A glossary!

This is for Judaism-related terms that come up on the main site whose meanings people may well not know.

To search this glossary for (e.g.) משנה, type

is:answer inquestion:this משנה

in the search box at the top-right corner of this page and hit Enter. Note, though, that that effort may be stymied if you search using one transliteration of a word and the word is listed here with a different transliteration.

If you want the definition of a term you came across on the site, please add it without a definition, and (hopefully) someone will define it.

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עברית - english (along with any common variants)

Definition goes here, or a links to the term's tag wiki if there is one, possibly a link to Wikipedia or other reference.

For information on typing in Hebrew, have a look at this question.

@neilfein, but they can't become encyclopedia articles. I was thinking a five-to-ten-word definition and perhaps a link to Wikipedia or somewhere. –  msh210 Dec 25 '11 at 20:27
What do the votes signify? –  Shmuel Brin Dec 25 '11 at 22:41
@yydl, 48=22+26 is how many letters there are in the English and Hebrew alphabets, so how many answers we would have had had we gone with the one-answer-per-initial-letter-of-the-term method, which we seem not to be doing. See also today's transcript from the site chat room. As for noteworthiness or what-have-you, the way I figure, a word that appears on judaism.se and needs explanation should go here; what do you think? –  msh210 Dec 26 '11 at 0:42

39 Answers 39

חייב or חיב — chayavadj.

  1. obligated (to do something)
    Someone who forgot to say the "Yaale V'yavo" part of the prayer is chayav to repeat the whole prayer.
  2. liable, owing (money or the like)
    If he stole $100, he's chayav $200.
  3. due (a punishment)
    Someone who worships another god is chayav death by stoning.

plural: חייבים — chayavim

synonym: מחויב or מחוייב — mechuyav, m'chuyav (used especially for sense 1, above)

— contrasted with —

פטור — paturadj.

  1. exempt (from an action)
    Someone who forgot to say the "Al Hanisim" part of the prayer is patur from repeating the prayer.
  2. exempt (from a punishment)

יצר הטובyetzer hatov — good inclination

יצר הרעyetzer hara — evil inclination


מקור – makornoun – source.

On Mi Yodeya, this usually refers to a textual or similar source for a statement.


פוסק — poseknoun

plural: פוסקים — poskim, posekim

See also the question "Posek vs. Rabbi?" and the tag .


ספר — sefer, seifernoun

  1. a Jewish-content or holy book
  2. a book

Plural: ספרים — sforim, sefarim, s'farim


חזן — chazzan — noun —

  1. The leader of any communal prayer service.
  2. A professional at that job: usually, one with a good chanting and singing voice.
  3. (no longer in common use) Any of various officials in a synagogue or the Holy Temple.

שליח צבור — sheliach tzibbur — noun —

  1. The leader of any communal prayer service.

ש״ץ — shatz — acronym


כביכול — kivyachol, kaveyacholliterally as with one who is able

— used when saying something about God that does not apply to Him


ממה נפשך -- m'mah nafshach, mimah nafshach -- prepositional phrase - literally whatever you think

Used to introduce a disjunction elimination, namely, that no matter which option you choose from a set of options, conclusion X (or question X) follows.


If you're Jewish, you believe in God, ממה נפשך. If you're a Chassid, you believe because you have Emunah. If you're a Litvak, you believe because the Rambam said so, and the Raavad doesn't argue.


Why should Vayikra 19:10 mention the ger? ממה נפשך: if the convert is poor, then he deserves to take leket anyway. And if he isn't poor, then he shouldn't take leket!


שיתוף‎ - shittuf - partnership.

@DoubleAA My argument isn't for translation (though I did use the word "meaning," earlier) -- my argument is to leave that part of the answer in, so that the answer can be useful, similar to the manner in which the answer I linked to was written. –  Shokhet Jan 21 at 19:45

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