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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11
votes
4answers
594 views

Why “Lach” not “Lecha” in “Modim Anachnu Lach”

Could someone please explain why the "Lach" in Modim Anachnu Lach is not "Lecha"... I guess this is some grammatical point rather than the use of the feminime "you"?
4
votes
1answer
500 views

What do the names Pesil, Pesa, and Pesha mean?

What is the meaning and source of the name Pesil or Pesa or Pesha?
4
votes
1answer
63 views

Why do we say “Shmini Atzeres Hachag Hazeh”?

On all Yomim Tovim we say "Chag Hassukos Hazeh" or "Chag Hamatzos Hazeh" but on Shmini Atzeres/Simchas Torah we say "Shmini Atzeres Hachag Hazeh" going in a different order. Why do we change the order ...
6
votes
2answers
98 views

What is the difference between Genaiva and Gezaila

The Torah or Talmud uses two terms for a thief -- the "Gonif", (which is the more familiar term) and the "Gazlin", and two corresponding terms for robbery "Genaiva" and "Gezaila". What is the ...
5
votes
3answers
595 views

חַס וְשָׁלוֹם: why and for what

What is saying חַס וְשָׁלוֹם (chas v'shalom) supposed to accomplish? Does it do so, or is it just a waste of breath? Based on the answers given to my previous question about this phrase, it seems ...
4
votes
4answers
199 views

Why do we call praying, Davening?

Why do we call praying Davening? What is the source of this word? Where did this originate?
9
votes
2answers
180 views

Why is the Machzor called a Machzor?

The Siddur we use for Yom Tov is known as a Machzor. What does it mean and where did this originate?
11
votes
2answers
518 views

חס ושלום! (whatever that means)

What on earth does חס ושלום mean literally, or what is its etymology? Why do people use that phrase in particular to "ward off" bad things? (That last part of the question is not asking whether saying ...
5
votes
1answer
77 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: ...
11
votes
2answers
387 views

What does “prohibited l’chatchila” mean?

To me the phrase prohibited l’chatchila seems a bit confusing. Can someone explain what this means in plain and simple english? (context: someone says "action X is prohibited l’chatchila")
7
votes
1answer
4k 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 ...
10
votes
1answer
149 views

Selah ~ Does it mean 'forever' 'certainly' 'basket' 'pause', 'yahoo', a kabbalistic meditative device, or none of the above?

Does anyone know a Jewish interpretation of "selah" in the psalms? Literally it seems to mean something about basket or hanging, but I don't know how this works into psalms. Jewish sites say it may ...
8
votes
1answer
91 views

Why is it considered respectful to capitalize G-d and its derivatives/pronouns?

I recognize that in English proper nouns are supposed to be capitalized, especially in the case where a proper noun is also a common noun (e.g. the mall vs. the Mall), but only when referring to G-d ...
5
votes
3answers
2k 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
40 views

בישול Versus שולק

The Shulchan Aruch and the Gemara use two words that to me seem to mean the same thing: "Cooking". My question is what is the difference between שולק (Sholek) and בישול (Bishul)? Please provide ...
7
votes
1answer
168 views

On Deuteronomy 28:23, Rashi says copper is “mazi'a”. What does this mean?

I have this question on Rashi every year in Ki Savo. Deuteronomy 28:23 says: "And the heavens above your head will be like copper and the earth that is beneath you, iron." Rashi says that the heavens ...
4
votes
2answers
109 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
1answer
159 views

Meaning of Mappik in יה

One more question about mappik (I don't know what happened to me, but this topic somewhat disturbs me lately :)) What is the meaning of the mappik in the following Hebrew words: יָהּ הַלְלוּיָהּ ...
4
votes
1answer
91 views

In Shabbos Shacharis which is right “sheboro bemidas rachamim” or “sheboro bemidas HOrachamim”?

In the brocho of “hakol yoducho” Shabbos Shacharis, some siddurim have “sheboro bemidas rachamim” while some have “sheboro bemidas HOrachamim”. Why?
8
votes
1answer
133 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 ...
3
votes
3answers
200 views

Why do we call it “candle-lighting” time?

Since it is still permissible to do melacha (work forbidden on shabbat) including lighting shabbat candles until shki'a (sunset), which is 18 minutes (or 40 minutes in Jerusalem) following ...
0
votes
2answers
858 views

What does Psalm 82 mean?

6 I -- I have said, 'Gods ye are, And sons of the Most High -- all of you, http://yltbible.com/psalms/82.htm So how many gods are there? Who are "you" here? Are we all gods? Here is the context. ...
5
votes
1answer
113 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
5answers
240 views

Where is there a good online source to check how often a word appears in Tanach?

Where is there a good online source where you can check how often a word appears in Tanach?
4
votes
2answers
114 views

why does Ruth 1:8 use עמדי instead of עמי?

Ruth 1:8 says: ח וַתֹּאמֶר נָעֳמִי, לִשְׁתֵּי כַלֹּתֶיהָ, לֵכְנָה שֹּׁבְנָה, אִשָּׁה לְבֵית אִמָּהּ; יעשה (יַעַשׂ) יְהוָה עִמָּכֶם חֶסֶד, כַּאֲשֶׁר עֲשִׂיתֶם עִם-הַמֵּתִים וְעִמָּדִי. 8 And ...
14
votes
3answers
422 views

Why aren't Tefillin called Totafot?

They're called Totafot in the Torah, so why do we call them Tefilin?
5
votes
3answers
114 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
268 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" ...
13
votes
3answers
218 views

the aggadic concept of a finite number of words to speak

Is there any truth to the common claim that each person has a predetermined number of words that he can speak in his life? Source, please. If so, then how does it work? In particular (with sources or ...
7
votes
4answers
523 views

What is the exact definition of Shituf (vis a vis 'Avodah Zarah)?

"Shituf" is the heretical idea of some sort of co-mingling of something with G-d (Has VeShalom). According to many rabbinic opinions, Christianity is Shituf (cf., Is Christianity Avodah Zara?), and ...
11
votes
5answers
205 views

What is the nature of the numeral “ashtei-asar” (11)?

What is the nature of the numeral ashtei-asar (meaning 11) as in וּבַיּוֹם הַשְּׁלִישִׁי פָּרִים עַשְׁתֵּי-עָשָׂר (Pinchas 29:20): What is the basic word? Is this using semichus, as in ashtaim of ...
4
votes
1answer
96 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 ...
10
votes
6answers
10k views

Nefesh, neshama and ruach as words for “soul”

All three words can mean something like "soul", e.g., neshama in גלגול נשמות, and ruach in וַתְּחִי רוּחַ יַעֲקֹב אֲבִיהֶם (Bereshit 45:27). So, what is the difference?
2
votes
3answers
294 views

What does the term “sons of G-d” mean?

The term "sons of G-d" בני האלהים is found 3 times in the Hebrew Bible, once in Genesis (6:2), and twice in Job (1:6 and 2:1). What does it mean? Does it have the same meaning in both instances? What ...
2
votes
2answers
271 views

Why is it called Shalosh Seudos?

Why is the third Shabbos meal called Shalosh Seudos - literally three meals - would it not be more appropiate to call it Seuda Shlishis?
6
votes
2answers
408 views

What is a hakira?

In the parlance of Talmud study and lomdus, what does the word "Hakira" mean and how should it be used? Why are Hakiras useful?
5
votes
1answer
200 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 ...
13
votes
3answers
637 views

Why Yehoshua **Bin** Nun and not Yehoshua **Ben** Nun

The Torah refers to Yehoshua as Yehoshua Bin Nun. (See here for an example). Why Bin Nun and not Ben Nun? Are there any places in Tanach where he is referred to as Ben Nun? Is there anyone else in ...
5
votes
1answer
172 views

דילמא == Dilemma?

Is there documentation to prove that the Aramaic word "דילמא" is a transliteration or derivation of the Greek word "dilemma"? If so, this fact is informative to G'mara-learning in understanding the ...
7
votes
2answers
187 views

Stress of הושיעה and הצליחה in Hallel

Why is הושיעה Mileel (penultimately stressed) whereas הצליחה is Milra (ultimately stressed) in Psalms 118:25?
1
vote
1answer
96 views

Does the word toad (קרפדה) appears in tanach?

Toad is קרפדה (karpada) in hebrew. Toad is crapaud in French. The two words have the same 4 consonants in the same order, which does not seem to be by mere accident. Looks like one language has ...
4
votes
2answers
68 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
1answer
134 views

Closing abbreviation ושכמ"ה

Every [anonymous] question asked in the responsum Torah Lishmah ends with an address to the answerer and the abbreviation ושכמ"ה (e.g.). The Otzar Rashei Teivos had only one entry for this ...
6
votes
2answers
168 views

wording of the invitation to birkas hamazon

I know some Ashk'nazim say rabosay n'varech, some rabosay mir velen bentschen, and some hertzi rabosay mir velen bentschen. (Any other forms?) Is there any particular reason given for one or another?
5
votes
2answers
177 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
4
votes
3answers
117 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 ...
7
votes
4answers
682 views

Does “ki” have four meanings or one?

There is a well-known statement by Resh Lakish in Gitin (90) that כי" משמש בד' לשונות: אי, דלמא, אלא, דהא" "ki" expresses four meanings... There has been discussion over the ages as to what ...
3
votes
3answers
85 views

All, every: how to interpret these words in the Scriptures?

What is the correct way in interpreting, understanding the words "all", "every" in the Bible? My problem is that I learned maths for years and sometimes it makes me very hard to understand things. ...
5
votes
6answers
3k views

Online glossary of Talmudic terms

Is there an online glossary anywhere that explains important Talmudic terms, with similar scope to the Practical Talmud Dictionary? I'm more interested in an Aramaic-English resource, but ...
2
votes
3answers
153 views

Meaning of the a word in an magen david

I have a magen david with שוי writen inside and I want to know the meaning