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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3
votes
2answers
218 views

Christmas and Ex-mas

Why do some Jews refer to Christmas as Ex-mas? Is there anything wrong in Jews saying Christmas?
2
votes
2answers
85 views

What means Akdama, Osafa and Yetama?

I go to a gemara shiurim about Ketoubot (72a and b and 73 a and b). and these three words are said often by the Rabbi. I do not know what they means but according to their use they seems related to ...
4
votes
2answers
280 views

What does the word Dochak mean?

When I study gemara with some people, I often heard the sentences "he is dochak", "he's not so dochak". What does this word mean exactly ? I do not find it in the dictionnary.
5
votes
1answer
230 views

What does “Aman deAmar” mean?

I go to a Gemara shiur, and the rabbi always says "the first aman deamar", "the second aman deamar"... What does it mean exactly? What is the meaning of the different words?
10
votes
4answers
197 views

Significance of “Shema Yisrael”

The verse Shema Yisrael (Devarim 6:4) is highly significant. It is Biblically required to be recited twice daily, it is to be said at the end of one's life, and appears in the liturgy at the end of ...
8
votes
1answer
315 views

*Asher Bamayim* (אשר במים) in kashrus halacha

To find the kashrus status of an organism, we first need to correctly classify it as plant, animal, bird, or asher bamayim*, as each group has its own distinct requirements. E.g., animals need to chew ...
4
votes
2answers
216 views

Why is the wording “הערים האל” used? (Deut 4:42)

Devarim 4:42: לָנֻס שָׁמָּה רוֹצֵחַ אֲשֶׁר יִרְצַח אֶת רֵעֵהוּ בִּבְלִי דַעַת וְהוּא לֹא שֹׂנֵא לוֹ מִתְּמוֹל שִׁלְשׁוֹם וְנָס אֶל אַחַת מִן הֶעָרִים הָאֵל וָחָי so that a murderer might ...
5
votes
1answer
96 views

What's a musar vaad and why is it called that?

I'm familiar with the term "ועד" (vaad) as meaning something like "congress" or "council" or "board": a legislative or similar body like the Vaad Arba Aratzos, the Vaad Harabonim of Queens, or the ...
2
votes
3answers
82 views

What was the main job duty of Sar Hatabahim?

The word Tabah means to cook. In modern Hebrew, a Mitbah is a kitchen. In Arabic, Tabaha means "he cooked". And yet, from what I can find, nearly all Biblical commentators, Jewish and gentile, by the ...
1
vote
1answer
49 views

Calling the Chatan Torah “רבי”

On Simchat Torah, a special formula is used to call up the Chatan Torah, the person who gets the final aliyah. In this formula, it says "עמוד רבי (פלוני) חתן התורה" a few times. The question: Why do ...
2
votes
1answer
58 views

What does the saying “like a blind man in a sky light” (כסומא בארובה) indicate?

It seems to me that the Simla Hadasha uses the saying "כסומא בארובה" to mean that it happened by accident. I do not see what in the simple meaning (as a blind man in a sky light) of the words an ...
1
vote
1answer
229 views

What did medieval rabbis like Maimonides write, generically? What do modern rabbis write?

OK, so - the Torah is the same as the Pentateuch/first five books of the Christian Old Testament; the Tanakh is roughly the same as the OT, but there are some differences in ordering, inclusion, etc. ...
7
votes
2answers
103 views

First use of the term “Taharat HaMischpacha ”

When and by whom (and why) was the phrase "טהרת המשפחה" ("family purity") first used to describe the halachot relating to niddah?
8
votes
2answers
188 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, ...
4
votes
1answer
39 views

Why is Yaakov later willing to say אלוהי יצחק?

In Bereishit 31:42, Yaakov says אֱלֹהֵ֣י אָבִי֩ אֱלֹהֵ֨י אַבְרָהָ֜ם וּפַ֤חַד יִצְחָק֙ Rashi there: ופחד יצחק. לא רצה לומר אלהי יצחק, שאין הקדוש ברוך הוא מיחד שמו על הצדיקים בחייהם, ואף על פי ...
9
votes
1answer
125 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 ...
13
votes
5answers
449 views

Meaning of the phrase “Tzur Chevli B'eit Tzarah” near the end of Adon Olam

Near the end of Adon Olam, there is the phrase "Tzur Chevli B'eit Tzarah". What exactly is the meaning of this phrase, and specifically the term "Tzur Chevli"? I have seen it translated rather ...
1
vote
1answer
87 views

Praying Mantis (גְמָל שְׁלֹמֹה) and Ladybugs (פָּרַת מֹשֶׁה רַבֵּנוּ), roots in early sources?

Are the hebrew names of the praying mantis (גְמָל שְׁלֹמֹה) and ladybug (פָּרַת מֹשֶׁה רַבֵּנוּ) found in Tanach (or later, in chazal)? If so, what is the justification for these names?
3
votes
1answer
69 views

What “malchus” exists today in America?

The Gemara (Gittin 79b-80a) says that we need to write the date of the malchus (kindgom) of the place where a get (bill of divorce) was written, on the get, for שלום מלכות (so that we don't upset the ...
-4
votes
1answer
91 views

Do axes have a symbolic meaning in Tanakh or Jewish mythology? [closed]

Do axes have a symbolic meaning in Tanakh or Jewish mythology? I was asked by someone i assume to be Jewish to "Axe him a question!" Now this sound like a joke, but i assure you it is NOT. It is of ...
2
votes
1answer
97 views

Translating an amulet

I need help translating what is written on a charm. Here is what is written in it, along with my understanding of what it means. לשמירה, הצלחה, זיווג הגון, שלום בית, זרע בר קיימא, שמירה למעוברת, ...
3
votes
1answer
83 views

What is considered alone for shma? [duplicate]

When saying shma in davening without a minyan, the three words א-ל מלך נאמן are recited. It is done in order to make up 248 words total (with a minyan, the chazzan says ה' א-לוקיכם אמת to get the 3). ...
5
votes
1answer
56 views

What does Rashi mean by לין שם דבר?

Rashi on bereshis 24:23 says "לין שם דבר." ie. "lin" is a noun. How does that fit in the context considering that Eliezer was asking for a place to "lodge". Even though lodge can be a noun, in this ...
3
votes
1answer
57 views

Yom Kippur - Soul or Body

The Torah (Vayikra 16:31) says "וְעִנִּיתֶ֖ם אֶת־נַפְשֹֽׁתֵיכֶ֑ם, You shall afflict yourselves." - this is a reference to Yom Kippur. Artscroll translates נַפְשֹֽׁתֵיכֶ֑ם to mean yourselves, but ...
5
votes
2answers
95 views

Prayer of Avraham Avinu at Mount Moriah

On Yom Kippur and in Selichos we pray "The One who answered Avraham Avinu's prayer on Mount Moriah, should answer us". "מי שענה לאברהם אבינו בהר המוריה הוא יעננו". What did Avraham pray for at Mount ...
3
votes
3answers
134 views

Source of the term בכתמים שומעין להקל

In the halachos of Niddah, there is a term which I have come across not infrequently. The term is בכתמים שומעין להקל, which roughly translated means "in [the halachos of blood] stains we listen to ...
0
votes
1answer
47 views

Bereshit 17:1 the age of Avram

Translations often translate this verse as 'When Avram was ninety-nine years old'; while more literally it reads: 'And Avram was son of nine year and ninety years.' Why is he called a son (Ben) of ...
11
votes
3answers
72 views

What is the difference between curses that would require changing lashon?

In parshat Lech Lecha, (Bereishit 12:3) Hashem promises Avram that וַאֲבָרְכָה, מְבָרְכֶיךָ, וּמְקַלֶּלְךָ, אָאֹר, And I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. Why ...
14
votes
1answer
136 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 ...
6
votes
3answers
177 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
297 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
168 views

what Difference between Shamash and eved

Why is the servant-candle on the menorah called “shamash” (meaning servant) instead of “eved” which is the word for servant in Hebrew
4
votes
2answers
82 views

Why did the dor hamabul earn a painless death?

There are, apparently, 903 levels of death, and the term vayigva is one of them. According to some, it refers to the simple act of expiration -- the creation of a corpse. Others, like the Rashi ...
4
votes
4answers
126 views

“And it was evening, and it was morning, *one* day”?

Gen. 1:5: וַיְהִי עֶרֶב וַיְהִי בֹקֶר יוֹם אֶחָד And it was evening, and it was morning, one day Gen. 1:8: וַיְהִי עֶרֶב וַיְהִי בֹקֶר יוֹם שֵׁנִי and it was evening, and it was ...
5
votes
4answers
113 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
36 views

In Beresheit what is the difference between the light in 1:3 and the light in 1:14

I notice that in 1.3, the word אוֺר ("ore") is used, but in 1.14, the word מְאֹרֹת (morot) is used. I see that both contain aleph and reish. Both have something to do with light and lighting up. ...
0
votes
1answer
87 views

Does wa tawrat (ותורת) in Jeremiah 8:8 means torah, namely the 5 books or Moshe?

Jeremiah said (I used KJV translation but the translations are about the same) How do ye say, We are wise, and the law of the LORD is with us? Lo, certainly in vain made he it; the pen of the ...
5
votes
2answers
79 views

The word 'Halakhah'

When and under what circumstances did the word "halakhah" (also spelled "halacha", "halachah" or, in Hebrew, הלכה) come to mean Jewish law?
2
votes
1answer
124 views

Did Aaron's staff turned into a snake or a crocodile?

In exodus 7 it says on verses 8-12: ח וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה, אֶל-מֹשֶׁה וְאֶל-אַהֲרֹן לֵאמֹר. ט כִּי יְדַבֵּר אֲלֵכֶם פַּרְעֹה לֵאמֹר, תְּנוּ לָכֶם מוֹפֵת; וְאָמַרְתָּ אֶל-אַהֲרֹן, קַח אֶת-מַטְּךָ ...
4
votes
0answers
19 views

Wondering about a line in Hoshanot for Shabbat [duplicate]

The special Hoshanot for Shabbat mostly contain praises for B'nei Yisrael related to Shabbat. However, i don't get the י line: יושבת וממתנת עד כלות שבת She sits and waits until the end of ...
6
votes
1answer
56 views

Why is the wording of the beracha upon shaking the arba minim only on lulav?

The beracha upon shaking the arba minim is 'על נטילת לולב'? Why is the focus on the lulav specifically rather than a more general blessing like 'על נטילת ארבעה מינים'?
1
vote
0answers
57 views

Meaning of סוף (suf) = weed/reed vs edge/end

What is the original meaning of the word סף and its cognate סוף ? We know that סף in the Bible means edge or threshold. But why does its cognate סוף carry the meaning of weed or reed most of the ...
4
votes
2answers
164 views

What does having a Mehudar Etrog and Lulav mean over just having a kosher set?

I often hear the word 'Mehudar' used during this time of year to refer to special Lulav-and-Etrog sets. What does Mehudar mean?
7
votes
1answer
118 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 ...
6
votes
4answers
94 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)
8
votes
1answer
227 views

Rav vs. Rabbi in Talmudic Times

I was reading about the life of Rabbi Zera, and it said he was originally a Rav. The Rabbis of Eretz Yisrael offered to confer on him the title of Rabbi and at first he refused, until they told of ...
2
votes
0answers
22 views

What is the significance of the ten azharos of tshuva (in Yeshaya ch. 1)?

Rashi in Yeshayah chapter 1 vs. 16 tells us that the ten words in the next two psukim, רחצו, הזכו, הסירו, חדלו, למדו, דרשו, אשרו, שפטו, ריבו, are all אזהרות של לשון תשובה כנגד עשרת ימי תשובה, וכנגד ...
5
votes
1answer
90 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 ...
5
votes
3answers
69 views

Deut. 29:15 — why not “you passed” or “we passed”?

In this week's parsha, Moshe says to Bnei Yisrael (Devarim 29:15): כִּי אַתֶּם יְדַעְתֶּם אֵת אֲשֶׁר יָשַׁבְנוּ בְּאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם וְאֵת אֲשֶׁר עָבַרְנוּ בְּקֶרֶב הַגּוֹיִם אֲשֶׁר עֲבַרְתֶּם ...
3
votes
1answer
76 views

From whence do we learn that the Torah does not mince words? [duplicate]

I have oft heard it stated that "the Torah does not mince words" (example 1, example 2, example 3). While it seems natural/logical that the Creator of the World would use words precisely, from whence ...