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)

6
votes
2answers
104 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 ...
6
votes
3answers
169 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
320 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
130 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
77 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
175 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
1answer
61 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
236 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
0answers
32 views

Ya'amod by an Aliya

The root of the word Ya'amod means to stand in place. See Hebrew dictionary here. Thus why do we call up someone to an Aliya with the word Ya'amod? We are not asking him to stay in place, we are ...
6
votes
0answers
206 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
216 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
2answers
333 views

What does Yarmulka mean?

What does the word Yarmulka mean?
5
votes
4answers
361 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
4answers
110 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
4answers
488 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
3answers
231 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
301 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 ...
5
votes
3answers
4k views

What is the meaning of יוֹם (yowm) in Bereshit?

I've heard conflicting reports of how the creation days , יוֹם (yowm), in Bereshit are interpreted in the Jewish community. How do actual Hebrew scholars define day in Bereshit? six 24 hour periods or ...
5
votes
3answers
296 views

Morid HaGeshem or Morid HaGoshem

What is the correct pronunciation HaGeshem or HaGoshem?
5
votes
5answers
397 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". ...
5
votes
2answers
678 views

What is the correct response to “Chazaq u'Baruch!”?

When a person gets an aliyah or other synagogue privilege the congregants of an Ashkenazic synagogue generally thanks him by saying "Shokyach!" or "Yasherkoach!" to which he responds "Baruch Tehiye!". ...
5
votes
1answer
447 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?
5
votes
2answers
155 views

Why did Eisav say “red” twice?

Genesis 25:30 says: ... הַלְעִיטֵנִי נָא מִן הָאָדֹם הָאָדֹם הַזֶּה ... ... "Pour into [me] some of this red, red [pottage] ..." Why did Eisav feel the need to say "red" twice?
5
votes
3answers
146 views

The Tur's word counts for Shemoneh Esreh

I have often seen the Tur cited as giving exact word counts for each blessing of the Shemoneh Esreh. The arguments I have seen for being careful to adhere to the word counts include that this would ...
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 ...
5
votes
2answers
291 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 ...
5
votes
3answers
155 views

Etymology of מחילה

I am looking for a possible etymological root for the word מחילה as meaning forgiveness. The word מחל does not appear in Tanach1, and neither does מחילה, nor does מוחל, and I was unable to find any ...
5
votes
2answers
94 views

Shifting subjects and objects in Gen 12:15

There are three statements in Genesis 12:15: וַיִּרְאוּ אֹתָהּ שָׂרֵי פַרְעֹה וַיְהַלְלוּ אֹתָהּ אֶל פַּרְעֹה וַתֻּקַּח הָאִשָּׁה בֵּית פַּרְעֹה And Pharaoh's princes saw her, and they ...
5
votes
4answers
1k views

Significance of the gemara statment תיקו Teku?

Why do we say תיקו Teiku when there is no answer in the Gemara?
5
votes
1answer
213 views

Tree is it Eitz or Illan

What is the Diffrence between Eitz and Illan?
5
votes
1answer
224 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?
5
votes
4answers
383 views

What color is Yarok?

Yarok ירוק in modern Hebrew means green. What color does it refer to in Mishnaic Hebrew? I have heard that it refers to yellow and not green because the Mishna in Sukkah (on 34b) discusses a citron ...
5
votes
1answer
142 views

What is “חצות האמצעי”?

While researching an answer to this question I stumbled across the term "חצות האמצעי". What does it mean? Does it refer to halachic midday, i.e. halfway between netz hachama and shkias hachama, or ...
5
votes
2answers
90 views

How do different scholars define “aggadah”?

It is common to conceive of Shas (Bavli and Yerushalmi) as being an admixture of halakha and aggadah, and I've no doubt that people have differed from one another on the precise delineations of each. ...
5
votes
1answer
211 views

Rav Yonason Eibeschitz's puzzle

There is a story that the Jews were oppressed and there were harsh decrees and Rav Yonason Eibschitz was challenged by the governor to write "am yisroel chai l'olmei ad" for every Jew who lived in his ...
5
votes
1answer
638 views

What is the difference between adonai and adoni?

I'm sure I've missed something quite obvious here, but I've always been told that adonai is "my Lord", and so I always assumed that it was adon with 'my' stuck to it. But, that would be adoni, with a ...
5
votes
1answer
63 views

What does Mimenu mean in Bereishis 3:22

Bereishis 3:22 writes: וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֱלֹהִים, הֵן הָאָדָם הָיָה כְּאַחַד מִמֶּנּוּ, לָדַעַת, טוֹב וָרָע; וְעַתָּה פֶּן-יִשְׁלַח יָדוֹ, וְלָקַח גַּם מֵעֵץ הַחַיִּים, וְאָכַל, וָחַי לְעֹלָם The ...
5
votes
2answers
135 views

The meaning of the word חטא

The word chet is "sin" and is used as such (and in related ways -- sin offering, guilt from sinning, cause others to sin etc.) over 200 times according to my Even-Shoshan. It seems to be connected to ...
5
votes
1answer
445 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
1answer
28 views

Is there a difference between Simlah and Salmah?

In Parshat Mishpatim (22:8), the text, discussing guarded and stolen items, the list includes the word Salmah ("garment") which the Onkelos translates as "ksu". A similar word, Salmat, is used in ...
5
votes
1answer
85 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 ...
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 ...
5
votes
2answers
188 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
54 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
3answers
103 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
86 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
133 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
111 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
426 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
78 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?