A BRIEF GLOSSARY OF JEWISH TERMS AND NAMES
Compiled by R. Moshe Mones
(special thank you to R. Avraham Yaakov Finkel for the template of this glossary)
Below, is a list of important words/concepts that we'll need to know and understand to the best of our ability to deconstruct the Kabbalah of Small Miracles. Knowledge of Hashem (G-d... the Name we can use) and His Ways are of course beyond our limited human scope. (We'll get into the 'gender issue' as we continue). But Kabbalah and true Jewish 'Mysticism' can help us lift the veil a tiny bit in order to get closer to Hashem and perhaps why we're all here. This is by no means a definitive work. It is missing many many great Rabbis and concepts that we will fill out as we proceed.
For now though, here are some basic terms and names we can use as 'tools' to at least attempt to lift the curtain and aid in our 'deveikus' (attachment to G-d).
(The following list is presented in 'Ashkenazic' spelling and pronounciation. I have noted where Sephardic and most Israeli Jews end these words with a 't')
Adam HaRishon – The first Human as ‘In the Beginning, Adam HaRishon was comprised of both ‘Adam’ and ‘Eve’ (Chava).
Adam – Adam, the first man. After Hashem created Eve (Chava) from Adam HaRishon.
Aharon – Aaron. Moses’ (see Moshe Rabbeinu) brother. The first High Priest (Kohan Gadol).
Aleph-beis (t) – the Hebrew alphabet
Arizal – Rabbi Isaac ben Solomon Luria, b. 1534- July 25, 1572, father of ‘modern day’ Kabbalah. Led the burgeoning Kabbalah community in Tzfat, Israel, and created a systematic approach to understanding Kabbalah. The ‘Arizal’ or Holy Ari left no writings of his own, but his teachings were promulgated by key students.
Aryeh Kaplan – Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, b. Oct.23 1934- d. Jan 28 1983, prolific translator, author of Kabbalistic works. Also had a degree in engineering. Was on the forefront of the modern “Baal Teshuva” movement.
Asiyah – the World of Action.
Atzilus (t) – the World of the ‘Emanation’.
Aveira – sin
Avraham Avinu – Abraham our Father.
Baal Shem Tov – (Master of the Good Name) The name given to Rabbi Yisroel (Israel) ben Eliezer b. @1698-d. 1760. Born in Okup, Ukraine. The Baal Shem Tov disseminated Jewish ‘Mysticism’/Kabbalah, gaining thousands of followers, thus starting Chassidism.
Baal Teshuva – a ‘Master of Return’. Someone who has returned to, or discovered the Way to Hashem.
Bahir – book of ‘Ilumination’, Ancient Kabbalistic text attributed to Rabbi Nehunia ben HaKana of the First Century.
BaMidbar – The Book of ‘Numbers’. In Hebrew lit. “In the Desert/Wilderness”.
Beracha – blessing.
Bereishis (t) – The Book of “Genesis”. In Hebrew lit. “In the Beginning”. The first word of the Torah (Five Books of Moses), and the first word ‘uttered’ by G-d.
Beri’ah – the World of Creation
Binah - understanding.
Bris – lit. “Covenant. Circumcision.
Chassid – a follower of the Baal Shem Tov. Usually part of a certain ‘Chassidic’ community and its Rebbe.
Chava – Eve.
Chesed – kindness.
Chochmah – (the ‘Ch’ pronounced as a gutteral ‘H’). wisdom.
Chumash – The Five Books of Moses. The Torah. The Pentateuch. The “Old Testament’.
Da’as (t) - knowledge
Daven – to pray
Dovid HaMelech – King David.
Devarim – The Book of ‘Deuteronomy’.
Deveikus (t) – attachment to G-d.
Din – judgement
Ein Sof - the ‘Infinite’ or ‘Endless Nothing’. A reference to the inexplicable G-d before Creation.
Eliyahu HaNavi – Elijah the Prophet
Emes (t) – truth
Emunah – Faith, or inherit Knowledge.
Eretz Y’Isroel – The Land of Israel
Esav – Esau. Jacob’s (Yaakov) brother.
Galus (t) – exile, the diaspora.
Gan Eden – Garden of Eden
Gehinnom - Purgatory, the place of punishment and cleansing the Soul.
Gevurah – strength
Gilgul – transmigration of Souls, reincarnation. Yes, Judaism believes in Reincarnation!
Halacha – Torah and Rabbinic Law.
Hashem – G-d. Lit. ‘The Name’ or ‘The G-d of Shem’ (son of Noah).
Havdala – Blessings said at the conclusion of Sabbath and Festivals.
Hevel – Abel, lit. ‘Vanity’.
Hod – splendor
Inyan – task. The reason for something.
Iyov – Job
Kabbalah - Jewish mysticism, lit. ‘to receive’ or ‘tradition’
Kayin – Cain.
Kedusha – holiness.
Kes(t)er – crown.
Klippos (t) – impure husks, shells diminishing The Light.
Kohein – Priest, as in Aharon haKohein or Aaron the Priest.
Koheles – Ecclesiastes. Written by King Solomon. Source for the popular song, ‘Turn Turn Turn’.
Kuzari – classic Jewish text written by Rabbi Yehuda Halevi @1140 ce. (common era). Called ‘In Defense of the Despised Religion’. A beautiful, seminal book.
Lavan – Laban
Maaseh Merkavah – the Kabbalistic ‘Work of the Divine Chariot’, from Ezekiel ch.1
Maggid – ‘Preacher’, teller of stories.
Makkif – surrounding Divine Light
Malchus (t) – kingdom
Moshiach – Messiah, the ‘anointed one’.
Megillas Esther – The Book of Esther
Midrash – homiletic teaching of the Sages
Mikveh – ritual pool used for immersion and purification.
Minchah – afternoon prayer
Mishlei – Book of Proverbs, written by King Solomon.
Mishnah – collection of the Laws from the Sages comprising the first part of the ‘Talmud’.
Misnagdim – opponents of Chassidism.
Mitzrayim – Egypt. Lit. bondage, constriction.
Mizbei’ach – the Holy Alter
Moshe Rabbeinu – Moses our Teacher.
Mussaf – additional prayers recited on Sabbath and Festivals
Mussar – Torah ethics
Nefesh – ‘sensual’ part of our Soul.
Neshama – higher part of our Soul pertaining to the awareness of Hashem.
Netzach – ‘victory’, eternity.
Niggun – a melody, a song with no words
Noach – Noah
Or Ein Sof – the Divine Infinite Light
Oros (t) – supernal Lights
Pesach – Passover, Festival which celebrates the Freedom from Egypt (see ‘Mitzrayim’)
Purim - Festival celebrating the rescue of the Jews of Persia as cited in the Book of Esther.
Reuven – Reuben
Rivka – our Matriarch Rebekah
Ruach – Holy spirit, Breath or Wind
Ruach HaKodesh – Divine Inspiration
Sarah Emanu – Sarah our Mother
Seder – the meal on the night of Passover which commemorates the Exodus, lit. order
Sefardic – Jews with Spanish or Middle Eastern bloodlines
Sefer Reziel HaMelach - the book of Rezeil the Angel, ancient Mystical book said to have been given to Adam by the angel Rezeil.
Sefer Torah – Torah Scroll.
Sefer Yetzirah – the book of Creation, ancient seminal Kabbalah text said to be authored by Abraham.
Sefiros (t) or Sephiros (t) – the Divine Vessels of Emanation.
Sitra Achra – the ‘dark’ side.
Shabbos (Shabbat) - the ‘Sabbath’
Shacharis (t) – morning prayer
Shalom – hello, peace, whole.
Shechina – Divine Presence in our World (considered a ‘Female’ term)
Shema – the fundamental prayer/declaration that G-d is One
Shemoneh Esrei - the prayer that forms the core of the daily prayer services, also called the Amidah.
Shemos (t) – the Book of Exodus
Shir HaShirim – Song of Songs, written by King Solomon
Shlomo HaMelech – King Solomon
Shmuel – Samuel
Shul – synagogue
Sukkos (t) – the Festival of the ‘Tabernacles’
Talmid – a student
Talmud – the written presentation of all of the written, oral, Divine, and Rabbinic Laws. There is both the Babylonian Talmud and the Jerusalem Talmud.
Tanach – the whole of the ‘Bible’ comprised of the Torah, the Prophets, and Writings. The ‘Old Testament’.
Tehillim – psalms. Mostly written by King David.
Teshuva – to return, repent.
Tiferes (t) – beauty
Tikkun – to repair back to Divine harmony
Tisha B’Av – fast day commemorating a number of disasters including the destruction of the Temple.
Torah Lishma – to learn Torah for its own sake. Considered the highest form of learning.
Tractate – book of the Talmud.
Tzaddik – a very wise, righteous person.
Tzimtzum – G-d’s ‘contraction’ of his Light to make room for Creation.
Vayikra – the Book of Leviticus
Vidui – ‘confessional’ prayers
Yaakov Avenu – Jacob our Father
Yahrzeit – the anniversary of the day of passing
Yechezkel – Ezekiel
Yehoshua – Joshua
Yehuda – Judah
Yerushalayim – Jerusalem
Yesh – a ‘thing’, something
Yesh m’ayin – something from nothing
Yeshaya – Isaiah
Yesod – foundation
Yezter HaTov – the good inclination
Yezter HaRa – the evil inclination
Yetzirah – the World of Formation
Yirmiyah – Jeremiah
Yishmael - Ishmael
Yisrael – Israel, another name for Jacob
Yitzchak – Isaac
Yom Tov – Festival day
Yonah – Jonah
Yosef – Joseph
Yovel – 50th year, Jubilee year
Zecharyah – Zechariah
Zohar – Book of Radiance, seminal Kabbalah text given by Rabbi Shimon bar Yohai in the Second Century.