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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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Portmanteaus in Torah

I came across a "portmanteau" in Midrash Tanchuma, Ki Tisa 5: בַּכּוֹשָׁרוֹת (from Tehillim 86:7) Which is a combination of בָּכֵי and שִׁירָה, as Hashem's matching of people, against ...
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Differences in meanings between similar pronouns (עָלָיו, לוֹ); likewise (יהוּ,- יו-)

Is there someone who discusses the differences between pronoun synonyms? I'm thinking of two sets as examples, both of which occur within a few pesukim of each other in perek 5 of Shir HaShirim: 5:4 ...
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In Bereshit 1:1, does בָּרָא suggest "made out of nothing" or simply "gave a form to"?

Disclaimer: I don't know Hebrew. In Bereshit 1:1, does בָּרָא suggest "made out of nothing" or simply "gave a form to"? I have heard it suggested that it implies "creation out ...
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Kavana for סֶּֽלָה

It is clear from this question that the word Selah isn't well understood. We have several wildly different definitions, and some of them have no associated Kavana. This becomes a halachic problem ...
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What is the difference between and לִשְׁמֹר and לַעֲשׂוֹת?

The Mishna Avos (4:5) says רַבִּי יִשְׁמָעֵאל בְּנוֹ אוֹמֵר, הַלּוֹמֵד תּוֹרָה עַל מְנָת לְלַמֵּד, מַסְפִּיקִין בְּיָדוֹ לִלְמֹד וּלְלַמֵּד. וְהַלּוֹמֵד עַל מְנָת לַעֲשׂוֹת, מַסְפִּיקִין בְּיָדוֹ ...
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Does אַגְרָא (Avot 5:23) translate better as פְּרָס or שְׂכַר?

I believe (based on Rambam on Avot 1:3) that פְּרָס translates better as "a present given in grace as an unearned gift, rather than as wages", whereas שְׂכַר is more akin to what one ...
Rabbi Kaii's user avatar
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Priestly blessing in feminine

In the standard Friday night blessing for children, the girls are blessed using the original passuk in the masculine, same as the boys. A long time ago, I was criticised by a secular person for ...
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Why does Shulchan Aruch not use the term חלף

A knife that is used for Shechita is also called a חלף. Why doesn't the Smach and Shulchan Aruch use this word and instead use the regular term סכין שחיטה?
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Chabad Maamar Avodah definition

What is the definition or description of "mamarei avodah" and how does this differ from any other maamar? This seems to be a Chabad specific term.
flips's user avatar
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Does Arba'a Banim mean four sons or four children?

I've seen Arba'a Banim translated as alternately four sons or four children. Are there any sources for whether the word "Banim" here means sons only or whether it should specifically be ...
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Question on distinguishing similar words: שׂכל ,בין ,חכם ,ידע

How does one distinguish between שׂכל, בין, חכם, ידע? And their respective nouns: שֶׂכֶל, בִּינָה, חָכְמָה, מַדָע, דַּעַת When comparing the lexicons Dictionary of Classical Hebrew and HALOT I see ...
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Why is a נשר - eagle considered שקץ - a detestable thing when its symbol is used on many holy things

The word "שקץ" is described by R. Samson Rafael Hirsch as follows, "...the prohibition against eating (an eagle, or other similar birds) is termed שקץ, such eating is antithetical to ...
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Who is Achashverosh the Mede found in Daniel 9:1?

In Daniel 9:1, Darius the Mede's father is said to be someone called Achashverosh. This is obviously not to be identified with the Achashverosh in Esther, as many meforshim make clear. Is there any ...
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Difference between צריך and חייב

In the gemara (Pesachim 108a) the text reads that matzah צריך הסיבה But Not chayav. This is brought down as halacha. Is there any technical difference between saying that one "needs" to do ...
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Meaning of animal names examples

We always say that animals were named by Adam based on their tasks or essence in life. The famous example is that the word for dog, כלב, comes from כ-לב, meaning “like a heart.” So the drash is that ...
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Glatt vs Beit Yosef Glatt [duplicate]

I’m curious what the difference in Halacha is between standard Glatt and “Beit Yosef” Glatt kosher? My understanding is the difference between Glatt and non-Glatt is the lungs, but what makes Beit ...
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Can you jinx someone?

Since I was a child it was common that when two people would say the same thing at the same time one would call out "jinx" (sometimes followed by, "you have to buy me a soda!"). ...
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Plural and Singular in Prashat VeHaya Im Shamoa [duplicate]

In the Parshat VeHa'ya Im Shamoa (the second Parshah of the Kriyat Shema), the verse begins with the plural:והיה אם שמוע תשמעו... ולמדתם אותם את בניכם And you put these words on your hearts and minds, ...
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Conflicting meanings of "Shulchan Aruch"

On the first posuk of Mishpatim, Rashi brings from Mechilta that Torah should not be conveyed as dry information, but it should be taught with its full rationale, like a שלחן ערוך, a "table set ...
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What does "אל" mean?

I am talking about the Lashon Hakodesh appelation, אל, which is often translated as "God". What, precisely does it mean? How do we relate to a God, vs say, a King, or an Eternity, or a Lord ...
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Smoke or incense

Genesis 19:28 "and he looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the surrounding area; and behold, he saw the smoke (קִיטֹ֣ר) of the land ascended like the smoke (...
Lisa Cremer's user avatar
2 votes
1 answer
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Background of the Hasagat HaRa'avad on Rambam

A few questions about the Ra'avad: What does Hasagat mean in the context of the title of Hasagat HaRa'avad? I have seen the term used in reference to his works "HaRa'avad BeHasagatsv" So it ...
sam freed's user avatar
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What is אנדרלמוסיא

It is quite clear from context that it means a type of heavenly group punishment, like a flood or a plague* where both good and bad die, l'a. It seems mainly connected with the sin of זִּמָּה/זְנוּת i....
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Jewish way to describe depleted batteries?

Is there any halachic or hashkafic issues with saying that a battery has "died"? It is a well known Torah tradition, halachically and hashkafically, for us to avoid words like this, and ...
Rabbi Kaii's user avatar
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Why Called "Bar Mitzva"

Why is it called Bar MITZVA wouldnt it seem more correct to be called Bar MITZVOS? One might suggest that it refers to being a "Metzuva" I dint think thats correct if so, it should be a bar ...
user33932's user avatar
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Origin of the term pasuk

A verse in Tanach is referred to as a pasuk - פסוק. Where does this term come from and what is the earliest recorded usage of it to refer to a verse?
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Yaakov's thigh and the side of the altar

When Yaakov wrestled with the angel (Bereishis 32:25-26), the angel was losing the fight, and touched the hipsocket of Yaakov, making it go out of the socket. The word for hip/thigh used here is ...
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5 votes
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Is there a secular concept of migu [closed]

I’ve been told by lawyers that there is no concept of migu in US secular law (loosely translated as believing someone because had he wanted to lie he could have said a better lie that would not have ...
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Wise saying in the Netflix series 'Shtisel'

Some time ago, I watched the fantastic series 'Shtisel' on Netflix. I can't remember everything clearly, and unfortunately, the series is no longer available on Netflix. However, there's one scene ...
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What are the best books that teach Dikduk? [duplicate]

What are the best books to learn Dikduk? Both Lashon Hakodesh and Rabbinic/Mishnaic Hebrew.
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Does it talk about any Instances of not using sarcasm in conversation in the Talmud

Does the Talmud ever mention any caution against using sarcasm in conversation to avoid hurting another with words?
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When does one need to be careful not to incite the Satan?

The Gemara (Berachos 19a) learns out from Yeshayah 1:9-2:1, that one should not say that something bad could have happened to him, so as not to incite the Satan. The question is: doesn’t David ...
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1 answer
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Why are they called Chosson/kalla?

Why are newlyweds referred to as "Chosson" and "kallah" (The Torah already refers to them this way)? the definition Chosson/kalla is Son-in-law/daughter in-law. Wouldnt it seem ...
user33932's user avatar
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2 answers
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Is there a special term for a King who is also a Rabbi?

I'm looking for whether there is a specific term or a title for a King who also happens to be a Rabbi/Chief Rabbi. In other words, both the religious authority and the political authority. Just as an ...
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Slavic People are called K'nan in jewish sources

Why is the slavic languages or people reffered to as Cannanim in Jewish sources? Who is the first to do this? See for instance Minchas Yehuda in Mechokekei Yehuda explaining Rashi on Devarim 3:9 Here. ...
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What does the number 40 represent?

The number 40 appears multiple times in the Torah and the works of the Sages, though in very different contexts: For instance: 40 days of rain during the flood, for 40 days, Moses was on Mount Sinai, ...
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Why is the word Leviim written with only one yud: 'לויים' או 'לוים'

Do Chazal explain the inyan of the Tanach writing Levi חסר Chosser the yud that seems should be there grammatically? Does the double yud signify the rectification of the Leviim?
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If Hebrew was the target language, what was the source language in any of the Psalm in which “maskil” is mentioned?

If Hebrew was the target language, what was the source language in any of the Psalms in which “maskil” is mentioned? Rashi on Psalms 88:1 wrote: משכיל: כל מקום שנאמר משכיל ע"י תורגמן נאמר שהיה ...
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4 answers
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Why is a black skin strange, unusual or weird?

Why is a black skin strange, unusual or weird? This question developed after reading the following: כוש: מה כושי משונה בעורו אף שאול משונה במעשיו Cush: Just as a Cushite has unusual skin, so did Saul ...
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Saying God is Great in Arabic - is a Jew allowed?

We all know the "aqbar" phrase. Is it permissible for a Jew to say this phrase? The assumption is that it is ok, because it commonly said that we are talking about the same Hashem. This ...
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What does רבנן קשישאי mean?

I'm wondering what this term "רבנן קשישאי" specifically refers to. I think it just means old Rabbis, but I'm wondering if it's a reference to a specific group.
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What are the characteristics of המשכלים in Daniel 12?

I would like to know more about the word הַ֨מַּשְׂכִּלִ֔ים which I highlight in a bold face in the texts below. Daniel 12:3 is וְהַ֨מַּשְׂכִּלִ֔ים יַזְהִ֖רוּ כְּזֹ֣הַר הָרָקִ֑יעַ וּמַצְדִּיקֵי֙ ...
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Midpoint of each Sefer

I am looking for sources that tell what word, letter and verse is at the midpoint of each Sefer, meaning 5 midpoints if considering the Torah containing 5 books or if you want, 7 as the Talmud states ...
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"Earth" in Tanach

I am embarrassed to admit, I don't actually know the proper name for the planet we live on in Lashon HaKodesh, or if there even is one. Maybe it is Ha'Aretz, which literally means "the land"....
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What's the difference in meaning between the words טעם and עילה?

In the introduction to Chovos Halevavos, R. Bachya (as translated by R. Yehuda Ibn Tibbon) writes: מצות השמע שאין השכל מחייב בהם ולא דוחה אותם כאיסור בשר בחלב ושעטנז וכלאים והדומה להם ממה שנעלמה ממנו ...
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How many times does the word "Chesed" (in singular or plural forms) appear in Tanach?

How many times does the word "Chesed" (in singular or plural forms) appear in Tanach? I've heard somewhere that the number is 248, but I cannot confirm this. If it is 248, it would be an ...
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What is the difference between איל and עתוד?

במדבר ז יז - וּלְזֶ֣בַח הַשְּׁלָמִים֮ בָּקָ֣ר שְׁנַ֒יִם֒ אֵילִ֤ם חֲמִשָּׁה֙ עַתּוּדִ֣ים חֲמִשָּׁ֔ה כְּבָשִׂ֥ים בְּנֵֽי־שָׁנָ֖ה חֲמִשָּׁ֑ה זֶ֛ה קׇרְבַּ֥ן נַחְשׁ֖וֹן בֶּן־עַמִּינָדָֽב׃ {פ} And for his ...
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Why is there variation in number regarding entering the land?

In some situations, the Torah, when issuing a commandment regarding being in Israel uses the singular and in other cases, the plural: Dev 26:1 -- וְהָיָה֙ כִּֽי־תָב֣וֹא אֶל־הָאָ֔רֶץ Bam 15:2 -- כִּ֣י ...
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1 answer
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What's the name of gallery tombs in Hebrew: Kok, kokim?

In this article in the jewishencyclopedia it mentions some tomb galleries: These galleries, or niches, which were called "kok" (plural, "kokim") by the Rabbis. I want to know how ...
Mike's user avatar
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לְךְ - what is this grammatical form?

Occasionally in a sefardi siddur, I see לְךְ. The first shva is a shva na, and the last is a shva nach. I always thought it was a typo but I keep seeing it now so I thought I'd ask a grammatical ...
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