Glossary

Amidah [The "Standing" prayer]: The Amidah is the center core and highest point of every prayer service.

Apikores:  Heretic  [pl. Apikorsim]

Ari or Arizal :Rabbi Isaac Luria [1534-1572], whose teachings form the core of Kabbalistic doctrine and the basis for understanding the Zohar.

Ba'al Shem Tov ["Master of the Good Name"]: Ba'al Shem Tov was the title given to Rabbi Yisrael ben Eliezer [1698-1760], the founder of Chassidic movement.

Ba'al Teshuvah ["Master of Repentence"]: A person who returns to the ways of Judaism and adherence to Jewish law after a period of estrangement.

Benoni the intermediate person; between the Tzaddik and the Rasha

Bitachon ("confidence" and "trust"): the feeling of confidence in one's God-given power to take initiative and succeed in one's mission in life; the feeling that God will orchestrate events in accord with the greatest revealed good.

B'nei Yisrael - the children of Israel, the Jewish people

Chabad an acronym for Chochmah--Binah--Da'at ["Wisdom, Understanding, Knowledge"]

Chassid ["pious one" "kind one"]: An adherent to the teachings of Chassidut; specifically, the follower of a chassidic leader [Rebbe].

Chassidus/chassidut ("Piety" or "lovingkindness"also called "Chassidism"): A way of life that goes beyond the letter of the law.

Daven: to pray

Din Judgment - [plural dinim]

Deveykus - mystical attachment to God

Emunah - faith

Farbrengen [v. to farbreng]: A chassidic gathering, where stories are told and inspiration received

Galus/Galut - exile

Gaon - genius

Gashmius - materialism, physical needs

Gehennom/Gehenna - "hell"

Gematria - Hebrew numerology - a system for calculating the numerical equivalence of letters, words, and phrases.

Geula - redemption

Gezaira - decree

Gezeilah - robbery, theft

Gilgul - plural gilgulim - incarnation in a particular lifetime

Gonif - thief

Haftorah ["conclusion"]: The Haftorah is the reading from the Prophets concluding the recitation of the Sabbath or festival Torah-portion.

Halachah ["The way" or "walking"]: Halachah is a general word referring to the entire system of Jewish law and ritual practice; [plural halachot].

Hashgochah Pratis—Divine providence

Hashkafa - tracks of thinking in Jewish philosophy, usually refering to differences in sects or religious sub-group approaches to orthodox religious Jewish life.

Hiskashrus: Bond with the Rebbe, established by studying his teachings and following his directives

Histalkus: Passing of a Tzaddik

Iluy: genius

Iskafya: Isolation; Self-restraint in order to subdue the animal soul

Kabbalah ["receiving" or "tradition"]: the esoteric dimension of the Torah.

Kaddish : The Kaddish is a prayer sanctifying G-d's Name which is used to signal passage from one stage to another of the prayer service, and is also said for the deceased.

Kedushah - holiness

Kiddush: ["Sanctification"]: Kiddush is the ritual performed on the Sabbath and festival days, consisting of a liturgical text recited over a full cup of wine which is then drunk.

Kelipah [pl. Klipot] “peel” or “shell”—words used by Kabbalah to describe layers of impurity.

Kohen ["Priest"; pl. kohanim]: a descendant of Aaron the High Priest [brother of Moses].

Kosher ["fit" or "proper"]: used of anything in the sense of "proper" or "good." - in reference to food, used to mean complying with the requirements of Jewish dietary laws

Lamed-vavnik ([Yiddish]): One of the thirty-six tzadikim in every generation in whose merit the world exists.

Levaya - funeral

Lubavitch ("city of Love" [Russian]): The town that served as the center of the Chabad movement from 1812 to 1915; the movement became known also after the name of this town.

Ma'ariv - evening prayer service

Maggid - preacher

Moshiach "Anointed One," or "Messiah" - the prophesied descendant of King David--Mashiach ben Dovid--who thanks to his leadership ability and knowledge of Torah, will gather the exiled Jewish People and bring them all back to Israel, will reinstate the Torah-ordained monarchy (which he will head), rebuild the Holy Temple, inspire the whole world to believe in one God, and usher in an era of all human beings living together in peace and brotherhood.

Mazal ("sign," plural mazalot): a spiritual conduit of Divine beneficence; the 12 constellations of the zodiac.

Mazal Tov ["A good sign"]: an expression of congratulations for the good fortune bestowed upon one from heaven.

Mefarshim: Rabbinic writings

Melaveh Malkah ["escorting the Queen"]: A meal or celebration held at the end of Shabbat (Shabbat being "the Queen".

Mesorah - tradition

Mezuzah ["Doorpost"]: Mezuzah commonly refers to the ritually written parchment which we are commanded to affix to our doorposts, on which are written the first two paragraphs of the Shema.

Midda k'neged midda - measure for measure

Midrash [plural Midrashim]: the second major body of the oral Torah (after the Talmud), consisting of halachic or homiletic material couched as linguistic analyses of the Biblical text. An individual text of midrashic material is also called a Midrash. A corpus of many works written over the span of many centuries [roughly the second to the eighth CE], mostly in the Holy Land.

Mikveh ["a gathering of water"]: Either a natural body of water or a specially-constructed pool used for ritual purification rites.

Minchah - the afternoon prayer service

Minyan ["Quorum"]: A minyan is an assembly of ten men required for communal prayer.

Mishnah ["Repetition"]: The Mishnah is a six part review of Jewish law compiled in the 2nd century, which served as the focus of Talmudic interpretation; also a single passage of that work.

Mispallel  To pray for
Mitzvah [plural mitzvot] - commandment.

Musaf ["additional"]: the additional prayer service recited on Shabbat, Rosh Chodesh, Rosh HaShanah, Yom Kippur and Yom Tov

Mussar (“rebuke”)—a movement of Judaism that encourages people to study ethics and morals and to improve character.

Nasi HaDor “Leader of the generation”—the Tzaddik of the generation

Nefesh - the lowest of the five levels of the soul.

Nefesh Elokis - G-dly Soul of a person

Nefesh HaBehamis - Animalistic Soul of a person

Neshama - the breath of life that G-d breathed into the first man; the third of the five levels of soul, also a collective name for the soul.

Nes - miracle

Niggun - a wordless song for the soul, pl. niggunim

Nigleh - revealed dimension of Torah

Nisayon - a test, trial

Nistalek - ascended to the upper world, passed from this world

Nistar - hidden, inner dimension of Torah


Olam HaBo- the world to come

Pardes [“orchard”[  - acronym for four levels of Torah study

Parsha - Chapter in the Torah

Perek Shirah ["The Chapter of Song"]: Perek Shirah is a Midrash composed of the various verses sung by each element in Creation.

Pirkei Avot ["Chapters of the Fathers"]: the popular name for the Mishnaic collection referred to as Avot [Fathers] containing statements of ethical wisdom conveyed by various Talmudic Sages.

Rachamim - mercy

Rasha - wicked person

Rebbe - my teacher

Remez - “illusionary” interpretation of the Torah; third highest level of Pardes

Rishonim - leading rabbis, deciders of Jewish law, living from 1050 - 1500.

Rosh Chodesh - head of the month

Rosh HaShanah - head of the year

Ruach - spirit, wind, air, breath - the second of the five levels of the soul

Ruach Hakodesh - "the holy spirit" - knowledge of the future through means of kedushah (holiness) - Divine inspiration

Ruchnius - spirituality

Segulah - A deed, object, or utterance that acts as a charm effecting spiritual or material benefits.

Shechinah - Divine Presence

Seraphim - group of angels

Shacharit/shacharis - morning prayer service

Shaidim - demons

Shavuot - "weeks" - the festival celebrating the wheat harvest and commemorating the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai.

Shema Yisrael ["Hear O' Israel"]: The Shema prayer [named after its opening words Shema Yisrael] is a compilation of three Biblical passages [Deut 6:4-9, 11:13-21, Numbers 15:37-41] which we are commanded to recite twice daily.

Shidduch - a match made between a man and woman.

Shlita: an abbreviation of the Hebrew expression: "May he live a long and good life, Amen," used when mentioning the name of a living rabbi or sage.

Shulchan Aruch ["Set Table"]: the Code of Jewish Law, compiled and redacted by Rabbi Yosef Karo [1488-1575].

Siman, pl. simanim: significant omens

Taharah - ritual purity

Taharas hamishpacha - family purity

Tachlis - straight to the point

Tamei - impure

Tanya ["It has been taught"]: Tanya is the first word and title of the fundamental work written by Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi.

Tefillin ["phylacteries"]: Leather boxes containing specially written parchments, worn on the head and right arm by adult men during weekday morning prayer.

Teshuvah ["returning"/"repentence"]: the return of the individual [or community], after a period of estrangement

Tikkun - "rectification" plural tikunim - A state of perfection and order.

Tzaddik ("Righteous" person; plural Tzaddikim): Someone who has succeeded in fully overcoming the evil inclination and who dedicates himself to spiritually elevating his people.

Tzadik in peltz (a righteous man in furs" [Yiddish]): A depreciative term for someone who tends to his own spiritual well being while remaining oblivious to the spiritual needs of others.

Tzaddik Nistar ["concealed tzadik"] A hidden tzaddik, whose righteousness remains unknown to his community.

Tzedek: Justice

Tzedaka: charity

Tzitter  - to quake in fear

Tzures - trouble, big problems

Yarzheit - anniversary of person's death.

Yechidus - Special one-on-one time alone with a Rebbe

Yom Hillula: The day of the passing of a Tzaddik who taught Pnimiyus HaTorah [the inner dimension of Torah]; Hillula means literally “wedding,” for this day is regarded as a joyous occasion.

Z'chus: merit, pl. zechusim