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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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?
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95 views

איש אחד What does the Echad refer to and where else in the Tanch is it found?

In Shmuel Aleph Perek Aleph Elkana is refered to as Ish Echad before his name is given. The Midrash, according to Meam Loez, says that the Echad means Singular or Special. I was wondering where else ...
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141 views

difference between תולעים and רמה

In Beshalach 16:20: וְלֹא שָׁמְעוּ אֶל מֹשֶׁה וַיּוֹתִרוּ אֲנָשִׁים מִמֶּנּוּ עַד בֹּקֶר וַיָּרֻם תּוֹלָעִים וַיִּבְאַשׁ וַיִּקְצֹף עֲלֵהֶם מֹשֶׁה:‏ A few Pesukim later in 16:24: ...
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126 views

Why does Chazan (“seer”) mean prayer leader?

The leader of the Tefillah is referred to as a חַזַּן. The word חַזַּן, although translated as a cantor, actually comes from the word חֲזוֹן which means vision. Is there a source for this?
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242 views

Why did Sarah banish Hagar and Yishmael - Meaning of צחק

Genesis 21: ט וַתֵּרֶא שָׂרָה אֶת-בֶּן-הָגָר הַמִּצְרִית, אֲשֶׁר-יָלְדָה לְאַבְרָהָם--מְצַחֵק. 9 And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne unto Abraham, 'making ...
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409 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?
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147 views

Goy Versus Leum

The Posuk Says (Gen. 25,23): שְׁנֵי [גיים] גוֹיִם בְּבִטְנֵךְ וּשְׁנֵי לְאֻמִּים מִמֵּעַיִךְ יִפָּרֵדוּ Translated as: Two nations are in your womb, and two kingdoms will separate from your ...
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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 ...
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756 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?
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44 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?
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101 views

Can you explain these Halachic terms please?

I'm new to this, can you please very briefly explain what these terms mean: Shinui, Makkeh Befatish, Besh'as Hadehaq, Shvut D'Shvut, Thanks in advance
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213 views

Who did Yehoshua weaken with the sword?

The verse says (Shemos 17:13): And Yehoshua weakened Amalek and his nation in accordance with the sword. Who did he weaken exactly - what's the difference between Amalek and his nation? Or is there a ...
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116 views

Please explain the meaning of the word “Be'emunah” in the last paragraph of “Yekum Purkan”

The last paragraph of "Yekum Purkan" - the prayer recited on Shabbat before Musaf - has a paragraph that praises the people that supply the needs of the synagogue and community. There is a phrase that ...
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186 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 ...
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2answers
199 views

Welcoming someone back after a visit to Israel

Is it proper to say "Welcome back" after someone visits Israel because of the lower level of Kedussah between Israel and Chutz LaEretz?
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103 views

Jew vs Gentile, terminology in the Jewish Holy Book(s)?

I have never understood fully the distinction between the Jewish race and the religion. I was wondering how the Chosen People/Jewish person vs Gentile is interpreted in the Jewish faith. When the ...
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179 views

Convert in Ketubah

In a ketubah, there are 3 different categories for the woman's status. Virgin, Convert, and woman. Usually one of those statuses is represented on the ketubah, with the appropriate amount in zuzim. ...
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4answers
149 views

Source of the word “teva” for nature

I was told by someone who I consider to be very reliable that the word טבע, which means nature, does not have a source in Biblical or Talmudic literature, and it is a word that first emerges in ...
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41 views

How does “וירא א׳ את האור כי טוב” imply goodness per se?

Haamek Davar to B'reshis 1:4 explains that "טוב" can mean either "good for its intended purpose" (even if that purpose is not good) or "good in truth". The אור (light, let's say) created on the first ...
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58 views

Yom Kippur - Soul or Body

The Torah (Vayikra 16:31) says "וְעִנִּיתֶ֖ם אֶת־נַפְשֹֽׁתֵיכֶ֑ם, You shall afflict yourselves." - this is a reference to Yom Kippur. Artscroll translates נַפְשֹֽׁתֵיכֶ֑ם to mean yourselves, but ...
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58 views

Is עליו השלום inappropriate to say about a living person?

The phrase "olov hashalom" is often appended to names of the deceased. I don't know very much about it's history or any deeper implications, but at face value it just means "peace be upon him." I ...
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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 ...
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452 views

What's the etymology of the Hassidic term “b'sho'oh” for a chaperoned quasi-date?

I've heard in the Hassidic world, if two families decide that one's young fellow should meet the other's young lady, the couple has a brief, chaperoned, meeting, known as a b'shoh (spelling?), to ...
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42 views

How can Nefesh mean a dead person?

In Vayikra 21:1 it's stated that one should not defile himself for any (dead) 'nefesh' person... How can a word like Nefesh which seems to be the force that animated the body and gave it it's life, ...
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173 views

What is the meaning of “Rav”?

I see that some names have the word "Rav" in the name, names like Rav Yitzchak Meir Morgenstern and Rav Berg. I don't know much about Judaism. I want to know what is the meaning of "Rav".
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85 views

Bamidbar: What makes Shimon different?

During krias haTorah, I noticed that while during the counting, most tribes were counted like this (taking Yehuda as an example): לבני יהודה תולדתם למשפחתם לבית אבותם במספר שמות מבן עשרים שנה ...
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153 views

Etymology of “Grager”

What is the Etymology of “Grager”? Grager is the noisemaker we use on Purim during the Megila when Haman's name is read.
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3answers
145 views

Is there a single syntactic class “פעיל” in Biblical Hebrew?

Is there a unique class of Biblical Hebrew words of the form "פעיל"?Is the putative class of Biblical Hebrew words strictly a class of nouns or adjectives?If not, is it strictly divisible into two ...
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121 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?
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323 views

Kel (Melech) Chanun V'Rachum — do you say Melech?

Some siddurs have the phrase "Ki Kel Melech Chanun V'Rachum Ata" at the conclusion of Ya'aleh v'Yavo. Some have Melech in parentheses; some don't have it at all. Can anyone tell me something about ...
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80 views

Was referring to a Jewish firstborn son as “____ bar [mother's name]” insulting in the first century?

There is a passage in the Christian "gospels" in which Jesus is referred to by his community in an unusual way. The text [Mark 6:3] was originally written in Greek, but the English translation is: ...
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1answer
65 views

Correct translation of 1 Samuel 13:14 especially the words “איש כלבבו”

What is the correct way to understand 1 Samuel 13:14? I particularly want to know about the words "איש כלבבו". Do these words translate to "a man after his own heart" or should it be "a man with a ...
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1answer
71 views

What “malchus” exists today in America?

The Gemara (Gittin 79b-80a) says that we need to write the date of the malchus (kindgom) of the place where a get (bill of divorce) was written, on the get, for שלום מלכות (so that we don't upset the ...
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1answer
83 views

What is considered alone for shma? [duplicate]

When saying shma in davening without a minyan, the three words א-ל מלך נאמן are recited. It is done in order to make up 248 words total (with a minyan, the chazzan says ה' א-לוקיכם אמת to get the 3). ...
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1answer
30 views

Compare Devarim 14:11 and Devarim 14:20- Is there a difference in meaning between “tzipor” and “of”?

The two verses Devarim 14:11 and 14:20 appear to say the same thing except that v 11 uses the word "tzipor" and v 20 uses the word "of". Aren't they the same thing? If yes, what is the second verse ...
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535 views

לא (lamed-aleph) vs אל (aleph-lamed)

Hebrew beginner, here. I was asking why the prefix for "not" was usually לא but occasionally אל. Some kind Hebrew students told me אל was only used for future tense, saying not to do something. One ...
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64 views

Doors and Doorways in Parshat Vayeira

In this weeks parsha of Vayeira, I counted 6 references to the words דלת and פתח, all in the story of Lot and Sodom. I don't believe this is a coincidence, since its all about standing in the door, ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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191 views

What is the difference between the blessing of Ga'al Yisrael preceding Shemoneh Esrei and the blessing of Go'el Yisrael?

Before we begin the Shemoneh Esreh each morning, we say the blessing, "Blessed are You, Hashem, Who redeemed Israel (Ga'al Yisrael)." Then within the Shemoneh Esrei itself, in the "Re'eh va'ahneynu" ...
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294 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 ...
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74 views

How many times in Na"Kh is the land called Eretz Cna'an?

The other side of the coin of this question (or, if you prefer, this question), might be, how often, or how many times, does the term Eretz Cna'an appear in Na"Kh after the land was given to Benei ...
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117 views

About Shemot 35:3

Why Shemot 35:3 is being translated as "do not burn fire" if the piel form of the verb "burn" in the Written Torah always being translated as "eradicate". Excellent example is Dvarim 21:9. If I ...
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1answer
73 views

How do we know when the word ידע means intercourse or just (brain) knowledge?

I shall cite 3 verses. What I state below in terms of "plain" knowledge vs. intercourse is confirmed by Rash"i and / or other commentaries on each verse: 1 - Genesis 4:1 (excerpt): וְהָ֣אָדָ֔ם ...
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1answer
77 views

From whence do we learn that the Torah does not mince words? [duplicate]

I have oft heard it stated that "the Torah does not mince words" (example 1, example 2, example 3). While it seems natural/logical that the Creator of the World would use words precisely, from whence ...
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1answer
51 views

What's the difference between אֱדַיִן and בֵּאדַיִן?

I'm studying Daniyel, most of it for the first time, and keep coming across two (Aramaic) words that are troubling me: אֱדַיִן and בֵּאדַיִן. (The latter appears to be, morphologically, the former ...
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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 ...
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174 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 ...
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2answers
51 views

What does the term “glatt kosher” mean, today?

A mashgiach explained to me that the term "glatt kosher" means that the lungs of cattle and sheep (the 2 main kosher animals sold in U.S.) are smooth and do not have air pockets. I hope that I have ...
3
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1answer
37 views

Pas (Pat) vs Lechem

In Tanach/Mishna/Gemara sometimes the word Pas is used, and sometimes Lechem. Do Chazal say anything about when and why one is used vs the other? Edit I was asked for an example: In Mishna Brachos ...