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19
votes
2answers
1k views

Different traditions in Hebrew pronunciation [closed]

The theme of Hebrew pronunciation is one that facinates me and, as such, I want to get some feedback on some issues I've been thinking about for years. I have already discussed some of these issues ...
17
votes
2answers
1k views

Was a sefer torah ever actually written in Greek?

This answer to a different question states that the only other language a sefer torah can be written in and be kosher is Greek. (Rambam, Hilchot Sefer Torah 1:19 says that this Greek no longer exists ...
14
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4answers
579 views

Is pharisaical - or any similar allusion to the Pharisees - offensive to modern Jews?

This question is inspired from an English Stack Exchange question: https://english.stackexchange.com/questions/182014/what-is-the-word-for-a-pious-person-who-never-helps-others In short, is the term ...
14
votes
5answers
5k views

Is Hebrew the mother of all languages spoken today in the world?

I often wonder what language Adam, Seth, Noah and Abraham (may peace and blessings be upon them) used to speak. What was their native tongue? Was it classical Hebrew? If yes, then would it be right to ...
13
votes
1answer
319 views

Where Rashi uses a Russian word in Nach?

I heard that Rashi uses a Russian word where he deals with the building of the Beis Hamikdash by King Shlomo. I also heard that he uses a Polish word. Does anyone know where it is?
13
votes
1answer
863 views

What is the source of the expression המבין יבין?

The Forward writer Philologos in his most recent column claimed that the earliest uses of the expression והמבין יבין are found in the Ra'avad and in the Radak. Based on the fact that both these ...
12
votes
4answers
296 views

Why did Yosef's brothers speak freely in the presence of the interpreter?

In Parashat Miketz, Yosef's brothers encounter him disguised as the viceroy of Egypt, and he accuses them of espionage, jails them for three days, and makes a demand that they know their father would ...
12
votes
1answer
494 views

Kubutz and shuruk in Polish/Hungarian pronunciation

What is the origin or basis of the Polish and Hungarian prevalence for pronouncing "oo" vowels as "ee"? The variants of other vowels are easier to understand in the context of phonological shifting, ...
12
votes
4answers
394 views

Why the Sanhedrin has a greek name?

This bothers me since a long time. The biggest Jewish halachic authority, arguably, the peak of the Torah world which can be ever imagined, which has its most basic definitions in the Chumash (70 ...
12
votes
1answer
800 views

Is there a rule for Rashi's French transliterations (Laaz)?

Rashi frequently uses French words in his explanation to Chumash or the Gemara. However, he doesn't write it in the original language, but he writes it in a "transliteration" of French in Hebrew ...
11
votes
7answers
6k views

Hard Yeshivish phrases to translate [closed]

Does anyone ever have trouble finding good English translations of certain yeshivish phrases, especially when in conversation with someone who would not understand the original? Post your favorite ...
11
votes
2answers
488 views

Why is Hebrew Called “Jewish” in the Bible?

We see that in most of the Bible, the Jews are called "בני ישראל/Israelites"; only in later books are they called "יהודים/Jews" (e.g. Esther 2:5, Zechariah 8:23), after the loss of the 10 tribes. ...
10
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3answers
333 views

Why do many (most?) people call the upcoming holiday “Peysach”? [closed]

In some Ashkenazic dialects, lots of words in which the first syllable is accented and the vowel is segol are pronounced as though they had a tzeirei. Examples include "meylech," "tzeydek," and "...
10
votes
3answers
980 views

What is Rashi proving with words in different languages

There are many places in Rashi's commentary where he uses a foreign language to translate a word used in the Torah. For example, Bereshit 6:14: בכפר: זפת בלשון ארמי. ומצינו בתלמוד כופרא With ...
10
votes
1answer
370 views

Who translated the original version of the Torah into each of the 70 languages?

In Devarim 27:8, the Torah says to "write all the words of the Torah explained well" (- "Ba'aer Hetev". Rash"i, citing Sotah 35b, says that this was translated into 70 languages. Sifsei Chachamim ...
10
votes
1answer
128 views

Counting Sefirah in a made up language

Can one fulfill the mitzvah of counting the Omer by counting in a language that only he/she understands? What if a few people understand? An entire goup?
9
votes
6answers
697 views

Why should Bochurim learn Gemara in Aramaic?

Why is there so much emphasis in the Yeshivish world to learn Gemara in Aramaic? Why can't you find an English artscroll shas in most charedi yeshiva? It is not Lashon Hakodesh and it was written in ...
9
votes
2answers
178 views

Is there a law against saying obscenities?

Is there a law against saying obscenities? If yes, what is considered obscene? Does it apply to any language or only to Hebrew?
9
votes
3answers
191 views

What does בי in בירבי mean?

The word בירבי "the son of Rabbi..." appears many times in the acrostics of piyyutim (e.g. El'azar the Kalir signs his name אלעזר בירבי קליר, e.g. in the יוצר beginning אומן בשמעו). (I have seen it ...
9
votes
1answer
155 views

Hashta Ba'agala

There have been questions about the use of Aramaic as a language of prayer, in whole or in part, and even a question about the possible appearance of a single Aramaic word in an otherwise Hebrew ...
9
votes
3answers
318 views

Did any Achronim Write Books Comparing Arabic to Hebrew?

Did any achronim write books comparing Arabic to Hebrew?
9
votes
1answer
139 views

אמת at the end of קריאת שמע when not saying the brachot

When saying k'riat sh'ma al hamitah, many (all?) people say the word emet at the end of the third paragraph. Also, I believe that the common practice when saying keriat sh'ma without the brachot (for ...
9
votes
3answers
162 views

Chanting Haftarah in English

Must/should the Haftarah be chanted in Hebrew? Can it be chanted in another language such as English in English-speaking countries, Spanish in Spanish-speaking countries, etc.?
9
votes
1answer
563 views

Are the seventy distinct languages and nations listed?

It's a well known concept that there were 70 nations and 70 original languages. Is there any agreement about which ones they were/are? I found this which lists the nations, but I'm interested in ...
8
votes
2answers
281 views

Speaking Yiddish vs. the host language at home [closed]

I understand that, before World War Ⅱ, the Jews of Hungary and Germany mostly spoke Hungarian and German, respectively, amongst themselves (at home), whereas the Jews of Poland mostly spoke Yiddish ...
8
votes
2answers
695 views

Is the ketuba enforceable in American law?

The Ketuba is written in Aramaic, so it might not be easily understood by an English-speaking judge; however, it is still a contract. On the other hand, the ketuba is not (necessarily?) signed by ...
8
votes
2answers
153 views

Is there a difference between “להלן” and “לקמן”?

There are many times when Sefarim and commentaries reference something that is brought later on. Sometimes the word "לקמן" is used (example) and sometimes the word "להלן" is used (example). Is there ...
8
votes
2answers
306 views

Are there any studies that compare Biblical Hebrew to modern Hebrew? [closed]

(I am a Hebrew speaker) When reading the Bible, one encounters sometimes words whose meaning in modern Hebrew clearly does not correspond to what was meant in the text (in Kohelet for example, "מסכן" ...
8
votes
1answer
244 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
128 views

Why doesn't the Torah use more efficient ways to say “both” or “each” when describing the Mishkan utensils?

In Parshas Terumah, in the description of many of the utensils of the Temple, the Torah seems to be very repetitive in its description of parts that are meant to be the same. For example, chapter 25 ...
7
votes
6answers
746 views

Is there a Mitzva to speak Loshon Kodesh?

Is it a Mitzva to speak Loshon Kodesh? (sources)
7
votes
1answer
407 views

Why is Jeremiah 10:11 written in Aramaic?

The Aramaic language appears only once in the Book of Jeremiah in the following verse. Jeremiah 10:11 (MT) ִּדְנָה֙ תֵּאמְר֣וּן לְה֔וֹם אֱלָ֣הַיָּ֔א דִּֽי־שְׁמַיָּ֥א וְאַרְקָ֖א לָ֣א עֲבַ֑דוּ ...
7
votes
4answers
748 views

Why was the Gemara written in Aramaic?

The Gemara (the Bavli and Yerushalmi) are the fundamental texts that we possess of the Oral law. Why were they written in Aramaic? At first glance, Ravina and R' Ashi probably knew that this will be ...
7
votes
1answer
366 views

How and when did the word “Kollel” come to mean “an institution for paying scholars to study Torah”?

How and when did the word "Kollel" come to mean "an institution for paying scholars to study Torah"? If I'm not mistaken, the Hebrew word "kollel" means "includes." But today we've all heard of the ...
7
votes
1answer
100 views

Why does Hillel's teachings change to Aramaic in Ethics of the Fathers?

In Ethics of the Fathers chapter 1 (Mishna 11-13) three sayings are said in Hillel's name. Two are in Hebrew while one (Mishna 12) is in Aramaic. The rest of the chapter is all in Hebrew. Why the ...
7
votes
1answer
117 views

Why is the kesuba not written in a native language?

The kesuba (marriage contract) is written in a smattering of Hebrew with Aramaic thrown in. It is possible that onr or both parties may not know what all the words in the kesuba mean. Furthermore it ...
7
votes
1answer
574 views

Keeping in mind the meaning of every word of prayer, vs. being mindful of general concepts

If I were to sit down with my prayer book, I could translate it. I know what the words mean, and I know what they are saying conceptually. However, when I'm praying, if I try to translate in my head ...
7
votes
3answers
495 views

What was the language used in Torah study by Jews in Israel in 16th century

Did the Jewish inhabitants of Safed and Jerusalem (contemporaries of Rav Yosef Karo and the Ari) speak Hebrew when they learned Torah or did they speak Arabic, Ladino or some other language? I saw a ...
7
votes
1answer
533 views

Does texting count as speech?

For instance, say that I text someone "I promise I'll do X." Does that have the same status as if I said out loud the same thing? The same question can be asked with respect to Shevuos (as in oaths, ...
7
votes
1answer
119 views

Would Emoji halachically be considered a language?

While admittedly close to Purim, this is NOT a Purim Torah. 😂 Pretty much all of us know about emojis, as they're virtually everywhere nowadays. Emojis are increasingly being used as proof in court- ...
7
votes
1answer
196 views

Language of a ketubah for marriage

Can I write a ketubah in English or possibly in Hebrew? Or must it be in Aramaic? The problem is that my friends and I do not speak Aramaic any longer. Our Babylonian-Jewish ancestors did, but we ...
7
votes
1answer
300 views

Would a Greek sefer torah be read from in Greek?

If a sefer Torah was written in Greek, would it have been publicly read from in the Greek translation only, or would they also use a Hebrew scroll?
6
votes
3answers
451 views

Source of appellation “Shimshon HaGibor”

I've heard it claimed that the expression "Shimshon HaGibor" (Samson the Mighty) [as a descriptive of Shimshon in Tanach] was invented by the Zionists, to promote their "strong Jew" narrative. Is this ...
6
votes
4answers
842 views

What are your suggestions for learning Yiddish?

I would like to learn Yiddish in order to further my understanding of Chassidus and other Torah topics that are presented in Yiddish. What are your suggestions for sources to use that would focus on ...
6
votes
2answers
3k views

Akum, Nochri, and Goy

I see a lot of Halachic and Aggadic texts where the words גוי, נכרי, עכו"ם are all used interchangeably. Usually I notice it in places where two people are using different versions of a text (one from ...
6
votes
1answer
86 views

הָהֵ֔ם and הָאֵ֑לֶּה difference

I am an English speaking non-Jew but am studying the Hebrew Scriptures and need help in Hebrew language for my studies. It is quite a simple question but it will help me very much. What is the ...
6
votes
1answer
106 views

What Egyptian/Greek text was Ibn Ezra consulting for his commentary on the name “Moshe”?

Ibn Ezra suggests that Pharaoh's daughter, who spoke Egyptian, most likely called the baby Monios, the Egyptian word for drawn; the Torah translated into Hebrew as "Moshe." He then writes that he ...
6
votes
2answers
732 views

Why is the Haggadah written in Hebrew?

The Haggadah was written during the Talmudic period, so I would expect it to be written in Aramaic. Especially since the entire purpose of the Haggadah is the telling over of the story of yetziat-...
6
votes
1answer
91 views

For things that can be said in any language, how fully must you understand the language?

Sotah 7:1 gives a list of things that are said in any language, including the Sh'ma and the t'filah. Several commentaries I've seen explain that these texts are so important that you need to ...
6
votes
2answers
98 views

Torah Study in English

Will one receive the reward of Learning Torah if they read the Tanach, Gemara, Shulchan Aruch, etc. in English if English is their mother tongue? Please cite sources.