Glossary

Aḥaronim halakhic authorities from c. 1500 CE until the present day
aliya (pl. aliyot) the calling of a congregant up to the Torah scroll as a section of it is read aloud
alot ha-shaḥar dawn
ama (pl. amot) a cubit; a standard halakhic measure of distance equaling c. 45 cm 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 worshiper stands as though in God’s presence
Amora’im sages of the Gemara (c. 200-500 CE)
Ashkenaz a geographical region in the German Rhineland where the traditions that eventually became characteristic of European (Ashkenazic) Jewry coalesced in the Middle Ages
Ata Ḥonantanu prayer added to the Amida of Ma’ariv of Motza’ei Shabbat that serves as a form of havdala
be-di’avad a level of performance that ex post facto satisfies an obligation in a less-than-ideal manner
bein ha-shmashot the 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 knesset synagogue
beit midrash (pl. batei midrash) Torah study hall
beraita a tannaitic statement not included in the Mishna
berakha a formal blessing recited before eating or performing a mitzva, and on other occasions
berakha aḥarona a blessing recited after eating or drinking
Birkat Ha-mazon known as the “grace after meals”; the berakha aḥarona consisting of four berakhot recited after a bread-based meal
Birkat Kohanim the three verses (Bamidbar 6:23-25) by which the Kohanim channel God’s blessing to the Jewish people
Birkhot Ha-shaḥar a series of berakhot recited each morning, praising God for meeting our most basic needs
Birkhot Ha-Torah the blessings recited prior to the first Torah study of the morning and upon being called up to the Torah
Bishul the melakha of cooking
Boneh the melakha of building
Boneh Yerushalayim the third berakha of Birkat Ha-mazon, whose theme is the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the Temple; also known as “Raḥem
Borer the melakha of separating
brit (mila) the ritual circumcision (mila) performed on the eighth day of a Jewish boy’s life, when he enters into Israel’s covenant (brit) with God
Dash the melakha of threshing
davar ha-aved something will result in a loss if not acted on quickly
davar she-eino mitkaven an intentional action on Shabbat or Yom Tov that results (though not inevitably; see psik reisha) in unintended desecration
derekh akhila the normal way to eat; the halakha is often lenient when one performs a melakha in this way
divrei kabbala commandments ordained by the prophets; an intermediate category between Torah law and rabbinic law
drasha (pl. derashot) a communal sermon or homily given on Shabbat or Yom Tov, usually delivered by the rabbi to his congregation and dealing with halakhic and theological matters
Elokai Neshama one of the morning blessings, thanking God for restoring the soul to the body after slumber

 

Eretz Yisrael the Land of Israel
erev “the eve of”; the day before (Shabbat, Yom Tov, etc.)
eruv ḥatzerot a physical boundary that can transform a reshut ha-rabim into a reshut ha-yaḥid, 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-yaḥid
eruv tavshilin a mechanism through which one can prepare food for Shabbat on Yom Tov when the latter coincides with Friday
eruv teḥumin a means of establishing one’s teḥum Shabbat before Shabbat begins, so that it includes a desired location that was previously beyond his teḥum; alternatively, the food that can be set aside at the place where one wants to establish his mekom shevita for this purpose
Ge’onim (sing. Gaon) the leaders of the Babylonian yeshivot and authoritative interpreters of the Bavli during the latter part of the first millennium CE
Gemara the part of the Talmud that interprets and expands upon the Mishna; compiled during the third-sixth centuries CE
Gozez the melakha of shearing
haftara a selection from the books of Nevi’im (Prophets) that is publicly read in synagogues on Shabbat, festivals, and fast days
Ha-gafen the berakha recited over wine and grape juice
hagala immersion in boiling water to purge a vessel from substances it has absorbed
halakha (pl. halakhot) the collective body of Jewish law; an individual Jewish law
ḥalla the mitzva to give a part of a large batch of dough to a Kohen
Hallel chapters 113-118 of Tehilim, all of which are thanksgiving psalms, recited on Jewish holidays
Ha-ma’avir Sheina the last of the morning blessings, thanking God for removing slumber

 

Ha-mavdil Bein Kodesh Le-ḥol or Le-kodesh the main berakha of havdala, commemorating the end of Shabbat or Yom Tov and the distinction between the sacred and the profane (“le-kodesh” is used when Shabbat leads into Yom Tov)
ḥametz cereal grain that leavened, forbidden on Pesaḥ
ha-motzi the berakha over bread
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
havdala the series of berakhot that marks the end of Shabbat and festivals
ḥazan the person leading the congregation in prayer
Ḥazarat Ha-shatz the ḥazan‘s repetition of the Amida aloud
ḥinukh education, training
Ḥol Ha-mo’ed the intermediate days of Sukkot and Pesaḥ, on which certain weekday activities are permitted
Hotza’ah the melakha of carrying from one domain to another
Ḥovel wounding or causing a loss of blood; a tolada of Shoḥet
ḥutz la-aretz countries outside of Eretz Yisrael
Kabbala the Jewish esoteric and mystical tradition
Kaddish a hymn of praises to God whose central theme is the magnification and sanctification of God’s name
karet extirpation or excision, the most severe biblical punishment
karmelit a domain where carrying on Shabbat is rabbinically forbidden
kebeitza an egg’s bulk; a standard halakhic measure of volume or weight, equivalent to 55 cc (according to R. Ḥayim Naeh)
Kedusha a responsive prayer of three verses recited in the third berakha of Ḥazarat Ha-shatz, praising God as the ministering angels do and therefore requiring a minyan
kevod ha-met dignified treatment of the dead
kezayit (pl. kezeytim) an olive’s bulk, a standard halakhic measure of volume or weight
kiddush the invocation of the sanctity of a holy day with blessings over a cup of wine
kli (pl. kelim) a vessel, container, implement, or utensil
kli she-melakhto le-isur an object whose primary function is prohibited, and which thus may only be moved on Shabbat for a permissible activity or to use the space the object is occupying
Kohen (pl. Kohanim) a Jewish priest, descendant of Aaron, charged with performing the Temple rites and benefiting from certain privileges
korban (pl. korbanot) a sacrificial offering
korban Pesaḥ the Paschal offering
Korbanot the part of the prayer service in which paragraphs about the Temple korbanot are recited
leḥem mishneh the two whole loaves of bread/matza over which the berakha of ha-motzi is recited at Shabbat and Yom Tov meals
le-khatḥila ab initio; a level of performance that satisfies an obligation in an ideal manner
libun heating a vessel by fire to the point that absorbed taste is incinerated
lulav a closed palm frond, one of the four species used during the holiday of Sukkot
Ma’ariv evening prayers
ma’aser any of several tithes that must be allocated
ma’aser behema tithe of animals in one’s flock
ma’aser sheni the second tithe, which must be eaten or redeemed for money to be spent on food in Jerusalem
maftir the 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
makhshirei okhel nefesh utensils and implements used in the preparation and service of food
marbeh be-shi’urim “increase quantities”; the principle that one may increase the quantity of food being cooked on Yom Tov, even for the purpose of having leftovers, because it requires no extra effort
Matan Torah the giving of the Torah by God to Moshe at Mount Sinai
matza unleavened bread eaten by Jews on Pesaḥ
Mav’ir the melakha of lighting a fire
Mefarek extracting; a tolada of Dash that involves removing one thing from another thing
megilla (pl. megillot) a “scroll”; the five books of Ketuvim that are read on holidays and festivals
Meḥatekh the melakha of cutting
Mekhabeh the melakha of extinguishing a fire
mekom shevita lit. “resting place”; the place where one is spending Shabbat, which acts as the center of one’s teĥum Shabbat
melakha (pl. melakhot) productive work of the type prohibited on Shabbat and Yom Tov
melakha she-eina tzerikha le-gufah a melakha that is done intentionally, but not for the sake of the object upon which it is performed
melekhet avoda melakha that is related to general labor (as opposed to melakha done in food preparation, melekhet okhel nefesh)
Memaḥek the melakha of smoothing
Memare’aḥ spreading a substance evenly upon an object; a tolada of Memaḥek
mezuza the doorpost, or the parchment inscribed with specific paragraphs from the Torah that must be affixed to the doorpost of Jewish homes
mikveh a ritual immersion pool
Minḥa the afternoon prayers
Minḥa ketana 2.5 seasonal hours before sunset
minyan a quorum of ten adult Jewish males required for certain religious obligations
Mishna the earliest authoritative work of rabbinic literature consisting of legal statements and disputes arranged in 63 tractates and 6 orders, compiled in the third century CE
mitzva (pl. mitzvot) commandment, precept
Moḥek the melakha of erasing
molad the moment of “birth” of the new moon, when it begins waxing once again
Molid creating a new entity on Shabbat or Yom Tov
Motza’ei Shabbat Saturday night after Shabbat ends and weekday activities are resumed
muktzeh the prohibition on Shabbat on moving any item that has no purpose on Shabbat
muktzeh meḥamat gufo muktzeh as a result of itself; items that have no use on Shabbat inherently
muktzeh meḥamat ḥesron kis muktzeh as a result of monetary loss; items that have no use on Shabbat or Yom Tov because they are valuable and one does not want them to break or become ruined
Musaf the additional service recited on Shabbat, Yom Tov, Ḥol Ha-mo’ed, and Rosh Ḥodesh, days on which the korban musaf was offered in Temple times
nasi (pl. nesi’im) tribal princes of Israel; a generic term for a leader
neshama yeteira lit. “expanded soul”; the special connection between a Jew and God on Shabbat
netilat yadayim ritual hand washing
Nisan the first month of the Jewish year
Nishmat prayer of wondrous praise added on Shabbat and Yom Tov to the end of Pesukei De-zimra
Ofeh the melakha of cooking/baking
okhel nefesh lit. “food of life”; food prepared on Yom Tov for the needs of that day
olat re’iya a burnt offering sacrificed in honor of one of the three pilgrimage festivals
omer a biblical measure of grain and an offering brought in the Temple on the second day of Pesaḥ; the count from that day until Shavu’ot is known as the counting of the omer, or Sefirat Ha-omer
oneg Shabbat the mitzva to make Shabbat a delight by experiencing pleasure and avoiding discomfort and suffering
parsha (pl. parshiyot) a passage from the Torah; the weekly Torah portion that is read at the synagogue each Shabbat
Pesaḥ Passover; the Jewish springtime holiday that celebrates Israel’s liberation from Egyptian bondage
Pesukei De-zimra the psalms of praise recited prior to Shaḥarit which prepare one for the Amida
pidyon ha-ben a mitzva in which a Jewish firstborn son is redeemed from a Kohen with five silver coins
posek (pl. poskim) a halakhic decisor or authority
psik reisha an intentional action on Shabbat or Yom Tov  that inevitably results in unintended desecration
psik reisha de-lo niḥa lei an intentional action on Shabbat or Yom Tov resulting in unintended desecration that, while inevitable, is undesired
psolet lit. “waste matter”; in the context of the melakha of Borer, the undesired part of a mixture
Raḥem “Have compassion”; the third berakha of Birkat Ha-mazon, also known as Boneh Yerushalayim
reshut domain, for the purposes of the laws of Hotza’ah on Shabbat and Yom Tov
reshut ha-rabim public domain
reshut ha-yaḥid private domain
Responsa a genre of rabbinic literature that consists of rabbinic responses to halakhic queries
Retzei (Ve-haḥalitzenu) the passage that is inserted into Birkat Ha-mazon on Shabbat during the third berakha
revi’it a liquid measure equal to a quarter of a log, calculated by most to be c. 75 ml
Rishonim Jewish sages and halakhic authorities from the medieval era (roughly 1000-1500 CE)
Rosh Ḥodesh the new moon; the one- or two-day minor holiday that marks the beginning of each Hebrew month
se’ah a unit of volume; 40 se’ah is equivalent to one ama by one ama by three amot
se’uda shlishit the obligatory third Shabbat meal
se’udat mitzva a festive meal celebrating the fulfillment of a mitzva
Seder the banquet on the first night of Pesaḥ that includes several special recitations, customs, and mitzvot
Sefirat Ha-omer the mitzva of counting the days from the second day of Pesaḥ until Shavu’ot
Seḥita squeezing or wringing; a tolada of Dash
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
Shabbatot plural of Shabbat
Shaḥarit the morning prayers
shalmei ḥagiga peace offerings sacrificed at each of the three pilgrimage festivals
shalmei simḥa peace offerings sacrificed for the purpose of increasing festival joy
She-heḥeyanu “Who has given us life”; a berakha recited at specific significant occasions
Shekhina the Divine Presence in this world
Shema the 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”
Sheva Berakhot the 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
shevita cessation of work; the most basic expression of the nature of Shabbat
shi’ur a standard halakhic measurement for weight, distance, or volume
shinui performing a melakha on Shabbat or Yom Tov in an irregular manner
shiva the weeklong mourning period for close relatives, during which visitors bring solace and comfort to the homebound mourners
shki’a shorthand for shki’at ha-ḥama
shki’at ha-ḥama sunset, when Shabbat and Jewish holidays begin
shofar a musical instrument made of a horn, traditionally that of a ram, blown as part of the Rosh Ha-shana ritual as well as other rituals
shvut rabbinic prohibition on Shabbat or Yom Tov
shvut di-shvut double rabbinic prohibition, which may be transgressed in certain circumstances
siddur a Jewish prayer book
simḥa joy, a mitzva to experience on Yom Tov and possibly on Shabbat as well; compare to oneg
sukka (pl. sukkot) a temporary hut constructed for use during the weeklong festival of Sukkot
Taḥanun “Supplication”; the heartbreaking prayers recited after the Amida of Shaḥarit and Minḥa, omitted on festive occasions
talit the four-cornered prayer shawl, fringed by tzitzit, traditionally worn by Jewish men during prayer
talit katan a four-cornered garment, fringed by tzitzit, traditionally worn by Jewish males under (and, among some groups, over) their clothing 
Tanna (pl. Tanna’im) a rabbinic authority in Eretz Yisrael during the early centuries of the Common Era
tefaḥ (pl. tefaḥim) a handbreadth; a halakhic measurement equal to c. 8 cm
tefilin phylacteries; black leather boxes and straps containing parchment scrolls, worn during weekday morning prayers
teḥum (Shabbat) boundary surrounding one’s mekom shevita, beyond which one may not travel on Shabbat
teruma (pl. terumot) a tithe of c. 2% of produce, given to Kohanim
Toḥen the melakha of grinding or pulverizing, such as the grinding of wheat to make flour
tolada (pl. toladot) a derivative of the major melakhot on Shabbat, like juicing (Soḥet) is a derivative of Dash (threshing)
tosefet the time added before and/or after Shabbat or Yom Tov to fulfill the mitzva of extending the holy days into the week
tzeit shorthand for tzeit ha-kokhavim
tzeit ha-kokhavim the appearance of three distinct stars, marking nightfall for various halakhic purposes
tzitzit the specially tied fringes worn on the corners of four-cornered garments; often used interchangeably with the term “talit katan
uvdin de-ḥol weekday activities, generally prohibited on Shabbat and Yom Tov
Ya’aleh Ve-yavo the paragraph inserted into the Amida and Birkat Ha-mazon of festivals on which Musaf is recited
yad soledet bo hot enough to cause the hand to recoil, somewhere between 45ºC and 71ºC
yeshiva (pl. yeshivot) a school that is dedicated to Torah study; its students often live in dormitories
Yom Kippur the “Day of Atonement”; the fast day that is considered the holiest day of the Jewish year
Yom Tov the festivals of biblical origin during which melakha is prohibited
Yom Tov Sheni Shel Galuyot the extra day of Yom Tov observed in the Diaspora

 

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