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Beacons on the Talmud Sea - Ancient civilisation glossary
Category: General
Date & country: 26/03/2011, UK
Words: 130

(lit., "the later ones"): the Torah sages from the Renaissance period until the present day

the teachings of the *Midrash and those portions of the *Talmud which deal with ethics, stories of our Sages, and narratives concerning Biblical figures not included in the Bible

Rabbi Moshe Alshich (1521-1593), one of the leading Rabbis of Safed, author of a commentary on the Torah

the sages of the *Gemara

(lit., "I am"): the first word of the Ten Commandments which is used as a reference to G-d's essence

(a) the mutual responsibility that exists among the Jewish people; (b) responsibility as a guarantor

a rocky cliff from which a goat - identified with the forces of evil (Pirkei deRabbi Eliezer, sec. 46) - was pushed to its death on Yom Kippur (Vayikra, ch. 16; Yoma 63a).

baal teshuvah
(lit., "master of return"; pl., baalei teshuvah): a person who turns to G-d in repentance

bar meitzra
(Aram.): a neighbor who is granted certain rights with regard to the purchase of adjoining property

bar mitzvah
(lit., "one obligated to fulfill the commandments"; Aram./Heb.): the age at which this obligation becomes incumbent on a person, and the celebration marking that occasion

Bayis Chadash (Bach)
commentary on the Tur by Rabbi Yoel Sirkes (1561-1640)

Beis HaMikdash
the Temple in Jerusalem

Beis Hillel
the School of Hillel

Beis Shammai
the School of Shammai

(Aram.): a body of teachings authored by Rabbi Yehudah HaNasi during the same period as the *Mishnah, but not included in that text; often quoted in the *Gemara; when not capitalized, the term refers to a single teaching of this type

in chassidic terminology, self-nullification, a commitment to G-d and divine service that transcends self-concern; in halachic terminology, the mixture of a minute quantity of a substance with others to the extent that its presence is no longer of consequence

(a) an offering brought to the Temple on the pilgrimage festivals; (b) a tractate of the Talmud dealing with such sacrifices

(lit., "dedication"): eight-day festival beginning 25 Kislev, commemorating the Maccabees' rededication of the Temple in the second century B.C.E., and marked by the kindling of lights

the body of chassidic thought and philosophy

the leader of synagogue services

(lit., "entity"; Aram.): a term used to imply that the relevant halachic obligations affect it rather than the person involved (*gavra)

(lit., "kindness," or "grace"): the Divine attribute which parallels the corresponding human qualities and thus is associated with the dispersion of G-dly light and energy to lower levels of existence


the Five Books of Moses; halachically, such a text as written or printed without adhering to the laws governing the writing of a Torah scroll

the non-literal, homiletic approach to understanding Torah concepts


Eretz Yisrael
the Land of Israel

a citron, one of the four species of plants used to perform a *mitzvah on the holiday of Sukkos

(lit., "man"; Aram.): a term used to imply that the halachic obligations associated with an entity center on the person performing the action rather than on the entity (*cheftza)

Gemara (Aram)
the Babylonian Talmud, the edition developed in Babylonia, and edited at end of the fifth century C.E.

Geonim (pl. of gaon)
Torah luminaries; more specifically, the heads of the Babylonian academies after the composition of the *Talmud

(lit., "might"): the Divine attribute which parallels the corresponding human quality and thus is associated with the holding back of Divine revelation and restricting the dispersion of Divine light to lower levels of existence

(lit., "telling"): the text from which the *Seder service is conducted on the first two nights of Passover in the Diaspora (or on the first night only in Israel)

halachah (adj., halachic)
(a) the body of Jewish Law; (b) a single law

Halachos Gedolos
One of the early post-Talmudic halachic texts

(lit., "praise"): a portion of Psalms (113-118) recited in the prayer service on the festivals

(lit., "distinction"): the prayer recited at the conclusion of a Sabbath or a festival to distinguish that holy day from the weekdays which follow

Iggeres HaKodesh
the fourth portion of Tanya, consisting of a collection of pastoral letters sent by the Alter Rebbe and included in the Tanya by his sons

Iggeres HaTeshuvah
the third portion of Tanya; a treatise on *teshuvah

of primary importance

ikvesa diMeshicha
(Aram.): the last generation before the Redemption, when *Mashiach's approaching footsteps can be heard

Jerusalem Talmud
the edition of the *Talmud compiled in *Eretz Yisrael at end of the fourth century C.E.

(lit., "received tradition"): the Jewish mystical tradition

(lit., "excision"): the cutting off of the soul, causing premature death on the earthly plane and a severing of the soul's connection with G-d on the spiritual plane

(lit., "sanctification"): blessings recited over a goblet of wine and expressing the sanctity of *Shabbos (e.g., Siddur, p. 146) or a festival

an act that formalizes a legal transaction

klos hanefesh
(lit., "the expiration of the soul"): yearning for closeness to G-d to the extent that the soul actually expires


a priest

(Aram.): (a) retroactively; (b) out of proper sequence

Likkutei Sichos
the edited collection of the Rebbe's talks

the palm branch taken during the holiday of *Sukkos

machshirei mitzvah
articles that enable a mitzvah to be performed

(an acronym for Moreinu HaRav Shmuel Eliezer): R. Shmuel Eliezer Eidel's (1555-1631), whose commentary is included in most standard editions of the *Talmud

one of the blessings of the Mussaf service on *Rosh HaShanah, consisting of verses reflecting G-d's Kingship

the Messiah

(lit., "scroll"): when used as a proper noun without a modifier, it is generally a reference to the Scroll of Esther which relates the narrative commemorated by the holiday of *Purim

(Aram.): those who observe the mitzvos precisely and lovingly

mehadrin min hamehadrin
(Aram.): those whose observance is precise even when compared to the mehadrin

the seven-branched candelabrum in the Sanctuary

a parchment scroll containing the first two paragraphs of the Shema placed at the entrance to homes, and rooms within a home

the classic collection of the Sages' homiletical teachings on the Bible

Mishnah (pl., mishnayos)
the first compilation of the Oral Law authored by Rabbi Yehudah HaNasi (approx. 200 C.E.); the germinal statements of law elucidated by the *Gemara, together with which they constitute the *Talmud; when not capitalized, a single statement of law from this work

Mishneh Torah
the *Rambam's magnum opus, a compendium of the entire Oral Law


(lit., "commandment"; pl., mitzvos): one of the 613 Commandments; in a larger sense, any religious obligation

modeh bemiktzas
one who admits a portion of a claim and is hence obligated by Scriptural Law to take an oath to prove his defense

Nasi (pl., nesi'im)
(a) in Biblical times, the head of any one of the Twelve Tribes; (b) in later generations, the civil and/or spiritual head of the Jewish community at large

(lit., "what has been revealed"): the body of Torah law (cf. *pnimiyus haTorah)

the prohibition against leaving sacrificial meat past the time when it may be eaten

a Biblical dry measure; an offering of this quantity of barley brought on the day following the first day of Passover; this day and the subsequent forty-eight days are counted in preparation for the holiday of *Shavuos

Or HaChayim
a commentary on the Torah authored by Rabbi Chayim ben Atar of Morocco and later of Eretz Yisrael (1696-1743); printed in many editions of the Torah

parshah (pl., parshiyos,)
(lit., "portion"): one of the 54 weekly Torah readings

(a) Passover, seven-day festival beginning on 15 Nissan, commemorating the Exodus from Egypt; (b) the sacrifice offered on the eve of that holiday

pnimiyus haTorah
(lit., "the inner dimension of the Torah"): the realm of the Torah that deals with mystical truth, hence a synonym for *Chassidus (cf. *nigleh)

the actual expression of a potential

the simple explanation of a passage from the Torah or of a Jewish practice

(lit., "lots"): one-day festival falling on 14 Adar and commemorating the miraculous salvation of the Jews of the Persian Empire in the fourth century B.C.E.

our teacher, an appellation of respect added to the name of certain great educational leaders

Rabbeinu Nissim
(1308-1376): author of a commentary to the Talmud and a halachic commentary to the work of Rabbeinu Yitzchak Alfasi

(acronym for Rabbi Moshe Isserles; c. 1530-1572): author of the Mapah, a halachic commentary incorporated into the *Shulchan Aruch which presents the Ashkenazic halachic perspective

(acronym for Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon; 1135-1204): Maimonides, one of the foremost Jewish thinkers of the Middle Ages; his *Mishneh Torah is one of the pillars of Jewish law, and his Guide to the Perplexed, one of the classics of Jewish philosophy

(acronym for Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman (1194-1270): Nachmanides. a sage whose commentaries on the Torah and the Talmud are Torah classics

(acronym for Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki; 1040-1105): the author of the foremost commentaries to the Torah and the Talmud; leader of the Jewish community in Alsace-Lorraine

(lit., "my teacher [or master]"): saintly Torah leader who serves as spiritual guide to a following of chassidim

an allusion, one of the levels of Torah interpretation

(lit., "permitted"): modes of behavior which are neither commanded nor forbidden

(lit., "a fourth"): a quarter of a log, a Talmudic measure often considered the minimum requirement with regard to mitzvos and prohibitions that involve drinking

(acronym for Rabbi Yom Tov ben Avraham, 1248-1330): author of an important Talmudic commentary, a leader of the Spanish Jewish community

Rosh HaShanah
(lit., "head of the year"): the solemn New Year festival, falling on [1] and [2] Tishrei

(a) the highest Jewish court; (b) the tractate of the Talmud of that name

(lit., "order"): the order of service observed at home on the first two nights of Passover

Shabbos (pl., Shabbosos)
the Sabbath

(lit., "weeks"): festival commemorating the Giving of the Torah at Sinai, in Eretz Yisrael falling on 6 Sivan, and in the Diaspora on 6-7 Sivan

acronym for Shnei Luchos HaBris, a major halachic, ethical and mystical work by Rabbi Yeshayahu Horowitz (c. 1565-1630)

sheliach tzibbur
the leader of communal prayer; the *chazzan

the fundamental Jewish prayer which we are obligated to recite every evening and morning

the Sabbatical year

Shemoneh Esreh
(lit., "eighteen"): the eighteen blessings instituted to serve as the core of the prayer services recited every morning, afternoon, and evening; also known as the amidah; in the *Talmudic period, a nineteenth blessing was added to these prayers

the three *Shofar blasts of intermediate length