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
3answers
200 views

Walk His way; Derech Hashem

Within the Torah we find many places where God commands us 'to walk His way(s).' What does 'to walk' mean? And what is His way? some examples of walking: It is written: walk in that which is ...
5
votes
1answer
216 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 ...
7
votes
2answers
549 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 ...
11
votes
1answer
152 views

What is “reverse certification”

I got this in a daily halacha email but not sure what Reverse Certification means, I figure someone here does Reverse Certification It is permitted for a mashgiach to enter a non-kosher ...
2
votes
1answer
120 views

Paroh vs. Faroh in Parshat Bo

I am used to פרעה being pronounced as "Paroh" as it has been for the last few parshot, but I noticed today that in Parshat Bo (Shemot 10:11) it is to be pronounced "Faroh". What causes this change? ...
20
votes
2answers
603 views

Where did “shabat shalom” come from?

What is the source for the greeting "שבת שלום"? Where is it earliest attested in print? What does it mean?
2
votes
1answer
513 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 ...
13
votes
5answers
1k views

Nittle Nacht Meaning

What is Nittle Nacht? What does the name mean? What is its significance? Which Halachic authorities speak about it, and what do they say? What is the actual date for it? How is it effected this ...
3
votes
0answers
68 views

“Instruction” Words

In many places in the TaNaKh, I see the distinctive use of similar words, like: תורה - "law" חקי - "statutes" מצות - "commandments" פקדי - "precepts" עדות - "testimonies" משפטים - "judgments" דבר - ...
1
vote
3answers
501 views

What does “shachar” in “alos hashachar” mean?

We find a number of terms referring to when morning starts and then perhaps a similar term used to refer to the time of shachris. Alos HaShachar (עלות השחר) Ayeles HaShachar (אילת השחר) and Shacharis ...
5
votes
0answers
438 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
284 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
3answers
436 views

What does the term “sons of G-d” mean?

The term "sons of G-d" בני האלהים is found 3 times in the Hebrew Bible, once in Genesis (6:2), and twice in Job (1:6 and 2:1). What does it mean? Does it have the same meaning in both instances? What ...
3
votes
2answers
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, ...
2
votes
3answers
100 views

Rashi on Bereishis 37:12: Only their sheep, or also their father's?

Bereishis 37:12: וַיֵּלְכוּ אֶחָיו לִרְעוֹת אֶת צֹאן אֲבִיהֶם בִּשְׁכֶם.‏ Rashi there says (as I understand it) that we cut out the word es (אֶת) because they only went to to feed their own ...
4
votes
2answers
106 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
789 views

What is the difference between gerim, nochrim and zarim?

What is the difference between gerim, nochrim and zarim? Both halachicly and denotatively.
7
votes
3answers
391 views

What's the difference between כשב and כבש?

What's the difference between כשב and כבש? Why does the Torah use both?
3
votes
0answers
64 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, ...
4
votes
2answers
106 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
237 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 ...
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
40 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 ...
10
votes
2answers
181 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 ...
5
votes
0answers
120 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
243 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
260 views

Why call so many olim “moreinu”?

I davened in a couple of different Chassidish shuls over the past few days, and in two different places (Tenka and Munkacs), I noticed that nearly all men who were called up for an aliya were ...
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
4answers
368 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
190 views

What are some good resources for finding the meaning of unfamiliar Hebrew and Aramaic words in Acharonim?

I have no trouble using Jastrow for Tanach and Shas but I find it difficult to apply to Acharonim. How might I use it more effectively? Are there peculiarities of grammar I'm missing? For a few ...
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
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 ...
2
votes
1answer
108 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
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). ...
17
votes
2answers
522 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 ...
-1
votes
1answer
332 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, ...
8
votes
1answer
138 views

Why is Kiddushin Performed “according to the tradition of Moshe and Israel”?

When betrothing a woman, the groom says "Behold, you are betrothed to me with this ring, according to the tradition of Moshe and Israel." As explained in that article, "according to the tradition of ...
4
votes
4answers
2k views

What is the meaning of 'Tishbi' in 'Eliyahu haTishbi'?

I've heard theory that it's a place, but have never heard of a place with a similar name...
8
votes
2answers
385 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?
7
votes
2answers
298 views

Definition of Leitzanus

I have often seen leitzanus, mockery, defined along the lines of making a joke out of serious matters. Intuitively this is a good definition, but does anyone have a source which spells it out? And to ...
6
votes
2answers
227 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
260 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
777 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?
3
votes
1answer
219 views

What are the differences between G-d's mitzvos, chukkim and mishpatim?

In Parasha Netzavim, Devarim 30:16, we learn the commandment to love Hashem, to walk in His ways, and to keep "His commandments [mitzvosav] and His statutes [v'chukosav] and His ordinances ...
5
votes
1answer
126 views

Community/Synagogue Honorifics

I visited the Rare Books section of the JTS in New York in Dec. 2009, to view an old manuscript from Kezmarok, Slovakia. I selected certain pages that I was interested in translating, on behalf of ...
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 ...
1
vote
1answer
76 views

צִרְעָה Pshat or definition

וְגַם אֶת הַצִּרְעָה יְשַׁלַּח יְ־הֹוָ־ה אֱלֹהֶיךָ בָּם עַד אֲבֹד הַנִּשְׁאָרִים וְהַנִּסְתָּרִים מִפָּנֶיךָ (Deuteronomy 7:20) What is the הַצִּרְעָה mean in this posuk?
7
votes
1answer
187 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
4answers
1k views

Significance of the gemara statment תיקו Teku?

Why do we say תיקו Teiku when there is no answer in the Gemara?