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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13
votes
4answers
720 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"?
0
votes
2answers
124 views

What Tzar (Pain) is There in Leaving Egypt?

It says Vayhi Beshalach Pharoh Es Haam why Vayhi that indicates a language of Tzar what Tzar(pain) is there is Leaving Mitzrayim?
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 ...
3
votes
3answers
256 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?
3
votes
2answers
162 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?
17
votes
2answers
469 views

Why do we say Mazel Tov? Shouldn't we thank Hashem?

Why do we say "Mazel Tov" when something good happens to a person? Doesn't that mean "good luck?" Are we saying that what happened, happened because of luck?
3
votes
3answers
196 views

Etymology of “Krepel”

What is the Etymology of “Krepel”? Krepel is a 3 cornered stuffed piece of dough that we eat on Purim, Hoshana Rabah, and Erev Yom Kippur.
5
votes
4answers
314 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 ...
3
votes
4answers
1k views

What's the difference between “Jew”, “Israelite” and “Judaizer”?

What's the difference between "Jew", "Israelite" and "Judaizer"? Can these three terms be used interchangeably? Can only one or only two of these terms be applied to one person?
7
votes
3answers
299 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 ...
2
votes
0answers
83 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
441 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
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, ...
11
votes
3answers
247 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 ...
5
votes
3answers
255 views

Morid HaGeshem or Morid HaGoshem

What is the correct pronunciation HaGeshem or HaGoshem?
7
votes
2answers
195 views

Stress of הושיעה and הצליחה in Hallel

Why is הושיעה Mileel (penultimately stressed) whereas הצליחה is Milra (ultimately stressed) in Psalms 118:25?
2
votes
1answer
212 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 ...
0
votes
2answers
223 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
177 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
189 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
226 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?
3
votes
2answers
99 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
134 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 ...
9
votes
2answers
138 views

verb + its infinitive

Many, many times in Tanach, including Chumash, a verb has its infinitive nearby. Examples include B'reshis 2:16 מִכֹּל עֵץ הַגָּן אָכֹל תֹּאכֵל (I think that's the first example in Chumash) and ...
1
vote
2answers
137 views

Source for abrah kadabrah

I remember seeing a passuk that has the phrase "abrah kadabrah," or maybe a Rishon. Does anyone know a source?
8
votes
3answers
168 views

Which word in “אלו ואלו דברי אלקים חיים” is חיים modifying?

"אלו ואלו דברי אלקים חיים" is generally translated as "These [and these are both equally] the words of the Living G-d" or some variation thereof. Is that correct, though? Is it not possible that it ...
3
votes
1answer
150 views

Why don't translations of Tehilim 119 translate נשף like the Gemara?

The Gemara on Berachos 3b asserts that נשף can mean either "dawn" or "evening", and cites Tehilim 119:147 as an instance of "evening". However, every translation I have seen of this verse - the ...
3
votes
2answers
114 views

ה' ימלך לעלם ועד to ימלוך ה' לעולם

In Parshas Beshalach (and Emet Ve-Yatziv/Ve-Emunah) it says ה' ימלך לעלם ועד, but in Sefer Tehilim (and Kedushah) it says ימלוך ה' לעולם. Why the change in language?
6
votes
1answer
120 views

Universal theory of Biblical eye-raising

Do any of the commentaries or Midrashim offer a universal interpretation (perhaps of the form "any time you see this, it means that") of Biblical idiom of "raising eyes"? Below are some examples that ...
1
vote
1answer
143 views

What is the Issur of Nivul Peh based on?

I am wondering what exactly the Issur of Nivul Peh is predicated on. Is it: That such words shouldn't be spoken from a person's mouth; or That its a cause of chillul Hashem ...
8
votes
4answers
580 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 ...
1
vote
0answers
73 views

Words in Sefarim in Modern Hebrew [closed]

Sometimes in the more modern seforim, I see an alternate spelling of סוגיה instead of סוגיא, with a Hei (ה) replacing the Aleph (א). Why is this? Also, is this done with similar words? For example, ...
1
vote
2answers
612 views

What's wrong with 'Hip Hip Hooray'?

When cutting the cake at a Jewish birthday party, or other celebrations when a cheer is called for, 'Hip Hip, Hooray!' is never used but rather the Hebrew 'Heyach!' 'Heydad!'. It seems to be a great ...
1
vote
2answers
136 views

Why is it called Ayin Hara?

Why is it called Ayin Hara (singular) shouldn't it be Anayim Raos (Plural)?
3
votes
2answers
97 views

Why refer to alcoholic beverages as Yash?

In many Chasidishe and Heimishe Shuls - Vodka, Whiskey and the likes are known as "Yash" which is an acronym for Yayin Saraf - יי״ש. However would it not be more appropiate to call it Yas? Then why do ...
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 ...
7
votes
3answers
284 views

Double Yud as G-ds Name

What is the significance of the double Yud used as a stand-in for G-d's name?
2
votes
2answers
129 views

Why was Chanah called an “Ishah Kesheirah”?

The Gemoro says that when Chanah was caught by Eli davening and whispering, he asked the Urim Vetumim about her to see if she was ok. The letters ה ר ש כ appeared on the Urim Vetumim. Eli understood ...
1
vote
1answer
43 views

Learning words from the servants of Rebbi

Where is the gemarah that discusses how the sages didn't know the meaning of certain words until their heard the servants of Rebbi Yehuda HaNasi using those words in everyday conversation?
7
votes
3answers
224 views

Shiluach HaKen: why not “Hatzipor”

If you send away the bird, why is Shiluach HaKen called that, meaning "sending the nest", and not "Shiluach Hatzipor", "sending the bird"? The nest is staying in place!
1
vote
2answers
139 views

Midrash/Medrash

Can anyone explain to me the difference between Midrash and Medrash? Is one of them known to be more correct (i.e. most likely older)?
3
votes
3answers
222 views

What is the source of the word “Rabbi”? [closed]

What is the source of the Hebrew word "Rabbi" - which is commonly applied to a Rav, Rosh Yeshiva, etc.?
19
votes
3answers
525 views

When blogging/emailing/etc., do I use “God” or “G-d”?

Is there a religious problem with typing out the name: "G-o-d"?
12
votes
1answer
167 views

Best way to translate “קא”

In the Aramaic of the Babylonian Talmud, there is a widely used word "קא", like in the sentence והא קא קרי (in Berahot 13:1). What is the best way to translate it to Hebrew or English? Or maybe just ...
7
votes
2answers
145 views

בְּתוֹךְ and בְּקֶרֶב are used in different places and both translated “in the midst”; what's the difference?

I understand בְּתוֹךְ as "in the midst of". The tree of life is b'tokh ha-gan (in the midst of the garden), and God spoke to the people mitokh ha-eish (from the midst of the fire). I learned today ...
11
votes
2answers
699 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 ...
8
votes
4answers
289 views

Teiku VS. Kashya

When a Gemara does not have a solution to a question why does it sometimes it end off with "Teiku" and sometimes with "Kashya"?
3
votes
1answer
43 views

Shir Urinanim- Whats the diffrence?

In Ma'oz Tzur, it says: וּמִנּוֹתַר קַנְקַנִּים נַעֲשָׂה נֵס לַשּׁוֹשַׁנִּים בְּנֵי בִינָה יְמֵי שְׁמוֹנָה קָבְעוּ שִׁיר וּרְנָנִים What is the Difference between Shirim and Rinanim?
1
vote
2answers
169 views

Can the word “eitz” mean “a thought” in the Torah?

Is there support in the Talmud or later rabbinical literature to interpreting the Torah term "eitz," commonly translated as "tree," to also mean "thought". This of course, is a common usage in ...