Questions tagged [words]

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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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 ...
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30 votes
5 answers
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When blogging/emailing/etc., do I use "God" or "G-d"?

Is there a religious problem with typing out the name: "G-o-d"?
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20 votes
3 answers
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Bli Neder Loophole

Who came up with the Bli Neder loophole of: Bli neder I will help you do X Or Bli neder I will etc... And the list can go on and on. Who came up with addingBli Neder which basically means "...
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8 votes
1 answer
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What is the meaning of Davar Shebakedusha?

How does something become a Davar Shebakedusha? What is the criteria? This question was inspired by the discussion over here. People half-standing for אלקינו in zimun
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14 votes
7 answers
48k views

Nefesh, neshama and ruach as words for "soul"

All three words can mean something like "soul", e.g., neshama in גלגול נשמות, and ruach in וַתְּחִי רוּחַ יַעֲקֹב אֲבִיהֶם (Bereshit 45:27). So, what is the difference?
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11 votes
2 answers
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Can songs use the words from pesukim?

I asked Is it OK to compose a song that breaks up a pasuk? and was told (in comments) that perhaps it would be good to first clarify whether songs can use pesukim at all. So, question: Can songs, ...
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7 votes
5 answers
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What color is Yarok?

Yarok ירוק in modern Hebrew means green. What color does it refer to in Mishnaic Hebrew? I have heard that it refers to yellow and not green because the Mishna in Sukkah (on 34b) discusses a citron ...
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9 votes
3 answers
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How many words are there in Tanach?

How many letters are in the Torah? How many words are in the Torah? How many verses are in the Torah? How many chapters are in the Torah? How many letters, words, verses, and chapters are in every ...
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23 votes
5 answers
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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 ...
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12 votes
3 answers
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verb + its infinitive

Many, many times in Tanach, including Chumash, a verb has its infinitive nearby. Examples include B'reshis 2:16 מִכֹּל עֵץ הַגָּן אָכֹל תֹּאכֵל (I think that's the first example in Chumash) and ...
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11 votes
10 answers
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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?
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8 votes
5 answers
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what does baruch atah Hashem mean?

most times, the beginning of a beracha is Baruch Atah Adonai, etc. which is usually translated as Blessed are You God, etc. what does it mean to say that God is blessed? (on the surface it implies ...
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13 votes
3 answers
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Posek vs. Rabbi?

It seems to me obvious that certain sheilos are best dealt with by only the leading Rabbanim. At the same time colloquially we often say a Rabbi has "paskened" a sheilah when the answer is fairly ...
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9 votes
1 answer
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*Asher Bamayim* (אשר במים) in kashrus halacha

To find the kashrus status of an organism, we first need to correctly classify it as plant, animal, bird, or asher bamayim*, as each group has its own distinct requirements. E.g., animals need to chew ...
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17 votes
8 answers
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What does Kadosh really mean?

What do the terms קדוש (Kadosh), קדושים, קדושה, and קדיש really mean?
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7 votes
5 answers
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Significance of the gemara statment תיקו Teku?

Why do we say תיקו Teiku when there is no answer in the Gemara?
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12 votes
4 answers
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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 "...
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17 votes
5 answers
607 views

Why is the wicked son sanctioned for doing what the wise son does?

In the Passover Hagada we're told about the four sons. The second one is called wicked because he asks, "What is this service to you?!" ("מה העבודה הזאת לכם?") (emphasis mine), while the first one is ...
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8 votes
2 answers
677 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?
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6 votes
1 answer
486 views

Gedole HaDor: who and how

1)Who do we know to refer to as a "Gadol?" 2)How do we determine who is a "Gadol?" For example, how did we determine that Rav Elyashiv is a Gadol? A Gadol HaDor is known as one of the most ...
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11 votes
3 answers
940 views

Double Yud as G-ds Name

What is the significance of the double Yud used as a stand-in for G-d's name?
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8 votes
5 answers
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Why does the Torah use the non-Hebrew word 'Totafot'

Related to this question. Rashi, on Shemot (13:16): "...וְהָיָה לְאוֹת עַל יָדְכָה וּלְטוֹטָפֹת בֵּין עֵינֶיךָ " writes: and for ornaments between your eyes: Heb. וּלְטוֹטָפֹת, tefillin. Since ...
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16 votes
3 answers
923 views

What is "emunas chachomim"?

My daughter came home from school with a textbook response for what "emunas chachomim" is. I disagreed strongly with what was written in the book, so I'm not even going to say what they said. Rather,...
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14 votes
3 answers
553 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 ...
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11 votes
37 answers
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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 ...
5 votes
3 answers
344 views

The Tur's word counts for Shemoneh Esreh

I have often seen the Tur cited as giving exact word counts for each blessing of the Shemoneh Esreh. The arguments I have seen for being careful to adhere to the word counts include that this would ...
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5 votes
8 answers
1k views

What does the term "sons of G-d" mean?

The term "sons of G-d" בני האלהים is found 5 times in the Hebrew Bible, once in Genesis (6:2), three times in Job (1:6, 2:1 and 38:7) and one time in Psalms (29:1). What does it mean? Does it have the ...
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5 votes
3 answers
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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 ...
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7 votes
2 answers
471 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?
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17 votes
3 answers
809 views

the aggadic concept of a finite number of words to speak

Is there any truth to the common claim that each person has a predetermined number of words that he can speak in his life? Source, please. If so, then how does it work? In particular (with sources or ...
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23 votes
6 answers
1k views

Why do we say Mazel Tov? Shouldn't we thank Hashem?

Why do we say "Mazel Tov" when something good happens to a person? Doesn't that mean "good luck?" Are we saying that what happened, happened because of luck?
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21 votes
2 answers
870 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 Mishnah)...
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6 votes
2 answers
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What is the definition of Zera Yisrael? Please read description

Shalom Aleichem, I am considering a halachic conversion to Judaism after having converted (along with several family members of mine) with a reform rabbi several years ago. In my research and studies, ...
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17 votes
1 answer
513 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 יְ-ק-...
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12 votes
2 answers
255 views

"m'nora" on Chanuka

My kid came home from school one day insisting that the thing we light on Chanuka is not a m'nora but a chanukiya. I replied that that's the word most Israelis use now but that m'nora is a perfectly ...
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8 votes
3 answers
4k views

חַס וְשָׁלוֹם: why and for what

What is saying חַס וְשָׁלוֹם (chas v'shalom) supposed to accomplish? Does it do so, or is it just a waste of breath? Based on the answers given to my previous question about this phrase, it seems ...
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6 votes
0 answers
260 views

Source for not referring to Chanuka lights as a "menora"

Following up on this question about the use of the words "menora" or "chanukiya" to refer to Chanuka lights: I find it interesting that the use of "chanukiya," popularized in 1897 through a secular ...
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5 votes
4 answers
456 views

Source of the word "teva" for nature

I was told by someone who I consider to be very reliable that the word טבע, which means nature, does not have a source in Biblical or Talmudic literature, and it is a word that first emerges in ...
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2 votes
2 answers
144 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 ...
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7 votes
4 answers
295 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 ...
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23 votes
3 answers
1k 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?
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10 votes
4 answers
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What is the exact definition of Shituf (vis a vis 'Avodah Zarah)?

"Shituf" is the heretical idea of some sort of co-mingling of something with G-d (Has VeShalom). According to many rabbinic opinions, Christianity is Shituf (cf., Is Christianity Avodah Zara?), and ...
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6 votes
1 answer
179 views

How can you see words?

Has anyone else noticed the seeming incongruity in Lekh Lekha, Gen 15:1...that Avram is "seeing" the words? The verse states: אַחַר הַדְּבָרִים הָאֵלֶּה, הָיָה דְבַר-יְהוָה אֶל-אַבְרָם, בַּמַּחֲזֶה,...
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6 votes
5 answers
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What is the meaning of יוֹם (yowm) in Bereshit?

I've heard conflicting reports of how the creation days' יוֹם (yowm), in Bereshit are interpreted in the Jewish community. How do actual Hebrew scholars define day in Bereshit? Six 24 hour periods or ...
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24 votes
4 answers
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Why Yehoshua **Bin** Nun and not Yehoshua **Ben** Nun

The Torah refers to Yehoshua as Yehoshua Bin Nun. (See here for an example). Why Bin Nun and not Ben Nun? Are there any places in Tanach where he is referred to as Ben Nun? Is there anyone else in ...
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19 votes
5 answers
1k views

Meaning of ודו"ק

It is fairly common to find the abbreviation ודו"ק at the end of a complex explanation of a Torah thought (Maharsha, for example, famously does this very often). Roughly, it means: "I didn't explain ...
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10 votes
1 answer
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what is "kodesh"?

What does the word קֹדֶשׁ (sometimes קודש), kodesh, mean? Its form is that of a noun, like אֹכֶל or בֹּקֶר or לֹבֶן. But קדושה is a noun, and (I'm pretty sure) it means "the state/quality of being ...
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9 votes
1 answer
1k views

What is "בלי עין הרע"?

After mentioning that someone has been benefited by God in some way — say, with longevity or good looks or wealth — people often add the Hebrew "בלי עין הרע" ("without the evil eye") or ...
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8 votes
2 answers
344 views

Source that "Teiku" References Eliyahu?

What is the earliest source that indicates that "teiku" (תיקו) references Eliyahu? Any source earlier than the Tosafos Yom Tov who provides an alternative explanation?
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7 votes
1 answer
449 views

Changing the spelling of "G-d" and Halachic erasure

Is there a problem of "erasing the name of HaShem" if you erase the English word spelled G-o-d, and if so, is there then a problem of erasing it in order to spell it in a more acceptable way (such as ...
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