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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7
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1answer
308 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
votes
3answers
855 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
votes
1answer
56 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
votes
1answer
106 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
votes
1answer
201 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
votes
1answer
136 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 ...
7
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1answer
150 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?
7
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1answer
60 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 ...
7
votes
3answers
91 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
votes
1answer
71 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 ...
7
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3answers
232 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!
6
votes
6answers
177 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 ...
6
votes
6answers
671 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"?
6
votes
3answers
347 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?
6
votes
2answers
53 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: ...
6
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2answers
196 views

What does שעטנז (sha'atnez) mean?

.שעטנז. I'm asking about the literal meaning behind the word, its etymology, etc.
6
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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
106 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
1answer
216 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
votes
2answers
89 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
votes
2answers
131 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
votes
1answer
211 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
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4answers
618 views

What is the meaning of tehom?

Throughout the Tanach, and I've seen it in Midrashim as well, there is a concept of the "Tehom", translated as "Deep Waters". It appears in the creation story in Bereishis, and in the song at Yam Suf. ...
6
votes
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 ...
6
votes
3answers
400 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
votes
3answers
187 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
votes
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 ...
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 ...
6
votes
2answers
133 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
votes
3answers
976 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
238 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
6
votes
2answers
117 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
votes
1answer
124 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 ...
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 ...
6
votes
3answers
133 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
votes
2answers
300 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
122 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
votes
2answers
54 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
96 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
165 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
85 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
151 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
68 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
161 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 ...
5
votes
4answers
351 views

Talmudic Terminology

There are a number of English language works which to one degree or another discuss Talmudic terminology, i.e. the wider implication of certain phrases commonly used in the Gemara. Can anybody suggest ...
5
votes
2answers
312 views

What does Yarmulka mean?

What does the word Yarmulka mean?
5
votes
4answers
307 views

Why do we say hamotzi lechem min haaretz instead of min haadama?

The blessing for bread is hamotzi lechem min haaretz. The blessing for vegetables is boreh pri haadama. As far as I know aretz (land) and adama (soil or earth) are basically synonymous. I would like ...
5
votes
4answers
95 views

Connection between עָרוּם and עֲרוּמִּים

In the story of Adam, Eve and the snake the word 'עָרוּם' is used in two completely different contexts, yet they feature one pasuk after the other: Bereishit 2:25 : וַיִּהְיוּ שְׁנֵיהֶם ...
5
votes
3answers
158 views

What is the difference between a kofer and apicorsis

I always hear the terms "apicorsis" and "kofer״, along with "kefirah" and amaratzit. What is the definition of each?
5
votes
3answers
279 views

Charvona? How many Charvona's were there?

In the Megila twice the name Charvona is mentioned. However there is a difference - Once it is spelled with an Aleph at the end and once it is spelled with an Hai at the end? Were there two Charvona's ...