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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10
votes
37answers
2k views

words often mispronounced [closed]

What are some words commonly mispronounced? (Not by elision/reduction (like ה׳‎→אדְני‎) or assimilation (like תזכרו‎→תשׂכרו‎), but rather words that are pronounced wrong ...
4
votes
3answers
128 views

Define the terms used for “types” or “grades” of tefillin

Follow up on this M.Y. question: The questioner mentioned these grades of tefillin: Peshutim Mehudarim Dakos Gassos Gassos Prudos I have heard of some of these terms, but there may be others on ...
3
votes
2answers
292 views

What does the word לאַטקעס (latkes) mean? [on hold]

לאַטקעס is the Yiddish word used for the potato pancakes commonly and commemoratively eaten on Chanukah. Where does the word לאַטקעס come from originally? What exactly does it mean?
2
votes
2answers
34 views

Exodus 19:16- “that were in the camp”

Regarding Exodus 19, verse 16: Why is it necessary to state that all the people “that were in the camp” had trembled? In other words, is not the phrase “in the camp” superfluous here?
0
votes
3answers
63 views

Alternative to “mensch”

When talking to a Torah Scholar, if you want to say that they are a "mensch" (as well), is there a better word that fits with a more Haredi/Litvish hashkafah? I am asking as (it seems to me) a more ...
8
votes
1answer
79 views

What does the ל of לבעבור mean?

Shemos 20:17: ויֹּאמֶר משֶׁה אֶל הָעָם אַל תִּירָאוּ כִּי לְבַעֲבוּר נַסּוֹת אֶתְכֶם בָּא הָאֱלֹהִים וּבַעֲבוּר תִּהְיֶה יִרְאָתוֹ עַל פְּנֵיכֶם לְבִלְתִּי תֶחֱטָאוּ What does the 8th word in ...
4
votes
5answers
2k views

What in the world is a shtender? [closed]

Who made up the name shtender, and who started using the term?
2
votes
1answer
47 views

What is the official name for the “additional readings” on special torah-reading days?

On certain special Shabboses, like the four parshiyot, there is a special torah reading that replaces Maftir after the weekly parsha is read. Is there a name for this extra not-from-the-weekly-parsha ...
4
votes
1answer
75 views

What's the difference between שמחה and חדוה?

The Gra was quoted to me (I think from the Aderes Eliyah, but I'm not sure) as saying that during the shofar blowing on Rosh HaShanna a person should be in a state of simcha and chedva. I would like ...
1
vote
1answer
30 views

Meaning and function of Va'yechulu

What does Va'yechulu mean literally in Hebrew? What is the function of Va'yechulu during worship?
6
votes
4answers
149 views

Is there a substantive difference in meaning when the Torah uses the Hebrew verb root דבר rather than אמר?

Is there a substantive difference in meaning when the Torah uses the Hebrew verb root דבר rather than אמר, or do they both pretty much mean "to say" or "to speak"? Do any sages see the choice of one ...
0
votes
2answers
59 views

Why is תורה sometimes written תורת?

Why is Torah sometimes written in the Torah with a "ת" at the end instead of an "ה"?
8
votes
1answer
116 views

Why is it considered respectful to capitalize G-d and its derivatives/pronouns?

I recognize that in English proper nouns are supposed to be capitalized, especially in the case where a proper noun is also a common noun (e.g. the mall vs. the Mall), but only when referring to G-d ...
2
votes
3answers
87 views

Definition of the term “Talmud” in the phrase “Talmud Torah”

What is the definition of the word "Talmud" used by Chazal in the expression talmud Torah? Does it mean learning Torah, or teaching Torah? I seem to remember this discussed in an article (perhaps on ...
1
vote
2answers
46 views

Explain differences in terms used for “prayer”

Please explain the differences in the types of "prayer" that is meant when these terms for "prayer" as found in Tanac"h are used. I have intentionally omitted English translation for these verses, as ...
14
votes
1answer
130 views

Why is there a dagesh in second camocha, but not in first?

In "Mi chamocha ba'elim H', Mi camocha nedar bakodesh" (from the Az Yashir song by the sea, but also between the shma and the amidah in the morning, and elsewhere): מִֽי-כָמֹ֤כָה בָּֽאֵלִם֙ ...
0
votes
0answers
15 views

Judgments Commandments [duplicate]

What is the difference with a, Commandments, Law, Testimonies, Precepts, Judgments, Statutes, Ordinances. In away they all mean the same but I'm sure they are different, thankyou.
9
votes
7answers
457 views

Are there unnecessary words in torah?

I've been taught, often enough that I thought it was universal, that there are no unnecessary words in torah (chumash) — every word is there to teach us something. I've seen plenty of discussions in ...
0
votes
2answers
99 views

Why is hebrew, the holy language, so messy?

Something that has always bothered me and I've never really understood is why Hebrew is so messy. If it is the language of G-d, the language in which the world was created and the language in which ...
7
votes
5answers
4k 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." ...
6
votes
3answers
79 views

etymology of the word “Kittel”

What is the etymology of the word "Kittel"? (Kittel is a white garment worn by many at the Pesach Seder and on Yom Kippur by Davening)
13
votes
9answers
808 views

What to call the 7th Lubavitcher Rebbe

Often times a few different rebbes are mentioned (either previous Chabad rebbes or rebbes of other Chasudusim) in the same talk and then the word "The Rebbe" comes in and it's ambiguous. I have heard ...
0
votes
1answer
30 views

Why is the term דגה frequently used to refer to Egyptian (Nile) fish?

I ran a word search using Snunit's tool on the appearance of the word דג in the Bible. The search revealed 17 occurrences, and all of them had that word or some form of the word such as דגים (plural ...
10
votes
9answers
290 views

Wording in Torah when Moshe is commanded to appear before Pharaoh

This shabbos, the Parasha, Bo, starts with Moshe being told to "Bo El Paroh", "Come to Pharaoh". I don't understand this wording, should it have said "Lech El Paroh", "go to Pharaoh"? Is there a ...
6
votes
2answers
252 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?
3
votes
2answers
105 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
101 views

Why do books say “ספר” on them?

Why do Jewish books often say "ספר" on the spine, cover, or cover page? The word is synonymous with "book" in modern Hebrew, and some closely related concept like "document" or "scroll" in Tana"ch. ...
6
votes
0answers
32 views

Ya'amod by an Aliya

The root of the word Ya'amod means to stand in place. See Hebrew dictionary here. Thus why do we call up someone to an Aliya with the word Ya'amod? We are not asking him to stay in place, we are ...
5
votes
1answer
442 views

Is G-ddamn considered cursing God?

If a person says in English the word g-ddamn (or G-d damn) does that transgress the sin of cursing God?
3
votes
1answer
59 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
61 views

What is the argument between Rashi and the Ra'avid about the meaning of HaMelech HaKadosh

I was reading בחינת דת, a work of Hashkafa by Elias ben Moise del Medigo and in it he references* an argument between Rashi and the Ra'avid regarding the meaning of HaMelech HaKadosh. The context is ...
1
vote
1answer
43 views

What is the origin of the Yiddish word “nebach”? Is there a Jewish, Biblical source? [closed]

I've found numerous articles about what the word "nebach" (נעבעך) means, for example here and here. However, I have not been able to determine the true source of it. Is this word, so commonly used ...
1
vote
2answers
42 views

Why is כל written with Kamatz?

When praying with the siddur and reading Torah, I've asked myself why is the word כל written with Kamatz if it sounds Kol and not Kal. I've also seen other words like this, but with less frequency. ...
1
vote
1answer
94 views

Targum on Obadiah 1:3 a Reference to Rome?

The prophecy of Obadiah concerns the fate of Edom. Obadiah 1:3 reads, זְדוֹן לִבְּךָ הִשִּׁיאֶךָ, שֹׁכְנִי בְחַגְוֵי-סֶלַע מְרוֹם שִׁבְתּוֹ; אֹמֵר בְּלִבּוֹ, מִי יוֹרִדֵנִי אָרֶץ. The pride ...
3
votes
2answers
230 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
40 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 ...
0
votes
1answer
41 views

short definition for 'Chavrusa'

I'm looking for a way to accurately describe what a chavrusa (in a yeshiva setting) is to a non-Jew. I'm ideally looking for a one or two line description. Basically the shorter the better, but it ...
2
votes
1answer
227 views

What is the longest word in Tanach?

One of my students was filling out an application that requested the longest and shortest word in Tanach. I am assuming by the fact that this question was asked that there is a known answer and this ...
4
votes
1answer
41 views

Difference between Slumber and Sleep

In Tehillim 121, David says of Hashem "הִנֵּה לֹא-יָנוּם, וְלֹא יִישָׁן שׁוֹמֵר, יִשְׂרָאֵל." At first glance, this appears redundant, נום means slumber and שנה means sleep. What is the difference ...
9
votes
1answer
75 views

Where is Shabbos called “the most precious of days”?

In our Shabbos tefillos, we say that חמדת הימים אותו קראת You (Hashem) called it (the Sabbath) the most precious of days. In the Shabbos poem "Baruch Keil Elyon" (composed by HaRav Barukh ...
1
vote
2answers
96 views

Is it said anywhere in the Jewish scriptures that 'Amalek' means “wrung, twisted neck”?

I have read somewhere that the meaning of the word Amalek is "wrung, twisted neck" which symbolizes his difficulty to make correct judgements, as for that both the head and the heart and the ...
5
votes
1answer
123 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 ...
1
vote
0answers
31 views

When does the Gemara say “שנאמר” vs. “כדכתיב”

There are many times when the Gemara uses the word "שנאמר" when it quotes a verse. Why does it sometimes use the word "כדכתיב" when quoting a verse, and sometimes it says "שנאמר"
5
votes
3answers
103 views

Why is “שבי” switched from masculine to feminine?

The beginning of Parshas Ki Seitze says: כִּי תֵצֵא לַמִּלְחָמָה עַל אֹיְבֶיךָ וּנְתָנוֹ יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ בְּיָדֶךָ וְשָׁבִיתָ שִׁבְיוֹ וְרָאִיתָ בַּשִּׁבְיָה אֵשֶׁת יְפַת תֹּאַר ...
10
votes
4answers
427 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 mistook it ...
3
votes
3answers
61 views

Which אֶת is which in Gen. 17:21?

The word "אֶת" can mark the direct object (as in Gen. 1:1) or mean "with" (as in Gen. 35:14). I recently saw someone ask whether "וְאֶת", the first word of Gen. 17:21, means "and with", which struck ...
11
votes
3answers
132 views

Difference between אֲנִי and אָנֹכִי

Throughout the Tanakh, I have come across אֲנִי (ʾani) and אָנֹכִי (ʾanokhi) many times, which both mean "I". What is the difference between the two words in Tanakh?
3
votes
2answers
3k 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 ...
0
votes
1answer
53 views

Is “Yehud” a proper term for the Hebrews (ancient or otherwise)?

Reading an article about trauma in Jewish history I found the term "Yehud" (in addition to other terms) indicating the society, culture or community, for instance [1]: Jeremiah W. Cataldo "Memory ...