Questions about the definitions, meaning and use of words specific to Judaism or words that carry unique meaning in Jewish law.

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3
votes
1answer
151 views

Israel Am v.s. Goy

Is Israël an Am or Goy or both? whats the Torah definition and best translation of both terms? Because it seems that Israël is being called both Am as a Goy. (Am Kadosh: Devarim 26:19 and Goy ...
1
vote
1answer
23 views

what Difference between Shamash and eved

Why is the servant-candle on the menorah called “shamash” (meaning servant) instead of “eved” which is the word for servant in Hebrew
2
votes
0answers
21 views

Why did the dor hamabul earn a painless death?

There are, apparently, 903 levels of death, and the term vayigva is one of them. According to some, it refers to the simple act of expiration -- the creation of a corpse. Others, like the rashi ...
4
votes
4answers
89 views

“And it was evening, and it was morning, *one* day”?

Gen. 1:5: וַיְהִי עֶרֶב וַיְהִי בֹקֶר יוֹם אֶחָד And it was evening, and it was morning, one day Gen. 1:8: וַיְהִי עֶרֶב וַיְהִי בֹקֶר יוֹם שֵׁנִי and it was evening, and it was ...
4
votes
4answers
49 views

Connection between עָרוּם and עֲרוּמִּים

In the story of Adam, Eve and the snake the word 'עָרוּם' is used in two completely different contexts, yet they feature on pasuk after the other: Bereishit 2:25 : וַיִּהְיוּ שְׁנֵיהֶם ...
1
vote
1answer
21 views

In Beresheit what is the difference between the light in 1:3 and the light in 1:14

I notice that in 1.3, the word אוֺר ("ore") is used, but in 1.14, the word מְאֹרֹת (morot) is used. I see that both contain aleph and reish. Both have something to do with light and lighting up. ...
0
votes
2answers
82 views

meaning of words and tefillah

The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (6:1) tells us, “When one makes a berachah he should have in mind the meaning of the words.” Is there any halachic source (i.e. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, Shulchan Aruch or ...
3
votes
1answer
51 views

Why does Yaakov say, “ראיתי אלוקים פנים אל פנים”?

In Bereishit 32:31, Yaakov says, "ראיתי אלוקים פנים אל–פנים" after his encounter with the angel. Most commentators, such as Rashi, interpret that when Yaakov says this, he really meant "I have seen ...
13
votes
9answers
712 views

What to call the 7th Lubavitcher Rebbe

Often times a few different rebbes are mentioned (either previous Chabad rebbes or rebbes of other Chasudusim) in the same talk and then the word "The Rebbe" comes in and it's ambiguous. I have heard ...
4
votes
0answers
30 views

The word 'Halakhah'

When and under what circumstances did the word "halakhah" (also spelled "halacha", "halachah" or, in Hebrew, הלכה) come to mean Jewish law?
1
vote
1answer
56 views

Did Aaron's staff turned into a snake or a crocodile?

In exodus 7 it says on verses 8-12: ח וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה, אֶל-מֹשֶׁה וְאֶל-אַהֲרֹן לֵאמֹר. ט כִּי יְדַבֵּר אֲלֵכֶם פַּרְעֹה לֵאמֹר, תְּנוּ לָכֶם מוֹפֵת; וְאָמַרְתָּ אֶל-אַהֲרֹן, קַח אֶת-מַטְּךָ ...
1
vote
0answers
26 views

Meaning of סוף (suf) = weed/reed vs edge/end

What is the original meaning of the word סף and its cognate סוף ? We know that סף in the Bible means edge or threshold. But why does its cognate סוף carry the meaning of weed or reed most of the ...
5
votes
2answers
46 views

etymology of the word “Kittel”

What is the etymology of the word "Kittel"? (Kittel is a white garment worn by many at the Pesach Seder and on Yom Kippur by Davening)
11
votes
3answers
384 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?
4
votes
0answers
17 views

Wondering about a line in Hoshanot for Shabbat [duplicate]

The special Hoshanot for Shabbat mostly contain praises for B'nei Yisrael related to Shabbat. However, i don't get the י line: יושבת וממתנת עד כלות שבת She sits and waits until the end of ...
3
votes
1answer
38 views

Why is the wording of the beracha upon shaking the arba minim only on lulav?

The beracha upon shaking the arba minim is 'על נטילת לולב'? Why is the focus on the lulav specifically rather than a more general blessing like 'על נטילת ארבעה מינים'?
2
votes
0answers
15 views

What is the significance of the ten azharos of tshuva (in Yeshaya ch. 1)?

Rashi in Yeshayah chapter 1 vs. 16 tells us that the ten words in the next two psukim, רחצו, הזכו, הסירו, חדלו, למדו, דרשו, אשרו, שפטו, ריבו, are all אזהרות של לשון תשובה כנגד עשרת ימי תשובה, וכנגד ...
2
votes
2answers
49 views

What does having a Mehudar Etrog and Lulav mean over just having a kosher set?

I often hear the word 'Mehudar' used during this time of year to refer to special Lulav-and-Etrog sets. What does Mehudar mean?
5
votes
1answer
41 views

What is the precise difference between Kakatuv and Shene'emar and

The davening on the Yamim Nora'im references many verses and the machzor introduces those verses in a variety of ways. A quick glance at the davening for Yom Kippur shows v'ne'emar she'ne'emar ...
3
votes
1answer
99 views

Why does Chazan (“seer”) mean prayer leader?

The leader of the Tefillah is referred to as a חַזַּן. The word חַזַּן, although translated as a cantor, actually comes from the word חֲזוֹן which means vision. Is there a source for this?
7
votes
2answers
77 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 ...
1
vote
3answers
48 views

Path of the Just - what does שיתברר ויתאמת mean?

The Mesilat Yesharim starts off: יסוד החסידות ושרש העבודה התמימה הוא שיתברר ויתאמת אצל האדם מה חובתו (Translation: The foundation of saintliness and the root of perfection in the service of ...
2
votes
0answers
20 views

What's the difference between שמחה and חדוה?

The Gra was quoted to me (I think from the Aderes Eliyah, but I'm not sure) as saying that during the shofar blowing on Rosh HaShanna a person should be in a state of simcha and chedva. I would like ...
4
votes
1answer
97 views

Is there a negative connotation to Yair Mazolam - יאיר מזלם?

Yesterday The Yeshiva World posted a letter the Lubavitcher Rabbi Zatzal sent to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu upon the birth of his son Yair. In the letter the Rabbi handwrote the words V'Yair ...
2
votes
3answers
5k views

Gmar Chasima Tova - What does it mean?

When we wish one another during the Aseres Yemei Teshuva "Gmar Chasima Tova" what does it mean? Does it not depend on what is written in the document? What difference does it make if the seal is good ...
5
votes
3answers
67 views

Deut. 29:15 — why not “you passed” or “we passed”?

In this week's parsha, Moshe says to Bnei Yisrael (Devarim 29:15): כִּי אַתֶּם יְדַעְתֶּם אֵת אֲשֶׁר יָשַׁבְנוּ בְּאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם וְאֵת אֲשֶׁר עָבַרְנוּ בְּקֶרֶב הַגּוֹיִם אֲשֶׁר עֲבַרְתֶּם ...
3
votes
1answer
53 views

From whence do we learn that the Torah does not mince words? [duplicate]

I have oft heard it stated that "the Torah does not mince words" (example 1, example 2, example 3). While it seems natural/logical that the Creator of the World would use words precisely, from whence ...
7
votes
2answers
1k 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
189 views

wording of the invitation to birkas hamazon

I know some Ashk'nazim say rabosay n'varech, some rabosay mir velen bentschen, and some hertzi rabosay mir velen bentschen. (Any other forms?) Is there any particular reason given for one or another?
3
votes
1answer
47 views

Is עליו השלום inappropriate to say about a living person?

The phrase "olov hashalom" is often appended to names of the deceased. I don't know very much about it's history or any deeper implications, but at face value it just means "peace be upon him." I ...
5
votes
3answers
87 views

Why is “שבי” switched from masculine to feminine?

The beginning of Parshas Ki Seitze says: כִּי תֵצֵא לַמִּלְחָמָה עַל אֹיְבֶיךָ וּנְתָנוֹ יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ בְּיָדֶךָ וְשָׁבִיתָ שִׁבְיוֹ וְרָאִיתָ בַּשִּׁבְיָה אֵשֶׁת יְפַת תֹּאַר ...
6
votes
2answers
52 views

What's the difference between אניה and ספינה in Jonah?

In יונה‎ 1:2–5, the boat Yona is on is referred to generally as an אניה. But in verse 5, Yona goes down to a side room of the ספינה. The commentaries seem to treat the words as synonymous: ...
2
votes
1answer
228 views

What is a Hava Amina Teretz?

B"H If "hava amina" means slightest notion, what is a hava amina teretz? I think teretz means an answer. So what is a slightest notion answer?
5
votes
0answers
161 views

Source for not referring to Chanuka lights as a “menora”

Following up on this question about the use of the words "menora" or "chanukiya" to refer to Chanuka lights: I find it interesting that the use of "chanukiya," popularized in 1897 through a secular ...
10
votes
2answers
173 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
2answers
37 views

Genesis 2:7 vs 2:19

Genesis 2:7 And the Lord G-d formed man of the dust of the ground vs. :19 And out of the ground the Lord G-d formed every beast of the field I just want to know the difference between "the dust of ...
5
votes
1answer
77 views

Two types of forgetting?

Bereishis 41:51 כי נשני אלהים את כל עמלי ואת כל בית אבי God has caused me to forget all my toil and all my father's house Devarim 25:19 תמחה את זכר עמלק מתחת השמים לא תשכח Erase ...
0
votes
1answer
46 views

Are “Mitzva” and “Halacha” synonyms?

For the longest time, I've always treated them like synonym. Now, thinking back, I think I might actually be wrong. For a moment, I thought that a mitzva only referred to mitzvot d'oreita, but there ...
3
votes
1answer
83 views

“דָּם נָקִי” vs. “דַּם־נָקִי”

Parashas Shof'tim, 19:10: וְלֹא יִשָּׁפֵךְ דָּם נָקִי בְּקֶרֶב אַרְצְךָ And 21:8: וְאַל־תִּתֵּן דָּם נָקִי בְּקֶרֶב עַמְּךָ יִשְׂרָאֵל And then Ki Savo 27:25: לְהַכּוֹת נֶפֶשׁ דָּם ...
-2
votes
4answers
70 views

What does Mot Umat mean?

in the chumash, any sources. What is the literal translation and does it mean, mot = this world, Umat = the next world?
2
votes
1answer
62 views

Rashi's “בטל” w.r.t. r'shuyos

In the Bavli, Shabas 7, amud 1, Rashi twice uses the word "בטל" in contexts where I don't understand its meaning. I wonder whether anyone can help. The first time is: ברשות הרבים כי האי גוונא ...
-3
votes
1answer
72 views

curse words and the Torah [duplicate]

American defines d*mn, f-word and b-word (excuse my language) as curse words. However, what does the Torah define as curse words or dirty language?
1
vote
0answers
25 views

Time, Place and Speak

I heard from someone that מזל stands for מקום זמן לשון, (there is a) place (and) time (to) speak. Do you where this idea comes from?
3
votes
1answer
26 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 ...
-4
votes
1answer
65 views

Are there any authorities who hold that one must be a zionist?

There are some groups, like Naturei Karta or Satmar, which hold that a Jew may not be a Zionist, meaning one may not pursue the establishment or maintenance of a political entity for the Jewish people ...
-5
votes
1answer
79 views

Mishneh Torah Statistics

How many halchos are in the Mishneh Torah? How many chapters are in the Mishneh Torah? How many books are in the Mishneh Torah? (How many halachos, and chapters are in every sefer of Mishneh ...
0
votes
1answer
90 views

Heilige Hooleh?

What is this holy hooleh that 8th Day are singing about?
0
votes
1answer
92 views

How many words are there in Tanach?

How many letters are in the Torah? How many words are in the Torah? How many verses are in the Torah? How many chapters are in the Torah? How many letters, words, verses, and chapters are in every ...
5
votes
3answers
96 views

How should the words “all” and “every” be interpreted in the Scriptures?

What is the correct way of interpreting and understanding the words all and every in the Bible? My problem is that I learned maths for years and sometimes it makes it very hard for me to understand ...
8
votes
1answer
102 views

What is the first use of the word “Seder” (סדר) for the Pesach night proceedings?

The Pesach night proceedings are commonly called the "Seder" (סדר). This word more generally means "order." What is the first recorded use of the word סדר for this event?