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Glossary

Glossary

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Afikomen: The matzah eaten at the end of the Passover Seder.

Al Hanisim: A special prayer inserted in Shemoneh Esrei and Birkas Hamazon during Chanukah and Purim.

Aliyah: The honor of being called up to the Torah when it is read in public.

Amah, Amos (pl.): A measurement equivalent to six handbreadths, which equals anywhere from 18.95 inches to 22.7 inches (48 cm.-57.6 cm.).

Aseres Yemei Teshuvah: The Ten days of Repentance, starting with the first day of Rosh Hashanah and ending with Yom Kippur.

Bedi’eved: Ipso facto, after the fact. The term is used when citing the halachah concerning a situation in which something improper has already been done inadvertently.

Beis Din: A judicial court consisting of three talmudic scholars.

Bedikas Chameitz: The searching for the chameitz the night before Passover.

Birkas Hamazon: Grace after meals.

Bereishis: Genesis, the first book of the Pentateuch.

Berachah, Berachos (pl.): Blessing(s).

Chachamim: The Sages.

Chameitz: Leaven or grain products forbidden on Passover.

Chasam Sofer: Rabbi Moshe Sofer, a halachist and Torah commenta­tor. Born in 1762 and passed away in 1839. Served as rabbi of Pressburg, Hungary.

Chazan: One who leads the prayer services, a cantor.

Chol Hamo’eid: The intermediate days of Passover and Sukkos.

Daven, Davening: To pray, praying

Eretz Yisrael: The Land of Israel.

Erev Shabbos: Friday, the eve of the Sabbath.

Esrog: The citron fruit used on Sukkos together with the Lulav.

Halachah: a) The body of Jewish Law b) a particular law c) texts that discuss the many Jewish laws.

Hamapil: The blessing recited immediately before going to sleep.

Hashem: G‑d.

Havdalah: The blessing said at the end of the Sabbath and Yom Tov, separating the holy from the unholy. Havdalah is recited over wine (and after the Sabbath also over spices and fire).

Kaf Hachayim: Rabbi Yaakov Chaim Sofer, a Sephardic kabbalist and halachist. Born in Baghdad in 1870, eventually emigrated to Eretz Yisrael, where he passed away in 1939.

Kazayis: A measurement of food equivalent to the size of an olive (can range from 17.3 gram / .61 ounce - 33 gram / 1.2 ounce depending on Halachic opinion)

Kiddush: The blessing over wine which is recited at the start of the Sabbath and Yom Tov (and before the afternoon meal as well).

Kiddush Levanah: Blessing and prayers recited over the new moon. This is done anytime between the 3rd and 15th days of the Hebrew month.

Ko’ach Gavra: Lit. “human strength.” Refers to the manual pouring of the water over one’s hands for a ritual washing, which is thus said to be done with human effort and power.

Lulav: The palm branch used on Sukkos.

Ma’ariv: The evening prayers

Machatzis Hashekel: Lit. “a half shekel coin.” The coin (half of the standard unit of currency in one’s country of residence) given before Purim.

Maharsha: Rabbi Shmuel Aidels, a Talmudic commentator. Born in Cracow in 1555 and passed away in Ostrow in the year 1631. His commentary on the Talmud is printed in the back of every standard Talmud and is universally studied.

Maris Ayin: The appearance that something improper is being done.

Mattanos La’evyonim: Gifts given to the poor on Purim.

Mechitzah: The partition that separates men and women in a synagogue.

Megilah: Generally refers to the scroll of Esther read on Purim.

Mezonos: Baked goods, pasta, etc. upon which the berachah “Borei minei Mezonos” is recited.

Mezuzah: The parchment scroll containing two sections of the Shema which is placed on the door posts.

Midos Harachamim: G‑d’s Attributes of Mercy.

Mikveh: A ritual bath into which a person immerses to go from a state of impurity to purity or from a lower state of holiness to a higher one.

Mil: A distance of 960 meters (.596 mile) according to Rabbi Chaim Na’eh and 1160 meters (approx. .820 mile) according to the Chazon Ish.

Minchah: The afternoon prayers

Minhag Chabad: The custom as practiced by Chabad.

Minyan: A quorum of ten males over 13 which are necessary for public prayer.

Mishlo’ach Manos: The gift of two ready-to-eat foods sent to friends on Purim.

Mishnah Berurah: A major contemporary Halachic work on the first section of the Shulchan Aruch (Code of Jewish Law) written by the Chafetz Chaim, Rabbi Yisroel Meir Hakohen Kagen of Radin. Born in 1839 and passed away in 1933.

Mitzvah, Mitzvos (pl.): A commandment. Can also be used when referring to any Rabbinical decree or enactment.

Melaveh Malkah: lit. “escorting the [Sabbath] queen.” Refers to the meal eaten after the Sabbath is over.

Motza’ei Shabbos: The rest of the night after the Sabbath is over.

Negel Vasser: The water used to wash one’s hands in the morning upon awakening.

Oneg Shabbos: Delight of Shabbos.

Pas Paltar: Bread and other baked goods baked by a non-Jew for commercial purposes.

Parsah: A distance equivalent to anywhere from 3.840 km (2.386 miles) to 4800 (3 miles).

Parshas Hachodesh: The extra portion of Torah read on the Sabbath before or on Rosh Chodesh Nissan which describes the paschal sacrifice.

Parshas Parah: The extra portion of Torah read on the Sabbath before Parshas Hachodesh which describes the red heifer.

Parshas Zachor: The extra portion of Torah read on the Sabbath before Purim that commands us to remember what the nation of Amalek did to the Jews when they left Egypt.

Pelag Haminchah: One and a quarter halachic hours before sunset or before tzeis hakochavim, depending on Halachic opinion.

Pesukei Dezimrah: The section of the morning prayers which are between “Baruch She’amar” and “Yishtabach.”

Poskim: Halachic decisors, authors of Halachic works

Pasuk, Pesukim (pl.): Verses of the Torah.

Rabbanim: Rabbis who decide Halachah and teach Torah.

Rachmana Litzlan: Lit. “May the Merciful One save.” An expression one often adds after describing a tragic event.

Rebbi: Teacher.

Se’ah: A measure of volume.

Sefer: Book, generally used for holy books.

Segulah: An action which has a favorable spiritual influence in a particular area, for instance a segulah for health.

Selichos: Special prayers recited on fast days, a week before Rosh Hashanah, and during the Ten days of Repentance.

Seudas Purim: The Purim meal.

Shivah: Lit. “seven.” The seven-day mourning period following the death of an immediate family member.

Shacharis: The morning prayers

Shemoneh Esrei: The Amidah, the central portion of each of our daily services. It is recited silently and while standing, and can consist of 7,9, or 19 blessings.

Shemos: Exodus. The second book of the Pentateuch.

Shemuel: The book of Samuel, third book of the Prophets.

Shofar: A ram’s horn, sounded on Rosh Hashanah.

Sidur, Sidurim (pl.): Prayer book(s)

Sofer: A scribe who writes Torah scrolls and also Mezuzah and Tefilin scrolls.

Sukkah: A hut or booth used as a temporary dwelling place as part of the observance of Sukkos.

Tachanun: Supplications recited in the weekday morning and afternoon prayers immediately after Shemoneh Esrei.

Talis: A large [square] woolen garment with tzitzis attached to its four corners and worn during the morning prayers.

Talis Katan: Lit. a “small talis.” The woolen or cotton four-cornered garment worn regularly by males over three years old.

Tanya: A work authored by Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, founder of Chabad, which serves as the basis for Chabad Chassidic teachings.

Targum Onkelos: An Aramaic translation/explanation of the Pentateuch written by Onkelos, a scholar who lived in Talmudic times.

Taz: Abbreviation for Turei Zahav, a major commentary on the Shulchan Aruch by Rabbi David Halevi (1586-1667).

Techum Shabbos: The distance outside the city limits until where one is permitted to walk on the Sabbath.

Tefilah, Tefilos (pl.): Prayer(s)

Tefilin: Phylacteries. Two small black leather boxes worn by males over 13 every weekday morning, one on the biceps and one on the forehead. They are held in place by leather straps, and each box contains four sections of the Torah, including the Shema, handwritten on parchment.

Tefachim: Lit. “handbreadths.” Each Tefach is equivalent to anywhere from 8 cm. (3.16”) - 9.6 cm. (3.8”).

Tehilim: The book of Psalms.

Tzeis Hakochavim: Lit. “the coming out of the stars.” The official start of the night when three average-sized stars appear in the sky.

Tzitzis: The strings or “fringes” placed on the four corners of a talis or talis katan.

Yahrzeit: The anniversary date marking the death of an individual.

Yarmulkah: Skull cap.

Yeitzer Hara: The evil inclination.

Yeshayah: The book of Isaiah.

Yeshivah: An academy where Torah is studied.

Yizkor: The prayer remembering the deceased recited four times a year by family of the deceased.

Yom Tov: Jewish Festival.

Rabbi Eliezer Wenger taught at the Beth Rivkah High School in Montreal, Canada, was rabbi at Congregation Oneg Shabbos in Montreal and the author of over a dozen works on Jewish law.
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