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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3
votes
0answers
65 views

How many languages were used by Shem's descendants?

Parshat Noach, 10:31: These are the sons of Shem, after their families, after their languages, in their lands, after their nations. אֵלֶּה בְנֵי-שֵׁם, לְמִשְׁפְּחֹתָם לִלְשֹׁנֹתָם, ...
5
votes
1answer
218 views

Rav Yonason Eibeschitz's puzzle

There is a story that the Jews were oppressed and there were harsh decrees and Rav Yonason Eibschitz was challenged by the governor to write "am yisroel chai l'olmei ad" for every Jew who lived in his ...
3
votes
1answer
107 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
41 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 ...
2
votes
2answers
574 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 ...
1
vote
2answers
165 views

HaGadol HaGibor veHaNora

In the beginning of the amida prayer, God is ascribed these three titles: HaGadol HaGibor veHaNora. (the source is from the torah) What does each one mean and how are they different?
5
votes
0answers
121 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 ...
7
votes
0answers
210 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
245 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 ...
8
votes
3answers
4k views

What is the original meaning of the word “hevel”?

I am not religious myself, but lately I have found myself somewhat attracted to Ecclesiastes. Reading about it, I am fascinated about what seems to be endless meanings and interpretations of the word ...
3
votes
1answer
90 views

“דָּם נָקִי” vs. “דַּם־נָקִי”

Parashas Shof'tim, 19:10: וְלֹא יִשָּׁפֵךְ דָּם נָקִי בְּקֶרֶב אַרְצְךָ And 21:8: וְאַל־תִּתֵּן דָּם נָקִי בְּקֶרֶב עַמְּךָ יִשְׂרָאֵל And then Ki Savo 27:25: לְהַכּוֹת נֶפֶשׁ דָּם ...
9
votes
2answers
548 views

What is the difference between the words “tzur” and “selah” (which both mean rock)?

Beshalach (Shmot 17:6): ... you shall strike the rock (tzur) and water will come forth from it ... Chukat (Bamidbar 20:8): ... speak to the rock (selah) before their eyes and it shall give ...
10
votes
2answers
183 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 ...
11
votes
4answers
402 views

What's “chelek Eloak mimaal”?

I have frequently heard the human (or only the Jewish?) soul referred to as "חלק אלוק ממעל", literally "portion/section/piece/allotment of God (from) above". What does this mean? Who's the first to ...
1
vote
0answers
102 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.
11
votes
1answer
234 views

What game is the Rama in 338:5 (טשי"ך) referring to?

In the English Mishna Brurah they translate טשי"ך as chess. The Mishna Brurah brings the Marah Sasson who forbids it because there is no chachma. It is also mentioned in the Rama that it makes noise, ...
1
vote
2answers
84 views

What is “קוצר לשחת”?

The mishna, M'nachos 71 amud 1, says: קוצר לשחת ומאכיל לבהמה That is, under the circumstances described there (not important for this question), one is allowed to cut his grain לשחת and feed the ...
7
votes
1answer
277 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
1answer
109 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
3answers
208 views

When do you say Hashem sefatai?

Before saying shemoneh esrei we say "Hashem, sefatai siftach u'fi yagid tehilasecha". Are you supposed to say those words A) Before you take the 3 steps back to start your shemoneh esrei B) One word ...
2
votes
0answers
75 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
233 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
4k views

In Genesis 22:8-14, is there a difference between a ram and a lamb?

Having taken a translation from this website, which I am told to have Orthodox Jewish credentials, I am referring to Genesis 22:8-14 'God will see to a lamb for an offering, my son,' replied ...
5
votes
1answer
124 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
398 views

What is meant by the term “midina”/“provinces” as in the 127 ruled by Ahasuerus?

Esther 1:1 says: Now it came to pass in the days of Ahasuerus -- he was the Ahasuerus who reigned from Hodu to Cush, one hundred twenty-seven provinces. For historical context, the period of the ...
3
votes
1answer
103 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
243 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 ...
10
votes
1answer
446 views

What is the source of the expression המבין יבין?

The Forward writer Philologos in his most recent column claimed that the earliest uses of the expression והמבין יבין are found in the Ra'avad and in the Radak. Based on the fact that both these ...
-1
votes
1answer
338 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, ...
5
votes
0answers
450 views

Saying “Elokim” when not referring to Hashem

People often say "Elokim" instead of "Elohim" when speaking in order to avoid taking God's name in vain. I have observed, however, that some people always substitute the word "elokim" for "elohim" ...
4
votes
2answers
107 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
194 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
1answer
262 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
443 views

What is a Hava Amina Teretz?

B"H If "hava amina" means slightest notion, what is a hava amina teretz? I think teretz means an answer. So what is a slightest notion answer?
14
votes
4answers
446 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 ...
2
votes
0answers
154 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" ...
6
votes
1answer
191 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 ...
2
votes
3answers
1k views

Chachma, bina vaadat. Whats the difference?

Whats the difference between the concepts: chachma, bina and daat? We see them listed together in the amida.
3
votes
2answers
179 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
290 views

Why do people call cancer the machalah?

It seems that people use the word machalah to refer to cancer not only as a translation of the word (although there might be a more specific and correct translation) but because they do not want to ...
2
votes
0answers
51 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
58 views

Whence “בלי עין הרע”?

What is the source, or earliest reference, I guess, of using the phrase, "בלי עין הרע"?
3
votes
2answers
292 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
77 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
175 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
86 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
112 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
108 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
435 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 ...
4
votes
3answers
285 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 ...