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Partial Glossary

The Shabbat Primer
Getting Ready for Shabbat

Partial Glossary

by Nechoma Greisman and Chana Ne'eman

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Note: Because these are transliterations of Hebrew and Yiddish terms which are also pronounced differently in the various Jewish communities, different English spellings of the same word often appear, for example, "Shabbat" and "Shabbat."

aliyah"Ascent"; in particular, (a) the honor of being one of those called up to recite one of the blessings over the Torah; (b) immigration to the Land of Israel.
AshkenaziA Jew of European origin; pertaining to such Jews.
averapl. averot. A transgression of one of the laws of the Torah.
Avraham AvinuOur Father Abraham.
baalat hamitzvapl. baalot hamitzva. Lit.: "mistress of the mitzva." A woman who has put a great deal of devotion into performing a mitzva fully and has succeeded.
baal teshuvapl. baalei teshuva; fem. baalat teshuva; fem. pl. baalot teshuva. Lit.: "master of returning," "one who returns." Any Jewish penitent, but especially a Jew of secular or not fully observant background who has decided to undertake full Torah observance.
bentchingEnglish corruption of Yiddish bentschen. Blessing or saying grace after meals.
brachapl. brachot. Any kind of blessing or praise of G-d. In formal liturgy, it opens or closes with the Hebrew for "Blessed art Thou O L-rd."
chavurahpl. chavurot. A voluntary society or fellowship of Jews who gather for the purpose of learning, celebrating, or carrying out certain charitable mitzvot.
chesed"Lovingkindness"; acts of lovingkindness.
cholentA casserole-like dish prepared before the start of Shabbat and kept warm, usually for Shabbat lunch. It was developed to avoid the prohibitions against cooking on Shabbat.
chumashThe Five Books of Moses (the Pentateuch).
clal YisraelThe entire People or Community of Israel.
CohanimDescendants of the priests of the Temple. Some of the privileges and prohibitions that applied to them in Temple times, such as prohibitions against contact with a corpse, are still valid.
dvar Torahpl. divrei Torah. A brief oral commentary on a topic from the Torah.
daven or davenenYiddish for "pray." "Davening' is an English corruption.
erevEvening, or the day preceding; the beginning of holy days, which in Judaism start in the evening. Friday is often referred to as "Erev Shabbat."
fleishikPertaining to meat or poultry; a category of the kashrut laws.
frumLit. "pious". One who is fully observant of the Torah laws.
hachnasat orchimLit. "bringing in guests." Hospitality.
halachaJewish law and way of life.
hamotzieKey word of blessing pronounced before eating bread.
Hashem or haShem"The Name"; one of the references to G-d, whose proper name is never pronounced by observant Jews in regular conversation or written.
havdalahBlessings pronounced over wine at nightfall at the conclusion of a Shabbat or festival to mark it off from the ordinary weekdays that follow.
kashrutThe Jewish dietary laws.
kedushaHoliness.
kiddushThe sanctification prayer for Shabbat and the festivals recited over a cup of wine.
kvell(Yiddish) To take great pride and pleasure; a peculiarly Jewish thrill most often associated with the accomplishments of one's family members.
LadinoA Spanish dialect spoken by many Sephardic Jews; referring to songs, literature, etc. in Ladino.
Mashiach or MoshiachThe Messiah.
mechitzaA physical divider set up between men and women in the synagogue and other places designated by halacha for the purpose of concentrating better and preserving tzniut.
MegillahA parchment scroll, usually referring to the Book (Scroll) of Esther, read on Purim,
Melaveh MalkaUshering out the Shabbat; a festive meal held after the end of Shabbat on Saturday night.
middotOne's personality or character traits.
MidrashOne of the classical interpretations of the Torah on a non-literal or mystical level.
mikvaThe ritual bath for immersing and purifying people and utensils.
milchikPertaining to milk and its by-products; a category of the kashrut laws.
muktzehObjects which one may not handle or be concerned with on Shabbat and festivals.
NachshonThe first person to leap into the Red Sea when the Jews were being pursued by the Egyptians, thus a paradigm of faith.
negel vasser(Yiddish). Ritual hand-washing done upon arising in the morning.
nash(Yiddish). Candy, sweets.
niggunpl. niggunim. A melody, often wordless and repeated several times, which is intended to express and stir one's soul.
parshah or parashahpl. parshiot. The weekly Torah portion.
PurimA joyous festival celebrating the saving of the Jews of the Persian Empire. The story is told in the Book of Esther, which is read during Purim.
rebbeA spiritual leader and teacher of a Jewish community, particularly a Hassidic one. Sometimes a rebbe is accepted as a leader by many communities and individuals outside his own.
SephardiA Jew of South European or North African origin; pertaining to such a Jew.
Seuda Shlishit"Third Meal." The last of the three festive meals of Shabbat.
Shabbat or ShabbesAshkenazi pronunciation of "Shabbat."
ShabbatdikAppropriate for or in the spirit of Shabbat.
shidduchA match, especially for marriage.
shulYiddish for synagogue.
Shulchan Aruch"Prepared Table." The standard code of Jewish law and practice compiled by Joseph Karo.
Siddur"Order (of prayer)." The complete traditional prayer book.
simcha"Joy." A happy festival or Jewish life-cycle celebration, e.g., bar mitzva.
talitShawl worn by males during prayer and fringed with tzitzis.
tamehImpure according to halacha.
TanyaThe basic written source for Chabad Hassidic philosophy, written by the movement's founder, Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi in the 18th century.
treif, terephah, or trefehFood forbidden by the kashrut laws.
tzniutModesty in dress and behavior.
yeshivaAn academy for the study of Torah. Today there are also numerous separate yeshivot for women.
yichudThe Torah laws whose purpose is to prevent the development of close contact with members of the opposite sex to whom one is not closely related or married.
yom tovA festival or holiday.
zemirot or z'mirotShabbat and festival songs generally sung around the table.

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     Sichos In English -> Books -> Other -> The Shabbat Primer

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