Questions about the definitions, meaning and use of words specific to Judaism or words that carry unique meaning in Jewish law.

learn more… | top users | synonyms (1)

5
votes
4answers
337 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
320 views

What is the origin of “shul”?

What is the origin of the word "shul", meaning "synagogue"? It seems derived from the German "Schule", meaning "school". Moreover, Italian Jews call synagogues "scuola", which also means "school" ...
5
votes
2answers
203 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
5
votes
2answers
79 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
94 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
176 views

Shirei zimra in Yishtabach

At the end of Yishtabach, Hashem is referred to as הבוחר בשירי זמרה. This is usually translated as "who chooses songs of praise." However, as far as I am aware zimra means song, not praise. So how can ...
5
votes
1answer
38 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
47 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)
5
votes
3answers
88 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
77 views

Two types of forgetting?

Bereishis 41:51 כי נשני אלהים את כל עמלי ואת כל בית אבי God has caused me to forget all my toil and all my father's house Devarim 25:19 תמחה את זכר עמלק מתחת השמים לא תשכח Erase ...
5
votes
2answers
115 views

Why does Onkelos translate “לֹֽא יוּכַל” as “לָא יִכּוֹל” rather than “לֵית לֵיהּ רְשׁוּ”

The verse in Shemos 19:23 says "וַיֹּאמֶר מֹשֶׁה אֶל־יי לֹֽא־יוּכַל הָעָם לַֽעֲלֹת אֶל־הַר סִינָי." Rashi says that although it uses the words "לֹֽא־יוּכַל" it means they're not allowed. Onkelos ...
5
votes
1answer
106 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, ...
5
votes
1answer
98 views

Why is the word Shofar somtimes spelled with a Vav and somtimes without a Vav?

There are times that the word Shofar is spelled without a Vav - for example שמות: יט. טז. ויהי ביום השלישי בהית הבקר ויהי קלת וברקים וענן כבד על ההר וקל שפר חזק מאד ויחרד כל העם אשר במחנה or שמות: ...
5
votes
1answer
249 views

Different expressions for “permitted” in the gemoro and elsewhere

The Gemara and other sources use different words to say that something is permitted. There are "shari" "muttar" "leis lon boh". Is there any difference in shades of meaning between these and others ...
5
votes
2answers
85 views

What is an “iggeres”?

The Shulchan Aruch in Siman 690:17 brings down a minhag klal yisrael to fold the megillah like an iggeres (Esther 9:26,29) when reading from it. The Mishnah Berurah mentions that one should not pause ...
5
votes
1answer
80 views

Zmirot vs Pizmoniim

How is it that Ashkenaz and Sfardiim have different names for the same exact thing. Do both Zmira and Pizmon mean the same thing? What are the origination of people calling them either one? I know ...
5
votes
1answer
240 views

Are the Aramaic root ק.ב.ל and the Hebrew root ק.ב.ל related?

When the word מקבילות comes up in parashas T'ruma, Rash"i defines it based on the Aramaic root ק.ב.ל, commonly found in the preposition לקבל (against or opposite) to mean physically across ...
5
votes
1answer
165 views

simple faith versus blind faith

There is a view that it is better to avoid studying philosophical works such as the Rambam's guide for the perplexed or the Shaar Yichud from Duties of the Heart. This is based on the idea that Emunah ...
5
votes
2answers
98 views

Fixing incorrectly-said word in davening

When one has incorrectly uttered a word or syllable of davening and immediately realizes it, how far back does one go in order to correct it? Does one need to return to the beginning of the pasuk or ...
5
votes
1answer
119 views

Community/Synagogue Honorifics

I visited the Rare Books section of the JTS in New York in Dec. 2009, to view an old manuscript from Kezmarok, Slovakia. I selected certain pages that I was interested in translating, on behalf of ...
5
votes
2answers
149 views

Are these Latin/Greek translations of Hebrew terms useful?

If you use the following Latin or Greek translations of Hebrew terms in conversation with secular people, do they tend to know what you're talking about? If so, in what contexts - a university ...
5
votes
0answers
153 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 ...
5
votes
0answers
145 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 ...
5
votes
0answers
200 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" ...
5
votes
0answers
166 views

Source for not referring to Chanuka lights as a “menora”

Following up on this question about the use of the words "menora" or "chanukiya" to refer to Chanuka lights: I find it interesting that the use of "chanukiya," popularized in 1897 through a secular ...
4
votes
3answers
4k views

Meaning and Difference between baruch and bar'chu

I'm sorry, I don't know a word of Hebrew, and I really want to know what these sentences mean: Bar'chu et Adonai ham'vorach l'olam vaed Baruch atah Adonai If I didn't write them correctly, ...
4
votes
2answers
209 views

Ish Yehudi - where else?

Where else in Tanach are there the words "Ish Yehudi" besides Megilas Esther?
4
votes
4answers
1k views

What in the world is a shtender?

Who made up the name shtender, and who started using the term?
4
votes
5answers
239 views

Why isn't Half Hallel called “85 percent hallel”?

When we say hallel on days like Rosh chodesh, we don't say parts of two prakim of tehillim. This is often called "chatzi" hallel, or half hallel. In fact, according to ...
4
votes
3answers
139 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?
4
votes
4answers
95 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 ...
4
votes
4answers
57 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 on pasuk after the other: Bereishit 2:25 : וַיִּהְיוּ שְׁנֵיהֶם ...
4
votes
2answers
430 views

Etymology of the word “Kvater”

What is the etymology of the word "Kvater"? Kvater is what we call the person that carries the baby boy into a Bris.
4
votes
3answers
343 views

What is “Shabbes meat”?

I see stores advertising "Shabbes meat". I understand, somewhat, how to decipher meat cuts when listed that way (side steak, shoulder cut, etc.) But this term really baffles me. What makes this cut of ...
4
votes
3answers
413 views

What is “chad gadya” really all about?

Why do we sing "chad gadya" at the pesach seder? What is it supposed to be about? Also, as a side question, is it "d'zabin aba" or "dizvan aba"?
4
votes
2answers
190 views

Jewish responses to a sneeze

I have heard la'briut and gezuntheit, and a Sephardic (Lebanese) Jew recently taught me 'tai-shi'. What are other words or phrases which are used to respond when someone sneezes?
4
votes
4answers
218 views

Why do we call praying, Davening?

Why do we call praying Davening? What is the source of this word? Where did this originate?
4
votes
2answers
114 views

When and why does the Gemoro say “vehilchoso”?

Sometimes, after the Talmud records a disagreement, it concludes by saying that the Halacha is like one side of the debate (“vehilchoso”). See e.g. ...
4
votes
3answers
118 views

HamanTashen - 3 cornered cookies

Why are 3 cornered cookies called HamanTashen?
4
votes
2answers
55 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
2answers
159 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
169 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 ...
4
votes
3answers
206 views

Remember the Sabbath day: meaning of “Sabbath”

Is the word "Shabbat" in Scripture, or anywhere really, ever translated as anything but "Sabbath" by Jews? IF so, what? Based on the Tanakh, that says to "Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy," ...
4
votes
1answer
128 views

Why refer to Isaac Luria as the Arizal, and not Arizatzal?

One of the common ways to refer to the R' Isaac Luria is "the Arizal". I understand this to mean, The Ari, zecher L'bracha (may he be mentioned/remembered for blessing). However, one usually refers ...
4
votes
1answer
99 views

Father the mercy

Lubavitch prayer books include the words אָב הָרַחֲמִים where other prayer books have אַב הָרַחֲמִים (specifically, in the amida of musaf and mincha of Shabas Shuva, and in a prayer said after ...
4
votes
3answers
119 views

Where and when is the earliest attestation of the word “mohel”?

Where is the earliest attestation of the word mohel for one who performs the act associated with a ritual circumcision? When was it written? What language is it? [Inspired by Why is there a ה in ...
4
votes
4answers
1k views

What is the meaning of 'Tishbi' in 'Eliyahu haTishbi'?

I've heard theory that it's a place, but have never heard of a place with a similar name...
4
votes
1answer
53 views

Cognitive meaning of כפר

What is the cognitive meaning of the root כפר? It's applications (that I know of, feel free to add) are: כפיר - lion cub (Shoftim 14:5) כפר - village (Shmuel 1 6:18) כופר - Replacement (bamidbar ...
4
votes
2answers
73 views

'amel' vs. 'osek'

We speak of being עָמֵל בַּתּוֹרָה (e.g., Rashi to B'chukosay 26:3 and :14) and also of being עוֹסֵק בַּתּוֹרָה (e.g., birchos haTora in the morning). What is each (especially as contrasted with the ...
4
votes
2answers
125 views

targum to Ex. 32:27

Why do the targumim to Sh'mos 32:27 ("וְהִרְגוּ אִישׁ אֶת אָחִיו וְאִישׁ אֶת רֵעֵהוּ וְאִישׁ אֶת קְרֹבוֹ") use g'var twice and then enash? For example, Onkelos: וקטולו גבר ית אחוהי וגבר ית חבריה ...