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Glossary of Terms

This list of glossary terms is a collection based primarily on the content of this website. Throughout the site you will see these words underlined like this.


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abba: ‏אַבָּא‎ — father.

Acharonim: ‏אַחֲרוֹנִים‎ — Rabbis who were authorities on halacha, since the publication of the Shulchan Aruch until today.

aggadah: ‏אֲגָּדָה‎ — Literally, “telling” or “narration.” Non-halachic teachings, consisting of stories, folklore, biographies, etc. Aggadic material makes up a good portion of the Talmud and midrashim.

aliyah: ‏עֲלִיָּה‎ — Literally, “going up.” Jews who immigrate to Israel “make aliyah,” and the calling of someone to read from the Torah (or say the blessings on the reading) is also called an aliyah.

am: ‏עַם‎ — people.

Amidah: ‏עֲמִידָה‎ — a.k.a. the Shemoneh Esrei, “Eighteen Benedictions.” A collection of blessings and petitions that form the central part of every prayer service.

Amoraim: ‏אֲמוֹרָאִים‎ — Literally, “speakers.” Rabbis who lived between 200 and 500 c.e. and compiled the Gemarot of the Talmud. The different Gemarot are actually what make the two Talmuds different. The Mishnah is the same for both.

Amos: ‏עָמוֹס‎ — One of the smaller prophetic books in the Tanach.

Avinu Shebashamayim: ‏אֲבִינוּ שֶׁבַּשָׁמַיִם‎ — “Our Father in Heaven”.

Avraham: ‏אַבְרָהָם‎ — Abraham, the father of the Jewish people. His name was originally Avram (‏אַבְרָם‎). He is also sometimes called ‏אַבְרָהָם אֲבִינוּ‎ Avraham Avinu, “Abraham Our Father”.


b’ezrat Hashem: ‏בְּעֶזְרָת הַשֵּׁם‎ — “With Hashem’s help”.

b.c.e.: Before the Common Era, often referred to as b.c.

Baal Shem Tov: ‏בַּעַל שֵׁם טוֹב‎ — Rabbi Yisrael Baal Shem Tov (1698-1760 c.e.), a.k.a. the BeSHT (‏בשׁת‎). The founder of modern Hasidism. More...

baal teshuvah: ‏בַּעַל תְשׁוּבָה‎ — Literally, “master of returning.” A Jew who becomes Torah-observant after having dropped away or having never been observant before.

Bach: ‏ב״ח‎ — Rabbi Yoel Sirkes (1560?-1640 c.e.). Wrote Beit Chadash, which accompanies the Beit Yosef as a commentary on the Tur. The Bach studied under his father Rabbi Shmuel Feinbush and was the head of the Yeshiva in Krakaw in the 1600’s.

Bamidbar: ‏בְּמִדְבַּר‎ — Numbers, the fourth book of the Torah.

Bamidbar Rabbah: ‏בְּמִדְבַּר רָבָה‎ — a.k.a. Numbers Rabbah. Aggadic midrash on Bamidbar, part of the Midrash Rabbah. Redacted between the 9th and 13th centuries c.e.

bar mitzvah: ‏בַּר מִצְוָה‎ — Literally, “son of the commandment.” A boy who has completed a childhood course of study on the Torah and Jewish practice, culminating in the boy leading a shacharit service and reading his parasha. This ceremony happens most often at the age of 13. The term actually refers to the person, not to the event, e.g. “Isaac has become a bar mitzvah.”

basar b’chalav: ‏בָשָׂר בְּחָלָב‎ — meat and milk.

bat mitzvah: ‏בַּת מִצְוָה‎ — Literally, “daughter of the commandment.” A girl who has completed a childhood course of study on the Torah and Jewish practice, culminating in the girl leading a shacharit service and reading her parasha. This ceremony happens most often at the age of 12. The term actually refers to the person, not to the event, e.g. “Rebecca has become a bat mitzvah.”

beit: ‏בֵּית‎ — house.

Beit Hamikdash: ‏בֵּית הַמִּקְדָּשׁ‎ — Literally, “the Holy House.” The Temple.

beit midrash: ‏בֵּית מִדְרָשׁ‎ — Literally, “house of learning.” May refer to a yeshiva, a synagogue, or a kollel. Sometimes refers to the actual study done in such a place.

Beit Yosef: ‏בֵית יוֹסֵף‎ — a commentary on the Tur, written by Rabbi Yosef Caro; also used in the Shulchan Aruch as a name for Rabbi Caro.

Beresheet: ‏בְּרֵאשִׁית‎ — Genesis, the first book of the Torah.

Beresheet Rabbah: ‏בְּרֵאשִׁית רָבָה‎ — a.k.a. Genesis Rabbah. Halachic and aggadic midrash on Beresheet, the original Midrash Rabbah. It contains material from the Apocrypha, Ben Sira, Philo, and Josephus, and it draws upon the same sources as the Talmud Yerushalmi. Redacted around 425 c.e.

Besorah: ‏בְשׂוֹרָה‎ — (Plural ‏בְשׂוֹרוֹת‎, “Besorot”) Literally, “good news” or “tidings.” This is the Hebrew equivalent of “Gospel,” and is used to refer to the four books in the Torat HaShlichim that tell Yeshua’s story.

birkat hamazon: ‏בִּרְכַּת הַמָּזוֹן‎ — The “Blessing after Meals,” sometimes called the “Birchon.” A fulfillment of the command in Devarim 8:10, “You will eat and you will be satisfied and bless Hashem, your G-d, for the good land that He gave you.”

bishul akum: ‏בִּישׁוּל עכו״ם‎ — Food cooked by a non-Jew.

bishul yisroel: ‏בִּישׁוּל יִשְׂרָאֵל‎ — Food cooked by a Jew.

brakhah: ‏בְּרָכָה‎ — (Plural ‏בְּרָכוֹת‎, “brakhot”) Blessing.

brit: ‏בְּרִית‎ — Covenant.

BS”D: ‏בס״ד‎ — Acronym for ‏בְּסִיַעְתָּע דִשְׁמַיָא‎, “b’siya’tah dishmayah.” “With the help of heaven.” An Aramaic abbreviation often placed at the beginning of letters, books, web sites, etc.


c.e.: The Common Era, often referred to as a.d.

chag: ‏חַג‎ — Festival, usually refers to one of the three pilgrimage festivals, Pesach, Shavuot, and Sukkot.

chakham: ‏חָכָם‎ — A wise person.

chalav yisroel: ‏חָלָב יִשְׂרָאֵל‎ — The Hebrew word “chalav” means milk. Chalov Yisroel refers to dairy products that have been overseen by a Jew from the milking to the bottling or packaging.

challah: ‏חָלָּה‎ — A portion of dough separated from a loaf of bread and burned as a portion given to Hashem; usually one kezayit.

chametz: ‏חָמֵץ‎ — Yeast; in Pesach preparations, also refers to anything that causes leavening.

Chanukah: ‏חֲנֻכָּה‎ — A minor holiday instituted by the rabbis to celebrate the deliverance and re-dedication of the Second Temple by the Maccabees. Called the “Festival of Dedication” or the “Festival of Lights.”

chassid: ‏חָסִּיד‎ — (Plural ‏חָסִּידִים‎, “chassidim”) a.k.a “hasid,” “hasidim.” Literally, “pious one.” Modern Hasidim are Orthodox Jews who strictly observe the Torah and halacha. There are many different sects of Hasidism, but they all trace their roots back to the Baal Shem Tov, who founded modern Hasidism on joyous religious experience and the common man.

Chazal: ‏חז״ל‎ —. An acronym of “Chachameinu Zichronam Livrocho,” “Our Sages of blessed memory.” Often referred to as “the sages.” This refers to official halacha as passed down to us by the rabbis.

Chol Hamo’ed: ‏חוֹל הַמֹעֵד‎ — The Intermediate Days of the festivals of Pesach and Sukkot. These days are not official Shabbats, but heavy labor is discouraged.

Chumash: ‏חוּמָשׂ‎ — From chamesh (“five”). A book containing the five books of the Torah, usually divided up by the parashiyot. Many chumashim also include Targum Onkelos, Rashi’s commentaries, and the Haftarah readings.


Daf Yomi: ‏דַּף יומִי‎ — A program for studying one page (daf) of the Talmud every day (yom) with the intent of studying the entire Talmud in about seven years.

Dani’el: ‏דָּנִיֵּאל‎ — A book in the Writings of the Tanach.

Devarim: ‏דְּבָרִים‎ — Deuteronomy, the fifth book of the Torah.

Devarim Rabbah: ‏דְּבָרִים רָבָה‎ — a.k.a. Deuteronomy Rabbah. Aggadic midrash on Devarim, part of the Midrash Rabbah. Redacted in the 9th century c.e.

Divrei Hayamim Aleph: ‏דִבְרֵי הַיָּמִים א‎ — First Chronicles, a history of Yisrael in the Tanach; a continuation of Melachim Bet.

Divrei Hayamim Bet: ‏דִבְרֵי הַיָּמִים ב‎ — Second Chronicles, a history of Yisrael in the Tanach; a continuation of Divrei Hayamim Aleph.

drash: ‏דְּרָשׁ‎ — An interpretation or teaching on a Torah passage. From the same root as midrash.


Eichah: ‏אֵיכָה‎ — Lamentations, a book of the Bible written by Yirmiyahu lamenting the destruction of Solomon’s Temple. Read every year at Tisha b’Av.

El Shaddai: ‏אֵל שַׁדַּי‎ — “Almighty G-d”, the name by which Hashem revealed himself to the Avraham, Yitzchak and Ya’akov.

Eretz Yisrael: ‏אֶרֶץ יִשׂרָאֵל‎ — The Land of Israel.

Erev Shabbat: ‏עֶרֶב שַׁבָּת‎Shabbat Evening (Friday night).

eruv: ‏עֵירוּב‎ — A wall or barrier placed around an area to make it possible for observant Jews to carry certain items, such as siddurim and sefarim, as well as use items like baby strollers and walking canes, on Shabbat.

Esther: ‏אֶסְתֵּר‎ — One of the five Megillot. The book of Esther tells the story of the deliverance of the Jewish people in Persia, and the holiday Purim is celebrated each year in rememberance of this act.

Ezra: ‏עֶזְרַה‎ — A scribe who oversaw the rebuilding of the Temple and the teaching of Torah in Israel during the return from the Babylonian Captivity.


frum: Yiddish; refers to someone who is observant of Jewish law.


G-d Fearer: A technical term referring to a Gentile who has bound themselves to the G-d of Israel and follows all of the Torah that Gentiles can follow (basically everything except brit milah (covenant of circumcision) and other covenental observances).

gadol: ‏גָדוֹל‎ — great.

Gallil: ‏גָלִיל‎ — Galilee, a lake in Northern Israel that helps feed the Jordan River. Also, a governmental area managed by various Roman leaders during the time of Yeshua.

Gan Eden: ‏גַן עֵדֶן‎ — The Garden of Eden.

Gaon: ‏גָאוֹן‎ — (Plural ‏גָאוֹנִים‎, “Gaonim”) Literally, “emminence,” “excellence.” A title given to distinguished talmudic scholars during the 6th through 12th centuries c.e.

Gemara: ‏גְמָרָה‎ — A portion of the Talmud, commentary of the Amoraim on the Mishnah.

genizah: ‏גְּנִיזָה‎ — A storage room for holding holy objects, especially siddurim and other sefarim, that have fallen into disrepair or are disqualified from use.

ger: ‏גֵּר‎ — (Plural ‏גֵּרִים‎, “gerim”) Convert.

gezeira: ‏גְזֵרָה‎ — fence.

glatt: ‏גלאט‎ — A Yiddish word that literally means “smooth.” The term comes from the strict requirement that the lungs and certain other internal organs of a kosher-slaughtered animal be smooth and free of any defects. It is now commonly used to denote any food that follows a stricter level of kashrut.

goy: ‏גּוֹי‎ — (Plural ‏גּוֹיִם‎, “goyim”) Nation, Gentile.

Gra: ‏גר״א‎ — Rabbi Eliyahu of Vilna (1720-1797 c.e.), a.k.a. The Gaon of Vilna, a learned and respected rabbi who stood in opposition to the Baal Shem Tov and his teachings.


Habbakuk: ‏חֲבַקּוּק‎ — One of the prophetic books in the Tanach.

Haftarah: ‏הְַטָרָה‎ — The portions of the Neviim (Prophets) that are connected to the parshiyot and read during the Torah service each week.

hagala: kashering by boiling.

haggadah: ‏הַגָּדָה‎ — “The Telling.” A book that is used on Pesach to follow the seder (order) of the meal. See also aggadah.

Haggai: ‏חַגַּי‎ — One of the prophetic books in the Tanach.

Hakadosh Barukh Hu: ‏הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא‎ — “The Holy One, Blessed be He.” This phrase is commonly used as a replacement for the name of G-d. See more in my article on the topic.

halacha: ‏הֲלָכָה‎ — Literally, “the way to go.” Jewish Law, the practical application of the mitzvot found in the Torah she’biktav and Torah shebal peh. More...

halacha l’ma’aseh: halacha as we live in our daily lives today.

Hashem: ‏הַשֵּׁם‎ — Literally, “the Name.” A common replacement for the Shem Hameforash in everyday speech. See my article on The Name of G-d.

hashgachah: ‏הַשְׁגָּחָה‎ — a.k.a. hechsher. Rabbinical certification of food as kosher. See my article on Hechsherim.

Havdalah: ‏הַבְדָּלָה‎ — The prayer service that provides separation between the Shabbat and the six days of labor or that ends a festival.

Hillel: ‏הִלֵּל‎ — A rabbi of the late 1st century b.c.e. who expressed the teachings of the P’rushim well. Yeshua’s teachings fall in line with Hillel’s teachings with ony one exception (divorce).

Hoshea: ‏הוֹשֵׁעַ‎ — Hosea, one of the prophetic books in the Tanach.


immah: ‏אִמָּא‎ — Mother.

Iyov: ‏אִיּוֹב‎ — Job, one of the Writings book in the Tanach.


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Kaddish: ‏קַדִּישׁ‎ — A common prayer that expresses praise to Hashem. It serves as a transitional break between portions of the prayer services, and it is traditionally prayed for one year after the death of a close family member (mother, father, sister, brother, spouse, or child).

kapparah: ‏כַּפָּרָה‎ — covering, atonement.

Karaite: ‏קָרָאִים‎ — A group of former Jews who rejected all of the halacha of Judaism and formed their own religion based on their own interpretations and traditions.

kasher: ‏כָּשֵׁר‎ — a.k.a. kosher. The process by which utensils are made fit for kosher use. See also hagala.

kashrut: ‏כַּשְׁרוּת‎ — a.k.a. kosher. Literally, “fit” or “fit for consumption.” The laws within Judaism that pertain to eating. See also kosher. More info can be found in my Kashrut section.

Kefa: Peter, a talmid of Yeshua.

Ketuvim Acharonim: ‏כְּתוּבִים אַחֲרוֹנִים‎ — Literally, “Later Writings”; the Apocrypha.

kezayit: a.k.a. k’zayit. volume of an olive.

Kiddush: ‏קִדּוּשׁ‎ — A ritual performed on Shabbat and holidays using wine that proclaims the holiness of the day. This is not communion.

kippah: ‏כִּפָּה‎ — A skullcap worn by observant Jews as a reminder of the presence and authority of Hashem.

Kol Nidre: ‏כָּל נִדְרֵי‎ — Literally, “All Vows.” The Yom Kippur evening service.

kosher: See kashrut.


l’ma’aseh: Literally, “of the doing.” See also halacha l’ma’aseh.


ma’ariv: ‏מַעֲרִיב‎ — The evening prayer service (actually the first service of the day, since the Hebrew day begins at sundown).

machloket: ‏מַחלֹקֶת‎ — argument.

machmir: ‏מחמיר‎ — strict.

machzor: ‏מַחְזוֹר‎ — A prayer book used on the chagimPesach, Shavuot, and Sukkot. Each chag has its own machzor with its own special prayers and services.

maftir: ‏מַפְטִיר‎ — The final section of each parasha in the Torah.

Maharshal: Rabbi Shlomo Luria. One of Rabbi Yaakov Pollack’s students. He was a decendant of Rashi and was a student of Rabbi Yitzchak Klober. His works included Yam Shel Shlomo and Chachmat Shlomo, and his teachings show an emphasis on peshat and textual accuracy.

Malachi: ‏מַלְאָכִי‎ — One of the prophetic books in the Tanach.

Mapah: Literally, “tablecloth.” Halachic explanations added by the Rama to the Shulchan Aruch to show Ashkenazic halacha.

mashgiach: Rabbi who supervises over the kashrut of a restaurant, factory, etc.

Masoretes: Rabbis who passed on the proper text and pronunciation of the Tanakh. More...

Mattityahu: ‏מַתִּתְיָהוּ‎ — Matthew.

mayim chayim: ‏מַיִם חֵיִּים‎ — Literally, “living water.” Mayim Chayim is needed for tevillah of people and dishes.

mazal tov: ‏מַזָל טוֹב‎ — Literally, “good star.” “Congratulations.”

Mechilta: Literally, “Tractate.” midrashim (mostly halachic) on Shemot.

Melachim Aleph: ‏מְלָכִים א‎ — First Kings, a history of Yisrael in the Tanach.

Melachim Bet: ‏מְלָכִים ב‎ — Second Kings, a history of Yisrael in the Tanach; a continuation of Melachim Aleph.

mevushal: ‏מבושל‎ Wine that has been boiled, making it unfit for use in pagan practices. Thus, a non-Jew can handle mevushal wine without making it un-kosher (because there is no chance the gentile would use the wine in a pagan ritual). Some mispronounce it “meshuval.”

mezuzah: ‏טְזוּזָה‎ — Literally, “doorpost.” A small box that Jews place on the doorpost to every room in their house (except the bathroom). Each box contains parchments with Devarim 6:4-9 and 11:13-21 on them.

Micah: ‏מִיכָה‎ — One of the prophetic books in the Tanach.

mid’oraita: “from the Torah” -- oraita is Aramaic for “Torah,” basically meaning “light” (see also mid’rabbanan).

mid’rabbanan: “from the rabbis” (see also mid’oraita).

midrash: ‏מִדְרָשׁ‎ — (Plural ‏מִדְרָשִׁים‎, “midrashim”) A method of interpreting the Biblical text that involves developing stories and deep teachings out of it. May also refer to a compilation of such teachings.

Midrash Rabbah: ‏מִדְרָשׁ רָבָה‎ — A compilation of midrashim based on the five books of the Torah and the five Megillot.

mikveh: ‏מִקְוֶה‎ — A pool of water that contains mayim chayim and is used for tevillah of people and dishes.

minchah: ‏מִנְחָה‎ — The afternoon prayer service.

minhag: ‏מִנְהָג‎ — (Plural ‏מִנְהָגִים‎, “minchagim”) Custom, usually referring to customs of a specific community.

Mishlei: ‏מִשְׁלֵי‎ — Proverbs.

Mishnah: ‏מִשְׁנָה‎ — (a.k.a. Mishna) The foundation of the Talmud, commentary of the Tanaaim on the Torah. The Mishnah was compiled by Rabbi Yehudah HaNassi (commonly referred to within the text as “Rabbi”) with the help of the members of his Academy in the 3rd century. It is divided into six sedarim (orders); those are further divided into masekhot (tractates), which are further divided into individual mishnayot (verses).

mitzvah: ‏מִצְוָה‎ — (Plural ‏מִצְוֹת‎, “mitzvot”) Literally, “commandment.” Colloquially refers to any good deed.

moed: ‏מוֹעֵד‎ — (Plural ‏מוֹעַדִים‎, “moadim”) Literally, “appointed time.” The holidays of Judaism.

Moshe: ‏מֹשֶׁה‎ — Moses, leader of the Jewish people in their escape from Egypt. Also known as ‏מֹשֶׁה רַבֵּנוּ‎, Moshe Rabbeinu, “Moses Our Teacher”.

Moshiach: ‏מָשִׁיחַ‎ — “Messiah”; means “Anointed One.” The concept of Moshiach as a deliverer is a completely Jewish concept.

Motzei Shabbos: ‏מוֹצִי‏ שַׁבָּת‎ — a.k.a. Motzei Shabbat. The time following the end of Shabbat (after Havdallah) on Saturday evening.

musaf: ‏מוּסָף‎ — Additional service added after shacharit on Shabbat and holidays.


Nahum: ‏נַחוּם‎ — One of the prophetic books in the Tanach.

Natzeret: ‏נָצֶרֶת‎ — Nazareth, a town in Northern Israel, in the Gallil.

Nechemyah: ‏נְחֶמְיָה‎ — Nehemiah, a Jewish leader who rebuilt Jerusalem after its destruction by the Babylonians.

nefesh: ‏נֶפֶשׁ‎ — Organic soul, life-force.

neshamah: ‏נְשָׁמָה‎ — Intellectual soul.

netilat yadayim: ‏נְטִילַת יָדַיִם‎ — Literally, “washing of hands.” A ritual hand-washing that accompanies every meal.

Nevi’im: ‏נְבִיאִם‎ — The Prophets, a section of the Tanach that contains various prophetic writings.


Obadyah: ‏עֹבַדְיָה‎ — Obadiah, one of the prophetic books in the Tanach.

olam habah: ‏עוֹלָם הַבָּה‎ — The World (Age) to Come.

olam hazeh: ‏עוֹלָם הַזֶּה‎ — The Present World (Age).

Oral Torah: See Torah shebal peh.


P’rushim: ‏פְּרוּשִׁים‎ — (Singular ‏פָּרוּשׁ‎, “Parush”) The P’rushim were a religious and political group in Israel during the Second Temple period. Modern Judaism grew out of this group after the destruction of the Temple in 70 c.e. The P’rushim believed in a bodily resurrection, in angels, and in the authority of the Torah shebal peh, in opposition to the Tz’dukim. Yeshua was a Parush. They are also called the “Pharisees.”

parasha: ‏פָרָשָׁה‎ — (Plural ‏פָרָשִׁיּוֹת‎, “parashiyot”) The Torah is proken up into portions which are read during the week and on Shabbat. Each parasha is named after the first main word within it.

pareve: Food that is neutral, containing neither dairy or meat ingredients.

pas aku"m: ‏פַּת עכו״ם‎ — Baked goods that have been baked by a non-Jew. (“Aku"m” stands for “oved kochavim u’mazalot,”, which means “worshipper of the stars and constellations.”)

pas yisroel: ‏פַּת יִשְׂרָאֵל‎ — Baked goods that have been baked by a Jew.

pasuk: ‏פָּסוּק‎ — (Plural ‏פָּסוּקִים‎, “pasukim”) A verse of the Bible, Mishnah, or other writing.

Pesach: ‏פֶּסַח‎ — Passover, a spring festival celebrating the deliverance of the Children of Israel from bondage in Egypt by Moshe.

Pesikta: Literally, “Divisions.” midrashim based on the Shabbat and festival readings from the Haftorot.

posek: The Rabbi who interprets Jewish law (halacha) for application to specific circumstances.

prayer services: The three times each day that observant Jew pray: ma’ariv, shacharit, and minchah.

Purim: ‏פּוּרִים‎ — Literally, “lots.” A minor festival celebrating the deliverance of the Jews under Esther.


Qohelet: ‏קֹהֶלֶת‎ — Ecclesiastes.


rabbi: ‏רַבִּי‎ — Literally, “my teacher.” A term given to those who have completed training and are ordained to teach, usually in certain areas of halacha.

Rabbi Sha’ul: ‏רַבִּי שָׁאוּל‎ — a.k.a. Paul. A shaliach of the early Messianic community and writer of many letters to congregations in Asia Minor and Greece, some of which are contained in the Torat HaShlichim. He was not a “Rav,” as many people call him, because that term was not put into use until after the Second Jewish Revolt in 135 c.e., and then it was only used by the rabbis in Babylonia, who had no formal semichah (ordination). To call Sha’ul a “Rav” would be historically inaccurate.

Rabbi Yaakov Baal Ha Turim: (1270-1340 c.e.). Son of the Rosh. Wrote Arba Turim (a.k.a. the Tur).

Rabbi Yosef Caro: (1488-1565 c.e.). Initially wrote Beit Yosef, a commentary on the Tur. Later wrote the Shulchan Aruch. In the Shulchan Aruch, Caro is often called “Mechaber” (literally, “author”), and “Beit Yosef.”

rabbonim: Rabbis.

Rama: Rabbi Moshe Isserles (1530-1572 c.e.). He added the Mapah (“tablecloth”) to the Shulchan Aruch (“set table”) to show Ashkenazic halacha. The Rama was a talmid of Shalom Ben Yosef Shachana, and was known as the “Ramban of Polish Jewry.”

Rambam: ‏הרמב״ם‎ — Rabbi Moses ben Maimon (1135-1204 c.e.), a.k.a. Maimonides. A great rabbi and writer of the Mishneh Torah, a codification of halacha intended for the common man. More...

Ramban: ‏הרמב״ן‎ — Rabbi Moses Ben Nachman (1194-1270 c.e.), a.k.a. Nachmanides. A great Torah commentator and rabbi; defended Judaism in the Barcelona Disputation. More...

Rashba: ‏רשב״א‎ — Rabbi Shlomo ben Aderet (1235-1310 c.e.) A commentator on the Shulchan Aruch.

Rashi: ‏רַשִּׁ״י‎ — Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki (1040-1105 c.e.) A French rabbi who is well known for his commentaries/teachings on the Talmud and Torah. More...

Ribbono shel Olam: ‏רִבּוֹנוֹ שֶׁל עוֹלָם‎ — “Master of the Universe.” This phrase is commonly used as a replacement for the name of G-d. See more in my article on the topic.

Rosh: Rabbi Asher Ben Yechiel (1250-?). Leader of Spanish Jewry pre-expulsion (1492 c.e.).

Rosh Chodesh: ‏רֹאשׁ חֹדֶשׁ‎ — Literally, “Head of the Month.” The day of the New Moon. This day is considered to be a holiday (though not a Shabbat, so work may be done), and it is marked by special prayers, just as in the Beit Hamikdash it was celebrated with special offerings.

Rosh Hashanah: ‏רֹאשׁ הַשָּׁנָה‎ — Literally, “Head of the Year.” This holiday is also known as Yom Teruah, the Day of Trumpets, because on it we blow blasts on the shofar. It is the first day of the Ten Days of Awe leading up to Yom Kippur, a time of introspection and preparation. It is also the beginning of the Jewish civil new year, thus its name.

Ruach HaKodesh: ‏רוּחַ הַקֹּדֶשׁ‎ — The Holy Spirit, an emanation of Hashem, sometimes also called the ‏רוּחַ הַשֵּׁם‎, Ruach Hashem.

Rut: ‏רוּת‎ — Ruth.


sefer: ‏סֶפֶר‎ — (Plural ‏סְפָרִים‎, “sefarim”) Scroll or book.

Sefirat HaOmer: ‏סֶפִירַת הָעֹמֶר‎ — Counting of the Omer, the 50 days between Pesach and Shavuot. We count each day with a blessing and prepare ourselves for Shavuot, the day on which the Torah was given to Yisrael.

Sephardic: ‏סְפָרַדִּי‎ — Jews from the Southern Mediterranean area, Spain, Israel, and the Middle East.

Shabbat: ‏שַׁבָּת‎ — The Sabbath, Saturday, a day of complete rest and of special worship. Some chagim are also considered to be Shabbatot, regardless of the day of the week on which they fall..

Shach: Rabbi Shase HaKohen; a child prodigy who studied under Yehoshua ben Yosef (author of Maginei Shlomo and a talmid of the Maharam of Lubin and the S’ma). The Shach completed his commentary on the Shulchan Aruch at age 24 (in 1646 c.e.), and wrote Nekudos Ha Kesef to show the differences between his beliefs and those of the Taz. The Taz replied with Daf HaAcharon, and the Shach replied back with Kuntres haAcharon. Choshen Mishpat is the Shach’s second commentary on the Shulchan Aruch.

shacharit: ‏שַׁחֲרִית‎ — The morning prayer service.

shaliach: ‏שָׁלִיחַ‎ — Literally, “sent out one.” Referred to in some circles as an “Apostle.”

shamayim: ‏שָׁמַיִם‎ — The heavens, heaven.

shanah tovah: ‏שָׁנָה טוֹבָה‎ — Literally, “a good year.” A wish conferred upon others at Rosh Hashanah.

shas: ‏שָׁס‎ — The Talmud, an abbreviation of shishah sedarim, the “six orders,” which refers to the sections of the Mishnah, on which the Talmud is founded.

Shavuot: ‏שָׁבוּעוֹת‎ — A Spring harvest festival that comes 50 days after Pesach. It is a Shabbat. Called Pentecost in some circles.

shechitah: ‏שְׁחִיטָה‎ — Ritual slaugher of an animal, a process that requires training, skill, and patience.

Shem Hameforash: ‏שֵׁם הַמְּפֹרָשׁ‎ — The four-letter name of G-d, a.k.a. the Tetragrammaton. See my article on The Name of G-d.

Shema: ‏שְׁמַה‎ — The central statement of belief in Judaism. “Hear Yisrael, Hashem our G-d, Hashem is One.” The Shema is recited three times each day (once in each prayer service), and every observant Jew hopes to die with it on their lips.

Shemini Atzeret: ‏שְׁמִינִי עֲצֶרֶת‎ — The eighth and final day of Sukkot. It is a Shabbat.

Shemot: ‏שְׁמוֹת‎ — Exodus, the second book of the Torah.

Shemot Rabbah: ‏שְׁמוֹת רָבָה‎ — a.k.a. Exodus Rabbah. Aggadic midrash on Shemot, part of the Midrash Rabbah. Redacted between the 9th and 12th centuries c.e.

Shir Hashirim: ‏שִׁיר הַשִּׁירִים‎ — Song of Songs.

shita: opinion (pl. shitot).

Shmuel Aleph: ‏שְׁמוּאֵל א‎ — First Samuel.

Shmuel Bet: ‏שְׁמוּאֵל ב‎ — Second Samuel.

shofar: ‏שׁוֹפָר‎ — The horn of a kosher animal, most commonly a ram’s horn. It is blown on Rosh Hashanah and other occasions.

Shoftim: ‏שׁוֹפְטִם‎ — Judges.

Shulchan Aruch: ‏שֻלְחָן עָרוּךְ‎ — Literally, “set table.” Written by Rabbi Yosef Caro in the sixteenth century. It was intended to be the definitive halachic guide for all Israel. Caro was Sefardic, so the halacha is slanted in that direction. The Mapah was added to the Shulchan Aruch to show Ashkenazi halachah. The two works together form the definitive compilation of halacha used in Judaism today.

siddur: ‏סִדּוּר‎ — A prayer book that is used for the weekday and Shabbat prayer services.

sidrah: ‏סִדְרָה‎ — Literally, “order.” Another name for parasha.

Sifra: midrashim (mostly halachic) on Vayikra.

Sifre: midrashim (mostly halachic) on Bamidbar and Devarim.

Simchat Torah: ‏שִׂמְחַת תֹּרָה‎ — Literally, “Rejoicing in the Torah.” This holiday begins at the end of Sukkot, after Havdallah on Shemini Atzeret. It is the day on which we finish the yearly reading cycle of the Torah and roll the sefer Torah from Devarim back to Beresheet.

sofer: ‏סוֹפֵר‎ — (Plural ‏סוֹפֵרִים‎, “soferim”) A scribe, who is trained to write the Hebrew text on a sefer Torah, tefillin, and mezuzah.

Sukkot: ‏סֻכּוֹת‎ — The Festival of Tabernacles, one of the three pilgrimage festivals (chagim). A fall harvest holiday that comes one week after Yom Kippur and lasts for eight days, culminating in Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah. Also called ‏חַג הַסֻּכּוֹת‎, chag HaSukkot. It is a Shabbat.


tahor: ‏טָהוֹר‎ — Clean. A reference to ritual or spiritual purity, not physical cleanliness.

tallit: ‏טַלִּית‎ — A four-cornered garment that it worn to help men fulfill the mitzvah of tzitzit. Also called a tallit gadol.

tallit katan: ‏טַלִּית קָטָן‎ — A small four-cornered garment commonly worn under one’s clothes to help fulfill the mitzvah of tzitzit.

talmid: ‏תַּלְמִיד‎ — (Plural ‏תַּלְמִידִים‎, “talmidim”) Disciple, follower, student.

Talmud: ‏תַּלְמוּד‎ — Literally, “study.” A collection of teachings, commentaries, and discussions on the Torah, comprised of the Mishnah and the Gemara. Usually refers to Talmud Bavli, unless otherwise stated. More...

Talmud Bavli: ‏תַּלְמוּד בָּבְלי‎ — The version of the Talmud redacted by the rabbis in Babylon; it is the most commonly used version of the Talmud.

Talmud Yerushalmi: ‏תַּלְמוּד יְרוּשַׁלְמִי‎ — The version of the Talmud redacted by the rabbis in Israel (thus, it is called the “Jerusalem Talmud”). Most references to this version of the Talmud will name it specifically.

Tanach: ‏תַנַ״ךְ‎ — a.k.a. Tanakh or Tenach. An acronym for the three sections of the Hebrew Bible (“Old Testament”): Torah (‏תורה‎), Neviim (‏נביאים‎), Ketuvim (‏כתובים‎). More...

Tannaim: ‏תַָּּאִים‎ — Rabbis who lived between the time of Hillel and the compilation of the Mishnah, which consists of their teachings.

Targum Jonathan: The official Aramaic translation of the Neviim (Prophets).

Targum Onkelos: The official Aramaic translation of the Torah, present in most Chumashim.

Taz: Rabbi Dovid HaLevi (1586-1667 c.e.). Studied under the Bach. Completed his commentary of the Shulchan Aruch in 1646 c.e. (same year as the Shach). The Shach wrote Nekudos Ha Kesef to show the differences between his beliefs and those of the Taz. The Taz replied with Daf HaAcharon, and the Shach replied back with Kuntres haAcharon.

tefillin: ‏תְּפִלִּין‎ — Small leather boxes worn during shacharit. The boxes contain pieces of parchment on which are written Shemot 13:1-10, 11-16; and Devarim 6:4-9, 11:13-21. Also called “phylacteries.”

Tehillim: ‏תְהִלִּים‎ — Psalms.

tevillah: ‏טְבִילָה‎ — Immersion, relating to people or objects. Tevillah is done in a mikveh or in a natural body of water. The person or object is to be completely clean before doing tevillah, as its purpose is to provide spiritual cleansing (see tahor). “Baptism” is properly performed as tevillah, since that was the original basis for the practice.

Torah: ‏תּוֹרָה‎ — The first five books of the Bible. Alternately, refers to the entire body of commandments of G-d. The Torah is read in the synagogue on a yearly schedule, starting and finishing on Simchat Torah.

Torah she’biktav: ‏תּוֹרָה שֶׁבִּכְתָב‎ — The Written Torah, teachings and rulings found in the first five books of the Bible. More...

Torah shebal peh: ‏תּוֹרָה שֶׁבְּעַל פֶּה‎ — The Oral Torah, teachings and rulings passed down orally from Mt. Sinai. More...

Torat HaShlichim: ‏תּוֹרָת הַשְּׁלִיחִים‎ — Literally, “Teachings of the Emmisaries.” This is another name for the “New Testament,” a collection of writings of the followers of Yeshua within the first century after his resurrection.

Tosefta: ‏תּוֹסֶפְתָּא‎ — Literally, “additional material ” or “supplement.” A compilation of the Torah shebal peh from the same time period as the Mishnah. It is not as authoritative as the Mishnah because it was only edited by two men, Rabbis Hiyya and Oshaiah, while the Mishnah was edited by Rabbi Yehudah HaNasi with the help of his entire Academy.

Tur: Arbah Turim; halachaic commentary written by Rabbi Yaakov Baal Ha Turim; cites Ashkenazic and Sefardic opinions; has 1,714 chapters.

Tz’dukim: ‏צַּדּוּקִים‎ — A religious and political group in Israel during the late Second Temple period that controlled the use of the Beit Hamikdash. The Tz’dukim did not accept the authority of the Nevi’im nor did they believe in the resurrection of the dead or in angels. They were constantly in opposition to the P’rushim, and disappeared after the destruction of the Temple in 70 c.e. They are also known as “Saducees”.

Tzephaniah: ‏צְפַנְיָה‎ — Zephaniah, one of the prophetic books in the Tanach.

tzitzit: ‏צִיצִית‎ — Fringes that Hashem commands we wear (Bamidbar 15:38). The fringes consist of four strands each, one of which is called the shamash (“servant”) thread. The shamash thread is a color of blue called tekhelet.


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vaad halacha: A Rabbinic board that deals with issues of halacha (especially relating to kashrut).

Vayikra: ‏וַיִּקְרָא‎ — Leviticus, the third book of the Torah.

Vayikra Rabbah: ‏וַיִּקְרָא רָבָה‎ — a.k.a. Leviticus Rabbah. Halachic and aggadic midrash on Vayikra, part of the Midrash Rabbah. Redacted in the 5th century c.e.


Written Torah: See Torah she’biktav.


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Ya’akov: ‏יַעֲקֹב‎ — Jacob. Can refer to either the Patriarch Ya’akov, son of Yitzchak, or to Ya’akov the brother of Yeshua (called “James” in most English versions of the Bible).

Yechezkel: ‏יְחֶזְקֵאל‎ — Ezekiel, one of the prophetic books in the Tanach.

Yehoshua: ‏יְהוֹשֻׁעַ‎ — Joshua.

Yerushalayim: ‏יְרוּשָׁלִַם‎ — Jerusalem, the capital of Israel.

Yeshiyahu: ‏יְשַׁעְיָהוּ‎ — Isaiah, one of the prophetic books in the Tanach.

Yirmiyahu: ‏יִרְמְיָהוּ‎ — Jeremiah, one of the prophetic books in the Tanach.

Yitzchak: ‏יִצְחַק‎ — The Patriarch Isaac, son of Avraham.

Yochanan: ‏יוֹחָנָן‎ — John.

Yochanan HaMatbil: ‏יוֹחָנָן הַמָּטְבִּיל‎ — John the Immerser (or “Baptist”).

Yoel: ‏יוֹאֵל‎ — Joel, one of the prophetic books in the Tanach.

Yom Kippur: ‏יוֹם כִּפּוּר‎ — The Day of Atonement. This Fall holiday comes after Rosh Hashanah and the Ten Days of Awe. It is a day of complete fasting (no food or water for the entire day) and penitence. It is said that one’s name is written in the Book of Life on this day.

yom tov: ‏יוֹם טוֹב‎ — Literally, “good day.” This is another name for the various holidays on the Jewish calendar.

Yonah: ‏יוֹנָה‎ — Jonah, one of the prophetic books in the Tanach.


Z’charyah: ‏זְכַרְיָה‎ — Zechariah, one of the prophetic books in the Tanach.

Zohar: ‏זֹהַר‎ — The most important work on kaballah (Jewish mysticism). More...


photo of meThe various musings and kvetchings of a Torah-loving believer in Messiah. The Four Questions come from Shabbat 31a.