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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1answer
42 views

Praying Mantis (גְמָל שְׁלֹמֹה) and Ladybugs (פָּרַת מֹשֶׁה רַבֵּנוּ), roots in early sources?

Are the hebrew names of the praying mantis (גְמָל שְׁלֹמֹה) and ladybug (פָּרַת מֹשֶׁה רַבֵּנוּ) found in Tanach (or later, in chazal)? If so, what is the justification for these names?
2
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1answer
59 views

What is considered alone for shma?

When saying shma in davening without a minyan, the three words א-ל מלך נאמן are recited. I've heard one opinion that it is in order to make up a certain number of words (with a minyan, the chazzan ...
3
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3answers
133 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 ...
0
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2answers
88 views

meaning of words and tefillah

The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (6:1) tells us, “When one makes a berachah he should have in mind the meaning of the words.” Is there any halachic source (i.e. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, Shulchan Aruch or ...
2
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1answer
60 views

Why does Yaakov say, “ראיתי אלוקים פנים אל פנים”?

In Bereishit 32:31, Yaakov says, "ראיתי אלוקים פנים אל–פנים" after his encounter with the angel. Most commentators, such as Rashi, interpret that when Yaakov says this, he really meant "I have seen ...
2
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1answer
46 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 ...
-4
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1answer
50 views

Do axes have a symbolic meaning in Tanakh or Jewish mythology? [closed]

Do axes have a symbolic meaning in Tanakh or Jewish mythology? I was asked by someone i assume to be Jewish to "Axe him a question!" Now this sound like a joke, but i assure you it is NOT. It is of ...
-4
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0answers
16 views

Meaning of axe in “Axe me a question!” [migrated]

What is the meaning of axe in: "Axe me a question!" Thank you for your time.
2
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1answer
45 views

Translating an amulet

I need help translating what is written on a charm. Here is what is written in it, along with my understanding of what it means. לשמירה, הצלחה, זיווג הגון, שלום בית, זרע בר קיימא, שמירה למעוברת, ...
5
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1answer
38 views

What does Rashi mean by לין שם דבר?

Rashi on bereshis 24:23 says "לין שם דבר." ie. "lin" is a noun. How does that fit in the context considering that Eliezer was asking for a place to "lodge". Even though lodge can be a noun, in this ...
3
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1answer
39 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 ...
5
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1answer
320 views

What is the origin of “shul”?

What is the origin of the word "shul", meaning "synagogue"? It seems derived from the German "Schule", meaning "school". Moreover, Italian Jews call synagogues "scuola", which also means "school" ...
5
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2answers
79 views

Prayer of Avraham Avinu at Mount Moriah

On Yom Kippur and in Selichos we pray "The One who answered Avraham Avinu's prayer on Mount Moriah, should answer us". "מי שענה לאברהם אבינו בהר המוריה הוא יעננו". What did Avraham pray for at Mount ...
4
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1answer
60 views

Source of the term בכתמים שומעין להקל

In the halachos of Niddah, there is a term which I have come across not infrequently. The term is בכתמים שומעין להקל, which roughly translated means "in [the halachos of blood] stains we listen to ...
7
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1answer
57 views

What is the precise difference between Kakatuv and Shene'emar and

The davening on the Yamim Nora'im references many verses and the machzor introduces those verses in a variety of ways. A quick glance at the davening for Yom Kippur shows v'ne'emar she'ne'emar ...
5
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6answers
331 views

Where is there a good online source to check how often a word appears in Tanach?

Where is there a good online source where you can check how often a word appears in Tanach?
0
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1answer
42 views

Bereshit 17:1 the age of Avram

Translations often translate this verse as 'When Avram was ninety-nine years old'; while more literally it reads: 'And Avram was son of nine year and ninety years.' Why is he called a son (Ben) of ...
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3answers
54 views

What is the difference between curses that would require changing lashon?

In parshat Lech Lecha, (Bereishit 12:3) Hashem promises Avram that וַאֲבָרְכָה, מְבָרְכֶיךָ, וּמְקַלֶּלְךָ, אָאֹר, And I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. Why ...
13
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1answer
76 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
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1answer
54 views

Does wa tawrat (ותורת) in Jeremiah 8:8 means torah, namely the 5 books or Moshe?

Jeremiah said (I used KJV translation but the translations are about the same) How do ye say, We are wise, and the law of the LORD is with us? Lo, certainly in vain made he it; the pen of the ...
6
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3answers
158 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 ...
6
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3answers
124 views

Age of Universe and Shabbat

If one believes that our world is billions of years old, i.e. accepting the idea of each day in Sheshis Imei Berieshit (the Six Days of Creation) as eras and not literal days, then how does one ...
4
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2answers
55 views

Why did the dor hamabul earn a painless death?

There are, apparently, 903 levels of death, and the term vayigva is one of them. According to some, it refers to the simple act of expiration -- the creation of a corpse. Others, like the Rashi ...
5
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2answers
188 views

Israel Am v.s. Goy

Is Israël an Am or Goy or both? whats the Torah definition and best translation of both terms? Because it seems that Israël is being called both Am as a Goy. (Am Kadosh: Devarim 26:19 and Goy ...
1
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1answer
33 views

what Difference between Shamash and eved

Why is the servant-candle on the menorah called “shamash” (meaning servant) instead of “eved” which is the word for servant in Hebrew
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4answers
95 views

“And it was evening, and it was morning, *one* day”?

Gen. 1:5: וַיְהִי עֶרֶב וַיְהִי בֹקֶר יוֹם אֶחָד And it was evening, and it was morning, one day Gen. 1:8: וַיְהִי עֶרֶב וַיְהִי בֹקֶר יוֹם שֵׁנִי and it was evening, and it was ...
4
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4answers
57 views

Connection between עָרוּם and עֲרוּמִּים

In the story of Adam, Eve and the snake the word 'עָרוּם' is used in two completely different contexts, yet they feature on pasuk after the other: Bereishit 2:25 : וַיִּהְיוּ שְׁנֵיהֶם ...
1
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1answer
23 views

In Beresheit what is the difference between the light in 1:3 and the light in 1:14

I notice that in 1.3, the word אוֺר ("ore") is used, but in 1.14, the word מְאֹרֹת (morot) is used. I see that both contain aleph and reish. Both have something to do with light and lighting up. ...
13
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9answers
719 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 ...
4
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0answers
32 views

The word 'Halakhah'

When and under what circumstances did the word "halakhah" (also spelled "halacha", "halachah" or, in Hebrew, הלכה) come to mean Jewish law?
1
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1answer
59 views

Did Aaron's staff turned into a snake or a crocodile?

In exodus 7 it says on verses 8-12: ח וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה, אֶל-מֹשֶׁה וְאֶל-אַהֲרֹן לֵאמֹר. ט כִּי יְדַבֵּר אֲלֵכֶם פַּרְעֹה לֵאמֹר, תְּנוּ לָכֶם מוֹפֵת; וְאָמַרְתָּ אֶל-אַהֲרֹן, קַח אֶת-מַטְּךָ ...
1
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0answers
29 views

Meaning of סוף (suf) = weed/reed vs edge/end

What is the original meaning of the word סף and its cognate סוף ? We know that סף in the Bible means edge or threshold. But why does its cognate סוף carry the meaning of weed or reed most of the ...
5
votes
2answers
47 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)
11
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3answers
397 views

Meaning and pronunciation of יישר כחך

What is the exact meaning of the phrase "יישר כחך", and what is the gramatically-correct way to pronounce it?
4
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0answers
18 views

Wondering about a line in Hoshanot for Shabbat [duplicate]

The special Hoshanot for Shabbat mostly contain praises for B'nei Yisrael related to Shabbat. However, i don't get the י line: יושבת וממתנת עד כלות שבת She sits and waits until the end of ...
3
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1answer
39 views

Why is the wording of the beracha upon shaking the arba minim only on lulav?

The beracha upon shaking the arba minim is 'על נטילת לולב'? Why is the focus on the lulav specifically rather than a more general blessing like 'על נטילת ארבעה מינים'?
2
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0answers
15 views

What is the significance of the ten azharos of tshuva (in Yeshaya ch. 1)?

Rashi in Yeshayah chapter 1 vs. 16 tells us that the ten words in the next two psukim, רחצו, הזכו, הסירו, חדלו, למדו, דרשו, אשרו, שפטו, ריבו, are all אזהרות של לשון תשובה כנגד עשרת ימי תשובה, וכנגד ...
3
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2answers
54 views

What does having a Mehudar Etrog and Lulav mean over just having a kosher set?

I often hear the word 'Mehudar' used during this time of year to refer to special Lulav-and-Etrog sets. What does Mehudar mean?
3
votes
1answer
103 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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2answers
82 views

Why does kaftor vaferach mean “very nice”?

I have seen sefarim, and heard people giving derashos, use the expression "kaftor vaferach" to mean that an idea works out very nicely, or everything comes out very cleanly. The words kaftor vaferach ...
1
vote
3answers
48 views

Path of the Just - what does שיתברר ויתאמת mean?

The Mesilat Yesharim starts off: יסוד החסידות ושרש העבודה התמימה הוא שיתברר ויתאמת אצל האדם מה חובתו (Translation: The foundation of saintliness and the root of perfection in the service of ...
2
votes
0answers
20 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
100 views

Is there a negative connotation to Yair Mazolam - יאיר מזלם?

Yesterday The Yeshiva World posted a letter the Lubavitcher Rabbi Zatzal sent to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu upon the birth of his son Yair. In the letter the Rabbi handwrote the words V'Yair ...
2
votes
3answers
5k views

Gmar Chasima Tova - What does it mean?

When we wish one another during the Aseres Yemei Teshuva "Gmar Chasima Tova" what does it mean? Does it not depend on what is written in the document? What difference does it make if the seal is good ...
5
votes
3answers
67 views

Deut. 29:15 — why not “you passed” or “we passed”?

In this week's parsha, Moshe says to Bnei Yisrael (Devarim 29:15): כִּי אַתֶּם יְדַעְתֶּם אֵת אֲשֶׁר יָשַׁבְנוּ בְּאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם וְאֵת אֲשֶׁר עָבַרְנוּ בְּקֶרֶב הַגּוֹיִם אֲשֶׁר עֲבַרְתֶּם ...
3
votes
1answer
55 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 ...
7
votes
2answers
1k views

What is the original meaning of the world “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 ...
7
votes
1answer
189 views

wording of the invitation to birkas hamazon

I know some Ashk'nazim say rabosay n'varech, some rabosay mir velen bentschen, and some hertzi rabosay mir velen bentschen. (Any other forms?) Is there any particular reason given for one or another?
3
votes
1answer
47 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 ...
5
votes
3answers
88 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 ...