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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9
votes
2answers
2k 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
49 views

Whence “בלי עין הרע”?

What is the source, or earliest reference, I guess, of using the phrase, "בלי עין הרע"?
1
vote
1answer
56 views

Difference Natzar and Shamar?

What is the difference between נצר natzar (keep, gaurd, watch, preserve) and שמר shamar? Their meaning looks so similar that I would like to know what makes the difference between these two. (For ...
2
votes
1answer
43 views

What's the difference between לְמִינוֹ and לְמִינֵהוּ?

B'reshis 1:11–12, :25; Sh'mini 11:15–22; and R'e 14:14–15 seem to use "לְמִינוֹ" and "לְמִינֵהוּ" interchangeably, and both words are generally translated the same way (usually ...
12
votes
6answers
17k 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?
7
votes
1answer
8k 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 ...
2
votes
2answers
46 views

Kedusha as pertains to G-d

Throughout our prayers we talk about G-d's Kedusha. For example, we say "Ata kadosh", "Nekadesh es shimcha", etc. Kedusha is generally translated as "holiness". Holiness, in turn, generally refers to ...
3
votes
3answers
96 views

Source of the word “teva” for nature

I was told by someone who I consider to be very reliable that the word טבע, which means nature, does not have a source in Biblical or Talmudic literature, and it is a word that first emerges in ...
5
votes
2answers
68 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?
17
votes
3answers
1k views

Bli Neder Loophole

Who came up with the Bli Neder loophole of: Bli neder I will help you do X Or Bli neder I will etc... And the list can go on and on. Who came up with addingBli Neder which basically means ...
8
votes
3answers
636 views

Where does “probeh” come from?

Every time recently that I've heard of an Orthodox congregation conducting a search for a rabbi, the stage at which the rabbi visits the community for a Shabbat and auditions for the position is ...
1
vote
0answers
28 views

Is there a term for doing a mitzvah the same way every time?

I read in a book (why can't I find it when I want it?) that among the reasons that a tallit gadol has an atarah on it is because there is value in doing a mitzvah the same way each time. If it did ...
3
votes
1answer
205 views

Who did Yehoshua weaken with the sword?

The verse says (Shemos 17:13): And Yehoshua weakened Amalek and his nation in accordance with the sword. Who did he weaken exactly - what's the difference between Amalek and his nation? Or is there a ...
11
votes
1answer
218 views

What game is the Rama in 338:5 (טשי"ך) referring to?

In the English Mishna Brurah they translate טשי"ך as chess. The Mishna Brurah brings the Marah Sasson who forbids it because there is no chachma. It is also mentioned in the Rama that it makes noise, ...
8
votes
1answer
288 views

*Asher Bamayim* (אשר במים) in kashrus halacha

To find the kashrus status of an organism, we first need to correctly classify it as plant, animal, bird, or asher bamayim*, as each group has its own distinct requirements. E.g., animals need to chew ...
6
votes
2answers
116 views

Brevity of the Rishonim

I have heard about Rashi that he measured his words very meticulously and that consequently every word he chose to write in his commentary is important for understanding his view. There are even ...
-4
votes
2answers
91 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
223 views

Gedole HaDor: who and how

1)Who do we know to refer to as a "Gadol?" 2)How do we determine who is a "Gadol?" For example, how did we determine that Rav Elyashiv is a Gadol? A Gadol HaDor is known as one of the most ...
21
votes
4answers
602 views
1
vote
1answer
35 views

How can we chastise Bilaam for using the same word as Hashem did?

The medrash Tanchuma on parshas Balak #9 says ויאמר בלעם לאתון כי התעללת בי(בלק כ׳ב כ׳ט). אף על פי שמדבר בלשון הקדש גוי לשונו סרוח. The Etz Yosef explains that התעללת is an impure expression as we ...
6
votes
1answer
53 views

Why do we call the “judges” experts?

The hataras nedarim of Erev Rosh Hashanah starts with "Listen now my masters, expert judges" ("שמעו נא רבותי, דיינים מומחים"). In practice, these judges are usually ordinary people. So why do we make ...
-1
votes
1answer
49 views

What is the meaning of “ we are the children of God ”? [closed]

Shalom , What is the meaning when the jew say that and according to this can we say that Moses is the son of God as he is the biggest teacher " while not meaning what the Christians said " ? I hope I ...
10
votes
1answer
287 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 ...
5
votes
4answers
384 views

What's “Modern Orthodox(y)”?

Is there a definition[1] of "Modern Orthodox(y)" that either has wide acceptability[2] or has the support of an expert (say, a renowned rabbi some consider Modern Orthodox, or an anthropologist ...
5
votes
1answer
45 views

What does Mimenu mean in Bereishis 3:22

Bereishis 3:22 writes: וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֱלֹהִים, הֵן הָאָדָם הָיָה כְּאַחַד מִמֶּנּוּ, לָדַעַת, טוֹב וָרָע; וְעַתָּה פֶּן-יִשְׁלַח יָדוֹ, וְלָקַח גַּם מֵעֵץ הַחַיִּים, וְאָכַל, וָחַי לְעֹלָם The ...
3
votes
0answers
25 views

First Rights for Kohanim

The Gemara Gittin 59b states that there's a Biblical command to respect Kohanim by giving them 'first rights': תנא דבי רבי ישמעאל וקדשתו לכל דבר שבקדושה לפתוח ראשון ולברך ראשון וליטול מנה יפה ...
2
votes
2answers
24 views

Is bentching with a minyan considered a davar shebikdusha?

Closely related (particular example of): What is the meaning of Davar Shebakedusha? The Aruch Hashulchan notes that the wedding blessings require ten men, but are not a 'davar shebikdusha' (E.H. ...
6
votes
6answers
656 views

Why is fear of Hashem known as Yiras Shamayim?

I often see that when people discuss fearing Hashem they refer to it as "Yiras Shamayim." Why is it called "Yiras Shamayim" and not "Yiras Hashem"?
17
votes
4answers
868 views

Why Yehoshua **Bin** Nun and not Yehoshua **Ben** Nun

The Torah refers to Yehoshua as Yehoshua Bin Nun. (See here for an example). Why Bin Nun and not Ben Nun? Are there any places in Tanach where he is referred to as Ben Nun? Is there anyone else in ...
4
votes
2answers
58 views

Different variations of forgiveness?

what are the definitions and the differences between the folowing words, when refering to forgiveness?: Salach סלח Machal מחל Nasah נסה/נשא Kaphar כפר Kasah כסה
4
votes
1answer
70 views

Why do books say “ספר” on them?

Why do Jewish books often say "ספר" on the spine, cover, or cover page? The word is synonymous with "book" in modern Hebrew, and some closely related concept like "document" or "scroll" in Tana"ch. ...
4
votes
1answer
50 views

Why are the laws of niddah called “tohoras mishpacha” - “family purity”

Why are the laws of niddah called the laws of tohoras mishpacha/family purity? Certainly the "tohorah" part of the phrase makes sense, but why isn't it called "tohoras ishus", marriage purity, or ...
0
votes
0answers
17 views

difference between גאולה and פדיון [duplicate]

What is the difference between גאולה which means redemption and פדיון which means redemption (i.e. of the firstborn son)
10
votes
4answers
145 views

Significance of “Shema Yisrael”

The verse Shema Yisrael (Devarim 6:4) is highly significant. It is Biblically required to be recited twice daily, it is to be said at the end of one's life, and appears in the liturgy at the end of ...
7
votes
1answer
54 views

Proof that Hashem recreates the world every day

It says in the first blessing before the morning Shema that Hashem renews, in His goodness, every day, the work of Creation, as it says: "To the One Who creates great luminaries, for eternal is ...
4
votes
3answers
82 views

Why חלפות (=malei) and then חלפת (=chaser)?

Bereishit 45:22: לְכֻלָּם נָתַן לָאִישׁ חֲלִפוֹת שְׂמָלֹת וּלְבִנְיָמִן נָתַן שְׁלשׁ מֵאוֹת כֶּסֶף וְחָמֵשׁ חֲלִפֹת שְׂמָלֹת Why is the first occurence of the word "חלפות" written מלא (with ...
2
votes
1answer
27 views

How does “וירא א׳ את האור כי טוב” imply goodness per se?

Haamek Davar to B'reshis 1:4 explains that "טוב" can mean either "good for its intended purpose" (even if that purpose is not good) or "good in truth". The אור (light, let's say) created on the first ...
6
votes
2answers
47 views

What does למען mean in Tanach?

The word למען appears frequently in Tanach and in prayers. When in prayers, it usually means "for the sake of". (e.g. עשה למען שמך). However, the meaning in Tanach is less clear: לֹא תֹאכַל עָלָיו ...
1
vote
1answer
60 views

Why is the kallah's home referred to as beit nashe?

In certain ketubot I've seen the home of the kallah is referred to as Beit nashe, meaning the house of forgetting. What is the reason for referring to the kallah's home that way?
10
votes
4answers
248 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 ...
8
votes
2answers
108 views

What makes something a chag or not?

I have a friend who does not like it when people say 'chag sameach' on hanukah, claiming that hanukah is not a chag. What makes something a chag vs. not a chag?
-1
votes
4answers
140 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
46 views

Berur halachah - what is this called in English?

I'm translating an article concerning the need for a "berur halachah" in order to determine the legal status of individuals with mental retardation. How would say "berur halachah" in English? ...
7
votes
1answer
101 views

Is it OK to compose a song that breaks up a pasuk?

Jewish songs taking their lyrics from tanach or davening have become pretty popular over the past 60 years. (See here for an answer saying that this is permissible.) Many songs, however, will break ...
2
votes
2answers
177 views

Christmas and Ex-mas

Why do some Jews refer to Christmas as Ex-mas? Is there anything wrong in Jews saying Christmas?
-1
votes
2answers
51 views

What mean “peley” and “nava mina”? [closed]

At a gemara Shiur, I often heard the expression "it is peley" and the word "navamina". I do not know what these words mean. Navamina is not in the Melamed Dictionnary... Can you please tell me the ...
0
votes
1answer
41 views

What mean Cholek, Chozer, modey and Gozer?

When studying Masseret Ketubot with a Rabbi, he often says "He is Cholek", "He is Chozer", "He is Modey" or "He is Gozer". These four words seems related. It seems, according to the context, that they ...
1
vote
1answer
40 views

What mean the words Girsha and Mochel?

These two words seems related to each other. I often heard "he is mochel the tnay (the condition)" or " girsha stam". I think it means something like he abandoned his condition but I can't find the ...
2
votes
2answers
65 views

What means Akdama, Osafa and Yetama?

I go to a gemara shiurim about Ketoubot (72a and b and 73 a and b). and these three words are said often by the Rabbi. I do not know what they means but according to their use they seems related to ...
4
votes
2answers
250 views

What does the word Dochak mean?

When I study gemara with some people, I often heard the sentences "he is dochak", "he's not so dochak". What does this word mean exactly ? I do not find it in the dictionnary.