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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2
votes
0answers
33 views

Whence “בלי עין הרע”?

What is the source, or earliest reference, I guess, of using the phrase, "בלי עין הרע"?
2
votes
2answers
130 views

What does the word “Karpas” mean?

That which by the Seder on Pesach we eat "karpas", what does this word actually mean and where does it come from?
2
votes
1answer
64 views

Kodesh Hee Shabbath HaMalkah

In a well known Shabbath song, there is a line that goes, "Kodesh Hee Lachem Shabbath HaMalkah." Roughly, this translates to, "Holy is she to you, the Sabbath Queen." Oddly, however, the modifier ...
6
votes
1answer
153 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). ...
4
votes
0answers
56 views

Levana or Yareach?

In the entire Tanach the moon is generally called Yareach. There are 3 instances where it is called Levana. One is ישעיהו: כד. כג. וחפרה הלבנה ובושה החמה. Another one is ישעיהו: ל. כו. והיה אור הלבנה ...
5
votes
2answers
97 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
82 views

What does “שברירי ברירי…‏” do? How?

Bavli, P'sachim 112:1: ת״ר לא ישתה אדם מים לא מן הנהרות ולא מן האגמים בלילה ואם שתה דמו בראשו מפני הסכנה מאי סכנה סכנת שברירי ואי צחי מאי תקנתיה אי איכא איניש בהדיה לימא ליה פלניא בר פלנתא צחינא ...
7
votes
1answer
234 views

What is “בלי עין הרע”?

After mentioning that someone has been benefited by God in some way — say, with longevity or good looks or wealth — people often add the Hebrew "בלי עין הרע" ("without the evil eye") or ...
2
votes
3answers
256 views

Should a Rabbi apologize for a comment that could be misunderstood?

If a prominent Rabbi (meaning someone who heads a community or institution, not just anyone who has semicha) makes a statement that is technically halachically correct/acceptable but is easily ...
1
vote
4answers
215 views

Are those who reject idolatry Yahudim (Jews)?

I found the following quote referencing Gemara from a book on converts in Judaism: The Gemara (Megillah 13•) states that we find the appellation “Yehudi” in Nach only three times: once for ...
0
votes
1answer
178 views

Who is a Jew according the Tanach?

Does the Tanach give guidelines to Identify who is a Jew and who is not?
1
vote
1answer
134 views

Do we read it as directing or breaking the ear?

Rashi to Shemos 31:17 states: וינפש: כתרגומו ונח, וכל לשון נופש והוא לשון נפש, שמשיב נפשו ונשימתו בהרגיעו מטורח מהמלאכה. ומי שכתוב בו (ישעיה מ כח) לא ייעף ולא יגע, וכל פעלו במאמר, הכתיב מנוחה ...
3
votes
0answers
79 views

Difference between 'rafa' and 'ripa'

The root רפא, "heal", is used in various places in Tanach, sometimes in binyan paal and sometimes in binyan piel. I wonder what the difference is between these. Does any Tanach commentator, or the ...
-1
votes
2answers
129 views

Etymology/origin of the name “Ishmael”

What is the etymology of the Biblical name "Ishmael"? Was this name ever used for any of the Biblical characters before Ishmael, the son of Abraham?
-5
votes
1answer
87 views

What's the word Avraham used for his religion?

What was the biblical name of the religion or faith Avraham belonged to? the word he used to distinguish his faith from other, pagan belief systems?
2
votes
2answers
3k views

What is the origin and meaning of mabrouk?

Instead of mazal tov, some sefardim use the term mabrouk(sp?). What does that term mean and what is its origin?
3
votes
1answer
117 views

What are the differences between G-d's mitzvos, chukkim and mishpatim?

In Parasha Netzavim, Devarim 30:16, we learn the commandment to love Hashem, to walk in His ways, and to keep "His commandments [mitzvosav] and His statutes [v'chukosav] and His ordinances ...
1
vote
0answers
81 views

What is the difference between the blessing of Ga'al Yisrael preceding Shemoneh Esrei and the blessing of Go'el Yisrael?

Before we begin the Shemoneh Esreh each morning, we say the blessing, "Blessed are You, Hashem, Who redeemed Israel (Ga'al Yisrael)." Then within the Shemoneh Esrei itself, in the "Re'eh va'ahneynu" ...
6
votes
2answers
87 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 ...
4
votes
3answers
200 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," ...
2
votes
1answer
64 views

Understanding the usage of וגומר and וכולו

Why are the terms וגומר and וכולו used instead of just writing out the rest of the sentence? When were these terms first instituted?
-3
votes
2answers
292 views

Can the root ש ל ם be used to mean “Submission”?

In Arabic, the root S-L-M (س ل م) has a general meaning of "Peace", but can also be used for "Submission" (such as in the words Islam/Muslim). Given the close relation between Hebrew and Arabic, I'm ...
9
votes
5answers
274 views

What's a floor?

There are certain laws pertaining to a floor. For example, if a Sefer Torah is dropped on the floor, one is supposed to do some sort of atonement (eg., most famously, fasting for 40 days). What is ...
-3
votes
3answers
132 views

Eved Ivri? Why is a Jewish slave called an Eved Ivri? [closed]

Why does the Posuk - Shemos 21:2 call a Jewish slave an Eved Ivri כִּי תִקְנֶה עֶבֶד עִבְרִי? Why does it not call him an Eved Yisroel?
0
votes
1answer
1k views

What does “Ribbono Shel Olam At” mean?

What does "Ribbono Shel Olam At" mean?
5
votes
2answers
113 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 ...
3
votes
3answers
240 views

Definition of Baal Nefesh

I have seen "Baal Nefesh" used frequently in various contexts: sometimes as one who is scrupulous in halacha, other times as someone who is a quality person. What is its simple translation/meaning?
7
votes
8answers
222 views

Wording in Torah when Moshe is commanded to appear before pharoh

This shabbos, the parasha, Bo, starts with Moshe being told to "Bo El Paroh", "Come to Pharaoh". I don't understand this wording, should it have said "Lech El Paroh", "go to Pharaoh"? Is there a ...
3
votes
2answers
156 views

What does the word לאַטקעס (latkes) mean?

לאַטקעס is the Yiddish word used for the potato pancakes commonly eaten on Chanukah. Where does the word לאַטקעס come from originally? What exactly does it mean?
6
votes
2answers
145 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 ...
5
votes
0answers
162 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 ...
7
votes
3answers
98 views

Why isn't נִצָּבָה redundant?

In Bereshis 37:7 we read: וְהִנֵּה אֲנַחְנוּ מְאַלְּמִים אֲלֻמִּים בְּתוֹךְ הַשָּׂדֶה וְהִנֵּה קָמָה אֲלֻמָּתִי וְגַם נִצָּבָה - Behold, we were binding sheaves in the midst of the field, and ...
7
votes
3answers
283 views

K'shaim Shenichnas L'Bris Kain Yikones L'Torah L'Chupa U'Lmaasim Tovim: why that order?

When a baby boy has his Bris we wish him "K'shaim Shenichnas L'Bris Kain Yikones L'Torah L'Chupa U'Lmaasim Tovim" - just like you entered the covenant so to should you enter into Torah, marriage, and ...
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 ...
14
votes
3answers
1k views

What should I be aware of when using the term “Jew”?

As a gentile who finds himself writing about Judaism in the ancient world, I've found myself reluctant to use the word "Jew". I tend to use phrases like "Jewish people" and "Hebrew" when it makes ...
10
votes
3answers
300 views

Why is the wicked son sanctioned for doing what the wise son does?

In the Passover Hagada we're told about the four sons. The second one is called wicked because he asks, "What is this service to you?!" ("מה העבודה הזאת לכם?") (emphasis mine), while the first one is ...
2
votes
0answers
82 views

Difference in Tehillim 82:7 quoted in Avodah Zarah 5a

This is Tehillim 82:7 in Masoretic: אֲנִי-אָמַרְתִּי, אֱלֹהִים אַתֶּם; וּבְנֵי עֶלְיוֹן כֻּלְּכֶם Yet, see the following passage in Avodah Zarah 5a where Tehillim 82:6-7 is quoted by Rabbi ...
5
votes
1answer
425 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
103 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, ...
11
votes
3answers
244 views

וינוחו בה\בו\בם ישראל in Shabbat shemoneh esrei — why the change?

I've noticed that the Friday night shemoneh esrei (nusach Ashkenaz) uses the line "בה", shacharit and musaf use "בו", and mincha uses "בם" in the phrase "וינוחו _ ישראל מקדשי שמך..." What is the ...
2
votes
1answer
205 views

What does “Maaseh Rav” mean?

I believe many people think the term "Maaseh Rav" means a story of a Rabbi: since we see from the story that a Rabbi acted a certain way, we can bring this as a proof to the halacha. However, I ...
2
votes
3answers
5k views

Gmar Chasima Tova - What does it mean?

When we wish one another during the Aseres Yemei Teshuva "Gmar Chasima Tova" what does it mean? Does it not depend on what is written in the document? What difference does it make if the seal is good ...
0
votes
2answers
210 views

How does the definition of reishit differ from bereishit?

If I am not mistaken, the Hebrew word for "in the beginning" in Bereishit 1:1, could have been reishit. However, the word used was bereshit. It is my understanding that the use of bereshit (reishit ...
3
votes
1answer
164 views

Difference between the words zachor and pakad

What is the difference between the words zachor and pakad? They are used with what seems like very similar meanings throughout the Rosh HaShanah davening, as well as in the Chumash. Here are some ...
4
votes
3answers
180 views

The dagesh in “elo-ha” means what?

I'm not so clear on the use of the dagesh as a point of definition -- I understand some fo the pronunciation issues but not all of them either so I would appreciate any help here. I recall learning ...
2
votes
2answers
221 views

Why is Eretz Yisrael called “Eretz Tzvi”?

Why is Eretz Yisrael called "Eretz Tzvi"? What does this mean exactly? Why? and Where does it say this?
2
votes
3answers
95 views

Rashi on Bereishis 37:12: Only their sheep, or also their father's?

Bereishis 37:12: וַיֵּלְכוּ אֶחָיו לִרְעוֹת אֶת צֹאן אֲבִיהֶם בִּשְׁכֶם.‏ Rashi there says (as I understand it) that we cut out the word es (אֶת) because they only went to to feed their own ...
3
votes
3answers
491 views

Why “hayom yom rishon”, not “echad”?

Rabbi Menachem Greenblatt (St. Louis, Missouri) mentioned at s'uda sh'lishis (Shabas parashas "Ki Setze" 5772) that the correct name for Sunday is echad b(a?)shabas, as is written in k'suvos and ...
3
votes
2answers
132 views

Why no play on words for apple and honey?

The other simanim eaten on Rosh Hashana contain a play on words with the name of the food and either a wish for a good omen or a wish for bad to befall our enemies. The yehi ratzon for the apple has ...
3
votes
2answers
98 views

ורב להושיע instead of רב להושיע in אתה גבור

Siddur Tefila Yeshara (the Berdichever Siddur) has, in the second blessing of the Shemoneh Esreh, ורב להושיע - "v'rav l'hoshea", "and abundant in deliverance". Literally every other siddur I've ever ...