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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4
votes
2answers
97 views

Quail or fish in B'midbar 11:31?

In B'Midbar 11:31 it is stated: וְרוּחַ נָסַע מֵאֵת יי וַיָּגָז שַׂלְוִים מִן־הַיָּם וַיִּטֹּשׁ עַל־הַֽמַּחֲנֶה כְּדֶרֶךְ יֹום כֹּה וּכְדֶרֶךְ יֹום כֹּה סְבִיבֹות הַֽמַּחֲנֶה וּכְאַמָּתַיִם ...
4
votes
2answers
134 views

Difference between חֵטְא and עֲבֵרָה

Is there a difference between a חֵטְא (cheit) and an עֲבֵרָה (aveira)? I translate both of those words as "sin." Maybe they signify a different level of magnitude? Or maybe one word is simply ...
3
votes
1answer
92 views

Neilah tefillah shabbas nusach of בו

On a regular shabbas the teffilah of retzei vhachlitzainu in shmoneh esri has three variations: In maariv it is בה . In shachris and musaf it is בו. In mincha it is בם. There is a reason for this ...
7
votes
1answer
6k views

what is “kodesh”?

What does the word קֹדֶשׁ (sometimes קודש), kodesh, mean? Its form is that of a noun, like אֹכֶל or בֹּקֶר or לֹבֶן. But קדושה is a noun, and (I'm pretty sure) it means "the state/quality of being ...
2
votes
1answer
35 views

What's the fore's heaven's heaven?

In the brief prayer we recite before the עקידה each morning, and in the זכרונות blessing on ראש השנה, we ask: ופקדנו בפקדת ישועה ורחמים משמי שמי קדם Roughly: and pay attention to us with an ...
10
votes
2answers
163 views

“שליט״א” only for certain people

Living people sometimes have "שליט״א" added after their respective names. This means, roughly, "may he live a good, long life". That seems like a nice blessing for anyone; yet, in my experience, only ...
16
votes
3answers
1k views

Bli Neder Loophole

Who came up with the Bli Neder loophole of: Bli neder I will help you do X Or Bli neder I will etc... And the list can go on and on. Who came up with addingBli Neder which basically means ...
2
votes
1answer
288 views

Tizku L'Shanim Rabot tovot v'umot?

I was wished this blessing today by a Spanish/Portuguese-descended friend. What is the last word and, by extension, what does the entire phrase mean? My friend did not know, but he said it was a ...
4
votes
0answers
104 views

What is the Hebrew term for the drawing of the hands inward during lighting of Shabbos candles?

Someone elsewhere asked what is the Hebrew term for the drawing of the hands inward during lighting of Shabbos candle. For example, Chabad.org describes the custom, Extend your hands over the ...
5
votes
0answers
149 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
1answer
184 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
180 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 ...
0
votes
0answers
92 views

How does Lurianic Kabbalah treat Da'at?

Da'at is difficult to interpret. I have found this and this, but I am looking for the Lurianic interpretation specifically. Please note that I cannot read Hebrew.
10
votes
4answers
321 views

All you need is love?

I once had a Hebrew professor state with absolute determination that "Ahavah" (the Hebrew word for "love") does not, in fact, mean love. His proof was twofold: 1. G-d could not have commanded us to ...
8
votes
1answer
150 views

What are some good resources for finding the meaning of unfamiliar Hebrew and Aramaic words in Acharonim?

I have no trouble using Jastrow for Tanach and Shas but I find it difficult to apply to Acharonim. How might I use it more effectively? Are there peculiarities of grammar I'm missing? For a few ...
7
votes
1answer
190 views

What does the title “Hatomim” mean?

I have stumbled upon the title "Hatomim" before people's names in Chabad-oriented documents on the Internet. What is the meaning and significance of this title, in this context? Practically ...
2
votes
0answers
59 views

Why does Rashi translate שלולית differently from everyone else?

The beginning of chapter 2 of Pea says: These things divide a field [into two] for purposes of pea [requiring a separate pea from each subdivision]: …, a שלולית, …. The Bavli, Bava ...
2
votes
1answer
71 views

Why not list the 7 Minim in order with no second “Eretz”?

Devarim 8:8 ארץ חיטה ושעורה, וגפן ותאנה ורימון; ארץ-זית שמן, ודבש. The Gemara in Berachos 41: says in the name of either Rabbi Yosef or Rabbi Yitzchok that the order of the Brachos would depend on ...
6
votes
1answer
156 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). ...
16
votes
2answers
471 views

What was wrong with the word Talmud?

The Wikipedia article on The Talmud says: and Pope Pius IV commanded, in 1565, that the Talmud be deprived of its very name. The convention of referring to the work as "Shas" (shishah sidre ...
-1
votes
1answer
232 views

Hebrew alphabet spelling for phrase in psalm 23, and the phrase “God is my refuge”?

I find the Hebrew alphabet to be very beautiful but as of right now I only know the meaning of a couple of symbols. I would love to have the correct original spelling for the beginning of psalm 23, ...
8
votes
1answer
128 views

Why is Kiddushin Performed “according to the tradition of Moshe and Israel”?

When betrothing a woman, the groom says "Behold, you are betrothed to me with this ring, according to the tradition of Moshe and Israel." As explained in that article, "according to the tradition of ...
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...
8
votes
2answers
325 views

Boruch Shem Kevod Malchuso L'Olam Voed after saying Hashem's name in error - ברוך שם כבוד מלכותו לעולם ועד

When someone says Hashem's name in error, why do we say Boruch Shem Kevod Malchuso L'Olam Voed - ברוך שם כבוד מלכותו לעולם ועד?
7
votes
2answers
266 views

Definition of Leitzanus

I have often seen leitzanus, mockery, defined along the lines of making a joke out of serious matters. Intuitively this is a good definition, but does anyone have a source which spells it out? And to ...
5
votes
2answers
138 views

What does נְחשֶׁת mean?

In Teruma (25:3), the verse says "וְזֹאת הַתְּרוּמָה אֲשֶׁר תִּקְחוּ מֵאִתָּם זָהָב וָכֶסֶף וּנְחשֶׁת". Chabad (as well as Artscroll) translates it as "And this is the offering that you shall take ...
5
votes
1answer
167 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
479 views

Etymology of the word “Vasikin”

What is the etymology of the word "Vasikin", used for the Minyan that starts Shemona Esrei at sunrise? Also, is "Vasikin" Hebrew or Aramaic?
2
votes
0answers
66 views

What is the origin of the title “rebbe”?

The title "rebbe" (as opposed to "rabbi") is often given to leaders of hasidic groups. It is also often used by both hasidim and non-hasidim to refer to one's personal teacher. What is the origin of ...
3
votes
1answer
131 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 ...
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 ...
3
votes
1answer
86 views

Why is the word שמך vocalized differently in different places?

Gen 32:29 says: וַיֹּאמֶר, לֹא יַעֲקֹב יֵאָמֵר עוֹד שִׁמְךָ...‏ Thy name shall be called no more Yaakov... But in 30 it says: וַיִּשְׁאַל יַעֲקֹב, וַיֹּאמֶר הַגִּידָה-נָּא ...
1
vote
1answer
65 views

צִרְעָה Pshat or definition

וְגַם אֶת הַצִּרְעָה יְשַׁלַּח יְ־הֹוָ־ה אֱלֹהֶיךָ בָּם עַד אֲבֹד הַנִּשְׁאָרִים וְהַנִּסְתָּרִים מִפָּנֶיךָ (Deuteronomy 7:20) What is the הַצִּרְעָה mean in this posuk?
7
votes
1answer
118 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 ...
5
votes
4answers
946 views

Significance of the gemara statment תיקו Teku?

Why do we say תיקו Teiku when there is no answer in the Gemara?
12
votes
2answers
263 views

What is “emunas chachomim”?

My daughter came home from school with a textbook response for what "emunas chachomim" is. I disagreed strongly with what was written in the book, so I'm not even going to say what they said. ...
2
votes
3answers
260 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 ...
14
votes
4answers
388 views

Zeraim Moed Nashim Nezikim Kodshim Taharos - why not Moadim?

The names of the Shisha Sidrei Mishna (Six Orders of Mishnah) are: Zeraim, Moed, Nashim, Nezikim, Kodshim, Taharos. All of them besides Moed are in plural form. However Moed is in singular form. Why ...
9
votes
4answers
319 views

Source of saying migdol / magdil in Bentching

I was once told by someone that saying migdol instead of magdil in bentching on Shabbos and yom tov is an error. That a siddur had the source in pesukim in short form on the side and people mistock it ...
2
votes
0answers
97 views

Netzach, Selah, Vaed - what is the difference between these words?

Eruvin 54a says that it was taught by Rabbi Eliezer ben yaakov that wherever it says Netzach, Selah, or Vaed it means it will remain so forever. "כל מקום שנאמר 'נצח' 'סלה' 'ועד' – אין לו הפסק עולמית" ...
2
votes
2answers
134 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?
5
votes
1answer
170 views

What is the Shekhina?

To what are people referring when they talk about the Shekhina? Is it a form of God? A part of God? An attribute of God? Perhaps it is something else entirely? Also, what is the etymology of the ...
3
votes
2answers
119 views

What does the concept of rehovot hanahar mean?

I have seen the phrase Rehovot HaNahar (wideness of the river) used, often in a kabbalistic context, but am not sure what it symbolizes. The phrase can be found in the shabbos song Kel Mistater (the ...
1
vote
1answer
136 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 ...
2
votes
0answers
39 views

Language of Mishneh Brurah - Sefiras HaOmer and counting before Aleinu

Shulchan Aruch 489:1 says that after Maariv of the second night of Pesach we begin to count Sefiras HaOmer. The Mishneh Brurah there in note 2 says that one should count before "Aleinu" because "col ...
9
votes
3answers
204 views

Lag Baomer - why not Laomer?

Nusach Askenaz says Baomer, Nusach Sefard and Sefardim say Laomer - Why does everyone call it Lag Baomer - why not call it Lag Laomer?
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 ...
3
votes
0answers
36 views

Whence “בלי עין הרע”?

What is the source, or earliest reference, I guess, of using the phrase, "בלי עין הרע"?
8
votes
1answer
252 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 ...
10
votes
3answers
302 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 ...