Greek?

If a sefer Torah was written in Greek, would it have been publicly read from in the Greek translation only, or would they also use a Hebrew scroll?
4
votes
0answers
116 views

Writing HaShem's actual name in English

Is it permissible to write out HaShem's actual name (the "Tetragrammaton") in English (or any other, non-Semitic, language)? Does it make a difference how you spell it, ie., whether you write it in ...
4
votes
0answers
105 views

Language of a ketubah for marriage

Can I write a ketubah in English or possibly in Hebrew? Or must it be in Aramaic? The problem is that my friends and I do not speak Aramaic any longer. Our Babylonian-Jewish ancestors did, but we ...
3
votes
2answers
252 views

Do English-speaking Jews read the Bible in English?

Do English-speaking Jews read the Bible in English, or is that too Christian for them? Maybe they like to get the gist of the Torah or Tanakh by reading in the vernacular English and then they may ...
3
votes
3answers
273 views

Word for “bageling” someone as an Orthodox Jew?

I've heard the slang "he bageled me" meaning "he identified me as a fellow Jew (even though it wasn't obviously apparent)." There are the times I pass someone in the street who's wearing a baseball ...
3
votes
2answers
79 views

Akum, Nochri, and Goy

I see a lot of Halachic and Aggadic texts where the words גוי, נכרי, עכו"ם are all used interchangeably. Usually I notice it in places where two people are using different versions of a text (one from ...
3
votes
2answers
95 views

ראש וראשון לכל דבר שבקדושה

The phrase "ראש וראשון לכל דבר שבקדושה" is used quite often in haskamos and introductions to describe people who devote their life to Torah study or supporting Torah study or other important Jewish ...
3
votes
3answers
136 views

What are your suggestions for learning Yiddish?

I would like to learn Yiddish in order to further my understanding of Chassidus and other Torah topics that are presented in Yiddish. What are your suggestions for sources to use that would focus on ...
3
votes
1answer
116 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
464 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
24 views

Vernacular Targum in Schul

In Teimani and Kurdish batei knesset, the minhag is, as far as I'm aware, to read a targum after each pasuk. Assuming that a schul wishes to adopt the kriat hatargum, would it be acceptable to adopt a ...
3
votes
1answer
135 views

Who translated the original version of the Torah into each of the 70 languages?

In Devarim 27:8, the Torah says to "write all the words of the Torah explained well" (- "Ba'aer Hetev". Rash"i, citing Sotah 35b, says that this was translated into 70 languages. Sifsei Chachamim ...
3
votes
1answer
36 views

Why are the names of some mitzvos changed to from “al” or “lo” to “bal”

For example, אַל תְּשַׁקְּצוּ אֶת נַפְשֹׁתֵיכֶם בְּכָל הַשֶּׁרֶץ הַשֹּׁרֵץ וְלֹא תִטַּמְּאוּ בָּהֶם וְנִטְמֵתֶם בָּם (al t'shaq'tzu...) is commonly called בל תשקצו (bal t'shaq'tzu), אֵת ...
3
votes
0answers
36 views

Is it forbidden to learn Hebrew/Aramaic during Tisha B Av?

Hebrew and Aramaic are languages of Jewish sefarim (religious books) and it is forbidden to learn/read sefarim during Tisha B Av because it gives joy to man to do so. Is it then likewise forbidden to ...