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Glossary of terms




Following is a glossary of frequently used terms found in many of the essays you will be reading on the Chabad-Lubavitch website.

This glossary was gleaned from several publications by "SICHOS IN ENGLISH".

If you come across a word not mentioned here, please feel free to write us and ask for the meaning. We will also endeavor to add the word to the glossary for everyone's benefit.

All non-English entries are Hebrew unless otherwise indicated.


Acharonim: Halachic authorities of the period since the publication of the Shulchan Aruch in the sixteenth century.

Acharon shel Pesach: The Last Day of Pesach.

Aggados; The singular Aramaic form is aggad'ta: Non-legal teachings on the non-literal level of interpretation known as derush.

Ahavas HaShem: Loving G-d.

Ahavas HaTorah: Loving the Torah.

Ahavas Yisrael: Loving a fellow Jew.

Alma d'isgalya lit., `the world of revelation'; (Aramaic): The spiritual realm in which Divinity is revealed.

Alma d'iskasya lit., `the world of concealment'; (Aramaic): The spiritual realm in which Divinity is concealed.

Amoraim: Post-Mishnaic authorities cited in the Gemara.

Aramaic: The language in which the talmud is written, also used in many other Jewish texts.

Asiyah, the World of; lit., `The World of Action, or Making': the lowest of the Four Worlds.

Atzilus, the World of; lit., `the World of Emanation': the highest of the Four Worlds.

Avodah lit., `work' or `service': Divine service, (in Torah usage) particularly through prayer and (in Chassidic usage) through the labor of self-refinement.

Beis din: Rabbinical court.

Beis HaMikdash: The (first, second or third) Temple in Jerusalem.

Beis midrash: Communal House of Study.

Beraisa, pl. Beraisos; (Aramaic): Tannaitic statement not included in the Mishnah.

Beirurim: The divine service of sifting and refining the materiality of this world by enlightened use, and thereby elevating the divine sparks concealed within it.

Beriah, the World of; lit., `the World of Creation': the second (in descending order) of the Four Worlds.

Binah; lit., `understanding': The second of the Ten Sefiros, or divine emanations; the second stage of the intellectual process (cf. Chabad), developing the initial conception of Chochmah.

Chabad: Acronym formed by the initial letters of the Hebrew words Chochmah, Binah, and Daas, which are both (i) the first three of the Ten Sefiros, or divine emanations, and (ii) the corresponding stages that comprise the intellectual process (known as seichel or Chabad).

Chabad also signifies:

  1. The branch of the chassidic movement (see Chassidus) which is rooted in an intellectual approach to the service of G-d, which was founded by R. Shneur Zalman of Liadi. A synonym for Chabad in this sense is Lubavitch, originally the name of the township where the movement flourished 1813-1915;

  2. the philosophy of this school of Chassidism

Challah:

  1. A tithe of dough for the Kohen;
  2. A braided loaf baked in honor of Shabbos.

Chassid, pl. Chassidim: Adherent of the chassidic movement (see Chassidus).

Chassidism, see Chassidus.

Chassidus: Chassidism,

  1. The movement within Orthodox Judaism founded in White Russia by R. Yisrael, the Baal Shem Tov (1698-1760), stressing:
    • emotional involvement in prayer;
    • service of G-d through the material universe;
    • wholehearted earnestness in divine service;
    • the mystical in addition to the legalistic dimension of Judaism;
    • the power of joy, and of music;
    • the love to be shown to every Jew, unconditionally;
    • the mutual physical and moral responsibility of the members of the informal chassidic brotherhood, each chassid having cultivated a spiritual attachment to their saintly and charismatic leader, the Rebbe.

  2. The philosophy and literature of this movement; see also Chabad.

Chayim: Life.

Chessed; lit., `lovingkindness': the first of the seven Divine middos, or attributes, and of their corresponding mortal middos, or spiritual emotions.

Chochmah; lit., `wisdom': the first of the Ten Sefiros, or divine emanations; the first stage of the intellectual process (cf. Chabad); reason in potentia.

Chutzpah: Insolence.

Daas; lit., `knowledge': The third of the Ten Sefiros, or divine emanations; the third stage of the intellectual process (cf.Chabad), at which concepts, having proceeded from seminal intuition (cf. Chochmah) through meditative gestation (cf. Binah), now mature into their corresponding dispositions or attributes of character (middos).

Daven, Davenen; (Yiddish):

  1. praying, prayers; in Chabad usage also signifies
  2. the avodah of praying at length, the reading of passages in the Siddur being interspersed with pauses for disciplined meditation from memory on related texts in Chassidus

Derush: The non-literal, homiletic interpretation of Scripture, as in the Midrash or Talmudic Aggados.

Ein Sof: Without limit; term denoting G-d - the Infinite, unknowable and undefineable; See also Or Ein Sof.

Eretz Yisrael: the Land of Israel.

Erev...; lit., `evening': The eve of [shabbat or a festival].

Etzem: An entity which is one integral essence.

Galus: Exile; Diaspora.

Gemara; (Aramaic): Interpretations and explanations of the Mishnah; see Talmud.

Geulah: Redemption.

Gevurah; lit., `power'; i.e., strict justice: the second of the seven Divine middos, or attributes, and of their corresponding mortal middos, or spiritual emotions.

Golah: Exile; Diaspora.

Haftorah; lit., `final passage': The passage from the Prophets read in the synagogue after the reading from the Five Books of Moses (cf. Siddur Tehillat HaShem, p. 187).

Haggadah; lit., `telling', from Shmos 13:8: Book from which the Seder service is conducted on Pesach.

Hakkafos; pl. of Hakkafah; lit., `circuits': The sevenfold procession made with the Torah scrolls in the synagogue on Simchas Torah, accompanied by singing & dancing (cf. Siddur Tehillat HaShem, p. 335).

Halachah:

  1. The body of Torah law;
  2. A particular law

Hod; lit., `majesty': The fifth of the seven Divine middos, or attributes, and of their corresponding mortal middos, or spiritual emotions.

Hoshana Rabbah: The seventh day of the festival of Sukkos.

Ikvesa DiMeshicha; also Ikvos Meshicha; (Aramaic): the [generation that can hear the approaching] 'footsteps' of Mashiach.

Kabbalah; lit., `received tradition': The body of classical Jewish mystical teachings, the central text of which is the Zohar.

Kabbalas Ol; lit., `acceptance of the yoke': Self-subordination to the Will of G-d.

Kal vachomer: A principle of Scriptural interpretation whereby a conclusion is drawn from a minor premise or more lenient condition to a major or more strict one, or vice versa.

Kashrus:

  1. State of being kosher.
  2. The laws of kosher.

Kelippos; lit., `rind' or `shell'; pl. of Kelippah: Used figuratively (on a personal or universal level) to signify an outer covering which conceals the light within; hence, the unholy side of the universe.

Ketz; lit., `end': A particularly auspicious time for Mashiach to bring the exile to an end.

Kitzur Shulchan Aruch: The Code of Jewish Law as abbreviated by R. Shlomo Ganzfried for lay use.

Kochos makkifim: The transcendent faculties of the soul.

Kochos pnimiyim: The internalized, conscious faculties of the soul.

Kohen, pl. Kohanim: `Priests', i.e., Descendants of Aharon.

Kohen Gadol: High priest.

Kosher: Ritually fit for use or valid (cf. kashrus).

Kushia; popularly pronounced Kashe; (Aramaic): A query posed in the course of clarifying a seeming inconsistency, logical or textual, encountered in one's Torah study.

Lubavitch lit., `town of love'; Russian: Townlet in White Russia which from 1813-1915 was the center of Chabad Chassidism, and whose name has remained a synonym for it.

Maamar, pl. Maamarim; lit., `word' or `[written] article': In Chabad circles means a formal chassidic discourse first delivered by a Rebbe.

Makkif: The transcendent dimension of the soul that is not consciously vested in the body.

Malchus; lit., `sovereignty': The last of the seven Divine middos, or attributes, and of their corresponding mortal middos, or spiritual emotions.

Mashiach; lit., `the anointed one': Messiah.

Matzah; pl., Matzos: Unleavened bread eaten on Pesach.

Melaveh Malkah: Festive meal held after the close of Shabbos to escort the departing Shabbat Queen.

Mezuzah; pl., Mezuzos: Small parchment scroll written by a Sofer (scribe) and affixed to the doorpost, containing the first two paragraphs of Shema (Devarim (Deuteronomy) 6:-9 & 11:13-21).

Middos:

Midrash: one of the classical collections of the Sages' homiletical teachings on the Torah, on the non-literal level of derush.

Minyan;, pl. Minyanim: Quorum of ten men required for communal prayer.

Mishkan: The Tabernacle, i.e., the temporary Sanctuary in the wilderness; see Shmos (Exodus) chapter 25ff.

Mishnah: The germinal statements of law elucidated by the Gemara, together with which they constitute the Talmud.

Mitzvah, pl. Mitzvos: A religious obligation; one of the 613 Commandments.

Mussaf: The additional prayer of Shabbos and other festive days.

Nasi:

  1. In Biblical times, the head of any one of the Twelve Tribes;
  2. In later generations, the civil and/or spiritual head of the Jewish community at large.

Nazir: One who sets himself apart for divine service by undertaking certain ascetic restrictions; cf. Bamidbar (Numbers) 6:1-21.

Netzach; lit., `eternity; conquest; victory': The fourth of the seven Divine middos, or attributes, and of their corresponding mortal middos, or spiritual emotions.

Nigleh; lit., `revealed': The revealed levels of the Torah (e.g., Talmud and Halachah); in contrast to nistar.

Niggun, pl. Niggunim: Melody, usually wordless, especially one figuring in divine service.

Nistar; lit., `hidden': The mystical levels of the Torah (e.g., Kabbalah and Chassidus); in contrast to nigleh.

Or Ein Sof: The [infinite] creative and enlightening emanation that radiates from the Infinite One. 'Light' is used in Kabbalistic and Chassidic literature as a metaphor for the manifestations of the Essence of G-d. Light, though only a reflection of its source, is also Infinite; See also Ein Sof.

Parshah, pl. Parshiyos: Portion of the Torah read publicly each week.

Parshas...: The parshah of...

Pesach: Passover, a seven-day festival (eight days in the diaspora) beginning on 15 Nissan, commemorating the Exodus from Egypt.

Pirkei Avos; lit., `chapters of the fathers': Tractate in the Mishnah reprinted in most Siddurim, commonly known as `Ethics of the Fathers'.

Pnimiyus HaTorah: The innermost, mystical dimension of the Torah; cf. nistar.

Posek, pl. Poskim: Decisors; Rabbis whose legal decisions are authoritative.

Pshat: The plain meaning (e.g.) of a Scriptural passage.

Rasha, pl. Resha'im: Opposite of tzaddik.

Rav, pl. Rabbanim: Rabbi, Torah teacher.

Rebbe, pl. Rebbeim: `My teacher [or master]'; Tzaddik who serves as spiritual guide to a following of chassidim; see also Chassidus.

Remez: The interpretation of Scripture at the level of allusive implication.

Resha'im: See rasha.

Rishon; lit., `one of the early ones'; pl. Rishonim: A Torah authority of the period between the Geonim (early Middle Ages) and the publication of the Shulchan Aruch (in the mid-16th century).

Rosh Chodesh; lit., `head of the month'; pl. Rashei Chadashim: New Moon, i.e., one or two semi-festive days at the beginning of each month in the Jewish calendar.

Rosh HaShanah; lit., `head of the year': The solemn Jewish New Year Festival, falling on 1 and 2 Tishrei.

Seder; lit., `order'; pl., Sedarim: The order of service observed on the first night of Pesach (and outside of Eretz Yisrael on the first two nights).

Sefer Torah, pl. Sifrei Torah: Torah scroll.

Sefirah, pl. Sefiros: Divine attributes or emanations which manifest themselves in each of the Four Worlds, and are the source of the corresponding ten faculties (kochos) of the soul.

Seudas Mashiach: The Festive Meal of Mashiach held on the Last Day of Pesach.

Seventeenth of Tammuz, the Fast of: Fast commemorating 5 calamities, including the breaching of the walls of Jerusalem during the Roman siege.

Shabbos, pl. Shabbasos: The Sabbath; Shabbat.

Shabbos Parshas...: The Shabbos on which a [named] parshah is read.

Shaliach: Emissary.

Shavuos; lit., `weeks': Festival commemorating the Giving of the Torah at Sinai; in Eretz Yisrael falling on 6 Sivan, and in the Diaspora on the 6th and 7th of Sivan.

Shechinah: The Divine Presence.

Shechitah: Ritual slaughtering.

Shehecheyanu; lit., `Who has granted us life': Blessing pronounced on seasonal and other occasions for thanksgiving (Siddur Tehilat HaShem, p. 87).

Shemitah: The seven-yearly Sabbatical year (Vayikra 25:1-7).

Shemoneh Esreh; lit., `eighteen [benedictions]': Prayer which is the solemn climax of each of the three daily services.

Shlita; Acronym of five Hebrew words, translated as "that he be preserved in life for many good days"; this abbreviation is placed after a person's name, expressing the wish `that he be preserved in life for many good days'.

Shofar: Ram's horn sounded on Rosh HaShanah.

Shulchan Aruch; lit., `a set table': The standard Code of Jewish Law compiled by R. Yosef Caro in the mid-sixteenth century.

Sichah, pl. Sichos: An informal Torah talk delivered by a Rebbe (cf. maamar).

Siddur, pl. Siddurim, lit., `order [of prayers]': Prayer book; page references in most articles on this site are to the edition (with English translation) entitled Siddur Tehillat HaShem (Kehot, N.Y., 1979).

Simchas Torah; lit., `the Rejoicing of the Torah': Festival immediately following Sukkos, on which the public reading of the Torah is annually concluded and recommenced; in Eretz Yisrael coincides with Shemini Atzeres, and in the Diaspora falls on the following day.

Siyyum; lit., `conclusion': Celebration marking one's completion of a Talmudic tractate.

Sod: The level of Torah interpretation that plumbs its Kabbalistic or mystical depths.

Taam: Flavor; delight; reason.

Takkanos; pl. of Takkanah: Halachic sublaws ordained by the Sages of the various generations.

Talmud: The basic compendium of Jewish law, thought, and Biblical commentary, comprising Mishnah and Gemara; when unspecified refers to the Talmud Bavli, the edition developed in Babylonia, and edited at end of the fifth century C.E.; the Talmud Yerushalmi is the edition compiled in Eretz Yisrael at end of the fourth century C.E.

Tamim: See Temimim

Tanach: Acronym for Torah (i.e., the Five Books of Moses), Nevi'im (the Prophets), and Kesuvim (the Writings; i.e., the Hagiographa).

Tanna, pl. Tannaim: Authority of the 1st-2nd centuries quoted in the Mishnah.

Tanya: The Alter Rebbe's basic exposition of Chabad Chassidus; `Tanya' is the initial word of the book, which is also called Likkutei Amarim (`Collected Discourses') and Sefer shel Beinonim (`The Book of the Intermediates').

Tefach, pl. Tefachim: A unit of length corresponding to the width of a fist.

Tefillin: Small black leather cubes containing parchment scrolls inscribed with Shema Yisrael and other Biblical passages, bound to the arm and forehead and worn by men at weekday morning prayers; `phylacteries'.

Tehillim; lit., `praises': The Book of Psalms.

Temimim; pl. of tamim: Students past or present of one of the senior yeshivos of the Lubavitch branch of Chassidism, which are known as Tomchei Tmimim.

Teshuvah; lit., `return': Repentance.

Tiferes; lit., `glory': The third of the seven Divine middos, or attributes, and of their corresponding mortal middos, or spiritual emotions.

Tikkun, pl. Tikkunim: The process of refining, restituting and rehabilitating the materiality of this world.

Tikkun Chatzos; lit., `midnight service': An optional devotional exercise lamenting the Destruction of the Beis HaMikdash and the subsequent exile of the Divine Presence on a cosmic level.

Tinokos shenishbu (cf. `an infant taken into captivity among the heathen nations'; Shabbos 68b; `captive infants' (of any age) who are victims of environmental duress, such as educational deprivation.

Tishah BeAv; lit., `the Ninth of [the month of] Av': Fast commemorating the Destruction of both Temples.

Tomchei Tmimim:

  1. The yeshivah founded in Lubavitch in 1897 by the Rebbe RaShaB;
  2. One of its subsequent offshoots.

Tzaddik, pl. Tzaddikim:

  1. Completely righteous individual;
  2. Rebbe

Tzedakah: Charity; righteousness.

Tzimtzum: The self-limitation of the infinite and emanating Divine light by progressive degrees of contraction, condensation and concealment, making possible the creation of finite and physical substances.

Worlds, the Four: The main stages in the creative process resulting from tzimtzum; in descending order: Atzilus, Beriah, Yetzirah and Asiyah, often referred to by their acronym as Ab-ya.

Yechidah: The innermost of the five levels of the soul.

Yeshivah, pl. Yeshivos: Torah academy for advanced students.

Yesod; lit., `foundation': The sixth of the seven Divine middos, or attributes, and of their corresponding mortal middos, or spiritual emotions.

Yetzirah, the World of; lit., `the World of Formation': The third (in descending order) of the Four Worlds.

Yiddish:

  1. Jewish
  2. A language spoken by Jews.

Yiddishkeit; lit., `Jewishness'; (Yiddish): Judaism; The Torah way of life.

Yom-Tov: Festival.

Yom-Tov Sheni shel Galuyos: One of the days which only in the Diaspora is appended to each of the three Pilgrim Festivals.

Yud-Beis and Yud-Gimmel Tammuz; `the twelfth and thirteenth of [the month of] Tammuz': Chassidic festival marking the anniversary of the release of the Rebbe Rayatz from incarceration and exile in Stalinist Russia in 1927.

Yud-Tes Kislev; `the nineteenth of [the month of] Kislev': Chassidic festival celebrating the liberation of the Alter Rebbe from capital sentence and imprisonment in Petersburg (1798), after having been slandered to the czarist authorities by his opponents.

Zohar; lit., `radiance': Classical work embodying the mystical teachings of the Kabbalah.


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