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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1answer
200 views

wording of the invitation to birkas hamazon

I know some Ashk'nazim say rabosay n'varech, some rabosay mir velen bentschen, and some hertzi rabosay mir velen bentschen. (Any other forms?) Is there any particular reason given for one or another?
7
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1answer
204 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 ...
7
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4answers
196 views

The difference between שור and פר

In Mishpatim (and perhaps elsewhere), the Tora refers to an animal incurring or causing damage, and calls it a shor, שור, commonly translated ox. In Pin'chas (and Achare and perhaps elsewhere), the ...
7
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1answer
329 views

Who are these “aliens” in Isaiah 56?

I was reading through this passage in Isaiah 56: 4 For thus saith the LORD concerning the eunuchs that keep My sabbaths, and choose the things that please Me, and hold fast by My covenant. 5 ...
7
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3answers
910 views

Hakaras hatov vs. hoda'a

It seems that there are two terms that could be broadly translated as "gratitude", which each express different aspects of the concept. הכרת הטוב denotes recognition, while הודאה has strong echoes of ...
7
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1answer
63 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 ...
7
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1answer
109 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 ...
7
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1answer
221 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 ...
7
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1answer
80 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 ...
7
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1answer
145 views

An interpretation of Shimon's “silence” in Pirkei Avot

In Chapter 1 of Pirkei Avot it's written: "17. Shimon his son said: All my days have I grown up among the wise and I have not found anything better for a man than silence. Studying Torah is not ...
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2answers
104 views

Their altars…and *his* asheirah?

Shemot 34:13: כִּי אֶת מִזְבְּחֹתָם תִּתֹּצוּן וְאֶת מַצֵּבֹתָם תְּשַׁבֵּרוּן וְאֶת אֲשֵׁרָיו תִּכְרֹתוּן For you shall dismantle their altars, break their monuments, and cut down his ...
7
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1answer
103 views

First Use of the Phrase “Cheit HaMeraglim”

The negative report given by the people who are sent to scout the land of Cana'an before Bnei Yisrael go in, resulting in the punishment that they have to wander for another 38 years in the desert, is ...
7
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1answer
162 views

Tzom Gedalya vs. Taanis Esther

Why is Tzom Gedalya known as Tzom Gedalya and Taanis Esther as Taanis Esther. Why not Taanis Gedalya or Tzom Esther?
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2answers
155 views

Why switch the reference from “גוי” to “עם” in Tachanun?

Why does the prayer "Shomer Yisra'el" in Tachanun say in two of the verses the word גוי in the first and last phrase, but עם in the middle phrase? שומר גוי אחד שמור שארית עם אחד ואל יאבד גוי אחד ...
7
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1answer
63 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 ...
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3answers
92 views

Why use language of לברוא in brachot?

The bracha over wine and grape juice says "בורא פרי העץ". The word בורא is also used in many of the other brachot over food and smells. My understanding is that the meaning of the verb-root ...
7
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1answer
79 views

What is the precise difference between Kakatuv and Shene'emar and

The davening on the Yamim Nora'im references many verses and the machzor introduces those verses in a variety of ways. A quick glance at the davening for Yom Kippur shows v'ne'emar she'ne'emar ...
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3answers
234 views

Shiluach HaKen: why not “Hatzipor”

If you send away the bird, why is Shiluach HaKen called that, meaning "sending the nest", and not "Shiluach Hatzipor", "sending the bird"? The nest is staying in place!
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6answers
179 views

Al Hamichyah - Wide land?

In the Brocho after eating grains which are not bread we say: על ארץ חמדה טובה ורחבה Translated very loosely as: On the Land (ISRAEL) that is desirable good and WIDE. Now, anyone with a ...
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6answers
734 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"?
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3answers
363 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?
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2answers
55 views

What's the difference between אניה and ספינה in Jonah?

In יונה‎ 1:2–5, the boat Yona is on is referred to generally as an אניה. But in verse 5, Yona goes down to a side room of the ספינה. The commentaries seem to treat the words as synonymous: ...
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6answers
5k views

Online glossary of Talmudic terms

Is there an online glossary anywhere that explains important Talmudic terms, with similar scope to the Practical Talmud Dictionary? I'm more interested in an Aramaic-English resource, but ...
6
votes
4answers
113 views

How should the words “all” and “every” be interpreted in the Scriptures?

What is the correct way of interpreting and understanding the words all and every in the Bible? My problem is that I learned maths for years and sometimes it makes it very hard for me to understand ...
6
votes
2answers
150 views

Can songs use the words from pesukim?

I asked Is it OK to compose a song that breaks up a pasuk? and was told (in comments) that perhaps it would be good to first clarify whether songs can use pesukim at all. So, question: Can songs, ...
6
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1answer
225 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 ...
6
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2answers
98 views

Source that “Teiku” References Eliyahu?

What is the earliest source that indicates that "teiku" (תיקו) references Eliyahu? Any source earlier than the Tosafos Yom Tov who provides an alternative explanation?
6
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1answer
220 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
187 views

What is the Shekhina?

To what are people referring when they talk about the Shekhina? Is it a form of God? A part of God? An attribute of God? Perhaps it is something else entirely? Also, what is the etymology of the ...
6
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3answers
235 views

Difficult phrases in the “Sale of Chametz” document

I am currently working on a clarification of the document which is usually used by rabbis to sell chametz to a non-Jew. The version I am working with is that of Harav hagGaon Avraham Aharon Yudelewitz ...
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3answers
425 views

What is the difference between the following words referring to commandments?

What is the difference between the following words? Commandments Law Testimonies Precepts Judgements Statutes Ordinances Deut 26:16 - 19 reads 16: This day, the ...
6
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3answers
193 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 ...
6
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4answers
397 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 ...
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2answers
94 views

Is there a difference between “להלן” and “לקמן”?

There are many times when Sefarim and commentaries reference something that is brought later on. Sometimes the word "לקמן" is used (example) and sometimes the word "להלן" is used (example). Is there ...
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votes
2answers
239 views

Israel Am v.s. Goy

Is Israël an Am or Goy or both? whats the Torah definition and best translation of both terms? Because it seems that Israël is being called both Am as a Goy. (Am Kadosh: Devarim 26:19 and Goy ...
6
votes
1answer
76 views

Order of words (Oizer U'Moshia) in Shemona Esrei

In Shemona Esrei in the first Bracha it ends with Melech Oizer U'Moshia U'Magen מלך עוזר ומושיע ומגן, however towards the end of the Bracha of Modim it says HaKail Yeshuasainu V'Ezrasainu Selah האל ...
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2answers
150 views

What is the difference between Genaiva and Gezaila

The Torah or Talmud uses two terms for a thief -- the "Gonif", (which is the more familiar term) and the "Gazlin", and two corresponding terms for robbery "Genaiva" and "Gezaila". What is the ...
6
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3answers
1k views

חַס וְשָׁלוֹם: why and for what

What is saying חַס וְשָׁלוֹם (chas v'shalom) supposed to accomplish? Does it do so, or is it just a waste of breath? Based on the answers given to my previous question about this phrase, it seems ...
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2answers
250 views

What is the meaning of Davar Shebakedusha?

How does something become a Davar Shebakedusha? What is the criteria? This question was inspired by the discussion over here. People half-standing for אלקינו in zimun
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2answers
120 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 ...
6
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1answer
125 views

Universal theory of Biblical eye-raising

Do any of the commentaries or Midrashim offer a universal interpretation (perhaps of the form "any time you see this, it means that") of Biblical idiom of "raising eyes"? Below are some examples that ...
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2answers
82 views

What is the tzror hachaim (bond of life)?

On tombstones one finds the acronym for t'hay nafsho/ah tzrurah b'tzror hachaim (may the soul be bound to the bond of life). What is this bond of life? Do we have any sources which explain what this ...
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3answers
160 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 ...
6
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2answers
61 views

etymology of the word “Kittel”

What is the etymology of the word "Kittel"? (Kittel is a white garment worn by many at the Pesach Seder and on Yom Kippur by Davening)
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2answers
305 views

Is there any contemporary posek who says you can deviate from the wording in the shmona esrei?

I am reading Kavvana: Directing the Heart in Jewish Prayer by Rabbi Dr. Avi (Seth) Kadish. There he makes the argument that the Anshei Kneset Hagedolah never established the exacting wording for the ...
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1answer
125 views

How can you see words?

Has anyone else noticed the seeming incongruity in Lekh Lekha, Gen 15:1...that Avram is "seeing" the words? The verse states: אַחַר הַדְּבָרִים הָאֵלֶּה, הָיָה דְבַר-יְהוָה אֶל-אַבְרָם, ...
6
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2answers
65 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
170 views

What's “chosen” about Jews?

Jews are commonly referred to as "the chosen people". I've heard it comes from Exodus 19:5 ("וִהְיִיתֶם לִי סְגֻלָּה מִכָּל הָעַמִּים", "ye shall be Mine own treasure from among all peoples", JPS). ...
6
votes
2answers
111 views

Meaning of the term “Amen Ve'Amen”?

Upon completing a lecture many rabbis end their blessings with the words "Amen Ve'Amen" (True and True). The source for this quote seems to be Tehillim 41:14. What is meant by the repetition of the ...
6
votes
2answers
182 views

Changing the spelling of “G-d” and Halachic erasure

Is there a problem of "erasing the name of HaShem" if you erase the English word spelled G-o-d, and if so, is there then a problem of erasing it in order to spell it in a more acceptable way (such as ...