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
614 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
78 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
73 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
137 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
253 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
42 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
356 views

What is the longest word in Tanach?

One of my students was filling out an application that requested the longest and shortest word in Tanach. I am assuming by the fact that this question was asked that there is a known answer and this ...
4
votes
1answer
105 views

Difference between Slumber and Sleep

In Tehillim 121, David says of Hashem "הִנֵּה לֹא-יָנוּם, וְלֹא יִישָׁן שׁוֹמֵר, יִשְׂרָאֵל." At first glance, this appears redundant, נום means slumber and שנה means sleep. What is the difference ...
2
votes
2answers
108 views

Is it said anywhere in the Jewish scriptures that 'Amalek' means “wrung, twisted neck”?

I have read somewhere that the meaning of the word Amalek is "wrung, twisted neck" which symbolizes his difficulty to make correct judgements, as for that both the head and the heart and the ...
5
votes
1answer
126 views

What is the origin of the title “rebbe”?

The title "rebbe" (as opposed to "rabbi") is often given to leaders of hasidic groups. It is also often used by both hasidim and non-hasidim to refer to one's personal teacher. What is the origin of ...
1
vote
0answers
39 views

When does the Gemara say “שנאמר” vs. “כדכתיב”

There are many times when the Gemara uses the word "שנאמר" when it quotes a verse. Why does it sometimes use the word "כדכתיב" when quoting a verse, and sometimes it says "שנאמר"
5
votes
3answers
105 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 ...
11
votes
4answers
461 views

Source of saying migdol / magdil in Bentching

I was once told by someone that saying migdol instead of magdil in bentching on Shabbos and yom tov is an error. That a siddur had the source in pesukim in short form on the side and people mistook it ...
3
votes
3answers
62 views

Which אֶת is which in Gen. 17:21?

The word "אֶת" can mark the direct object (as in Gen. 1:1) or mean "with" (as in Gen. 35:14). I recently saw someone ask whether "וְאֶת", the first word of Gen. 17:21, means "and with", which struck ...
3
votes
2answers
4k 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 ...
0
votes
1answer
65 views

Is “Yehud” a proper term for the Hebrews (ancient or otherwise)?

Reading an article about trauma in Jewish history I found the term "Yehud" (in addition to other terms) indicating the society, culture or community, for instance [1]: Jeremiah W. Cataldo "Memory ...
4
votes
0answers
52 views

What is the history of the terms Posek and Psak Halacha?

From my searches, the Tanach does not have the term Psak or Posek in it. Many questions here related to questions on psak quote the Rambam, but those sections refer to Horyaot, or Divrei Halacha, or ...
5
votes
5answers
418 views

What does it mean to qualify Judaism with the term “Orthodox”?

I notice that quite a few questions include "Orthodox" in the title. I wonder if people could clarify what it means to be an "Orthodox" Jew relative to another Jew that is not considered "Orthodox". (...
7
votes
3answers
338 views

Why masechet “Beitza”?

Why do we call it masechet Beitza now, and not masechet Yom Tov, as was apparently once common? Unlike the parshiot, which are named after their first words, masechtot are all named after topics, ...
3
votes
2answers
110 views

Order of כִּי נֵר מִצְוָה וְתוֹרָה אוֹר

Mishlei 6:23 says כִּי נֵר מִצְוָה וְתוֹרָה אוֹר. By the Mitzva it first says Ner and then Mitzva, however by the Torah it first says Torah and then Or. Why is there a change in the order, why not ...
2
votes
1answer
45 views

מועדים וחגים what's the difference?

What is the difference and why does the Torah give two terms when its talks about the Jewish holidays? מועדים וחגים. I want to know a halachic difference not a kabbalistic meaning.
1
vote
1answer
88 views

Zephaniah 2:3 — the use of אוּלַי meaning “perhaps”

In Zephaniah 2:3 the word אוּלַי (oo-layee) means "perhaps". I have not otherwise really seen The G-D of the Bible so indifferent (though maybe that's the wrong word). Can someone help me understand ...
5
votes
1answer
64 views

Looking for a word with a distinct meaning driven by mesorah

I am researching some words to see the agendas of translators. One way to understand what a translator knew or cared about is to look for words which have a generally accepted meaning, and an ...
-1
votes
2answers
131 views

Yachid v.s. Echad

What is the definition and difference between Yachid and Echad? I read some where that Maimonides told HaShem is Yachid, but isn't He Echad?
4
votes
4answers
439 views

What is an appropriate hebrew translation of 'ought to be put into geniza'?

I have some texts that are not religious (like dictionary) but contain The Name. And because it's not obvious that one should not recycle them, but rather put to geniza, I want to mark them somehow. ...
0
votes
0answers
17 views

Why do we write “G-d” instead of “God” [duplicate]

Some people tend to write "G-d" instead of "God". I thought that it was for respect or maybe they don't want to erase or profane the word "God", and that seems ok. But if I'm right, then why do we ...
5
votes
2answers
333 views

Is Goy meant to be a pejorative term?

I have never heard this word before, but the Wikipedia article insists: The word is also used to pejoratively describe those not of Jewish descent. It is commonly used to refer to Christians and ...
2
votes
1answer
52 views

Why mention Shabbat at Yom Tov havdalah?

Shabbat and Yom Tov share the same text of havdalah (the main bracha), both in davening and with wine. It all makes sense for Motzei Shabbat, but why do we mention המבדיל בין יום השביעי לששת ימי המעשה ...
3
votes
0answers
23 views

Is there a difference between Sarnu and Sararnu?

In the vidui, we list our sins alphabetically, and for the samech, the word in my machzor is "sararnu" -- this is translated as "we have turned away." After the list there is a paragraph which ...
2
votes
2answers
582 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 ...
16
votes
3answers
4k views

What should I be aware of when using the term “Jew”?

As a gentile who finds himself writing about Judaism in the ancient world, I've found myself reluctant to use the word "Jew". I tend to use phrases like "Jewish people" and "Hebrew" when it makes ...
10
votes
2answers
255 views

What exactly does “Lord of Hosts” (צְבָאוֹת) mean?

When I think of the Judaism, I don't think of Angelic armies attacking the armies of evil directly. G-d usually works in far more subtle ways than this, e.g. appearing as a burning bush to motivate ...
2
votes
1answer
33 views

וכל מאמינים - essentially the same for both כ lines

The piyut Vechol Maaminim for Rosh Hashanah follows a pattern - two lines for each letter of the Hebrew alphabet, each one describing God in some way. However, the two lines for the letter Kaf seem to ...
1
vote
1answer
60 views

Is שכרות in the Talmud (or other rabbinical sources) limited to alcoholic substances?

In many places in the Talmud the word "שכרות" is used (Shabbat 10, Beitzah 4, etc.) in these places is it proper to understand it as referring to alcoholic beverages (the simple/common translation?), ...
4
votes
0answers
35 views

What do the different terms for “judges” indicate?

In a few places in the chumash, the word "elohim" is translated as "judges". Rashi does this on Bereishit 6:2 and many meforshim do this on the uses in Shemot (such as in 22:7 and 8) saying that the ...
2
votes
1answer
78 views

What does the Rambam mean by בשרו חם?

In Hilkhot De'ot 3:7 (3:2 in non-Yemenite versions) the Rambam writes: For example, a person with warm constitution (בשרו חם) should not eat meat or honey... What exactly is meant by "warm ...
9
votes
4answers
244 views

Origin of the term Motza'ei Shabbos

I often hear that מוצאי שבת means "departure of the Sabbath," but it seems to me that the phrase for this should be צאת שבת (or יציאת שבת). The phrase מוצאי שבת seems to me to mean המוצאים של שבת, ...
3
votes
1answer
106 views

Jew vs Gentile, terminology in the Jewish Holy Book(s)?

I have never understood fully the distinction between the Jewish race and the religion. I was wondering how the Chosen People/Jewish person vs Gentile is interpreted in the Jewish faith. When the ...
-1
votes
2answers
49 views

בין אדם לחבירו - between man and his fellow man

The translation of בין אדם לחבירו is between man and his fellow man. 1) Does בין אדם לחבירו also apply to women? 2) If it does, then shouldn't it be worded בין אשה לחבירה or בין אשה לחברתה?
0
votes
1answer
110 views

כשם in the blessing at the end of the bris כשם שנכנס לברית כן יכנס לתורה לחופה ולמעשים טובים

At the end of the bris (circumcision) ceremony, the congregation wishes כשם שנכנס לברית כן יכנס לתורה לחופה ולמעשים טובים In the manner that he entered the bris, so shall he enter for Torah, the ...
7
votes
5answers
687 views

K'shaim Shenichnas L'Bris Kain Yikones L'Torah L'Chupa U'Lmaasim Tovim: why that order?

When a baby boy has his Bris we wish him "K'shaim Shenichnas L'Bris Kain Yikones L'Torah L'Chupa U'Lmaasim Tovim" - just like you entered the covenant so to should you enter into Torah, marriage, and ...
8
votes
1answer
96 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").1 In practice, at least as far as I've seen, these judges are ...
6
votes
3answers
178 views

Age of Universe and Shabbat

If one believes that our world is billions of years old, i.e. accepting the idea of each day in Sheshis Imei Berieshit (the Six Days of Creation) as eras and not literal days, then how does one ...
2
votes
0answers
14 views

Explanation of Gemara's Interpretation of מצא

The Gemara Bava Kamma (113b) states that the term ומצאתה implies physical acquisition (rather than mere finding as the word would seem to imply): אמר רבינא {דברים כב-ג} ומצאתה דאתאי לידיה משמע ...
2
votes
3answers
1k 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.
2
votes
2answers
34 views

How to understand the word zakai (exempt)?

Is the word zakai (exempt) (as opposed to hiav, guilty) different from the word mutar (permitted) or the word patur (actually a phrase, patur aval assur, without penalty but prohibited)? If so, how ...
3
votes
1answer
82 views

Was referring to a Jewish firstborn son as “____ bar [mother's name]” insulting in the first century?

There is a passage in the Christian "gospels" in which Jesus is referred to by his community in an unusual way. The text [Mark 6:3] was originally written in Greek, but the English translation is: ...