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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5
votes
1answer
113 views

Why is the word Shofar somtimes spelled with a Vav and somtimes without a Vav?

There are times that the word Shofar is spelled without a Vav - for example שמות: יט. טז. ויהי ביום השלישי בהית הבקר ויהי קלת וברקים וענן כבד על ההר וקל שפר חזק מאד ויחרד כל העם אשר במחנה or שמות: ...
12
votes
2answers
606 views

What does “prohibited l’chatchila” mean?

To me the phrase prohibited l’chatchila seems a bit confusing. Can someone explain what this means in plain and simple english? (context: someone says "action X is prohibited l’chatchila")
10
votes
1answer
201 views

Selah ~ Does it mean 'forever' 'certainly' 'basket' 'pause', 'yahoo', a kabbalistic meditative device, or none of the above?

Does anyone know a Jewish interpretation of "selah" in the psalms? Literally it seems to mean something about basket or hanging, but I don't know how this works into psalms. Jewish sites say it may ...
4
votes
1answer
216 views

Meaning of Mappik in יה

One more question about mappik (I don't know what happened to me, but this topic somewhat disturbs me lately :)) What is the meaning of the mappik in the following Hebrew words: יָהּ הַלְלוּיָהּ ...
9
votes
3answers
151 views

Identifying a chasid

Say you meet a stranger who is a member of a particular community of chasidus. What is the most polite and direct way to ask the person of which community they are a member? I.e. a question whose ...
7
votes
1answer
223 views

On Deuteronomy 28:23, Rashi says copper is “mazi'a”. What does this mean?

I have this question on Rashi every year in Ki Savo. Deuteronomy 28:23 says: "And the heavens above your head will be like copper and the earth that is beneath you, iron." Rashi says that the heavens ...
4
votes
1answer
106 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
93 views

In Shabbos Shacharis which is right “sheboro bemidas rachamim” or “sheboro bemidas HOrachamim”?

In the brocho of “hakol yoducho” Shabbos Shacharis, some siddurim have “sheboro bemidas rachamim” while some have “sheboro bemidas HOrachamim”. Why?
3
votes
3answers
256 views

Why do we call it “candle-lighting” time?

Since it is still permissible to do melacha (work forbidden on shabbat) including lighting shabbat candles until shki'a (sunset), which is 18 minutes (or 40 minutes in Jerusalem) following "candle-...
7
votes
4answers
1k 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 ...
9
votes
4answers
483 views

What is the meaning of the inscription on the back of a m'zuza?

The string "כוזו במוכסז כוזו" is written on the back side of the parchment in many a doorpost scripture. According to the Ra"sh (hilchos m'zuza 18) וכן נהגו לכתוב באשכנז ובצרפת כנגד ה' אלקינו ה' ...
4
votes
1answer
151 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 ...
17
votes
3answers
752 views

Why aren't Tefillin called Totafot?

They're called Totafot in the Torah, so why do we call them Tefilin?
3
votes
2answers
153 views

Etymology of “Grager”

What is the Etymology of “Grager”? Grager is the noisemaker we use on Purim during the Megila when Haman's name is read.
16
votes
3answers
336 views

the aggadic concept of a finite number of words to speak

Is there any truth to the common claim that each person has a predetermined number of words that he can speak in his life? Source, please. If so, then how does it work? In particular (with sources or ...
3
votes
2answers
774 views

Why is it called Shalosh Seudos?

Why is the third Shabbos meal called Shalosh Seudos - literally three meals - would it not be more appropiate to call it Seuda Shlishis?
8
votes
2answers
834 views

What is a hakira?

In the parlance of Talmud study and lomdus, what does the word "Hakira" mean and how should it be used? Why are Hakiras useful?
5
votes
1answer
477 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
253 views

דילמא == Dilemma?

Is there documentation to prove that the Aramaic word "דילמא" is a transliteration or derivation of the Greek word "dilemma"? If so, this fact is informative to G'mara-learning in understanding the ...
2
votes
1answer
126 views

Does the word toad (קרפדה) appears in tanach?

Toad is קרפדה (karpada) in hebrew. Toad is crapaud in French. The two words have the same 4 consonants in the same order, which does not seem to be by mere accident. Looks like one language has ...
4
votes
2answers
83 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 ...
1
vote
2answers
154 views

רַבִּי יְהוּדָה הָיָה נוֹתֵן בָּהֶם סִמָּנִים: דְּצַ“ךְ עַדַ”שׁ בְּאַחַ"ב

רַבִּי יְהוּדָה הָיָה נוֹתֵן בָּהֶם סִמָּנִים: דְּצַ"ךְ עַדַ"שׁ בְּאַחַ"ב. We call the last Makah "Makas Bechoros" - why didn't Rabbi Yehuda say בְּאַחַ"ם
3
votes
3answers
145 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 ...
2
votes
3answers
184 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
3
votes
2answers
200 views

Welcoming someone back after a visit to Israel

Is it proper to say "Welcome back" after someone visits Israel because of the lower level of Kedussah between Israel and Chutz LaEretz?
1
vote
3answers
112 views

Egel- Why EILEH is Plural

Why when the Jews made the egel, a single bull, they use the words Eilah Elohecha Yisroel which is plural?
5
votes
1answer
287 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 from/...
1
vote
2answers
191 views

Why is a Sholom Zochor called a Sholom Zochor?

Why is a Sholom Zochor called a Sholom Zochor?
6
votes
3answers
418 views

The Absolute Unity of G-d

As we all who know Hebrew can assert, the sufix "im" in the words usually means plurality. How can HaShem be Elohim or Elokim if He is absolutely One and the Only Lord?
2
votes
2answers
144 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?
1
vote
1answer
238 views

Shushan Versus Shushan Habirah

What is the difference between Shushan and Shushan Habirah or is there one, and when does the Meggilah use each one? (Please quote sources)
2
votes
1answer
112 views

Is the term/idea “inviolate” used in the old testament?

I was discussing the idea of privacy with my ethics professor, and he mentioned the concept of "inviolate personality". When it came up he was pretty sure the word inviolate either comes from or is ...
5
votes
1answer
232 views

Tree is it Eitz or Illan

What is the Diffrence between Eitz and Illan?
2
votes
1answer
456 views

Issues with Wording, Honorifics, Symbols, Rashei Teivot on Tombstones

In my work on translating tombstones (Ashkenazic - Slovakian or what was once Austro-Hungarian) towns, I occasionally come across phrases or honorifics that are difficult for me to understand. I do ...
2
votes
1answer
578 views

What are the Hebrew titles for synagogue functionaries in various communities?

In every Ashkenazic synagogue I've seen, the fellow calling up people to the Bima is called a "gabbai." (Which was originally a Hebrew word for "collector", as in Tzedaka collector; I can see how the ...
2
votes
2answers
147 views

Why does the term Eretz Yisroel never appear in the Torah?

After anylyzing the term "Eretz Yisroel" I could only find it in 3 instances in Nach. http://mi.yodeya.com/questions/5681/does-the-term-ever-appear-in-tanach Why does the term Eretz Yisroel never ...
4
votes
3answers
172 views

HamanTashen - 3 cornered cookies

Why are 3 cornered cookies called HamanTashen?
0
votes
4answers
565 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?
3
votes
1answer
323 views

Kel (Melech) Chanun V'Rachum — do you say Melech?

Some siddurs have the phrase "Ki Kel Melech Chanun V'Rachum Ata" at the conclusion of Ya'aleh v'Yavo. Some have Melech in parentheses; some don't have it at all. Can anyone tell me something about ...