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)

8
votes
3answers
174 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
156 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
124 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
161 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 ...
1
vote
0answers
76 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
704 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
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?
2
votes
2answers
131 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 ...
12
votes
1answer
175 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
151 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 ...
1
vote
2answers
187 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 ...
17
votes
2answers
485 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 ...
8
votes
2answers
342 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?
8
votes
3answers
122 views

The difference between צדיקים and חסידים

What's the difference between צדיקים and חסידים? I assume that there is a difference because of Psalms 145:17. Also at the end of Nishmat Kol Chai where it says "uvdivrey tzadikim titbarach uvilshon ...
11
votes
4answers
342 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 ...
4
votes
5answers
259 views

Why isn't Half Hallel called “85 percent hallel”?

When we say hallel on days like Rosh chodesh, we don't say parts of two prakim of tehillim. This is often called "chatzi" hallel, or half hallel. In fact, according to ...
3
votes
4answers
2k 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
5answers
3k views

What does Heimishe mean?

Literally it means "homey." But I'm asking about the sociological meaning of the group of people who call themselves "Heimishe." My best guess is that it means "midway between Hassidish and Litvak." ...
4
votes
2answers
249 views

Is Aggadah the same thing as Midrash?

(Inspired by a comment on this question.) What characteristics define Aggadah and Midrash, and how are they related? If the distinction is merely that Aggadah is a more general category of "legend" ...
6
votes
2answers
196 views

What does שעטנז (sha'atnez) mean?

.שעטנז. I'm asking about the literal meaning behind the word, its etymology, etc.
6
votes
2answers
155 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
4answers
341 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 ...
6
votes
3answers
234 views

Difficult phrases in the “Sale of Chametz” document

I am currently working on a clarification of the document which is usually used by rabbis to sell chametz to a non-Jew. The version I am working with is that of Harav hagGaon Avraham Aharon Yudelewitz ...
7
votes
2answers
443 views

Why 1,000 generations of ungiven Torah, not X years?

The Mainz Anonymous reads, in part (in my own translation): He created the Torah 974 generations before the world was created, then twenty-six generations [passed] from the creation of the world ...
8
votes
2answers
499 views

Why can't Ploni Almoni be a real name, in Ruth?

The verse states (Ruth 4:1): וּבֹעַז עָלָה הַשַּׁעַר, וַיֵּשֶׁב שָׁם, וְהִנֵּה הַגֹּאֵל עֹבֵר אֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר-בֹּעַז, וַיֹּאמֶר סוּרָה שְׁבָה-פֹּה פְּלֹנִי אַלְמֹנִי; וַיָּסַר, וַיֵּשֵׁב Now Boaz ...
12
votes
3answers
157 views

So should be done unto the man

The verse in Esther 6:11 describing Haman's pulling Mordochai on the streets says: כָּכָה יֵעָשֶׂה לָאִישׁ אֲשֶׁר הַמֶּלֶךְ חָפֵץ בִּיקָרוֹ So shall it be done unto the man whom the king ...
2
votes
1answer
204 views

Were the prophets and holy people who lived before Judah (Yehudah) also Jews?

The word "Jew" originates from the name of the eldest son of Jacob. The term "Jew" was introduced many generations and decades after him. I wonder whether Adam, Noah, Lot, Abraham and Moses were all ...
11
votes
1answer
197 views

Where Rashi uses a Russian word in Nach?

I heard that Rashi uses a Russian word where he deals with the building of the Beis Hamikdash by King Shlomo. I also heard that he uses a Polish word. Does anyone know where it is?
1
vote
4answers
185 views

Please clarify Mishlei 24:21 regarding mingling with dualists

Mishlei 24:21 "My son, fear the Lord and the king; do not mingle with dualists" source (1) please define "dualist" from the perspective of Judaism. If it is "someone who believes/practices dualism" ...
8
votes
3answers
315 views

Is there a hebrew term for Jahrzeit?

The term "Yahrtzeit" presumably comes from the German word Jahrzeit. ("Jahr" meaning "year" and "zeit" meaning "time".) Is there a hebrew word or phrase (or spelling) for the concept of a yahrtzeit? ...
7
votes
1answer
299 views

Who are these “aliens” in Isaiah 56?

I was reading through this passage in Isaiah 56: 4 For thus saith the LORD concerning the eunuchs that keep My sabbaths, and choose the things that please Me, and hold fast by My covenant. 5 ...
4
votes
2answers
492 views

Etymology of the word “Kvater”

What is the etymology of the word "Kvater"? Kvater is what we call the person that carries the baby boy into a Bris.
6
votes
6answers
659 views

Why is fear of Hashem known as Yiras Shamayim?

I often see that when people discuss fearing Hashem they refer to it as "Yiras Shamayim." Why is it called "Yiras Shamayim" and not "Yiras Hashem"?
9
votes
1answer
552 views

“Don't say 'lehavdil' between one Jew and another.”

In today's Parashat Hashavu'a Chat, I used the qualification "lehavdil" (*) to apply to a pun that jokingly and innocuously related the actions of Datan and Aviram to those of a community member here. ...
2
votes
1answer
551 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?
4
votes
2answers
195 views

Tu B'shvat Seder

Where did the idea of doing a Seder on Tu b'Shvat come from? Why a Seder, not just the eating of fruit? Why do we call it a Seder if there is no formalized way of doing it?
4
votes
1answer
110 views

List of titles before different Rabbis

It is customary to put many honorific titles before most modern day Rabbis (I've even seen seforim that write Harav Hagaon etc. etc. So-And-So). Many times one sees long lines of adjactives praising ...
2
votes
0answers
76 views

Nedarim on Questions and Answers

Let's say someone was asked "are you going to shul tomorrow?" and the other person answers "yes." Does that count as a Neder? BTW Rav Mutzafi says that Nedarim are only on Mitzvot, Torah etc.
2
votes
1answer
62 views

Kindness and truth

The Posuk says (Gen 47:29): וְעָשִׂיתָ עִמָּדִי חֶסֶד וֶאֱמֶת Translated as do with me Kindness and truth Rashi is bothered that Chesed and Emes are two different things so Rashi says: חסד ...
4
votes
2answers
226 views

Gedole HaDor: who and how

1)Who do we know to refer to as a "Gadol?" 2)How do we determine who is a "Gadol?" For example, how did we determine that Rav Elyashiv is a Gadol? A Gadol HaDor is known as one of the most ...
4
votes
3answers
5k views

Meaning and Difference between baruch and bar'chu

I'm sorry, I don't know a word of Hebrew, and I really want to know what these sentences mean: Bar'chu et Adonai ham'vorach l'olam vaed Baruch atah Adonai If I didn't write them correctly, ...
7
votes
2answers
114 views

When did Ben Teshuva become Baal Teshuva?

Rabbeinu Yonah in Bava Basra 39a talks about someone who does Teshuva and calls him a Ben Teshuva. What is the earliest reference in history to the words Baal Teshuva? And why did it change from Ben ...
4
votes
0answers
54 views

How did the Parshiyot get their names [duplicate]

and what are the names' significance? Thanks Naomi Duplicate of: Where are the rules for naming parshiyot explained?
7
votes
2answers
1k views

The meaning of Tzadik

I am having difficulty in understand the meaning of Tzadik. Maimonides says "One whose merit surpasses his iniquity is a tzadik". I have trouble in understanding this sentence. Can someone explain the ...
17
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 ...
21
votes
4answers
2k views

How does one explain God to little kids?

As I understand it, the ability to understand abstract concepts develops gradually in kids and is certainly not all there when they first start having conversations. This comes into play when kids ...
11
votes
1answer
78 views

Description of what Yaakov's sons plundered from Shechem

Gen. 34:28-29 describes how Yaakov's sons plundered the city of Shechem after wiping out its (adult male) inhabitants: אֶת-צֹאנָם וְאֶת-בְּקָרָם וְאֶת-חֲמֹרֵיהֶם וְאֵת אֲשֶׁר בָּעִיר וְאֶת אֲשֶׁר ...
13
votes
1answer
92 views

Shmuel running and walking

My sixth grade students asked me today: In Shmuel Aleph Perek Gimel Shmuel becomes a Navi. It says in vs. 5 that Shmuel ran to Eli. In vs. 6 and 8 is says that he went to Eli. Why the difference? (I ...
9
votes
4answers
355 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 ...
7
votes
3answers
290 views

What is the difference between a Kohen Gadol and a Kohen Rosh?

What is the difference between a Kohen Gadol and a Kohen Rosh? Both titles are used in Tanakh, sometimes even to refer to the same person. For example: Kohen HaRosh is mentioned in Ezra 7:5, Chron. I ...