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Hebrew Glossary - A



































(ah-ha-ROWN) n. The brother of Moses and Miriam; the first "Kohen Gadol" or High Priest of Israel.

Aaronic Benediction

(beer-KAHT koh-ha-NEEM) n. Priestly blessing. Also called the "Aaronic" blessing (see Num. 6:24-6). Click here.



(AHB-bah) Aramaic. n. Abba. "Daddy," "dear Father," "papa"; a term of endearment for one's father (Mark 14:26; Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:6). Abba is a more intimate expression than the normal Hebrew word for "father" (av). Note that the dagesh in the Bet is forte since it is preceded by a vowel.



(rah-shay tay-VOHT) n pl.  Hebrew abbreviations; initial letters of the words in a Hebrew phrase or clause (abbreviations of the ending letters of words in a phrase are called sofei teivot). Acronym; Initialism. The commentaries are full of rashei teivot and it is very difficult to read even a single Tosafot if you cannot decipher them.


(HE-vel) n. 1. Abel (הֶבֶל), the second son of Adam and Eve, murdered by evil his brother Cain.  2. Vanity; vapor; breath (Eccl. 1:2). Whether there is an etymological connection between Abel and the idea of breath or vanity is unclear.


(ahv-rah-HAHM) n. Abraham. "Father of multitudes." Son of Terah, and renamed in Genesis 17. Abraham comes from av and hamon, the nations.

Abrahamic Covenant

(breet ahv-ra-HAHM) n. The contract (or "promise") God made with Abraham as recorded in the book of Genesis, in which He promised to make him a great nation and gave him the Land of Israel (see Genesis 17).


(AHV-rahm) n. Abram. "Exalted father" or "Father is lofty." The original forebear of the Jewish people. Renamed to Avraham is Genesis 17.


(AHV-sha-lohm) n. Absalom. "Father of peace" (from av and shalom). King David's son by Ma'achah (2 Sam. 3:3).


(pe-ree SHOOT) n. Abstinence; detachment; purity that leads to tahara (purity).

Acceptance of Suffering

(kab-ba-LAHT yees-soo-REEM)  n. Acceptance of suffering; finding same'ach b'yisurim (joy in suffering). Yeshua is the Master of kabbalat yisurim.

Acharei Mot

(ah-cha-ray MOHT) n. "After the death."  The 29th Torah portion of the Jewish Calendar (Leviticus 16:1-18:30). Highlights include the Yom Kippur service; the prohibition against eating blood; forbidden sexual relationships, and much more. For a summary of the Torah portion, click here.

Acharit HaYamim

(ah-cha-REET ha-yah-MEEM) n. The end of the days. The end times when the Olam Hazeh comes to a close and the Olam Haba is about to begin.


(ah-kha-RON) pl. Acharonim; n. "later one(s)." In Torah scholarship, the term refers to a Torah scholar who lived from approximately the sixteenth-seventeenth centuries through the nineteenth century (i.e., 1550-1800 A.D.).


(a-kha-VAH) n. Brotherhood; fraternity



(rah-shay tay-VOHT) n pl.  Hebrew abbreviations; initial letters of the words in a Hebrew phrase or clause (abbreviations of the ending letters of words in a phrase are called sofei teivot). Acronym; Initialism. The commentaries are full of rashei teivot and it is very difficult to read even a single Tosafot if you cannot decipher them.

Acts of the Apostles

(ma-a-say hash-shee-KHEEM) n. Acts of the Apostles. The works of the Ruach Hakodesh (Holy Spirit) in the early church as reported by Luke (Luke 1:3. Acts 1:1). Ma'asei Hashelichim means "deeds of the sent ones" in Hebrew.


(ah-DAHM) n. The Original Man; the first human being created by God. He is created "b'tselem elohim" - "in the image of God."


(ah-dah-MAH) n. Soil, earth, ground (as general, tilled, yielding sustenance); earth substance; ground as earth's visible surface; land (Gen. 4:11).


(ah-DAR) n. The twelfth month of the Jewish calendar, sixth month of the Hebrew Civil calendar. Corresponding approximately to March. Adar Sheni means Adar II, a leap year month sometimes added to the Jewish calendar.

Adar II - Shanah Meuberet

(shah-NAH me-oo-BEH-ret) n. Jewish Leap Year; A "pregnant" year. A year with with an additional month (called Adar I) added to the usual 12 (developed to synchronize the solar seasons with lunar months). Adar I is inserted before the month of Adar (which is then renamed Adar II for the leap year). Adar II is the "real" Adar in leap years, so Purim, for example, is celebrated in Adar II on leap years. The inserted month occurs in the 3rd, 6th, 8th, 11th, 14th, 17th and 19th years of a 19 year cycle.

With the extra month of Adar I, a Jewish leap year contains 54 weeks, but non leap years have only 50 weeks. On the week of Passover and the week of Sukkot, different Torah portions are read, so that leaves 52 weeks for the 54 readings (2 weeks have double portions), and on non leap years only 48 weeks for the 54 (6 weeks have double portions).  Confused? Check a good Jewish calendar to make sure you're on the right date!

Ad'lo Yoda

(ad-lo yo-DAH) "Until he cannot tell the difference" The name of the Israeli street pageant on the Purim holiday, derived from a Talmud saying that a man may drink on this holiday until he cannot tell the difference between the name of the hero (Mordechai) and the villain (Haman) of the Purim story.


(ah-DOHN) n. Adon. Lord; mister; sir. Also a name for God, e.g., Isa. 10:33. See the Names of God.

Adon Olam

(ah-DOHN oh-LAHM) n. Eternal Lord, a prayer that is part of the Siddur. Adon Olam means "Master of the Universe."


(ah-doh-NIGH) n. pl. "My Lord(s)." Spoken by observant Jews instead of God's personal name YHVH. See the Names of God. The Name for God used most frequently in Berachot (blessings) and in reading the Torah aloud. It means "Master" (see above). The connotation is "Master of the universe" and "Master of the individual." Note that this name uses the plural of majesty and indicates the Hashalush Hakadosh (Holy Trinity).


(mal-AKH may-LEETS) n. Advocate (1 John 2:1).


(ah-fee-KOH-man) n. Half of the central matzah broken off and put away at the beginning of the meal. A Greek word meaning that which comes after or "dessert". It is represented in a broken piece of matzah wrapped in linen and buried (hidden). This piece of the ceremonial matzah is the final thing eaten at the Passover seder meal. A picture of the Mashaiach and His sacrifice, burial, and resurrection.

Afternoon Service

(meen-KHAH) n. Afternoon service. It is said that Abraham invented Shacharit by regularly praying to God in the morning; Issac is said to have invented Minchah by praying in the afternoon, and Jacob invented the Ma'ariv (evening service) by praying at night.


(ahg-ga-DAH) Aramaic. n. (pl. Aggadot). Stories, Parables. Non-legal material found in the Talmud (Mishna and Gemarah). Aramaic word meaning "story." Rabbinic law dealing with ethics, theology, history, folklore, and legends. Aggadah does not concern itself with legal and ritual matters and thus can be distinguished from Halakhah. Aggadah comprises any comment occurring in the Talmud on any topic that is not explicitly a commandment.

Image from Wikipedia


(Aleph-Hey-Vet) Shoresh (root) letters for love.


(a-ha-DAH) f. n. Sympathy; pity; understanding.


(ah-ha-VAH) (f.; pl. "ahavot"); love.  Ahuv means "beloved" (ahuvi = my beloved)

Ahavat Adonai La'olam

(ah-ha-VAT a-doh-NIGH la-oh-LAHM) phr. "God's love for the world." John 3:16

John 3:16a 

Ahavat Chesed

(ah-ha-VAT KHE-sed) n. Love of chesed or lovingkindness; gemilut chasadim.

Ahavat HaBriyot

(ah-ha-VAT ha-bree-OHT) phr. "The love of creatures." This refers to the value placed on the lives of all creatures. Therefore, one must make sure not to cause any undue pain to animals or other human beings. As it says in Avot 4:1, "Who is respected? He who respects the creations."

Ahavat Hashem

(ah-ha-VAT ha-SHEM) phr. "The love of God." Ahavat Adonai (the love of YHVH).

Ahavat Limud

(ah-ha-VAT lee-MOOD) phr. "Love of learning."

Ahavat Olam

(ah-ha-VAT oh-LAHM) phr. "Everlasting love."

Ahavat Torah

(ah-ha-VAT TOH-rah) phr. "Love of Torah."

Ahavat Yisrael

(ah-ha-VAT yis-ra-EL) n. Love of Israel; love of one's fellow Jew. To be ohev Yisrael is to be one who loves Israel (ohev is the qal present active participle of ahav).


(ah-HOOV) n. Beloved; ahuvi means "my beloved," as in Atah Adonai ahuvi: You are Lord, my Beloved.


(ah-kay-DAH) n. "binding"; as a sacrifice is bound; refers specifically to the sacrifice of Isaac by his father Abraham (Gen. 22:1-19).

Akedat Yitzchak

(ah-kee-DAHT yeetz-KHAHK) n. "The binding of Issac (Gen. 22:1-19). The Akedah (sometimes called Akedat Yitzchak) is the story of how Abraham was tested by God to bind his beloved son Isaac and offer him as a sacrifice on Mount Moriah. At the last moment, God stopped Abraham from going through with the sacrifice and provided a substitute (see Genesis 22). It is one of the most widely read passages of Scripture in the Jewish liturgy, recited during every morning service and also during Rosh Hashanah.

As Messianic believers, we understand the Akedah as a foreshadowing of the ultimate sacrifice the heavenly Father would give on our behalf: unlike Abraham, God the Father actually offered His only Son in order to make salvation available to all who believe (see John 3:16). As Abraham said, "God Himself will provide a lamb" (Genesis 22:8).

Consider how the Akedah provides a prophetic picture of the Lord Jesus as the "Lamb of God" (Seh haElohim) who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29). Both Isaac and Jesus were born miraculously; both were "only begotten sons"; both were to be sacrificed by their fathers at Mount Moriah; both were to be resurrected on the third day (Genesis 22:5, Hebrews 11:17-19); both willingly took up the means of his execution; and both demonstrate that one life can be sacrificed for another – the ram for Isaac, and Jesus for all of mankind.

Indeed, the first occurrence of the word love in the Scriptures (ahavah) (Gen 22:2) refers to a father's love for his "only" son who was offered as a sacrifice on Moriah (the very place of the crucifixion of Jesus), a clear reference to the gospel message (John 3:16).

Alav Hashalom

(ah-LAHV ha-sha-LOHM) phr. "May he rest in peace" – said when referring to a deceased man. Abbreviated as A"H. (My father, ~, used to say...)

Aleha Hashalom

(ah-LAY-ha ha-sha-LOHM) phr. "May she rest in peace" – said when referring to a dead man. Abbreviated as A"H. (Her mother, ~, used to say...)


(ah-LAY-noo) n. Aleinu. Closing prayer of the three daily services (popular since the 13th century).


(ah-lef) n. Aleph or Alef. 1st letter of the Hebrew alphabet. A silent (guttural) letter. Originally represented by a pictograph meaning "ox," "strength," or "leader." Gematria value is 1.


(ah-lef BAYT) n. The Hebrew alphabet is a set of 22 letters used for writing Hebrew (as well as several languages of the Jewish diaspora, e.g., Yiddish and Ladino). The number of letters in the Hebrew alphabet, their order, their names, and their phonetic values are virtually identical to those of the Aramaic alphabet, as both Hebrews and Arameans borrowed the Phoenician alphabet for their uses during the end of the 2nd millennium BC.
The modern script used for writing Hebrew (usually called the Jewish script by scholars, and also traditionally known as the "square script", or the "Assyrian script"), evolved during the 3rd century BC from the Aramaic script, which was used by Jews for writing Hebrew since the 6th century BC. Prior to that, Hebrew was written using the old Hebrew script, which evolved during the 9th century BC from the Phoenician script.

Aleph V'Tav

(ah-lef ve-TAHV) n.  Aleph and Tav.  The First and the Last. The Alpha and Omega. Title for Yeshua the Messiah (Rev. 21:6).


(a-lee-YAH) n. "Going up." A call to the reading stand to prounounce a blessing over a portion of the Torah. Also, immigration to Israel.

All Israel is responsible for one another

(kohl yees-rah-AYL 'a-rah-VEEM zeh la-ZEH) [sometimes ba-zeh instead of la-zeh] n. The dictum that "all Jews are responsible to each other." The idea of arevut, of being responsible for each other, leads to the concept of all Jews being like one person.  The song, Kol Yisrael arevim zeh lazeh, explains what arevut means to the Jewish people.

Kol Yisrael arevim zeh lazeh (3x)
Kol Yisrael achim
Am echad lev echad
Am echad shteym echad
Am echad ke-ish echad
Shmah Yisrael, am echad

All Jews are responsible for each other
All Jews are "brothers"
One people with one heart
One people, each pair is one
One people, as if they are one person
Hear Israel! One people


('ahm) n. People; Nation.

Am Chofshi

('am khohf-SHEE) n. A free people. Chofshi means free (chofshit in the feminine gender). Chofesh hadibur means freedom of speech; Chofesh means freedom.

Am Hanivchar

(ahm ha-neev-KHAHR) n. A chosen people. Chosenness is the belief that the Jews are chosen to be in a covenant with God. This idea is first found in the Torah (five books of Moses) and is elaborated on in later books of the Hebrew Bible. See Deuteronomy 14:2; Exodus 19:5-6; Deuteronomy 7:7-8; Amos 3:2.  A related term is am segullah, a treasured people.

Note that chosenness does not imply superiority. "Choosing" is invariably perceived as a verb and part of what it means to be such a people. That is, the ones who are choosing Adonai and His ways are both am hanivchar and am segullah. Therefore the Apostle Peter refers to Christians as "a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession" (1 Peter 2:9, cp. Ex. 19:6, Deut. 7:6). This is clearly a reference to Gentiles who come to faith in Yeshua, since he adds: "Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people" (1 Pet. 2:9-10), something he would not have said to ethnic Jews. The Apostle Paul likewise understands true Christians to be "chosen people" (Eph 1:4; 2 Thess. 2:13). All true Christians are in b'kehunat Mashiach - in the priesthood of Messiah Yeshua and therefore have direct access to God. This priestly lineage began with Malki-Tzedek (Melchizedek), culminated in Yeshua, and is passed directly to the believer by means of his or her justification and identification with the Lord, "who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people (am segulah), zealous of good works" (Titus 2:14).

Am HaSefer

('ahm has-SE-fer) n. People of the book; the Jews.

Am Segullah

('ahm se-gool-LAH) n. A treasured and befitting nation by virtue of deeds and actions; a special title given to Israel as a nation (see Exod. 19:5; Deut. 7:6; 14:2; 26:18) and also to Christians who serve the Lord Jesus (Yeshua).

Am Segullah does not imply the "chosen people," but rather "choosing" is invariably perceived as a verb and part of what it means to be such a people. That is, the ones who are choosing Adonai and His ways are am segullah.

Am Yisrael Chai

(ahm yees-rah-AYL KHAI) phr. עַם יִשְׂרָאֵל חַי / am Yisrael chai: "The people of Israel live!"  An affirmation of God's love for (and preservation of) the Jewish people.


(ah-MAYN) "It is true, so be it, may it become true." The response given upon hearing a blessing, meaning "so be it;" also interpreted as an abbreviation of El Melech Ne'eman, "The Mighty and Faithful King":

This word is used as an epithet of the Mashiach (Rev. 3:14).


('a-MOSS) n. Amos. Earliest (chronologically) of the "Minor Prophets" in the Tanakh. Amos means "to be burdened or troubled." His main center of activity was in the northern kingdom.


('ah-mee-DAH) n. Standing prayer, quietly murmured, that is part of each daily service in the synagogue, alternatively called the Tefillah or the Shemoneh Esreh. The central prayer in Judaism, repeated three times daily. The Amidah originally consisted of eighteen Brachot strung together, hence its other name the Shemoneh Esreh, meaning literally the Eighteen. The Amidah contains variations for special occasions like Shabbat and Yomim Tovim, and is repeated aloud when there is a Minyan present.


(ah-moh-RAI-yeem) n. pl. Amoraim. Sages of the Talmud from roughly 200-500 A.D. who expounded the Mishnah (compiled by Judah the Prince) and the teachings of the Tannaim (the Tannaim were direct transmitters of uncodified oral tradition in the sequence of ancient Jewish scholars, but before them were the "Zugot" - "pairs" of teachers like Hillel and Shammai). The singular is Amora ("one who says"), i.e., a scholar who "told over" the teachings of the Oral law. Their debates were eventually codified in the Gemara.  


(e-moh-ree) n. pl. An ancient nomadic people who dominated the history of Mesopotamia, Syria, and Palestine from about 2000 to about 1600 BC. Amorites means "westerners" in Sumerian. There are also sometimes called Eastern Canaanites, since a large group of them later settled in the Levant. They are associated with ancient Babylon, and the Egyptians called them the Hyksos.


(a-nah-VAH) n. Humility; proper self-respect; Proverbs 16:18-19. The Talmud says that humility is the greatest of all the middot tovot (good qualities) from which all other middot tovot stem. Conversely gei'ah [arrogance-haughtiness] is the primary middah ra (bad quality) from which all other bad middot stem).


(mal-AKH) n. Mal'akh.  Angel; messenger. Plural form: malakhim.

Angel of Death

(mal-AKH ham-ma-VET) n. The angle of death (as mentioned in the Passover Seder).


(ka-as) n. Anger; vexation; grief. The verbal form means to provoke to anger. Ka'as appears in Deut. 32:27; 1 Sam. 1:6; Prov. 17:25; Eccl. 1:18; 7:3, 9; 11:10; Ezek. 20:28.

Ani Ma'amin

(ah-NEE mah-a-MEEN) n. phr. "I believe"; the opening phrase for the thirteen principles of faith as set down by Ramba"m or Moses Maimonides (1135-1204). These thirteen principles constitute a sort of "creed" for many devout Jews.

Animal Cruelty

(tsa-ar ba-a-lay KHY-eem) n. צַעַר בַּעֲלֵי חַיִּים "Suffering of living creatures." The principle not to cause unnecessary pain to animals. The Scriptures address the issue of treating animals humanely. They are to rest on Shabbat (Exod. 20:10), not be overworked (Deut. 25:4), and can partake of the produce from fields lying fallow during the sabbatical year (Ex. 23:11). "A righteous man knows the soul of his animal" (Prov. 12:10).

"If you come across a bird's nest in any tree or on the ground, with young ones or eggs and the mother sitting on the young or on the eggs, you shall not take the mother with the young. You shall let the mother go, but the young you may take for yourself, that it may go well with you, and that you may live long" (Deut. 22:6-7). According to the sages, this commandment exemplifies the Jewish value of tza'ar ba'alei chayim and invites further discussion and laws about preventing animal cruelty.

Do you eat kosher meats, slaughtered humanely according to Torah shechitah laws, or do you eat meat produced by large, "Confined Animal Feeding Operations" (CAFOs)? What do you think is our responsibility to ensure that animals are not abused or mistreated?

Anshei K'nesset HaGedolah

(ahn-SHAY ke-NES-set ha-ge-doh-LAH) n. "Men of the Great Assembly." One hundred twenty men who led the Jewish People at the beginning of the Second Temple era (500 B.C.E.) for about three hundred years. They "restored the crown of the Torah" by composing many of the prayers, enacting ordinances to "protect" the observance of the Torah, and establishing certain holidays and fasts in the Hebrew Calendar. Ezra the Scribe also perhaps determined the canon of the Tanakh at this time.


(a-pee-koh-ROHS) n. A term designating a person who leaves the rabbinic tradition. Also, a skeptic regarding the basic Jewish articles of faith.


(ke-too-VEEM ah-cha-roh-NEEM) n. A collection of books, including the Books of Maccabees, that were not included in the final redaction of the Bible, but which are, nevertheless, important Jewish texts. Greek for "hidden." Also called Sefarim Chitzonim (outside books), that is, books excluded from the Tanakh.


(me-shoom-MAHD) n. Apostate from Judaism. Shemad means one who has converted or been baptized.


(ke-fee-RAH) n. Apostasy; heresy; denial of the faith; status of being mumar.  Orthodox Judaism holds that all Jews who reject the simple meaning of Maimonides's 13 principles of Jewish faith are apostates.

Apple of His Eye

(bah-vat AYE-noh) phr. The apple of His eye. The pupil of God's eye.  His central focus and object of love.  A reference to the Jewish people (Deut. 32:10; Ps. 17:8; Prov. 7:2; Lam. 2:18; Zech. 2:8).

Appointed Times

(mo-'ED / mo-a-DEEM) n. pl. Feasts; appointed times. See the Jewish calendar for a list of mo'adim. The customary greeting during a feast is Chag Same'ach (Joyful Feast!).
The mo'edim are as follows:

Weekly Mo'edim:

  • Shabbat

Monthly Mo'edim:

  • Rosh Chodesh

Springtime Mo'edim:

  1. Abib/Nisan 1: The Biblical Rosh HaShanah
  2. Shabbat HaGadol: the first Shabbat of the year
  3. Pesach (Passover)
  4. Chag Matzah (Feast of Unleavened Bread)
  5. Yom HaBikkurim (Day of First Fruits)
  6. Shavuot (Feast of Weeks)

Falltime Mo'edim:

  1. Yom Teruah (Day of Blowing/Shouting)
  2. Yom Kippur (Day of Covering/Atonement)
  3. Sukkot (Tabernacles)

Wintertime Mo'edim

  1. Chanukah (Dedication)
  2. Purim (Lots)

Rabbinic Judaism has established several other mo'edim, including:

  1. Fast of Esther
  2. Fast of the 17th of Tammuz
  3. Lag B'Omer
  4. Tish'ah B'Av
  5. Tu B'Av
  6. Tu BiSh'vat
  7. Tzom Gedaliah
  8. Yom Ha'atzma-ut
  9. Yom HaShoah
  10. Yom HaZikaron
  11. Yom Yerushalayim


(ah-ra-MEET) n. An ancient Semitic language related to Hebrew. The Gemara was written in Aramaic, as is the well known Kaddish prayer.


(a-rah-VOHT) n. pl. Leafy branches of the willow tree (sing. aravah). The aravah is one of the Four Species (arba'ah minim) used in a tenufot (waving) ceremony during Sukkot. The other species are the lulav (palm frond), hadass (myrtle), and etrog (citron).

Arba Kanfot

(ahr-ba kan-FOHT) n. phr. "Four corners"; Tallit Katan; worn under an upper garment throughout the day; Tzitzit.

Arba Imahot

(ahr-ba eem-mah-HOHT) n. The four matriarchs of Judaism: Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel (with Bilhah), Leah (with Zilpah). The Four Matriarchs and zekhut imahot (the merit of the mothers) is sometimes incorporated into Jewish liturgy (i.e., reconstructed first blessing of the Amidah).

Arba Minim

(ahr-ba mee-NEEM) n. Also arba'at ha-minim (אַרְבַּעַת הַמִּינִים). The "Four Kinds or Types of agricultural produce commanded by the Torah to be held together and waved in all directions during Sukkot. The Four Kinds are:

  • The Etrog - the citron fruit
  • The Lulav - the branch of the date palm
  • Hadasim  - three myrtle twigs
  • Aravot - two willow branches.

Arba'ah Vanim (the four sons)

(ar-bah-ah vah-NEEM) n. The story of the "Four Sons" is read at the Passover seder (during the Maggid section). Each of the four sons symbolizes a different type of Jew and their relationship with the Torah:

  • The wise son (chakham) inquires about why the Jews practice the customs of Passover. The seder leader describes this son as wise, since he wants to know more about the traditions of his people. The seder is for him!
  • The wicked son (rasha') wants no part of the Passover traditions and asks why the Jewish people - other than him - practice the customs of Passover. The seder leader responds by describing this son as wicked, since he thinks Passover customs are meant to be observed by other Jews, but not him. He's a hypocrite.
  • The simple son (tam) is somewhat bewildered by the Passover Seder and its rituals. The seder leader responds by admonishing him about God's favor toward the Jews during the time of their slavery in Egypt and why it is important to remember God's salvation with gratitude.
  • The son who does not know enough to ask (she'eilo yodea lishol) is simply told about the Passover story in accordance with the biblical command: "And thou shalt tell thy son in that day, saying: it is because of that which the Lord did for me when I came forth out of Egypt" (Exodus 13:8). Sadly, most secular Jews today are like this son.

The story of the Four Sons is intended to commend the wise son and to encourage us to remember the Jewish roots of our faith. We must study Torah and respect the Jewish way of life, for if we neglect this we have failed in our responsibility to our heritage. The wise son understands the importance of his heritage and sees it as a means of preserving the knowledge of the LORD God of Israel for posterity.


(ah-ray-VOOT) n. (עֲרֵבוּת) Shared or mutual responsibility; from the Talmud: "One who occupies oneself with the needs of the community is as though one occupies oneself with the Torah" (Berakhot 37a). Often the idea of caring for the welfare of one's fellow Jew is expressed in the phrase kol Yisrael arevim zeh bazeh (כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל עָרֵבִים זֶה בַּזֶה), "all Israel is responsible for one another." This is a foundational value in Judaism - to preserve and protect the Jewish community and to help each person maintain their Jewish identity and responsibility to one another. It involves the idea of offering tochachah (correction) to fellow Jews to help them live in personal righteousness (Lev. 19:17): "You must surely admonish your neighbor and [thus] not bear sin because of him."


(ah-ree-EL) n. Lion of God. A title for the Mashiach.

Ark (Noach)

(tay-vah) n. Ark. In Genesis chapters 6-9, the word is used 26 times to denote the huge, rectangular, box-shaped vessel which Noach (Noah), his family and the animals entered to escape the judgment of the flood. In Exodus 2, teivah denotes the tiny vessel in which Moses was hidden among the reeds in the Nile river to escape the wrath of the Pharaoh. According to midrash, the beam/tree upon which the wicked Haman was hanged was taken from Noach's teivah.

Ark (Synagogue)

(ah-ROHN ha-koh-DESH) n. The Holy Ark. The special cabinet in which the Torah scrolls are kept. The plural for Torah is Sifrei Torah (seef-ray).

Ark of the Covenant

(ah-ROHN ha-be-REET) n. The ark of the covenant (brit). This sacred item of the Mishkan (and later of the Temple) was also called the aron ha'edut (ark of the testimony). The ark was a gold-plated wooden chest that housed the second set of two luchot (tablets) of the Ten Mitzvot that God spoke to the Israelites at Sinai (as well as some manna and Aaron's rod that blossomed, though later these two items were removed [1 Kings 8:9]). The Kohathites (a subclan of Levites) carried the Ark during the Israelite's wandering in the wilderness. After the conquest of Canaan, it was initially kept at Shiloh and was sometimes carried into battle by the Kohanim. King David later took it to Jerusalem, and his son Solomon placed it in the Bet Hamikdash (Temple) of Jerusalem, where it rested in the Holy of Holies and was seen only by the high priest on Yom Kippur.

The Scriptures describe the Ark as made of shittah wood. It was a cubit and a half broad and high, and two and a half cubits long (about 3.75 x 2.25 x 2.25 feet). The Ark was covered with pure gold and its lid, called the the kapporet (mercy seat) was surrounded with a rim of gold.

On each of the two sides were two gold rings wherein were placed two wooden poles (with a decorative sheathing of gold) to allow the Ark to be carried (Num. 7:9; 10:21; 4:5,19, 20; 1 Kings 8:3, 6). Over the Ark, at the two extremities, were two cherubim, with their faces turned toward one another (Leviticus 16:2; Num. 7:89). Their outspread wings over the kapporet formed the throne of God, while the Ark itself was his footstool (Ex. 25:10-22; 37:1-9). The Ark was placed in the Kodesh hakodashim, the Holy of Holies, so that one end of the carrying poles touched the veil separating the two compartments of the tabernacle (1 Kings 8:8).

At the inmost center of the Mishkan (earthly Tabernacle), then, the place symbolizing utmost holiness, was the Ark of the Covenant (אֲרוֹן־הַקּדֶשׁ), a "three-in-one" box that held the tablets of the covenant. The Ark served as a symbol of kisei ha-kavod (כִּסֵּא הַכָּבוֹד), God's Throne of Glory, since it stood entirely apart as the only furnishing in the Holy of Holies (קדֶשׁ הַקֳּדָשִׁים). Upon the crown or cover of the Ark (i.e., the kapporet) were fashioned two cherubim (i.e., angel-like figures) that faced one another (Exod. 25:17-18). According to the Talmud (Succah 5b), each cherub had the face of a child - one boy and one girl - and their wings spread heavenward as their eyes gazed upon the cover (Exod. 25:20; 1 Pet. 1:12). It was here - in the midst of sacred innocence, humility, purity, and hope - that the sacrificial blood was offered to make atonement for our sins, and it was here where God's Voice would be heard (Exod. 25:22; Num. 7:89). In the very heart of the Sanctuary, then, we see the Word of God and the sacrficial blood, foreshadowing the glory of the eternal redemption secured by Yeshua. As is written in our Scriptures: "For Messiah has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are representations (ἀντίτυπος) of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf" (Heb. 9:24).


The Ark is described as a "three-in-one" box because it was a wooden one set inside a gold one, with another gold one set inside the wooden one -- three boxes made one.  Metaphorically this symbolizes Yeshua's humanity (the wood, the Tree of Life) surrounded above and within by God the Father and the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit).


(har me-GEED-do) n. Armageddon. "Hill of Megiddo" (Rev. 16:16). The word is a corruption of Har Megiddo, the Mount of Megiddo, near Tel Aviv, a place where many battles were fought ages ago.

Aron haKodesh

(ah-ROHN ha-koh-DESH) The Holy Ark. The special cabinet in which the Torah scrolls are kept. The plural for Torah is Sifrei Torah (seef-ray).

Aron ha'edut

(ah-ROHN ha-ei-DOOT) n. The Ark of Testimony (Ex. 25:6).


(ahsh-ke-NAHZ) n. Ashkenaz; referring to European Jews in the Diaspora. Cp. Sepharad. (Gen 10:3). The name Ashkenaz has since the 10th century been identified with Germany. As the German and French Jews of the medieval period formed a uniform group in culture and religious customs, they were all referred to as Ashkenazim in contradistinction to the Sephardim or Spanish- Portuguese Jews. Many Ashkenazim moved to the United States to escape European anti-Semitism.

Asarah B'Tevet

(ah-sa-rah b'TEV-et) n. Tenth of Tevet. Fast day commemorating the siege of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 BC.

Aseret Hadevarim

(ah-SER-et ha-de-vah-REEM) n. The Ten "Words" or "Utterances" used as a synonym for the Ten Commandments.  See entry for Aseret Hadiberot for more information.

Aseret Hadiberot

(ah-SER-et ha-di-b'ROT) n. Aseret Hadibrot; Ten Commandments or Ten Utterances. The following are the Ten Commandments given at Mt. Sinai:

  1. I am the Lord your God.
  2. No other gods.
  3. Do not take My Name in vain.
  4. Remember Shabbat.
  5. Honor father and mother.
  6. No murder.
  7. No adultery.
  8. No stealing.
  9. No false witness.
  10. No coveting.

The Ten Commandments are listed in Exodus (sh'mot) chapter 20 and Deuteronomy (devarim) chapter 5. Click here for more information.

Aseret Hashivatim

(ah-SER-et hash-shee-vah-TEEM) n. The Ten Tribes (of the northern kingdom of Israel). In the Apocrypha, it is written that the ten tribes moved to a far away country and resettled there (2 Esdras 13:41-47). These are sometimes referred to as the "lost tribes."

Aseret Yemei Teshuvah

(ah-SER-et ye-MAY te-shoo-VAH) n. (עֲשֶׁרֶת יְמֵי תְּשׁוּבָה) Ten days of repentance. Penitential season. Time from the 1st of Tishri (Rosh Hashanah) and ending with the close of Yom Kippur. These days are also known as Yamim Nora'im (יָמִים נוֹרָאִים) the Days of Awe.


(ah-SOOR) adj. The word asur (אָסוּר) literally means "bound," but it has come to be used to mean "forbidden" or "prohibited" in halachic discussions. The word mutar (מֻתָּר) is an antonym which implies the freedom or permission to do something. For example, the presence of blood spots found in eggs raises the question of whether they are "asur or mutar" for consumption in light of the laws of kashrut.


(kap-pah-RAH) n. Atonement. Forgiveness. A Yom Kippur custom is based on the idea of ransom, one life for another. After reciting from the Book of Job (33:23-24), a rooster (for men) or a hen (for women) is swung three times over the heads of the penitent and the following is said: "This is my exchange, this is my kapparah. This rooster is going to be killed, and I shall be admitted and allowed to a long, happy and peaceful life."


(ats-mah-OOT) n. Independence.  Yom Ha'atzmaut is "Israeli Independence Day." The anniversary of the founding of the state of Israel in 1948, held on the 5th of Iyar (about 2 weeks after Passover). Atzma'i means "independent" in Hebrew; and atzmaut is the state of being independent. These words derive from atzmi - my bones (etzem).

Yom Ha'atzmaut
is felt with particular intensity due to the fact that it is preceded, the day before, by Yom Hazikaron, Israel's Memorial Day. Click here for more information.


(AHV) n. Eleventh month in the Hebrew calendar, falling in midsummer.  Also the name "father" in Hebrew. Avot is the plural.

Av Harachamim

(av ha-ra-cha-MEEM) n. Merciful Father. Name of a prayer recited before Sefer Torah (Torah Scroll) is returned to the ark.

Avinu Malkeinu

(ah-VEE-noo mal-KAY-noo) n. Avinu Malkenu. Our Father Our King, a prayer recited during the High Holidays and thought to have been written by Rabbi Akiva.

Avinu Shebashamayim

(ah-VEE-noo she-bah-sha-MAI-yeem) phr. "Our Father, Who art in Heaven," the first words of the Lord's Prayer (Matt 6:9; Luke 11:2).


(ah-VEEV) n. Abib. The month Nisan. Meaning ears of grain, namely, barley (Ex. 13:4). Spring; springtime.


(ah-ve-LOOT) n. The year long observances for the death of a parent. An avel is a mourner. Hebrew for "mourning."


(ah-vay-RAH) n. Sin; transgression.

Avnei Choshen

(av-nay KHOH-shen) n. Stones of the breastplate (choshen), often represented in modern Judaica as pendant, locket, or ring:

As for the twelve stones in the choshen (Ex. 28:17-21; Ex. 39:10-14), the Torah does not explicitly indicate how they correspond to the twelve tribes, though various Jewish commentaries suggest certain correspondences.


(ah-voh-DAH) n. Work; Labor; also, worship (specifically the sacrificial Temple service as performed by the kohen gadol).

Avodah Zarah

(ah-voh-DAH za-RAH) n. Idol worship or, in general, worship of anything other than God. In the Mishnah, the 8th tractate in the order of Nezikin, dealing with regulations related to idols and idolatry.

Avodat Halev

(ah-voh-DAT ha-LAYV) n. Avodat ha-lev. The work of the heart; worship; service to God.


(ah-VOTE) n. Ethics of the Fathers, one of sixty-three tractates of the Mishnah. "Avot" also refers to the opening blessing in the Shemoneh Esreh (or Amidah). It further means "fathers" (it is the plural form for the word "Av").

Avot Melachah

(ah-vote me-lah-KHAH) n. The 39 categories of work (melachah) which were performed in and for the Mishkan are called the Avot Melachah, the fathers or primary categories, since they are the foundation, the original source for all secondary types of Melachah which are similar and derived from them. These categories provide a taxonomy for shomer shabbat Jews to determine whether a given activity is to be defined as "work" or not.

Avraham Avinu

(AHV-ra-ham ah-VEE-noo) n. "Our father Abraham." Father of the Jewish people and of a multitude of nations (Luke 1:73; Gal. 3:7).


(AH-yeen) n. Ayin. 16th letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Ayin is a guttural letter. Originally a pictograph representing an eye. Gematria = 70.

Ayin Harah

(AH-yeen ha-RAH) n. The "evil eye" of envy; stinginess; meanness. There are various superstitious practices to avoid the gaze of the evil eye, such "hiding celebrations" or refraining from expressions of too much happiness to keep away envious looks (e.g., the breaking of the goblet during a wedding may have roots in this idea). Sometimes any expression of happiness for another is qualified with the phrase "kayn ayin hara" (without the Evil Eye), pronounced "keynahara" in Yiddish, meaning "I am happy for you with no envy in my heart..." Some people go so far as to wear charms (e.g., the "hamsa hand") or a "thin red string" around the wrist for protection.

 Of course we must reject such superstitions and affirm "ein od milvado" - there is no power (including the power of evil) that is not under the direct authority of God... Yeshua is the LORD over Satan and all evil forever and ever, Amen.

Ayin Tovah

(a-yeen toh-VAH) n. The "good eye" (Matt. 6:22). Metaphorically - the spiritual choice to see things as good rather than evil; the eye of the heart or trust...  Ayin tovah sees the best in others - including God - and trusts that "all things work for the good" (Rom. 8:28).

The heart looks through the eye.... The good eye (i.e., ayin tovah: עַיִן טוֹבָה) - sometimes called the "beautiful eye" (עין יפה) - refuses to think evil about others (it "does not impute the bad" - οὐ λογίζεται τὸ κακόν - in 1 Cor. 13:5), but it rejoices in the truth – even if such truth is found only in the hope of a future good (1 Cor. 13:7). The good eye is the instrument of a giving heart that looks upon the needs and pains of others with genuine compassion. The "evil eye" (i.e., ayin hara: עַיִן רָעָה), on the other hand, is cynical, jaded, envious, and unsympathetic to other people and their struggles... Using a good eye takes from the treasure within the heart and gives it out freely to others: "The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil" (Matt. 12:35). There never is a risk that love may be given away without warrant from heaven. In the future judgment to come, I'd rather be found guilty of "casting pearls before swine" than to be found guilty of withholding love from others...

A person with a "good eye" looks at things from the perspective of love. Ayin hatovah looks at circumstances -- and especially at other people -- and finds something beautiful.... "Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully" (2 Cor. 9:6). As we give, so we are given...


(ah-za-ZAYL) n. Scapegoat. Goat sent into the wilderness signifying removal of the nation's sins. The unidentified place or demon to which the scapegoat was sent on the Day of Atonement (Lev. 16:8, 10, 26).

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