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

learn more… | top users | synonyms (1)

10
votes
8answers
309 views

What do people mean when they say “Kaballah”?

I recently spoke to someone who said she was interested in learning Kabbala but could not find any classes. I mentioned to her she may want to try learning Tanya because there is a lot of Kabbala in ...
0
votes
0answers
47 views

Are Jews allowed to use the expression “fingers crossed”?

Not to worship idols is one of the 10 commandments; according to a quick Google search "finger crossed" originates from either the Christian cross or other superstitious beliefs. Does this mean that ...
2
votes
1answer
38 views

Has anyone found any reliable sources for tefilin meditation?

I recently began putting on tefilin, and I had heard of meditations that one can do when putting on the tefilin. Does anyone know of any good meditative practices surrounding tefilin? Or is their any ...
1
vote
2answers
51 views

Where is the land of Sinim?

In Isaiah Perek 49 Pasuk 12 it says: הִנֵּה-אֵלֶּה, מֵרָחוֹק יָבֹאוּ; וְהִנֵּה-אֵלֶּה מִצָּפוֹן וּמִיָּם, וְאֵלֶּה מֵאֶרֶץ סִינִים Behold, these shall come from far; and, lo, these from the ...
6
votes
2answers
418 views

What is meant by the term “midina”/“provinces” as in the 127 ruled by Ahasuerus?

Esther 1:1 says: Now it came to pass in the days of Ahasuerus -- he was the Ahasuerus who reigned from Hodu to Cush, one hundred twenty-seven provinces. For historical context, the period of the ...
9
votes
2answers
560 views

What is the difference between the words “tzur” and “selah” (which both mean rock)?

Beshalach (Shmot 17:6): ... you shall strike the rock (tzur) and water will come forth from it ... Chukat (Bamidbar 20:8): ... speak to the rock (selah) before their eyes and it shall give ...
3
votes
0answers
22 views

Gerah as a coin and cud (and more)

Is anyone familiar with any exposition on the connection between gerah גֵּרָה as cud (ma'aleh gerah) and as a measure of 1/20th of a shekel? Is there any connection drawn to the root for the word ...
3
votes
2answers
93 views

What word is in the middle of the Torah?

The Torah has 304,805 letters and different counts of words (such as 79,976 words). The first word is Bereshit and the last is Israel. I was just wondering (no real reason, just for curiosity): What ...
2
votes
2answers
80 views

What is the official name for the “additional readings” on special torah-reading days?

On certain special Shabboses, like the four parshiyot, there is a special torah reading that replaces Maftir after the weekly parsha is read. Is there a name for this extra not-from-the-weekly-parsha ...
5
votes
1answer
93 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
81 views

Why does the Torah use the non-Hebrew word 'Totafot'

Related to this question. Rashi, on Shemot (13:16): "...וְהָיָה לְאוֹת עַל יָדְכָה וּלְטוֹטָפֹת בֵּין עֵינֶיךָ " writes: and for ornaments between your eyes: Heb. וּלְטוֹטָפֹת, tefillin. Since ...
2
votes
0answers
63 views

Tahor and Tamei

Tahor and Tamei are often translated as clean and unclean or (ritually) pure and impure. But what exactly do they mean, what are the definitions for tahor and tamei? How does one render "ritually" ...
4
votes
2answers
150 views

targum to Ex. 32:27

Why do the targumim to Sh'mos 32:27 ("וְהִרְגוּ אִישׁ אֶת אָחִיו וְאִישׁ אֶת רֵעֵהוּ וְאִישׁ אֶת קְרֹבוֹ") use g'var twice and then enash? For example, Onkelos: וקטולו גבר ית אחוהי וגבר ית חבריה ...
5
votes
2answers
144 views

Why does Onkelos translate “לֹֽא יוּכַל” as “לָא יִכּוֹל” rather than “לֵית לֵיהּ רְשׁוּ”

The verse in Shemos 19:23 says "וַיֹּאמֶר מֹשֶׁה אֶל־יי לֹֽא־יוּכַל הָעָם לַֽעֲלֹת אֶל־הַר סִינָי." Rashi says that although it uses the words "לֹֽא־יוּכַל" it means they're not allowed. Onkelos ...
1
vote
1answer
102 views

Targum on Obadiah 1:3 a Reference to Rome?

The prophecy of Obadiah concerns the fate of Edom. Obadiah 1:3 reads, זְדוֹן לִבְּךָ הִשִּׁיאֶךָ, שֹׁכְנִי בְחַגְוֵי-סֶלַע מְרוֹם שִׁבְתּוֹ; אֹמֵר בְּלִבּוֹ, מִי יוֹרִדֵנִי אָרֶץ. The pride ...
2
votes
2answers
58 views

Ger Tzedek/Tzadik earliest sources and definition

As I understand a "Ger Tzedek/Tzadik" is a fully converted follower of the Torah of Moshe. According to Hilchot Melachim 10:3-4, a "Ger Tzedek" is defined as someone who has confirmed their conversion ...
-1
votes
1answer
55 views

The definitions of Judaism and Jew

An infinite loop: Judaism according to Google is "the monotheistic religion of the Jews". And Jew is "a member of the people and cultural community whose traditional religion is Judaism and who ...
2
votes
1answer
38 views

In what way were David's descendants kohanim? (2 Samuel 8:18 וּבְנֵי דָוִד, כֹּהֲנִים הָיוּ) [duplicate]

In 2 Samuel 8:18 it says: VeBnei David kohanim hayu English translations translate the word kohanim as "chief ministers" or such titles. Any clarification? I'm confused since only Aaron's ...
5
votes
1answer
39 views

Is there a difference between Simlah and Salmah?

In Parshat Mishpatim (22:8), the text, discussing guarded and stolen items, the list includes the word Salmah ("garment") which the Onkelos translates as "ksu". A similar word, Salmat, is used in 22:...
13
votes
5answers
186 views

Difference between אֲנִי and אָנֹכִי

Throughout the Tanakh, I have come across אֲנִי (ʾani) and אָנֹכִי (ʾanokhi) many times, which both mean "I". What is the difference between the two words in Tanakh?
10
votes
37answers
2k views

words often mispronounced [closed]

What are some words commonly mispronounced? (Not by elision/reduction (like ה׳‎→אדְני‎) or assimilation (like תזכרו‎→תשׂכרו‎), but rather words that are pronounced wrong ...
4
votes
3answers
168 views

Define the terms used for “types” or “grades” of tefillin

Follow up on this M.Y. question: The questioner mentioned these grades of tefillin: Peshutim Mehudarim Dakos Gassos Gassos Prudos I have heard of some of these terms, but there may be others on ...
3
votes
2answers
304 views

What does the word לאַטקעס (latkes) mean? [closed]

לאַטקעס is the Yiddish word used for the potato pancakes commonly and commemoratively eaten on Chanukah. Where does the word לאַטקעס come from originally? What exactly does it mean?
2
votes
2answers
39 views

Exodus 19:16- “that were in the camp”

Regarding Exodus 19, verse 16: Why is it necessary to state that all the people “that were in the camp” had trembled? In other words, is not the phrase “in the camp” superfluous here?
0
votes
3answers
64 views

Alternative to “mensch”

When talking to a Torah Scholar, if you want to say that they are a "mensch" (as well), is there a better word that fits with a more Haredi/Litvish hashkafah? I am asking as (it seems to me) a more ...
8
votes
1answer
82 views

What does the ל of לבעבור mean?

Shemos 20:17: ויֹּאמֶר משֶׁה אֶל הָעָם אַל תִּירָאוּ כִּי לְבַעֲבוּר נַסּוֹת אֶתְכֶם בָּא הָאֱלֹהִים וּבַעֲבוּר תִּהְיֶה יִרְאָתוֹ עַל פְּנֵיכֶם לְבִלְתִּי תֶחֱטָאוּ What does the 8th word in ...
4
votes
5answers
2k views

What in the world is a shtender? [closed]

Who made up the name shtender, and who started using the term?
1
vote
1answer
32 views

Meaning and function of Va'yechulu

What does Va'yechulu mean literally in Hebrew? What is the function of Va'yechulu during worship?
6
votes
4answers
161 views

Is there a substantive difference in meaning when the Torah uses the Hebrew verb root דבר rather than אמר?

Is there a substantive difference in meaning when the Torah uses the Hebrew verb root דבר rather than אמר, or do they both pretty much mean "to say" or "to speak"? Do any sages see the choice of one ...
0
votes
2answers
65 views

Why is תורה sometimes written תורת?

Why is Torah sometimes written in the Torah with a "ת" at the end instead of an "ה"?
8
votes
1answer
118 views

Why is it considered respectful to capitalize G-d and its derivatives/pronouns?

I recognize that in English proper nouns are supposed to be capitalized, especially in the case where a proper noun is also a common noun (e.g. the mall vs. the Mall), but only when referring to G-d ...
14
votes
1answer
141 views

Why is there a dagesh in second camocha, but not in first?

In "Mi chamocha ba'elim H', Mi camocha nedar bakodesh" (from the Az Yashir song by the sea, but also between the shma and the amidah in the morning, and elsewhere): מִֽי-כָמֹ֤כָה בָּֽאֵלִם֙ יְ-...
0
votes
0answers
15 views

Judgments Commandments [duplicate]

What is the difference with a, Commandments, Law, Testimonies, Precepts, Judgments, Statutes, Ordinances. In away they all mean the same but I'm sure they are different, thankyou.
0
votes
2answers
123 views

Why is hebrew, the holy language, so messy?

Something that has always bothered me and I've never really understood is why Hebrew is so messy. If it is the language of G-d, the language in which the world was created and the language in which ...
7
votes
5answers
5k views

What does Heimishe mean?

Literally it means "homey." But I'm asking about the sociological meaning of the group of people who call themselves "Heimishe." My best guess is that it means "midway between Hassidish and Litvak." ...
14
votes
9answers
833 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 ...
0
votes
1answer
35 views

Why is the term דגה frequently used to refer to Egyptian (Nile) fish?

I ran a word search using Snunit's tool on the appearance of the word דג in the Bible. The search revealed 17 occurrences, and all of them had that word or some form of the word such as דגים (plural ...
10
votes
9answers
295 views

Wording in Torah when Moshe is commanded to appear before Pharaoh

This shabbos, the Parasha, Bo, starts with Moshe being told to "Bo El Paroh", "Come to Pharaoh". I don't understand this wording, should it have said "Lech El Paroh", "go to Pharaoh"? Is there a ...
6
votes
2answers
253 views

Tu B'shvat Seder

Where did the idea of doing a Seder on Tu b'Shvat come from? Why a Seder, not just the eating of fruit? Why do we call it a Seder if there is no formalized way of doing it?
3
votes
2answers
117 views

About Shemot 35:3

Why Shemot 35:3 is being translated as "do not burn fire" if the piel form of the verb "burn" in the Written Torah always being translated as "eradicate". Excellent example is Dvarim 21:9. If I ...
4
votes
1answer
108 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. ...
7
votes
0answers
54 views

Ya'amod by an Aliya

The root of the word Ya'amod means to stand in place. See Hebrew dictionary here. Thus why do we call up someone to an Aliya with the word Ya'amod? We are not asking him to stay in place, we are ...
5
votes
1answer
594 views

Is G-ddamn considered cursing God?

If a person says in English the word g-ddamn (or G-d damn) does that transgress the sin of cursing God?
3
votes
1answer
76 views

How do we know when the word ידע means intercourse or just (brain) knowledge?

I shall cite 3 verses. What I state below in terms of "plain" knowledge vs. intercourse is confirmed by Rash"i and / or other commentaries on each verse: 1 - Genesis 4:1 (excerpt): וְהָ֣אָדָ֔ם ...
6
votes
1answer
72 views

What is the argument between Rashi and the Ra'avid about the meaning of HaMelech HaKadosh

I was reading בחינת דת, a work of Hashkafa by Elias ben Moise del Medigo and in it he references* an argument between Rashi and the Ra'avid regarding the meaning of HaMelech HaKadosh. The context is ...
1
vote
1answer
119 views

What is the origin of the Yiddish word “nebach”? Is there a Jewish, Biblical source? [closed]

I've found numerous articles about what the word "nebach" (נעבעך) means, for example here and here. However, I have not been able to determine the true source of it. Is this word, so commonly used ...
1
vote
2answers
56 views

Why is כל written with Kamatz?

When praying with the siddur and reading Torah, I've asked myself why is the word כל written with Kamatz if it sounds Kol and not Kal. I've also seen other words like this, but with less frequency. ...
3
votes
2answers
246 views

Why did Sarah banish Hagar and Yishmael - Meaning of צחק

Genesis 21: ט וַתֵּרֶא שָׂרָה אֶת-בֶּן-הָגָר הַמִּצְרִית, אֲשֶׁר-יָלְדָה לְאַבְרָהָם--מְצַחֵק. 9 And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne unto Abraham, 'making ...
3
votes
1answer
41 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 ...
0
votes
1answer
46 views

short definition for 'Chavrusa'

I'm looking for a way to accurately describe what a chavrusa (in a yeshiva setting) is to a non-Jew. I'm ideally looking for a one or two line description. Basically the shorter the better, but it ...