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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7
votes
2answers
202 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
230 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 ...
-1
votes
2answers
281 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
215 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
201 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
264 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
100 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
141 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
142 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
146 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
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 ...
3
votes
2answers
119 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
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 ...
8
votes
4answers
628 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
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
2answers
144 views

Why is it called Ayin Hara?

Why is it called Ayin Hara (singular) shouldn't it be Anayim Raos (Plural)?
3
votes
2answers
98 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
138 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
296 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
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 ...
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
230 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
140 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
229 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.?
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 ...
11
votes
2answers
843 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
323 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
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 ...
5
votes
2answers
94 views

Shifting subjects and objects in Gen 12:15

There are three statements in Genesis 12:15: וַיִּרְאוּ אֹתָהּ שָׂרֵי פַרְעֹה וַיְהַלְלוּ אֹתָהּ אֶל פַּרְעֹה וַתֻּקַּח הָאִשָּׁה בֵּית פַּרְעֹה And Pharaoh's princes saw her, and they ...
3
votes
2answers
387 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 ...
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 ...
5
votes
2answers
166 views

Are these Latin/Greek translations of Hebrew terms useful?

If you use the following Latin or Greek translations of Hebrew terms in conversation with secular people, do they tend to know what you're talking about? If so, in what contexts - a university ...
5
votes
2answers
310 views
7
votes
3answers
386 views

Posek vs. Rabbi?

It seems to me obvious that certain sheilos are best dealt with by only the leading Rabbanim. At the same time colloquially we often say a Rabbi has "paskened" a sheilah when the answer is fairly ...
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
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 ...
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 ...
5
votes
3answers
298 views

Why masechet “Beitza”?

Why do we call it masechet Beitza now, and not masechet Yom Tov, as was apparently once common? Unlike the parshiot, which are named after their first words, masechtot are all named after topics, ...
9
votes
2answers
249 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?
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
2answers
248 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" ...
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 ...
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
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 ...
8
votes
2answers
498 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 ...