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Ohr Somayach Glossary

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The half-piece of matzah eaten at the end of the Pesach Seder. Traditionally, the children "steal" it at the beginning of the seder and "ransom" it back to the leader of the seder at the end of the meal. In some places, the leader of the seder hides it, and the children have to find it.

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Ba'al Shem Tov
Rabbi Yisroel Ba'al Shem Tov; born 18 Elul, 1698 in Okop, Ukraine; died 6 Sivan, 1760; Rebbe in Mezhibuzh; founder of the modern Chassidic movement; main disciples Maggid of Mezritch & R' Yaakov Yosef of Polonnoye

Ba'al Teshuva
Literally "Master of Repentance." Used for someone that is newly observant.

Bima (on Sukkos)
The central lectern in the synagogue from which the Torah is read. On Succot, it is circled by the community, while holding their lulav. This inevitably results in major "traffic jams" in synagogues.

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Chas Veshalom
G-d Forbid

A stew usually made from potatoes, beans and meat. The recipe varies from community to community. Calcutta "chamin" has rice, curry and chicken. German cholent has beans, dumpling and beef. Hungarians add whole eggs etc. It is eaten on Shabbat, and is placed on the fire on Friday afternoon. It cooks over Shabbat, and by lunchtime is ready to eat.

The Hebrew name for the Five Books of Moses.

Cohen (Gadol)
A descendant of Aaron, brother of Moses, the first High Priest, or Cohen gadol, of the Jewish people. The cohen is always called up first to the Torah reading. The cohen gadol, wore a special turban, tunic and breast plate amongst other things.

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An eruv refers to a rope or wire that is supended on poles around a city. Its purpose is to allow Jews to carry on the Sabbath. Carrying objects from private to public property and public to private property as well as in public property is forbidden by Torah law on the Shabbat. In certain situations, where the city is not Biblically considered public property, there is a Rabbinic prohibition to carry, unless an eruv is erected around the city.

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The Chassidic movement, was founded by R. Yisrael Ba'al Shem Tov (1700 - 1760) in the early 18th Century and grew to one of the great movements of mainstream Judaism to this day. It grew in the regions of Galicia, the Ukraine and Podolia Some main features of Chassidic thought, or Chassidism are: Emphasis on

  1. Sincerity, fervour
  2. Prayer
  3. Joy and spontaneity
  4. Humility
  5. Connection to the Tzadik, the Rebbe (Known as ADMO"R, acronym for - Adoneinu, Moreinu veRabeinu - Our Master, Our Teacher and Our Rabbi)
  6. Introduction of Kabbalistic concepts to the masses
Some of the common customs of the Chassidim are:
  1. Specific clothing - Spodek, Shtreimel, long coats, gartel
  2. Eating with the Rebbe - Tisch, Farbrengen
  3. Order of prayer of Rav Yitzchak Luriah (Ari Zal)
  4. Later prayer times - following preparations

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Hagbah (on Simchat Torah)
Hagbah is the lifting of the Torah scroll and displaying it to the congregation On simchat Torah, when we celebrate finishing and beginning the Torah we also have the most difficult Hagbah. The Torah is a scroll and therefore when it is finished or started all the weight is on one side.

Hakadosh Baruch Hu
The Holy One Blessed Be He

Literally "View." Typically Judaism's philosophical viewpoint on any particular topic.

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Abbreviation for "Im Yirtze Hashem"

Im Yirtze Hashem
G-d willing. Literally if God will want

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Stuffed intestine. Usually the stuffing is made of flour, onions, garlic and chicken fat. Today edible plastic is used instead of intestiness. It is usually cooked in the cholent.

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Specifically a palm branch, but also used to refer to all four species used on Sukkos: palm branch, myrtle branch, willows and citron.

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Maggid of Mezritch
Reb Dov Ber of Mezritch; main disciple of the Ba'al Shem Tov and leader of the Chassidic movement after him; also a disciple of the Pnei Yehoshua; born 1704; died 19 Kislev, 1772; mentor of the whole next generation of Chassidic Rebbes.

Candelabra that is lit by Jews on Chanuka, in celebration of the Maccabean victory over the Greeks.

A pool of water conforming to certain dimensions and specifications, used to legal and spiritual purposes. Also called a "ritularium."


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Nachum Ish Gamzu
Tana who was known for always accepting whatever tradgedies and troubles that befell him as for the good, and saying, "Gom Zu L'Tovah (This is also for the good)." A teacher of Rabbi Akiva.

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Jewish legal ruling.

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Hebrew for Grandmother

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Black square leather boxes containing parchments with sections of the Torah (shma etc.). Jewish men are obligated to wear them the forehead and arm during prayers every morning. (Of course if one sees the sunrise 45 times a day, this may create problems.)

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Vilna Gaon
One of the most prominent figures in the Torah world of recent centuries, his erudition covering (in addition to the natural sciences and mathematics) the entire field of Torah scholarship, on which he wrote some 70 works. Despite his extrume seclusion - his ascetic assiduity has become proverbial - he exerted a powerful inluence on Jewish affairs. Since his time, the Yiddish term Litvak ("Lithuanian") has come to stand for a scholarly and hard-core misnaged expousing the closely definable world-view whose prime ideologist and ideal personality is the Gaon.

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Yotzer Ha'Adam
Hebrew for "Creator of Man." When not being used by aliens, it is the 2nd of the 7 blessings that are recited at the end of a wedding feast (see the Complete ArtScroll Siddur P.206)

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Zushia, Rabbi Meshullam
Rebbe in Hanipoli.; disciple of the Maggid of Mezritch; brother of Reb Elimelech; Died 1800, 2 Sh'vat.

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