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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11
votes
6answers
12k 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?
0
votes
1answer
66 views

In the beautiful language of hebrew what is Todah? [closed]

I went to a synagogue the other day and after presenting the chief rabbi with an apple he exclaimed 'TODAH!'. Anyone know what this means?
1
vote
2answers
118 views

HaGadol HaGibor veHaNora

In the beginning of the amida prayer, God is ascribed these three titles: HaGadol HaGibor veHaNora. (the source is from the torah) What does each one mean and how are they different?
2
votes
3answers
354 views

Chachma, bina vaadat. Whats the difference?

Whats the difference between the concepts: chachma, bina and daat? We see them listed together in the amida.
5
votes
0answers
145 views

What does “p'ruath rosh” actually mean?

It says in the halakha that a married woman may not go out into the public market place with "p'ruath rosh." I have heard that this means "with uncovered head," but this does not seem to match up ...
3
votes
3answers
110 views

Walk His way; Derech Hashem

Within the Torah we find many places where God commands us 'to walk His way(s).' What does 'to walk' mean? And what is His way? some examples of walking: It is written: walk in that which is ...
5
votes
1answer
186 views

Rav Yonason Eibeschitz's puzzle

There is a story that the Jews were oppressed and there were harsh decrees and Rav Yonason Eibschitz was challenged by the governor to write "am yisroel chai l'olmei ad" for every Jew who lived in his ...
1
vote
2answers
968 views

In Genesis 22:8-14, is there a difference between a ram and a lamb?

Having taken a translation from this website, which I am told to have Orthodox Jewish credentials, I am referring to Genesis 22:8-14 'God will see to a lamb for an offering, my son,' replied ...
6
votes
2answers
373 views

Why 1,000 generations of ungiven Torah, not X years?

The Mainz Anonymous reads, in part (in my own translation): He created the Torah 974 generations before the world was created, then twenty-six generations [passed] from the creation of the world ...
10
votes
1answer
96 views

What is “reverse certification”

I got this in a daily halacha email but not sure what Reverse Certification means, I figure someone here does Reverse Certification It is permitted for a mashgiach to enter a non-kosher ...
5
votes
4answers
324 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
72 views

Paroh vs. Faroh in Parshat Bo

I am used to פרעה being pronounced as "Paroh" as it has been for the last few parshot, but I noticed today that in Parshat Bo (Shemot 10:11) it is to be pronounced "Faroh". What causes this change? ...
18
votes
2answers
463 views

Where did “shabat shalom” come from?

What is the source for the greeting "שבת שלום"? Where is it earliest attested in print? What does it mean?
2
votes
1answer
120 views

לא (lamed-aleph) vs אל (aleph-lamed)

Hebrew beginner, here. I was asking why the prefix for "not" was usually לא but occasionally אל. Some kind Hebrew students told me אל was only used for future tense, saying not to do something. One ...
13
votes
5answers
751 views

Nittle Nacht Meaning

What is Nittle Nacht? What does the name mean? What is its significance? Which Halachic authorities speak about it, and what do they say? What is the actual date for it? How is it effected this ...
3
votes
0answers
47 views

“Instruction” Words

In many places in the TaNaKh, I see the distinctive use of similar words, like: תורה - "law" חקי - "statutes" מצות - "commandments" פקדי - "precepts" עדות - "testimonies" משפטים - "judgments" דבר - ...
8
votes
2answers
221 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 ...
1
vote
3answers
151 views

What does “shachar” in “alos hashachar” mean?

We find a number of terms referring to when morning starts and then perhaps a similar term used to refer to the time of shachris. Alos HaShachar (עלות השחר) Ayeles HaShachar (אילת השחר) and Shacharis ...
5
votes
0answers
182 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
2answers
221 views

Why do people call cancer the machalah?

It seems that people use the word machalah to refer to cancer not only as a translation of the word (although there might be a more specific and correct translation) but because they do not want to ...
2
votes
3answers
334 views

What does the term “sons of G-d” mean?

The term "sons of G-d" בני האלהים is found 3 times in the Hebrew Bible, once in Genesis (6:2), and twice in Job (1:6 and 2:1). What does it mean? Does it have the same meaning in both instances? What ...
3
votes
2answers
50 views

Doors and Doorways in Parshat Vayeira

In this weeks parsha of Vayeira, I counted 6 references to the words דלת and פתח, all in the story of Lot and Sodom. I don't believe this is a coincidence, since its all about standing in the door, ...
2
votes
3answers
94 views

Rashi on Bereishis 37:12: Only their sheep, or also their father's?

Bereishis 37:12: וַיֵּלְכוּ אֶחָיו לִרְעוֹת אֶת צֹאן אֲבִיהֶם בִּשְׁכֶם.‏ Rashi there says (as I understand it) that we cut out the word es (אֶת) because they only went to to feed their own ...
13
votes
8answers
682 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 ...
6
votes
5answers
2k 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." ...
4
votes
1answer
152 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
2answers
76 views

What does “שברירי ברירי…‏” do? How?

Bavli, P'sachim 112:1: ת״ר לא ישתה אדם מים לא מן הנהרות ולא מן האגמים בלילה ואם שתה דמו בראשו מפני הסכנה מאי סכנה סכנת שברירי ואי צחי מאי תקנתיה אי איכא איניש בהדיה לימא ליה פלניא בר פלנתא צחינא ...
0
votes
1answer
181 views

What is the difference between gerim, nochrim and zarim?

What is the difference between gerim, nochrim and zarim? Both halachicly and denotatively.
7
votes
3answers
283 views

What's the difference between כשב and כבש?

What's the difference between כשב and כבש? Why does the Torah use both?
3
votes
0answers
52 views

How many languages were used by Shem's descendants?

Parshat Noach, 10:31: These are the sons of Shem, after their families, after their languages, in their lands, after their nations. אֵלֶּה בְנֵי-שֵׁם, לְמִשְׁפְּחֹתָם לִלְשֹׁנֹתָם, ...
4
votes
2answers
94 views

Quail or fish in B'midbar 11:31?

In B'Midbar 11:31 it is stated: וְרוּחַ נָסַע מֵאֵת יי וַיָּגָז שַׂלְוִים מִן־הַיָּם וַיִּטֹּשׁ עַל־הַֽמַּחֲנֶה כְּדֶרֶךְ יֹום כֹּה וּכְדֶרֶךְ יֹום כֹּה סְבִיבֹות הַֽמַּחֲנֶה וּכְאַמָּתַיִם ...
4
votes
2answers
118 views

Difference between חֵטְא and עֲבֵרָה

Is there a difference between a חֵטְא (cheit) and an עֲבֵרָה (aveira)? I translate both of those words as "sin." Maybe they signify a different level of magnitude? Or maybe one word is simply ...
3
votes
1answer
85 views

Neilah tefillah shabbas nusach of בו

On a regular shabbas the teffilah of retzei vhachlitzainu in shmoneh esri has three variations: In maariv it is בה . In shachris and musaf it is בו. In mincha it is בם. There is a reason for this ...
7
votes
1answer
5k 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
1answer
34 views

What's the fore's heaven's heaven?

In the brief prayer we recite before the עקידה each morning, and in the זכרונות blessing on ראש השנה, we ask: ופקדנו בפקדת ישועה ורחמים משמי שמי קדם Roughly: and pay attention to us with an ...
10
votes
2answers
157 views

“שליט״א” only for certain people

Living people sometimes have "שליט״א" added after their respective names. This means, roughly, "may he live a good, long life". That seems like a nice blessing for anyone; yet, in my experience, only ...
16
votes
3answers
958 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
115 views

Tizku L'Shanim Rabot tovot v'umot?

I was wished this blessing today by a Spanish/Portuguese-descended friend. What is the last word and, by extension, what does the entire phrase mean? My friend did not know, but he said it was a ...
3
votes
0answers
96 views

What is the Hebrew term for the drawing of the hands inward during lighting of Shabbos candles?

Someone elsewhere asked what is the Hebrew term for the drawing of the hands inward during lighting of Shabbos candle. For example, Chabad.org describes the custom, Extend your hands over the ...
5
votes
2answers
118 views

When do you say Hashem sefatai?

Before saying shemoneh esrei we say "Hashem, sefatai siftach u'fi yagid tehilasecha". Are you supposed to say those words A) Before you take the 3 steps back to start your shemoneh esrei B) One word ...
5
votes
0answers
127 views

Is 'A father and son sleeping with a betrothed young woman on yom kippur' an expression?

Bava metza 83b: Rabbi Elazar brebbi Shimon is afraid that he may have wrongfully caused someone to be hanged, but is reassured that the hanged and his son 'slept with a betrothed maiden on yom ...
4
votes
1answer
153 views

How to vowelize “כתובה” (“marriage document”)?

The promissory note a husband gives his wife when they wed is called a כתובה. In my experience, people usually pronounce/vowelize this word "כְּתֻבָּה / k'suba". Such a form (mishkal) exists in ...
7
votes
1answer
167 views

Why call so many olim “moreinu”?

I davened in a couple of different Chassidish shuls over the past few days, and in two different places (Tenka and Munkacs), I noticed that nearly all men who were called up for an aliya were ...
0
votes
0answers
92 views

How does Lurianic Kabbalah treat Da'at?

Da'at is difficult to interpret. I have found this and this, but I am looking for the Lurianic interpretation specifically. Please note that I cannot read Hebrew.
9
votes
4answers
314 views

All you need is love?

I once had a Hebrew professor state with absolute determination that "Ahavah" (the Hebrew word for "love") does not, in fact, mean love. His proof was twofold: 1. G-d could not have commanded us to ...
4
votes
0answers
121 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 assurs it because there is no chachma.It is also mentioned in the Rama that it makes ...
8
votes
1answer
140 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
1answer
170 views

What does the title “Hatomim” mean?

I have stumbled upon the title "Hatomim" before people's names in Chabad-oriented documents on the Internet. What is the meaning and significance of this title, in this context? Practically ...
2
votes
0answers
52 views

Why does Rashi translate שלולית differently from everyone else?

The beginning of chapter 2 of Pea says: These things divide a field [into two] for purposes of pea [requiring a separate pea from each subdivision]: …, a שלולית, …. The Bavli, Bava ...
2
votes
1answer
67 views

Why not list the 7 Minim in order with no second “Eretz”?

Devarim 8:8 ארץ חיטה ושעורה, וגפן ותאנה ורימון; ארץ-זית שמן, ודבש. The Gemara in Berachos 41: says in the name of either Rabbi Yosef or Rabbi Yitzchok that the order of the Brachos would depend on ...