Peninei Halakha

Close this search box.
Peninei Halakha > Zemanim > Glossary


AĥaronimHalakhic authorities from c. 1500 CE until the present day
Al Ha-miĥya“On the Sustenance”; a blessing, abridged from the three blessings of Birkat Ha-mazon, recited after eating grain products, drinking wine, etc.
Al Ha-nisim“For the Miracles”; a paragraph added to the Amida and Birkat Hamazon on Ĥanuka and Purim
al netilat yadayim“Concerning the Washing of the Hands”; the berakha recited upon performing Netilat Yadayim
aliya (pl. aliyot)the calling of a congregant up to the Torah scroll as a section of it is read aloud
alot ha-shaĥardawn
ama (pl. amot)a cubit; a standard halakhic measure of distance equaling c. 45cm and approximating the distance from the tip of the middle finger to the elbow of the average adult male
Amida“The Standing Prayer”; also called the Shemoneh Esrei; the central prayer of each service, in which the worshipper stands as though in God’s presence
Aneinu“Answer Us”; a paragraph added to the Amida on fast days
Anshei Knesset Ha-gedola“The Men of the Great Assembly”, a group of sages and prophets from the beginning of the Second Temple era (c. 500 BCE) who instituted several enactments that shaped the course of halakha and Jewish tradition
Asher Yatzar“Who has Formed”; a berakha recited after using the bathroom
Ashrei“Fortunate”; a psalm (Tehilim 145 plus several added verses) that is recited thrice daily in Jewish prayers, twice during Shaĥarit and once during Minĥa.
Ata Ĥonantanuprayer added to the Amida of Ma’ariv of Motza’ei Shabbat that serves as a form of havdala
aufrufthe custom of honoring a groom on the Shabbat prior to his wedding by calling him up to the Torah and inviting family and friends to a celebratory kiddush
Avinu Malkeinua penitential prayer recited during the Ten Days of Repentance and on public fast days
bal tashĥitthe prohibition against destroying things needlessly
Barkhi NafshiTehilim chapter 104, recited on Rosh Ĥodesh
Barkhu “Bless”; the call to worship recited at various points in the prayer service and which requires a minyan
be-di’avada level of performance that ex post facto satisfies an obligation in a less-than-ideal manner
bein ha-metzarim“Between the Straits;” figurative name for the period of the Three Weeks
bein ha-shmashotthe time between sunset and the emergence of stars, when it is not clear whether it is night or day
beit din (pl. batei din)rabbinical court
Beit Din Ha-gadolThe high court or Sanhedrin of 71 sages that would convene in Jerusalem, on the Temple Mount.
beit midrash (pl. batei midrash)Torah study hall
beraitaa Tannaitic statement not included in the Mishna
berakhaa formal blessing recited before eating or performing a mitzva, and on other occasions
berakha le-vatala a blessing recited in vain
Birkat Ha-levanathe berakha recited on the moon at the beginning of each month
Birkat Ha-mazonknown as the “grace after meals”; the berakha aĥarona consisting of four berakhot recited after a bread-based meal
Birkat Kohanimthe three verses (Bamidbar 6:23-25) by which the Kohanim channel God’s blessing to the Jewish people
Birkhot Ha-neheninberakhot recited just before pleasurable experiences like eating food or smelling fragrances
Birkhot Ha-shaĥara series of berakhot recited each morning, praising God for meeting our most basic needs
Boneh Yerushalayimthe third berakha of Birkat Ha-mazon, whose theme is the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the Temple; also known as “Raĥem
brit (mila) the ritual circumcision (mila) performed on the eighth day of a Jewish boy’s like, when he enters into Israel’s covenant (brit) with God
devarim she-bikdusha“sacred words” or “sacred matters” that must be treated or recited with a greater degree of respect
divrei kabbalacommandments ordained by the prophets; an intermediate category between Torah law and rabbinic law
eifaa dry measurement of volume; three se’ah
eruv (ĥatzerot)a physical boundary that can transform a reshut ha-rabim into a reshut ha-yaĥid, allowing people to carry items within that area on Shabbat, as well as to carry items from another domain into that area, and vice versa; alternatively, the communal food that is set aside to join all homes and yards within the area, allowing it to be considered one reshut ha-yaĥid
gabbaithe congregant in charge of running services in the synagogue, selecting prayer leaders, managing charity collections and funds, and calling people up to the Torah
Go’el Yisrael“Redeemer of Israel”; the eighth berakha of the Amida, in which we pray for God to redeem us
haftaraa selection from the books of Nevi’im (Prophets) that is publicly read in synagogues on Shabbat, festivals, and fast days
Ha-gafenthe berakha recited over wine and grape juice
Hakhnasat Sefer TorahInauguration of a Torah scroll
ĥalakasee “upsherin
halakha (pl. halakhot)the collective body of Jewish law; an individual Jewish law
Hallelchapters 113-118 of Tehilim, all of which are thanksgiving psalms, recited on Jewish holidays
ĥamar medinalit. “the wine of the country”; a dignified beverage that people in one’s locale drink as one would drink wine
Ha-mavdilthe main berakha of havdala, commemorating the end of Shabbat or Yom Tov and the distinction between the sacred and the profane
Ha-nerot Halalua hymn that is traditionally recited after the lighting of the Ĥanuka candles
hanetz ha-ĥamasunrise
ĥanukiyaor “menora”; the nine-branched candelabrum used on Ĥanuka
Ha-Raĥamana series of short requests at the end of Birkat Ha-mazon that all begin with the word “Ha-Raĥaman” (“May the Merciful One”)
Ha-rav et riveinuthe concluding berakha of the reading of Megilat Esther
Ha-tov Ve-hametiv“Who is good and bestows good”; a special berakha recited when something very fortunate happens; also refers to the fourth and final berakha of Birkat Ha-mazon
havdalathe series of berakhot that marks the end of Shabbat and festivals
ĥazanthe person leading the congregation in prayer
ĥilul Hashemdesecration of the name of God
hilulathe anniversary of a death (yahrzeit), marked by celebration
ĥinukheducation, training
Ĥol Ha-mo’ed the intermediate days of Sukkot and Pesaĥ, on which certain weekday activities are permitted
Ĥumash (pl. ĥumashim)the Pentateuch; any of the five books of the Torah
Kaddisha hymn of praises to God whose central theme is the magnification and sanctification of God’s name
kal va-ĥomera fortiori reasoning
kavanaconcentration, intention, or mindfulness; the ideal state of mind during prayer and the performance of mitzvot
kebeitzaan egg’s bulk; a standard halakhic measure of volume or weight, equivalent to 55cc (according to R. Ĥayim Naeh)
Kedushaa responsive prayer of three verses recited in the third berakha of Ĥazarat Ha-shatz, praising God as the ministering angels do and therefore requiring a minyan
kevod ha-briyothuman dignity
kezayit (pl. kezeytim)an olive’s bulk, a standard halakhic measure of volume or weight
kiddushthe invocation of the sanctity of a holy day with blessings over a cup of wine
kiddush Hashemthe sanctification of God’s name
Kiddush Levanasee Birkat Ha-levana
Kinotelegies and lamentations over the destruction of the Temple, recited on Tisha Be-Av
Knesset Yisraelthe entirety (lit. ‘assembly’) of the Jewish people
kohen (pl. kohanim)a Jewish priest, descendant of Aaron, charged with performing the Temple rites and benefitting from certain privileges
Korbanotthe part of the prayer service in which paragraphs about the Temple korbanot are recited
Lag Ba-omerthe 33rd day of the omer period, celebrated as a quasi-holiday. See Chapter 5.
le-khatĥilaab initio; a level of performance that satisfies an obligation in an ideal manner
le-mehadrinin a more beautiful and enhanced manner
Le-shem Yiĥuda formula recited prior to the performance of a mitzva, which focuses on mystical ‘unifications’
Lo Yilbashthe Torah prohibition against a man wearing a woman’s clothing
lulava closed palm frond, one of the four species used during the holiday of Sukkot
Ma’ariv evening prayers
ma’aser kesafima tithe of one’s earnings, given to tzedaka
maftirthe person who reads the haftara, or at least recites the blessing on the haftara; alternatively, the aliya following the seven mandated aliyot that is given to the person who will read the haftara
matanot le-evyonimgifts given to the poor on Purim
Me-ein Shaloshsee “Al Ha-miĥya”; the blessing said after eating a kezayit of grain or of the special fruits of Eretz Yisrael, or after drinking a revi’it of wine or grape juice
megilot“scrolls”; the five books of Ketuvim that are read on holidays and festivals, the best-known of which is Esther
mehadrinsee “le-mehadrin
mehadrin min ha-mehadrinthe most enhanced form of the observance of a mitzva
Melakha (pl. melakhot)productive work of the type prohibited on Shabbat and Yom Tov
melo lugmava measure of liquid; enough to fill the drinker’s mouth with one cheek inflated
menorathe seven-branched candelabrum used in the Temple; a ĥanukiya is often called a “menora” colloquially.
Mezonotfood that is made from grain but is not bread, or the berakha recited on such foods
mezuzathe doorpost, or the parchment inscribed with specific paragraphs from the Torah that must be affixed to the doorpost of Jewish homes
mikveha ritual immersion pool
Minĥathe afternoon prayers
minyana quorum of ten adult Jewish males required for certain religious obligations
MishkanTabernacle; the portable dwelling place for the Divine Presence that was the center of Israelite worship before the Temple was constructed
mishlo’aĥ manotlit. “sending of portions”; gifts of food or drink that are sent on Purim day.
mishtehbanquet or drinking party; one of the mitzvot of Purim
mitzva (pl. mitzvot)commandment, precept
Modimthe berakha of thanksgiving in which one bows at the beginning and end; the second to last berakha of the Amida
mohela ritual circumciser
moladthe moment of “birth” of the new moon, when it begins waxing once again
Motza’ei ShabbatSaturday night after Shabbat ends and weekday activities are resumed
Musafthe additional service recited on Shabbat, Yom Tov, ĥol ha-mo’ed, and Rosh Ĥodesh, days on which the korban musaf was offered in Temple times
Naĥeman addition to the Amida at Minĥa of Tisha Be-Av, praying for Jerusalem to be comforted by being rebuilt
nasi (pl. nesi’im)tribal princes of Israel; a generic term for a leader
Ne’ila the concluding service, a special Jewish prayer service that is held only on Yom Kippur
nidaa woman who has menstruated and not yet immersed in a mikveh to purify herself
Nodeh Lekhathe second berakha of Birkat Ha-mazon, which expresses gratitude to the Almighty for giving the Land of Israel to the Jewish people
omera biblical measure of grain and an offering brought in the Temple on the second day of Pesaĥ; the count from that day until Shavu’ot is known as the counting of the omer, or Sefirat Ha-omer
oneg Shabbatthe mitzva to make Shabbat a delight by experiencing pleasure and avoiding discomfort and suffering
orlathe Torah prohibition on eating fruit from a tree for the first three years after it planting
Parashat ParaTorah portion concerning the preparation of ashes from a red heifer to purify those who have been contaminated by direct proximity to a human corpse; the third of the four special portions read around the time of Purim
Parashat ShekalimTorah portion concerning the half-shekel assessment of all Israel; the first of the four special portions read around the time of Purim
Parashat ZakhorTorah portion read on the Shabbat before Purim to fulfill the mitzva of remembering what Amalek did to Israel; second of the four read around the time of Purim
Parsahat Ha-ĥodesh(lit. “portion of the month”); Torah portion concerning the Passover offering and the mitzvah to keep a calendar, read on the Shabbat before the month of Nissan
parsha (pl. parshiyot)a passage from the Torah; the weekly Torah portion that is read at the synagogue each Shabbat
PesaĥPassover; the Jewish springtime holiday that celebrates Israel’s liberation from Egyptian bondage
Pesukei De-zimrathe psalms of praise recited prior to Shaĥarit which prepare one for the Amida
pidyon ha-bena mitzva in which a Jewish firstborn son is redeemed from a kohen with five silver coins
plag ha-minĥa1.25 seasonal hours before the end of the day, according to some the earliest time that one can accept Shabbat on Friday afternoon
posek (pl. poskim)a halakhic decisor or authority
prutaa copper coin used in antiquity, which had less value than any other coin; a “penny”
Purim Ha-meshulash a somewhat rare calendric occurrence in which the 15th of Adar coincides with Shabbat, in which case Jerusalemites spread the Purim observances over three days, Friday through Sunday
Raĥem“Have compassion”; the third berakha of Birkat Ha-mazon, also known as Boneh Yerushalayim
Refa’einuthe 9th berakha of the weekday Amida, in which we pray for health and wellbeing
reshut ha-rabimpublic domain
Retzei Ve-haĥalitzenuthe passage that is inserted into Birkat Ha-mazon on Shabbat during the third berakha
sandakthe “godfather” of a baby boy, honored with holding the baby on his knees while the brit mila is performed
se’udaa festive or formal meal or banquet
se’uda ha-mafseketthe final meal before the fasts of Tisha Be-Av and Yom Kippur
se’uda shlishitthe obligatory third Shabbat meal
se’udat mitzvaa festive meal celebrating the fulfillment of a mitzva
sefirat ha-omerthe mitzva of counting the days from the second day of Pesaĥ until Shavu’ot
sefirotmystical “emanations” through which God created and sustains the world
semikha the authority to adjudicate Torah law, conferred in an unbroken chain from Moshe; nowadays, in the absence of the original semikha, it refers to rabbinical ordination generally
Shabbat Ĥatansee “aufruf”; this can also refer to the Shabbat after the wedding, during which the new couple is honored in the synagogue and with festive meals
Shabbat Mevarkhimthe Shabbat before Rosh Ĥodesh, when the onset of the next lunar cycle and beginning of the new month are announced
Shabbat shalom“peaceful Shabbat”; a customary greeting on Shabbat, the Hebrew equivalent of “good Shabbos”
Shabbatotplural of Shabbat
Shaĥaritthe morning prayers
shali’aĥ proxy or agent
shalom zakhar a festive gathering hosted by the parents of a newborn baby boy on the first Shabbat eve after his birth
shamash“helper” or “sevant”; the candle that is used to light the Ĥanuka candles and as an extra light that is used to make sure that we do not use the light of the Ĥanuka candles themselves
She-asa Li Kol Tzorki“Who has Provided me with all my Needs”; one of the Birkhot Ha-shaĥar, originally recited upon putting on one’s shoes in the morning
She-asa Nisim“Who performed miracles for our forefathers”; a berakha of praise recited over Ĥanuka candles and the reading of Megilat Esther on Purim
She-hakolthe generic berakha on food, recited on foods not included in the purview of any other berakha
She-heĥeyanu“Who has given us life”; a berakha recited at specific significant occasions
Shekhinathe divine presence in this world
Shemathe three Torah paragraphs (or the first of the three paragraphs) whose recitation is a centerpiece of the morning and evening prayers; its opening verse is the Jewish credo: “Hear, O Israel: the Lord is our God, the Lord is one”
Shemoneh Esrei“The Eighteen,” (in reference to the original number of constituent blessings; there are now nineteen); the Amida, the central prayer of the Jewish liturgy
sheva berakhotthe seven blessings recited at a wedding ceremony and at the conclusion of a meal held in honor of the bride and groom during their first week of marriage
shi’ura standard halakhic measurement for weight, distance, or volume
Shir shel Yomthe “song of the day” that the Levites would sing in the Temple and which is now recited at the end of Shaĥarit
shivathe weeklong mourning period for close relatives, during which visitors bring solace and comfort to the homebound mourners
shki’ashorthand for shki’at ha-ĥama
shki’at ha-ĥamasunset, when Shabbat and Jewish holidays begin
shloshimthe month-long mourning period for close relatives; less intense than shiva, but still characterized by numerous laws and customs
shofara musical instrument made of a horn, traditionally that of a ram, blown as part of the Rosh Hashana ritual as well as other rituals
shome’a ke-oneh“hearing is akin to responding”; the halakhic principle under which one can fulfill an obligation by hearing the recitation (of a berakha, for example) made by someone else
Shome’a Tefila“Who Hears Prayer”; the 16th berakha of the weekday Amida in which we ask God to answer our prayers and may insert personal petitions
siddura Jewish prayer book
siyum masekheta se’udat mitzva occasioned by the completion of a tractate of the Talmud or another significant corpus of the Torah
sufganiyotjelly donuts, traditionally eaten in Israel and around the world on Ĥanuka
Taĥanun“Supplication”; the heartbreaking prayers recited after the Amida of Shaĥarit and Minĥa, omitted on festive occasions
talitthe four-cornered prayer shawl, fringed by tzitzit, traditionally worn by Jewish men during prayer
talit katana four cornered garment, fringed by tzitzit, traditionally worn by Jewish males under (and, among some groups, over) their clothing
tefaĥ (pl. tefaĥim)a handbreadth; a halakhic measurement equal to c. 8cm
tefilinphylacteries; black leather boxes and straps containing parchment scrolls, worn during weekday morning prayers
teruma (pl. terumot)a tithe of c. 2% of produce, given to kohanim
tosefet Shabbatthe time added before and/or after Shabbat to fulfill the mitzva of extending Shabbat into the week
tzadikimrighteous individuals
tzeitshorthand for tzeit ha-kokhavim
tzeit ha-kokhavimthe appearance of three distinct stars, marking nightfall for various halakhic purposes
Tziduk Ha-dina prayer recited at a Jewish funeral, in which mourners accept God’s judgment
tzitzitthe specially-tied fringes that worn on the corners of four-cornered garments; often used interchangeably with the term “talit katan
tzni’utmodesty, humility, or privacy, a character trait that governs Jewish behavior and dress, based on the notion that one is always in God’s presence
upsherina custom, observed by many, by which a young Jewish boy has his first haircut at age three, accompanied by an elaborate ceremony
U-va Le-Tziyona prayer recited along with Ashrei at the end of the weekday Shaĥarit and at Minĥa on Shabbat and festivals
Ya’aleh Ve-yavothe paragraph inserted into the Amida and Birkat Ha-mazon of festivals on which Musaf is recited
yahrtzeita Yiddish word that means “anniversary,” referring to a date of death, which is often marked by customary observances
Yom Ha-Kaddish Ha-klalithe date ordained by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel to recite Kaddish for Jews who perished in the Holocaust and whose yahrzeit is unknown
Yom Kippur Katanthe “minor” Yom Kippur; the day before Rosh Ĥodesh, observed as an auspicious time for repentance and atonement (see section 1:9)
zimunthe responsive passage recited prior to Birkat Ha-mazon, in which a leader invites two or more participants to praise God together



Chapter Contents

Order Now
Order Now

For Purchasing

in Israel
Har Bracha Publications
Tel: 02-9709588
Fax: 02-9974603

Translated By:
Series Editor: Rabbi Elli Fischer

The Laws of Shabbat (1+2) - Yocheved Cohen
The Laws of Prayer - Atira Ote
The Laws of Women’s Prayer - Atira Ote
The Laws of Pesach - Joshua Wertheimer
The Laws of Zemanim - Moshe Lichtman

Editor: Nechama Unterman