An esoteric tradition of explaining the biblical creation story. The Mishnash forbids teaching this publicly
Account of the chariot Chariot mysticism
An esoteric tradition of explaining Ezekiel's vision of a chariot composed of angelic beings. The Mishnah forbade public dissemination of this mystical discipline.
Aggadah (engl adj: aggadic)
component of the oral tradition not concerned with technical study of religious law. It consists largely of homiletical expositions of the Bible
An association representing the interests of traditionalist Orthodox ("haredi") groups
An "anchored woman"; one who is unable to remarry because she cannot obtain a divorce from her first husband, or because his death cannot be satisfactorily established.
"The standing (prayer)" another name for the Eighteen Benedictions, which is recited while standing
A rabbi from the third to fifth centuries, whose views are cited in the Talmud or contemporary rabbinic works
The initial and most intense stage of grieving, from the moment of the death until the burial
A popular genre of ancient Jewish literature, especially during the Roman era, in which the hero, usually a figure from the Bible, receives a graphically symbolic vision of a catastrophic future when God will overthrow the forces of evil and institute his kingdom on earth.
Works that were included in the Greek corpus of Jewish scriptures, but not in the Hebrew Bible
A Semitic language similar to Hebrew that was spoken by jews from the Second Temple era, especially in the Galilee and Babylonia.
Willow, one of the "four species" that is carried during the rituals on the feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot)
The Hebrew name for Germany, used to refer to Jewish communities that originated in central Europe, or to the Jews of Christian Europe in general
Hebrew: "action" -- the last of the four worlds according to kabbalistic teaching, the one that converges with the physical world
Attributes of action
In the thought of Maimonides, these are descriptions of God that are to be understood metaphorically, as analogous to the frame of mind that would have produced a certain result if a similar effect has been produced by a human being
A tractate in the Mishnah consisting of adages and other non-halakhic traditions. It opens by describing the sequence of transmitting the Torah from Moses via the "fathers of the world" until their own time
Hebrew: "emanation" -- the highest of the four planes of reality according to the Kabbalah
"Master of the name" -- a practitioner of magic and healing by means of the kabbalistic manipulation of the names of God
In rabbinic homilies, the aspect of the human personality that seduces people to sin. It is equated with the sexual urge, and therefore is essential for human survival.
The earliest known document containing the teachings of the Kabbalah, the symbolism of the ten sefirot. It first appeared in the 12th century in Provence, and takes the form of a pseudepigraphic rabbinic midrashic exposition whose main protagonist is Rabbi Nehunya ben ha-Kanah.
Bar Kokhba, Simeon
Leader of a failed Jewish revolt against Rome between 132 and 135 CE. Rabbi Akiva and others believed he was the messiah
"Subject to the commandments" -- A Jewish male who has reached the age when he is legally responsible under Jewish religious law; equated with the attainment of puberty, which is assumed to have occurred by the age of 13 years and one day
Beit keneset/be kenishta
"House of assembly," the Hebrew and Aramaic terms for synagogue
A network of Orthodox schools for girls founded by Sara Schnirer in 1917
A blessing, a liturgical formula beginning "Blessed are you, God�"
Hebrew: "creation" -- the second of the four planes of reality according to the Kabbalah; the realm of the highest angels
"The covenant of circumcision" the ritual circumcision performed on Jewish males, usually on the eighth day of their lives, or as part of a religious conversion procedure
A commentary and German translation of the Bible (in Hebrew letters) by Moses Mendelssohn
The elevated platform of a synagogue, used principally for the reading of th Torah
The youth movement of the Mizrachi religious Zionist movement
Breaking of the Vessels
In the kabbalistic teachings of Rabbi Isaac Luria, the myth that explains the origins of evil in the universe, caused when the vessels created by God to receive the divine light were unable to contain it and shattered, leaving a mixture of holy sparks and evil shards
A repository for discarded documents in a synagogue in Fustat (Cairo), Eqypt that preserved hundreds of thousands of texts from the early medieval era, and is a key resource for the study of Jewish society, literature and religion
The name for the land of Israel prior to its conquest by Joshua
The peoples who inhabited the land of Israel prior to its conquest by Israelites
Central Conference of American Rabbis
The association of rabbis affiliated with the American reform movement
Chair of Elijah
A chair that is customaily set aside for the biblical prophet Elijah at circumcision ceremonies
Children of darkness
Those who do not follow God's ways, according to the teachings of the Qumran documents
Children of light
Those who faithfully follow God's true law, according to the teachings of the Qumran documents
A policy statement issued by American Reform Judaism in 1937, expressing more traditional positions on certain issues
Committee on Law and Standards
The body of Conservative Judaism that makes policy decisions on mayor questions of Jewish religious law
The American incarnation of Positive-Historical Judaism, espousing an approach that tries to accommodate modern values within the structures of traditional Jewish law
Jews who converted to Christianity under compulsion during the time of the Spanish Inquisition
Council of Torah Sages
An assembly of rabbis who have supreme authority over decisions of the Agudat Israel movement
In jewish belief, a mutual agreement that defines the relationship between God and the people of Israel. Hebrew: Berit
A book included in the Ketuvim section of the Bible, purporting to tell the story of the eponymous hero, a Jew who lived during the Babylonian exile and was able to interpret apocalyptic visions of the future.
Day of Atonement
Annual holy day designate by the Torah for forgiveness and atonement of sins. It falls on the tenth day of the seventh month, Tishri, and is observed through fasting and prayer
Dead Sea scrolls
A library of ancient Jewish texts written during the Second Temple era discovered in caves near Khirbet Qumran in the Judean desert
Interpretations that follow the methods of rabbinic midrash
"Cleaving" - the Hasidic ideal of maintaining uninterrupted consciousness of God, especially during prayer
The Jewish communitieis scattered outside the land of Israel
In biblical history, the era during which Israel was divided into two states: the northern ten tribes of Israel, and the southern kindom of Judah
A sect of adherents of Shabbetai Zevi, they accepted Islam while secretly maintaining their faith in Shabbetai Zevi's eventual reappearance
The central prayer of the rabbinic liturgy, whose original structure consisted of a sequence of eighteen blessings (berakhot) of praise, petition and thanksgiving. The current version contains nineteen blessings
Hebrew: "The Infinite" - in the Kabbalah, the most exalted level of the godhead, entirely beyond the grasp of human understanding
The extending of citizenship and civil rights to Jews in modern societies
The movement calling for adapting Jewish culture and religion so as to facilitate participation in modern society
In rabinic terminology, the most common designation for a heretic, presumably referring to the Greek philosopher Epicurus who denied God's active involvement with the created world
Hebrew: "the land of Israel" - the historic Jewish homeland
Hebrew: "betrothal" - a formal stage in Jewish marriage process, in which the couple are legally bound to one another but do not yet live together
A Second Temple Jewish movement that removed itself from Jerusalem and inhabited separate communities where they observed their distinctive standards of piety and purity. Most scholars identify them as the authors of the Dead Sea Scrolls from Qumran
A citron; the "fruit of a goodly tree" that is included among the "four species" used in the rituals of the feast of Tabernacles
The second book of the Torah, describing the enslavement of the Hebrews in Egypt, their miraculous liberation (exodum) by God, and the receiving of the Torah at Mount Sinai
The kabbalistic compendium by Rabbi Hayyim Vital containing his version of the teachins of Rabbi Isaac Luria
A book in the Ketuvim section of the Hebrew Bible (now usually divided into two books) that describes the return of the Jews to Jerusalem following the Babylonian exile
Fifteenth of Shevat
A date in the winter used for measuring the ages of fruit trees for purposes of various agricultural regulations. Mainly among the kabbalists and Zionists it has taken on the status of a holiday celebrating the land of Israel and its producs
Plants that are carried in ritual processions on the feast of Tabernacles as commanded in the Torah. Rabbinic tradition identifies the species as: datepalm frond (lulav); citron (etrog); myrtle branches (hadas); willow branches (aravah)
Gaon (pl: Geonim)
From a Hebrew word meaning "pride"; the title given to the heads of talmudic academies, especially in Babylonia, after the talmudic era
The northern district of the land of Israel. It became the center of Jewish religious and communal life in the second century CE following the decline of Judea
Garden of Eden
The paradise in which the first man and woman were placed until they were banished for their disobedience. In traditional Jewish thought, the term is used to designate the abode of the righteous in the afterlife. Hebrew: "Gan Eden"
A notorious and cursed site of heathen child sacrafice in biblical times, it later became identified with the place where sinners suffer torments in the afterlife.
A work of aggadic midrash on the book of Genesis
A repository for discarded sacred texts, which according to Jewish law may not be actively destroyed
German pietism Hasidut Ashkenaz
Hebrew: "Hasidut Ashkenaz"; an influential mystical and moralistic ideology that arose in the Rhineland in the 12th and 13th centuries
A jewish bill of divorce
A method of midrashic exegesis in which analogies are drawn based on the appearance of a similar expression in two biblical passages
A neighborhood in which Jews were forced to live. The term was probably taken from the restricted Jewish quarter of Venice, established in 1516, that was situated near a foundry (Ghetto)
Reincarnation or metempsychosis into a different body in the next life, according to the doctrines of the Kabbalah
Gog and Magog, war of:
A catastrophic war described in the book of Ezekiel in his vision of the end of days. This war became a standard component of Jewish eschatology
Golah or galut
Exile, the state of removal from the homeland as punishment for sins
Golden Age of Spanish Jewry
A blossoming of Jewish culture and religious creativity in Spain, especially during the 11th century
In rabbinic homilies, the aspect of the human personality that tends towards virtue and obedience to God
The failed uprising against Rome in 66-73 CE that culminated in the destruction of the Second Temple in the year 70
Guide of the Perplexed
The philosophical masterpiece by Moses Maimonides in which he attempted to reconcile traditional Jewish beliefs with Aristotelian science and philosophy
Hebrew: "bloc of th faithful" - an Israeli religious and political movement that is concerned with maintaining Jewish settlement in territories acquiried in the 1967 Six-Day War
Hebrew: "myrtle" - one of the "four species" carried in processions on the feast of Tabernacles
Hebrew: "telling" - the liturgy for the traditional Passover night meal (seder) in which the liberation of the Hebrews from Egyptian slavery is recounted. The reciting of the haggadah is seen as the fulfillment of the precept "And you shall tell your son on that day."
Greek for "holy writings" - see "Ketuvim"
The component of the Jewish oral tradition that deals with matters of law
A portion of dough that must be set aside and given to a priest according to Torah law. In colloquial usage, it has come to designate an ornamental loaf of bread eaten on the Sabbath or festivals
The "feast of Dedication" commemorating the purification of the Jerusalem Temple after it had been used for pagan worship during Antiochus IV's persecutions. The holiday lasts eight days in the winter and is celebrated by lighting lamps every night
Hebrew for "those who tremble" - a term used to describe the most conservative type of traditionalist Jews in terms of their dress, observance, devotion to full-time religious study and insulation from the modern world
From a Hebrew word meaning "pious," the term has been applied to several Jewish pietistic ideologies through history, particularly to the movement established by Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov in the 18th century that advocated a popular mystical devotion based on serving God in joy
The Hebrew name for the "Enlightenment"
The priestly family who led a successful revolt against the Hellenistic persecutions of Antiochus IV, and subsequently established themselves as the political and priestly leders of Judea
Hebrew for "separation" - a ceremony marking the conclusion of the Sabbath or festivals
Hebrew for "fellowship" -- a name used for various Jewish communal groupings through history, including the Havurat Shalom, and American movement of small, non-institutional communities and prayer groups that were prominent in the 60s and 70s
The Semitic language in which most of the Jewish Bible is composed, as is most subsequent Jewish religious literature. A revived, modernized version of Hebrew is the spoken language in the state of Israel
The sacred scriptures of the Jews, traditionally believed to have originated in divine revelation or inspiration. In old Jewish sources it is referred to as Miqra ("that which is read aloud"). According to the conventional classification, the Hebrew Bible is divided intor three sections: Torah, Nevi'im (Prophets) and Ketuvim (Hagiographa), comprising twenty-four books
Hebrew for "room" - used to designate the traditional European Jewish elementary schools that were often criticized for their primitive pedagogy
Hebrew for "palaces"; a genre of Hebrew mystical literature involving the ascent through multiple levels of palaces that are guarded by angels.
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