Shorashim - Hebrew for "Roots"
Shorashim - Hebrew for "Roots"

Hebrew and Yiddish Glossary

A Messianic, Hebrew and Yiddish Glossary

Over the years the Church, Christians and as a result even the Bible itself, have moved further and further away from their Biblical, Jewish and Hebraic roots. This separation has created a culture with its own (predominantly Greek) mindset and its own language, which has caused the Jewish Messiah to be seen as a Gentile God, far removed from His covenant people and the God of Israel.

This website has no fixed rules for terminology used, and recognises that written language alone has its limitations. As such, this glossary is an attempt to bridge the gap between the Graeco-Roman, Anglicised, non-Hebraic word form to bring back some of the original feel and meaning of the Scriptures and faith borne through Israel and her Jewish Messiah.







  • Agunah (lit.: chained). - A woman who cannot remarry; usually because her husband refuses to give her a get (divorce), because there is no way to verify whether or not he is dead, or because he is incompetent to give a divorce (i.e., mentally ill).
  • Aliyah - The Hebrew word meaning 'to go up'. Commonly used in synagogue when one is called to 'go up' to the raised platform (the bimah) to read the Torah portion, and also referring to the process of emigrating (going up) to Israel. Used in the Psalms of Ascents (literally the Psalms of 'Going Up to Jerusalem').
  • Assur - Something prohibited.
  • Averah (aveira) - Sin, transgression of G-d's will.


  • BCE - 'Before Common Era', the Jewish method referring to the historic period before the birth of Yeshua (Jesus). Essentially the Jewish version of the Latin Ante Christum, Anglicised to Before Christ (BC) in the Gregorian calendar.
  • Baal Tefillah - Prayer leader.
  • Ba'al Teshuvah (lit.: master of return) - A penitent; a Jew who returns to a traditional observant Jewish lifestyle (also known by the acronym BT).
  • B'chor - Firstborn status.
  • Bamidbar (lit.: in the desert) - Numbers (4th book of the Torah).
  • Bet Din - Court of Jewish law.
  • Bikkur Cholim - Visiting the ill or hospitalized.
  • Bracha (pl. brachot) - Blessing.
  • B'reshit (lit.: in the beginning) - Genesis (1st book of the Torah).
  • B'rit milah - Covenant of circumcision.
  • B'shaah tova - Congratulations to an expectant mother (literarily "in a good hour," means "at an auspicious time," i.e. may whatever time your child is born be a good time.") Also the correct response to announcement of a marriage engagement. In both cases, it is in anticipation of a "mazel tov" for something hoped for, that has not yet occurred.



  • CE - 'Common Era', the Jewish method referring to the historic period since the birth of Yeshua (Jesus). Essentially the Jewish version of the Latin Anno Domini (AD), meaning 'in the year of [our] Lord' in the Gregorian calendar.
  • Chag sameach - A happy holiday (used as a greeting).
  • Chanukah - the Hebrew word for 'dedication'. The festival remembers the liberation of the Second Temple under the Maccabean revolt and its subsequent re-dedication for Temple sacrifice in the inter-Testamental period. The New Testament specifically refers to the celebration in John 10:22.
  • Chayav - One who is obligated (chiyuv=obligation).
  • Chazzan (hazzan) - Cantor.
  • Cherem - Excommunication (from cessation of aid, boycott).
  • Cheshbon Hanefesh (lit.: accounting of the soul) - Self-examination of your actions' merit, or accounting of your soul's good and bad aspects.
  • Chevra - Friends; comrades.
  • Chevra Kadisha (lit.: holy society) - The group that prepares a body for burial.
  • Chillul Hashem - Desecration of the divine name.
  • Chok (pl. chukim) - Law from the Torah deemed to be without a humanly-discernible rationale, e.g. the red heifer.
  • Chometz (chametz, hametz) - Leavened food, which is forbidden during Pesach.
  • Chumash - The five books of the Torah, bound in one volume (not a scroll).
  • Chumra - Stringency -- custom of a community to observe more strictly.



  • "Dati / lo dati" - Dati = religious, lo dati = not religious, as used in current Hebrew in Israel, but it is a black and white distinction, meaning Orthodox and not Orthodox.
  • Daven - Pray (from Yiddish, with a particular emotional sense).
  • Derech Eretz - Respectful, menschlich, considerate of others.
  • Din - Law, judgment.
  • Drasha - Interpretation of a Torah passage (often a creative interpretation) (from a root meaning "search").
  • Dukhn - Perform the kohen's blessing before the congregation.
  • D'var torah (pl. divrei torah) (Literal translation: word of Torah) - A Torah discourse, homily or sermon.
  • D'varim (lit.: words, things) - 5th book of the Torah (Deuteronomy).



  • Emet - Truth.
  • Emunah - Faith.



  • Frum - Observant (Yiddish. Often with a right-wing Orthodox implication). Derived from the German/Yiddish word for "pious".



  • G-d - used within Orthodox Judaism in this Anglicised form to avoid having to write the name of God as a sign of respect.
  • Gemara (lit.: learning, from the Aramaic) - The later part of the Talmud, which expands upon the Mishna.
  • Get (pl. gittin) - Document of divorce.
  • G'milut Chasadim - Acts of loving kindness.



  • Hachamim (chachamim) - Sages.
  • Haftarah - In the synagogue weekly service, the torah portion (Heb. parshah) is followed by a passage from the prophets, which is referred to as a haftarah. Haftarah does not mean "half-Torah", rather the word comes from the Hebrew root Peh-Tet-Reysh meaning "Concluding Portion". Usually, the haftarah portion is no longer than one chapter, and has some relation to the Torah portion of the week.
  • Halacha (lit.: path) - Jewish law.
  • Halbanat Panim (lit.: whitening the face) - Causing someone to blanch by public embarrassment.
  • Hallelujah - the Anglicised form of the Hebrew or 'praise the Lord'. Literally, hallel (praise) - oo (us) - yah (the Lord). Also alleluia and other variations.
  • Hanukah - see Chanukah
  • HaShem - the Hebrew for 'the Name', often used within Orthodox Judaism to avoid having to speak the unutterable name of God.
  • Hashgacha - Ritual supervision, most often used in terms of kashrut/dietary laws, although it can also refer to spiritual or moral supervision as in a yeshiva or dormitory.
  • Heksher - Kosher certification.
  • Hesed (chessed) - Grace, loving-kindness.
  • Heter - Permission (usually a rabbinic ruling that permits something).
  • Hiddur Mitzvah - Beautifying physical objects involved in a mitzvah, or otherwise adding to a mitzvah an aesthetic sense.



  • Kabbalat ol Mitzvot (lit.: acceptance of the yoke of the commandments) - Acceptance of commandments as binding.
  • Kabbalat Shabbat - Service welcoming the Sabbath.
  • Kavanah - Intention, devotion, inner concentration during prayer.
  • Kevah - Fixed; a fixed time; fixed words or prayer (often contrasted with kavanah, inner concertration during prayer).
  • Kiddush Hashem - Sanctification of the divine name; martyrdom.
  • Kiddushin - Betrothal (for the purpose of marriage).
  • Klal - A general principle.
  • Klal Yisrael - The Jewish community as a whole.
  • Koach - Strength.
  • Kohelet - The book of Ecclesiastes.
  • Kol Hakavod - (lit.: all honour) - Used idiomatically to express praise or congratulations for an achievement.
  • Kol Isha - The voice of a women (considered by the Rabbis of the Talmud to be distracting to men and thus lewd).
  • Kol Tov - Everything good (may you be blessed with everything good).
  • Kulot - Leniencies.
  • K'vod Hatzibur - The honour of the community.



  • L'shon Hara - (lit.: "evil tongue") - Defaming or badmouthing.
  • Leyn - To read (Yiddish. Usually to read Torah)



  • Maariv - Evening; the evening prayer service.
  • Machmeer - Stringent; one who observes a chumrah (stringency).
  • Maftir - The aliyah consisting of the last few lines of the Torah reading, or the person assigned that aliyah. The person assigned the maftir aliyah also chants Haftarah.
  • Mamzer - A person born from a prohibited union (i.e., from an incestuous or adulterous union).
  • Mara d'atra (Aramaic derivation. Lit.: master of the place) - The local rabbi, whose decision carries the force of law in that locality.
  • Mashgichim - Ritual supervisors of kashrut who watch/supervise on the premises for dietary supervision of ingredients, food preparation, serving, dishes and cutlery, etc.
  • Mashiach (Moshiach) - Messiah, the Anglicised form of the Hebrew, meaning 'anointed'. In Greeek, 'Christ' (from Christos).
  • Mechitsa - Division; a barrier separating men from women in the synagogue.
  • Midrash - An interpretation; a story that fills in gaps in the Torah narrative, or answers questions about the narrative; (when capitalized) any of several volumes of such stories compiled by rabbis of the Talmudic era.
  • Mincha - The afternoon prayer service.
  • Minhag - Custom.
  • Minhag ha-makom - Local custom.
  • Minyan - Quorum of 10 needed for a public prayer service. In traditional synagogues, only men over the age of 13 are counted towards a minyan. Liberal (non-orthodox) congregations also include women over 12 in the count.
  • Mishnah - The early core of the Talmud, consisting primarily of case law decisions. (Not capitalized) one unit, typically a single sentence or short paragraph, in the Mishna.
  • Mishpat (pl. mishpatim) - Law from the Torah that can be rationalized.
  • Mitzvah (pl. mitzvot) - Commandment; not "good deed" in Hebrew, but has come to mean that in Yiddish, especially among more secular people.
  • Mutar - Permitted.



  • Ner tamid - Eternal light.
  • Nigun (pl. nigunim) - Wordless prayer melody, usually repeated many times over to create a spiritual mood.
  • "Nu?" - This is an exclamation used in the same sense as "well", "eh" and "hey." (Yiddish)



  • Olam ha-ba - The world to come.
  • Olam ha-ze - This world.



  • Parsha - The weekly Torah portion (pl. parshiot).
  • Patur - Something or someone who is exempt (from an obligation or a law).
  • Pesach - The Hebrew word for the Biblical festival 'Passover'.
  • Pikuah Nefesh - To save a life (usually in context of breaking Shabbat, etc.)
  • Posek (pl. poskim) - The rabbi one consults for halachic decisions; an authority on Jewish Law.
  • Posken - To render an halachic ruling, usually one that clarifies the law in a specific case.
  • Psak - Decision, verdict.
  • Pur'im - the Hebrew word for 'lots' and the name of the festival remembering the biblical story of Esther.



  • R'chilut - Gossip.
  • Ribono shel Olam - Master of the universe.
  • Rosh Chodesh - First day of the new Jewish month.
  • Rosh haShannah - The Hebrew for 'new year', literally 'head' of the year. Known also as the Festival of Trumpets.
  • Ruach (ha Kodesh) - The Hebrew word for 'Spirit', 'wind' or 'breath'. Ruach h Kodesh is the 'Holy Spirit' or 'Holy Breath' of God.



  • Sedra - The weekly Torah portion.
  • Shabbat - The Hebrew word for 'Sabbath', the last day in the biblical week. Starts at sundown on Friday until sundown on Saturday.
  • Shachrit - Morning; the morning prayer service.
  • Shaliach - Emissary, appointed agent (male pl. sh'lichim, sh'lichei; fem. sing. sh'lichah; fem. pl. sh'lichot).
  • Shaliach Tzibur - The person leading services.
  • Sha'ul - The Hebrew form for 'Saul', such as the name used variously for the Apostle 'Paul' in the New Covenant (New Testament). Pronounced Sha-ool.
  • Shavu'ot - the Hebrew word for 'weeks' and the name of the corresponding biblical festival. Known as 'Pentecost' in mainstream Christianity.
  • Sh'lom bayit - Peace in the home.
  • Shekhinah (Literal translation: that which dwells) - G-d's presence (often associated with feminine imagery, but not always).
  • Shir Ha Shirim - Song of Songs.
  • Sh'mot (Literal translation: names) - The 2nd book of the Torah (Exodus) [H] Shomer (pl. shomrim) - Watchman, guardian.
  • Shomer shabbat - Observant of the laws of Shabbat.
  • Shomr'im - The Hebrew word for 'Watchmen'.
  • Shoresh - Root of a word (all Hebrew verbs have a 3-4 letter root that is the basis of conjugation. many other parts of speach (adj, nouns) are also derived from this same shoresh).
  • Shorashim - The Hebrew word for 'roots'.
  • Sukk'ot - The Hebrew for 'tabernacles' or 'booths', and the name of the corresponding biblical festival.
  • Shtiebel - A small synagogue.
  • Sinat chinam - Gratuitous hatred.



  • Taharah (pl. taharot) - Ritual purity.
  • Takkanah - Correction; a rabbinic edict that supersedes the existing halachah (pl. takkanot).
  • Tanach - Acronym for Torah Nevi'im K'tuvim - Torah, Prophets, Writings). The three divisions of the Hebrew Bible.
  • Tana'im - Sages of the Mishnaic period.
  • Tefila - Prayer.
  • Teshuva - Return, repentance.
  • T'hillim - Psalms.
  • Tikkun Olam - Correcting the world, repairing the world; an action promoting social justice.
  • Torah - Strictly speaking the Torah is the first five books of the Bible, but is sometimes used to refer to the whole canon of the Hebrew Scriptures. To translate 'torah' as 'Law', which is common in Christian writing is incorrect as it communicates a legalism that was never intended by the author of Toarh, God Himself. More properly it means 'teaching' or 'instruction'.
  • Torah misinai - (lit.: Torah from Mount Sinai). Refers to the doctrine that the entire Torah, including the Oral Law, was given to Moses at Sinai.
  • Tsniut - Modesty.
  • Tveriyya - The Hebrew form of the Roman name for 'Tiberias', a major town on the shores of the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) in Northern Israel.
  • Tzedakah - Righteousness; used for charitable donations, though the root has a very different sense from the root of "charity."



  • Vayikrah (Literal translation: "and He called") - 3rd book of the Torah (Leviticus).



  • Yahrzeit (Yiddish. Lit.: year-time) - Anniversary of a death; a 24-hour candle lit to commemorate the death anniversary of a close relative, also lit on holy days when Yizkor (prayer of remembrance) is recited.
  • Yasher koach (lit.: meaning unclear, but possibly "straight strength"). Used idiomatically to express praise or thanks for serving in a religious or ceremonial role. Implies "may your stength continue, go on straight", i.e. "You done good! Do it many times more!"
  • Yeshiva - The Hebrew word yeshiva literally means 'sitting', as it is the Jewish custom for students to sit while learning. The term Beit Midrash is also used, which means 'House of Learning' or 'House of Study'.
  • Yeshua - The Hebrew way to say Jesus.
  • Yom Kippur - The Hebrew for the biblical remembrance of the 'Day of Atonement'.
  • Yotzei (lit.: gone out).


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