Hebrew Glossary - B Category
With Extensive CommentaryBy Devorah Channah
Copyright ©2012 Orach Chayim Torah Studies / Headcoverings by Devorah. All Rights Reserved.
A work in progress - Will be available in Print and Ebook format soon!
|Hebrew Transliteration||English Translation||Meaning|
|Baal Berit||Master of the Covenant|
|Baal HaTurim||The work called Baal HaTurim is dedicated to explaining words, phrases or even entire verses of the Torah in the realm of remez (allusion). See Baal HaTurim Index for Sefer intro and Torah verse(s) commentary.|
|Baal Chesed||Someone who epitomizes loving kindness.|
|Baal Koreh||The person who reads publicly from the Torah during the worship service.|
|Baal Kriah||lit. "Master of the Reading"||One who reads or chants aloud from the Torah during service.|
|Baal Shem||Master of the Name||Baal Shem is a term used to refer to a spiritual healer, especially in Eastern Europe before and during the period of the Baal Shem Tov. Implies that he healed through the power of the Divine Name of G-d.|
|Baal Shem Tov||Master of the Good Name (of G-d); Besht.||Rabbi Yisrael ben Eliezer, founder of Chassidism. 18 Elul 5458 - 6 Sivan 5520 (1698-1760). 18th Century Jewish mystical rabbi. Also see "The Ladder of Prayers."|
|Baal Tefillah||The person who reads the liturgy during the worship service, alternative term for the Shaliach Tzibbur, but technically refers to a Chazzan, not a lay person.|
|Baal Tekiah||The one who blows the Shofar during High Holiday services, as well as during the preceding month.|
|Baal Teshuvah (pl. Baalei Teshuvah)||lit. "One who has Returned"; Returnee||A formerly non-observant Jew who returns to the traditional ways of Judaism; the Divine service of a baal teshuvah is one of continual striving to ascend, return and become subsumed within G-d's Essence.|
|Baalat Tehsuvah (al. Baalah Teshuvah; pl. Baalot Tehsuvah||Mistress of Return||Refers to a Jewish woman who turns to embrace Orthodox Judaism.|
|Baalate Eshat Ov||A medium or sometimes means specifically a ghost or spirit.|
|Baal Midot Tovot||Bearer of Good Attributes.|
|Badeken||Traditional formal veiling of the bride by the groom before the wedding ceremony.|
|Bagir||A major work of early Kabbalah|
|Bakashot||Petitions||Petitions particularly in the form of prayer.|
|Bal Tashchit||Be Not Destructive; Do Not Destroy.||The Torah forbids the people of Yisrael to cut down the fruit trees surrounding the town of an enemy against whom they fight: "When you besiege a city for many days to wage war against it to seize it, do not destroy its trees by swinging and axe against them, for from it you will eat, and you shall not cut it down." (Devarim 20:19).
This precept, referred to as bal tashchit, has served as the basis of the Talmudic Law which prohibits willful destruction of natural resources, or any kind of vandalism, even if the act is committed by the owners of the property. themselves.
According to this law, which is based on human sympathy, one must not destroy anything that may prove useful to others. The person who tears his clothes or smashes his household furniture in a fit of anger, or squanders his money, is likened to an idolator (Shabbat 105b). Similarly, according to the Jewish doctrine, he who commits suicide is a murderer, since life is not man's own possession, but a trust from the Creator of all the living.
|Bamah||High Place||The term bamah was applied to a tribal or village place of worship. Its basic meaning was an elevated platform on which cultic objects were placed by Kenaanim (Canaanites) who pinned their faith to Baal and Asherah, the gods associated with rain, crops and fertility. The bamot were usually on hilltops; they had, as a rule, a stele or pillar of stone (matzevah) as the seat of the local god Baal and a wooden pole or tree (asherah), itself an object of worship.
This worship of Baal and Astarte was denounced fiercely by the prophets as "idols on every high hill" (Yechezkel 6:13). The purpose of the law forbidding high places was to prevent the people from worshipping at idolatrous shrines used by the ancient Kenaanim, to guard against schism and corruption, and to secure the support of a national sanctuary. The worship of HaShem at other altars was permitted only during the time when the Beit HaMikdash (Temple) had not yet been erected. No high places are mentioned as having existed during the period of the Second Beit HaMikdash.
|BaMidbar||lit. In the Wilderness; In the Desert.||The fourth book of the Torah - the Book of Numbers and so named because of the account of the census of the people in chapters 1, 3, 4 and 26. The first census was taken in the 2nd year, the other in the 40th year of the Exodus from Egypt. The book is known in Hebrew as BaMidbar (In the Wilderness) from the fifth word of the opening verse.
Thirty-nine chapters consist of narratives, laws and poems that concern Yisrael's 40 years of wanderings in the wilderness. The book records the expedition of the twelve spies into the land of Kenaan, the rebellion of Korach against Moshe and Aharon, the striking of the rock, and the story of Balaam. See the BaMidbar Index for verse(s) commentary.
|Bammeh Madlikin (al. Bemeh Madlikin)||With what may the Shabbat Lamp be lighted.||The second chapter of Mishnah Shabbat, beginning with the phrase bammeh madlikin was inserted as part of the Shabbat-eve services in post-Talmudic times. Various reasons are given for the inclusion of this chapter, which deals with the oils and wicks appropriate for the Shabbat lights.|
|Bar-Abba||Son of the Father.|
|Baraita (pl. Baraitot)||External.||A Tannaitic tradition or teaching not included in the Mishnah; just as there are 60 tractates of Mishnah, there are according to tradition 80 tractates of Baraita. This is alluded to in Shir HaShirim 6:8.."60 are the queens and 80 the concubines" Tosefta is the best known collection of baraitot, but these teachings can be found scattered throughout both the Babylonian and Palestinian Talmuds.|
|Barech||A step (13th step) in the Pesach Seder when Birkat HaMatzon (Grace after the Meal) is recited.|
|Barechi Nafshi||Bless [HaShem] O My Soul.||On Shabbat afternoons between Sukkot and Pesach, Tehillim 104 is recited as well as the fifteen psalms that begin with the words Shir HaMaalot (a pilgrim song). These psalms were sung by the pilgrims as they went up to Yerushalayim to celebrate the three pilgrim festivals in the center of national and religious life.
Tehillim 104, known by its initial words barechi nafshi (bless, o my soul), closely resembles, in its contents, the story of creation as told in the Torah. The psalmist celebrates the divine glory as seen in the forces of nature. The German philosopher-poet of the 18th century, Johann von Herder, declared that it was worthwhile studying the Hebrew language for ten years in order to read Tehillim 104 in the original.
Tehillim 121, belonging to the series recited on Shabbat afternoons, is a perfect expression of trust in G-d. This is the song of the pilgrim whose guide is HaShem. The hills around Yerushalayim are perhaps meant in the first sentence.
Tehillim 128 contains a picture of an ideal home life. The welfare of the state depends upon virtuous family life.
Tehillim 131 is a song of childlike humility. As the child that has gone through the troublesome process of weaning can lie happily in its mother's arms, so the psalmist's soul has found contentment and happiness through the discipline of humility.
During the summer season, between Pesach and Rosh HaShanah, Pirke Avot (Ethics of the Fathers) is read on Shabbat afternoons instead of the psalms by Barechi Nafeshi.
|Barechu (al. Bar'chu)||Let Us Bless.||Opening word of a well-established formula (Berachot 7:3), preceding the Shema' with its benedictions and the Shemoneh Esrei, for calling the congregation to public prayer to bless G-d. It is derived from Nechemya 9:5 "Rise up and bless Hashem your G-d, from This World to the World to Come!"
The congregational response "Baruch HaShem HaMevorach" (Blessed is Hashem, the Blessed One) is based on Devarim 32:3 "When I call out the Name of HaShem, ascribe greatness to our G-d." The verb "bless" in this and similar passages signifies "praise." See: Barchu Commentary.
|Bar Kochva||Son of the Star.||Leader of Jewish revolt (132-135) against the Roman Empire.|
|Bar Mitzvah (pl. Benei Mitzvot)||Son of the Commandment; Man of Duty.||The Hebrew term Bar Mitzvah is applied in the Talmud to every adult Jew in the sense of man of duty. Like the Hebrew word ben, the Aramaic equivalent bar denotes age, membership in a definite class, or the possession of some quality. Hence, the popular rendering of Bar Mitzvah "son of the commandment" is erroneous and misleading.
Many have been led to think that the concept Bar Mitzvah applies only to a youngster of 13. At the age of 13, the Jewish boy reaches his religious maturity and is held thereafter personally responsible for his religious acts, that is, he remains a Bar Mitzvah, man of duty, for the rest of his life. This entrance into religious manhood is expressed by extending to the boy the adult privilege of reading the Torah, or being called up to the Torah, the first Shabbat after his 13th birthday. From this time on the boy is regarded as an adult in all religious respects: he uses Tefillin in weekday prayers each morning, and is counted as one of the ten men necessary for minyan, the minimum required for congregational worship service.
The purpose of the boy's public reading of the Torah and the Haftorah is to make him feel a full-fledged adult who is obliged to obey what is written in the Torah and the Prophets.
It is customary that the father of the Bar Mitzvah pronounces the following blessing: "Blessed be he who has relived me of the responsibility of this boy". This is a manner of expressing the parent's joy that his son has attained an age when he can independently distinguish between right and wrong. See: Bar Mitzvah Index.
|Baruch Atah HaShem||Blessed are You HaShem.||The opening phrase of a blessing.|
|Baruch Dayan HaEmet||Blessed are You, the True Judge.||A blessing on hearing grievous news, i.e., when one learns of another's death; a blessing of acceptance of G-d's judgements.|
|Barruch HaBa (fem. Baruch HaBah)||Blessed are Those Who Come [in the Name of HaShem].||A traditional greeting of welcome.|
|B"H (Baruch HaShem)||Blessed be the Name.||In essence meaning "With G-d's help"; usually found at top of papers - sometimes with the Hebrew letter ayin following the Hebrew letter bet.|
|Baruch Hu||Blessed be He.||The customary response "Blessed be He" and "Blessed be His Name" is used upon hearing the benedictory formula "Blessed are You, O HaShem." It is applied to the Nineteen blessings of the Shemoneh Esrei prayer as well as the morning benedictions when recited aloud by the cantor or reader. Amen is the concluding response for each of these blessings. The response "Blessed be He and Blessed be His Name" is based on Devarim 32:3.|
|Baruch Hu U'Varuch Shemo||Blessed be He and Blessed be His Name.||A phrase of blessing of G-d's Name upon hearing it uttered.|
|Baruch She'amar||Blessed be He Who Spoke.||Baruch She'amar are the initial words of the hymn which introduces the biblical selections Pesukei D'Zimrah in the daily morning service. The paragraph is composed of 87 words, a number suggesting the numerical value of the word paz (refined gold), according to medieval sources which include the Rokeach, the Tur, and the Hechalot Gedolot.
Though it is not mentioned in the Talmud, it is known to be of ancient origin. It is included in the 9th century Siddur of Rav Amram Gaon. There are indications that it was read responsively by read and congregation.
The word baruch (blessed) is repeated in this benediction 13 times, reminiscent of the numerical value of the significant word Echad (One). The phrase Baruch Hu (Blessed be He) was perhaps a responsive refrain repeated by the worshipers after each clause recited by the reader.
|Baruch Shem Kivod Malchuto L'Olam Va'ed||Blessed be His Glorious Name Whose Kingdom is Forever and Ever!|
|Basar (pl. basarim)||Meat; Flesh.|
|Basar B'Chalav||Forbidden Meat & Milk Mixture||Three times the Torah declares: "You shall not boil a kind in its mother's milk" (Shemot 23:19; 34:26; Devarim 14:21). This is rendered by the Targum: "You shall not eat meat and milk together." Recently discovered inscriptions of pre-Yisrael inhabitants of Syria record the ancient practice of seething a kid in its mother's milk as part of the idolatrous worship of the Kenaani. Archeological discoveries in the Syrian town Ugarit, today known as Ras Shamra, which was destroyed in the twelfth century before the common era, have added much knowledge of ancient Kenaani religion and culture. The Ugaritic cult documents are of special interest to students of the Hebrew Bible.
Meat cooked with milk is a common dish among the Arabs. The context of the biblical passage (Shemot 23:19; 34:26) shows that some ancient form of sacrifice is meant. Many primitive tribes regard milk as an equivalent for blood. To eat, then, a kid boiled in its mother's milk must have been regarded as eating it with the blood, which the Torah forbids along with the bloody sacrifices of the heathen. Hence, Maimonides writes: "Meat boiled in milk...is also prohibited because it is somehow connected with idolatry, forming perhaps part of the service, or being used on the festivals of the heathen. I find support for this view in the circumstance that the Torah mentions the prohibition twice after the commandment given concerning the festivals...as if to say: When you come before Me on your festivals, do not seethe your food in the manner as the heathen used to do." (Guide 3:48).
The prohibition occurs three times, Rashi points out, to signify that the eating, cooking, and deriving any benefit from a mixture of milk and meat are forbidden. According to Moses Mendelssohn, the benefit arising from the many inexplicable laws to G-d is in their practice, and not in the understanding of their motives.
|Basar Echad||One Flesh.||Think together, work together, and both strive for common goals.|
|Bat||Daughter.||Bat before a name means "daughter of."|
|Bat Kol||Daughter of a Voice.||A mysterious voice by which G-d on occasion communicated to men after the cessation of prophecy. This divine voice is called bat kol (echo), to avoid saying that the actual voice of G-d was heard by men not included among the prophets. According to a tannaitic statement quoted in Yoma 9b, the holy spirit left Yisrael after the death of the last prophets, but they still availed themselves of the bat kol as a substitute for prophecy, offering guidance in human affairs.
The expression bat kol is frequently used in the sense of universal sentiment; it is reminiscent of the popular saying: the voice of the people is like the voice of the Almighty. The verdict reached by a large majority is assumed to reflect the will of G-d. We are told that Eretz Yisrael trembled from one end to the other when the prophetical books of the Scriptures were translated into Aramaic by Jonathan ben Uzziel, and a bat kol came forth saying: "Who is he that revealed my secrets to men?" (Megillah 3a).
Yonathan ben Uzziel, we are told further, contemplated preparing a Targum for the third division of the Scriptures, but he was deterred by a bat kol, saying: "No more!" The explanation is that he was prohibited from preparing an interpretive translation of the biblical division containing the book of Daniel, because this would enable laymen to speculate on the date of the advent of the Mashiach, resulting in devastating disillusionments. Those who make calculations, from biblical verses, as to when the Mashiach would come were reviled by the sages (Sanhedrin 97b).
|Batlanim||Male householders who had leisure to give themselves to regular attendance.|
|Bat Mitzvah||Daughter of the Commandments; Daughter of Duty.||Rabbi Yitzchak Nissim quoted Rabbi Yaakov Yechiel Weinberg, one of the leadning Talmudic authorities, stating: "There are those who are opposed to Bat Mitzvah celebrations... In the past it was not necessary to give girls a Jewish education; every Jewish home was filled with Torah and reverence for G-d. An immense change has taken place in our time; the influence of the street removes from the hearts of boys and girls the enthusiastic attachment to Judaism... The discrimination we make between the boys and the girls on reaching puberty impinges heavily on the feelings of the adolescent girl, who has in other fields reached full equality."
A substantial number of Orthodox congregations in America have introduced the observance for Bat Mitzvah occasions. See: Bar/Bat Mitzvah Index
|Bat-Sheva||Bathsheba; Daughter of Oath.|
|Bat Yisrael (pl. Bnot Yisrael)||Daughter of Israel.|
|Bava Batra||Aramaic for Last Gate.||A Talmudic tractrate in the Order of Nezikin, dealing with real estate laws, inheritance, partnerships, and legal documents.|
|Bava Kamma||Aramaic for First Gate.||A Talmudic tractate in the Order Nezikin, dealing with damages caused by property or agents (e.g. by an ox or fire).|
|Bava Metzia||Aramaic for Middle Gate.||A Talmudic tractate in the Order of Nezikin, dealing with the laws of chattel, lost and found property, fraud, interest, etc.|
|Bavel||Babylonia||Now Iraq, influenced Jewish life and culture more than any other country except Eretz Yisrael. After the fall of Yerushalayim in the year of 70, Bavel became, and for centuries remained, a center of Jewish scholarship devoted to the study and interpretation of the Torah.|
|BaYamim HaHu||In Those Days.||In the time that Mashiach would come.|
|BaYom HaHu||In That Day.||A phrase that signifies that something will happen in the Day of HaShem.|
|B'Yom HaNefchem et HaOmer||The Day you bring in the Sheaf of the Wave Offering.|
|Bechinat Olam||Test of the World.||A poem, treating the way to attain everlasting happiness, by Rabbi Yedaiah Bedersi (1270 - 1340) became one of the most cherished medieval works on popular ethics. As a boy, the author of this famous book was extremely precocious: he composed a prayer of a thousand words, each word beginning with the Hebrew letter (mem); hence it is known as Bkkashat ha-Memin. On account of his eloquent writing, he was styled Ha-Melitz (the Rhetorician) and Ha-Penini (the Dispenser of Pearls).|
|Bechirah Chafshit||Free Will.||The doctrine of free will, ascribing to the human will freedom and ability to choose between alternative possibilities of action in accordance with the inner motives and ideals of the agent, is often referred to as one of the basic principles of Judaism. It is consistently assumed that G-d has taught man what is right and what is wrong and left him to chose between the alternative and the consequences. This is clearly stated in the Torah: "I have placed life and death before you, blessing and curse; and you shall choose life, so that you will live, you and your offspring..." (Devarim 30:19).
Rabbi Akiva stated: "Though everything is foreseen by G-d, yet free will is granted to man" (Avot 3:19). That is, G-d's foreknowledge does not predetermine man's actions, good or bad. In matters of ethical conduct, the choice is left to man; he is capable of choosing between right and wrong and of carrying the decision into action.
Talmudic-Midrashic expressions are that G-d does not predetermine whether a man shall be tzaddik (righteous) or rasha (wicked); that He leaves to man himself. Everything is in the hands of G-d except the reverence for G-d (Tanchuma, Pikkude 3; Berachot 33b). See Article: Bechira Index.
|Bechorim||First Born.||The Hebrew term bechor is used of firstborn men and firstling animals alike. The eldest son, to whom special value was attached during the biblical period, received the right to inherit a double portion of his father's estate as well as family leadership. One of the important reasons for this distinction was the fact that G-d, when liberating the people from Egyptian slavery, had preserved the firstborn of the Benei Yisrael from the tenth and the last plague.
The sanctification of every firstborn was designed to keep the memory of the great liberation fresh in every home (Shemot 13:2). In commemoration of the Exodus from Egypt and the miraculous deliverance of their forefathers, Erev Pesach is observed as a fast by the firstborn, known as taanit bechorim.
Talmudic tradition reports that the firstborn males acted as officiating priests in the wilderness until the task was turned over to the tribe of Levi after the erection of the Mishkan (Tabernacle). The observance of Pidyon HaBen (redemption of the firstborn son) occurs on the 31st day after the child's birth, if he is the firstborn of his mother; he is redeemed by the payment of the equivalent of five shekels to a Kohen, descendant of the tribe of Levi, chosen for the service in the sanctuary in place of the firstborn of all the tribes.
|Bechorot||Firstlings.||Fourth tractate in the Mishnah Order of Kodashim, dealing with laws related to the firstborn, both people and animals.|
|Bedikah||Examination; Inspection.||The term bedikah is used in connection with the careful inspection to which a human being or an object is submitted in keeping with religious requirements. Such an inspection is applied to a slaughtered animal to ascertain that it was not suffering from a serious disease and that the knife used in the slaughtering process was in accordance with the law.
In Hebrew, a shochet is called shochet u-vodek. The examination of the knife is termed bedikat ha-sakkin. The inspection of the general condition of health of the slaughtered animal (bedikat ha-re'ah) is prerequisite to the permission to eat the meat.
Bedikah is applied to the questioning of witnesses (bedikat ha-edim) by a court, and to various matters of a religious nature.
|Bedikat Chametz||A ceremonial search for leaven before Pesach (Passover) and casting out of the house the leaven found.|
|Be'Ezrat HaShem||With the Help of HaShem; With G-d's Help.||Used by Jews in connection with plans, hopes, promises and wishes. Conscious of the nearness of G-d, those who constantly live by faith are in the habit of accompanying every decision and promise with the words that have become an integral part of every Jewish dialect...expressing traditional Jewish faith in G-d and His relation to human destiny.|
|Beha'alotecha||When You Set Up.||A portion in Sefer BaMidbar (Book of Numbers).|
|Behemot||Behemoth||Name of an archetypal beast destined to wage battle against the Livyatan (Leviathan), only to be consumed by the righteous at the end of days; an animal of "dry land" (a symbol for the revealed realm), it symbolizes the category of righteous souls who are revealed as such in this world (and whose essential "occupation" in Torah is in its revealed aspect - the halacha - revealed law).|
|Beheimah Temeiah||A non-kosher animal.|
|Bein Ha'arbayim||Between the Evenings.|
|Bein HaMetzarim||Between the Straits.||The period between the 17th of Tammuz and the 9th of Av, "Between the Fences."|
|Beinoni||Intermediate One||The term used to describe one whose spiritual state is "intermediate," neither that of a tzaddik (rightoues one) nor a rasha (wicked one).|
|Beit||House.||The second letter of the Hebrew alphabet ("b" sound).|
|Beit-Ani||Bethany; House of Poverty.|
|Beit Din (pl. Batei Din)||Court of Law||Throughout the long period of Jewish homelessness and galut (diaspora), the Jewish law courts continued to exercise public authority, supervising communal order and safety and using moral pressure. They even had power to appoint inspectors of weights and measures.
In Temple times, the Beit Din ha-Gadol (the Supreme Court) at Yerushalayim comprised 71 members and was known as the Great Sanhedrin. It exercised final authority on religious problems and appointed judges for the lower courts, consisting of 23 members each, to sit in judgment on criminal cases. The local courts, comprising of at least 3 members each, had jurisdiction over civil cases. In the Diaspora, Jewish courts continued to exist in centers of Jewish population. Presided over by rabbinic authorities, called dayanim (judges), the Jewish courts had jurisdiction over the internal communal affairs. After the breakdown of communal autonomy in the 19th century, they were limited to ritual matters and voluntary arbitration. In the State of Yisrael rabbinical courts have jurisdiction in such matters as marriage and divorce.
|Beit HaBechirah||The House of [G-d's] Choice.||Beit HaMikdash (The Temple).|
|Beit HaKeneset (pl. Betei Kenesiot)||A House of Assembly; Synagogue.||A place of congregational prayer, public instruction and spiritual home of the Jew, had actually come into existence long before the destruction of the second Beit HaMikdash (Temple) and the cessation of the sacrificial worship. It is generally assumed that the synagogue had its beginning during the Babylonian captivity in the 6th century before the common era, when Jews were separated from the Beit HaMikdash and its centralized sacrificial system, and was brought to Judea after the restoration of Tziyon and the rebuilding of the Beit HaMikdash. It has been estimated that approx. 4 million Jews of the galut (exile, Diaspora) had more than a thousand synagogues by the time of the second Beit HaMikdash was destroyed in 70 CE.
During the Second Commonwealth there were hundreds of synagogues in Yerushalayim and the rural towns of Eretz Yisrael. Egypt is known to have had many synagogues during the 3rd century before the common era.
The synagogue is not only a place for divine service, but also a center for study, for tzedakah (charity) and social work. Anciently, strangers were fed there; hence the custom of reciting the Kiddush in the synagogue as part of the Shabbat and festival evening services, except the first two nights of Pesach when strangers used to be given hospitality in private homes instead. Synagogues became to be schools of every kind of virtue; hence the name Shul (School) in the Yiddish vernacular.
Since the synagogue fulfills an educational purpose, as well as a devotional function, instruction in the Torah forms a major part of the congregational worship. The reading from the Torah, accompanied by interpretation of passages read, has come to be as much a part of worship as the prayers and meditations. The synagogue liturgy has developed in a way that enables every devout worshiper to become familiar with the various forms of Jewish learning and religious expression. The ideals of Judaism are always brought afresh to the attention to the worshiper by means of the Siddur (prayer book) which, in addition to its purely liturgical contents, is replete with vital Jewish instruction.
No human institution has a longer continuous history than the synagogue, and none had done more for the uplifting of the human race. With the synagogue began a new type of worship in the history of humanity, the type of congregational worship.
"Judaism gave to the world not only the fundamental ideas of the great monotheistic religions but the institutional forms in which they have perpetuated and propagated themselves" (Moore)
|Beit HaMidrash (pl. Betei Midrash)||House of Study; House of Learning.||School for rabbinical studies, often attached to a synagogue; Serving the double function of study and prayer, the Beit HaMidrash was designed primarily for the study of Talmudic literature. The terms Kloiz (an enclosed place, from "claustrum") and Beit HaMidrash were used interchangeably in East-European countries. Students of various age levels would, before and after the daily worship services, sit in the Kloiz or Beit HaMidrash and study mostly alone. When they did not understand one of the complex Talmudic problems, they would ask elder students to explain it for them. They repeated each page at least 6 times and practically memorized the actual Talmudic text. They learned the exact medieval commentaries and used large volumes containing notes about these commentaries.
In the Beit HaMidrash, the sacred books were greatly respected. Nobody would sit on a bench if there was a book anywhere on it. A book that fell to the ground was picked up and kissed. (This is also done in the synagogue if one drops their Torah or the Siddur) When a book was so badly torn that it could not be used, the caretaker took it to the cemetery and buried it. Even the smallest scrap of paper must not be left lying around on the floor if it has Hebrew characters printed on it, letters that spell out a sacred test. Students at the Beit HaMidrash would never leave books open except when actually in use. If one had to go away for a short while, the student would cover the open book with a cloth. The young students (bachurim) would continue their studies throughout the day and into the night.
The parchment scroll of the Torah, which is hand-written, is to this day held in even greater respect than printed books.
|Beit HaMikdash (pl. Betei Mikdash)||Holy House; Temple||The holy Temple in Yerushalayim; There were three successive Temples in Yerushalayim, all on the same site. The first Beit HaMikdash was begun in the 4th year of Shlomo's reign and was completed in 7 years and 6 months. After an existence of four hundred and ten years it was burned by Nevuchadnetzar of Babylonia in 586 before the common era.
The second Beit HaMikdash was begun 50 years after the destruction of the first and was completed within 20 years (516) by the exiles who returned to Yehudah (Judea).
The third Beit HaMikdash, referred to as that of Herod the Great, was begun 20 years before the common era and was destroyed after 90 years of existence by the Roman soldiers in the year 70.
The remains of the last Beit HaMikdash have disappeared. Part of the wall enclosing Herod's Temple is still standing in the old section of Yerushalayim. This part of the wall, known as Kotel Ma'aravi (Western Wall), has been regarded as sacred ever since the Talmudic period; it has served as a place of endless pilgrimage for Jews from all parts of the world. See: Temple Index.
|Beit HaShoevah||The House of the Waterpouring.||A ceremony of water libation performed during Sukkot anciently. The Sages taught that those that never observed this joyous ceremony have never seen joy!|
|Beit HaTefillah||A Place of Prayer.||One of the three traditional Hebrew terms for "synagogue."|
|Beit Hillel||The School or House of Hillel.||Perushim (Pharisees) who stressed G-d's grace, forgiveness and loyal love; A school of Tannaim during the first century C.E., known for its more lenient teachings, which became accepted in most cases of Jewish law. Beit Hillel is usually juxtaposed with other great school of its time, Beit Shammai, known for its more stringent view.|
|Beit-Lechem||Bethlehem; House of Bread.|
|Beit Olam||Cemetery.||We are told in the Talmud that cemeteries must not be treated with disrespect (Megillah 29a). "Walk reverently in a cemetery, lest the deceased will say: Tomorrow they will join us, and today they mock us'" (Berachot 18a). Graves are customarily visited during the month preceding Rosh Hashanah and upon anniversaries of the death of close relatives.|
|Beit Shammai||The School or House of Shammai.||Perushim who stressed strict adherence ot the Torah without applying mercy.|
|Beit Zatah||Bethzatha.||Some manuscripts have "Beit Chasdah." Beit Zatah may mean "house of olives," Beit Chasdah means "house of mercy."|
|Bekishe (al. Beketshe)||Yiddish for long coat.||A long black silk (or polyester) coat worn by Chasidic Jews. Mostly worn on Shabbat, Jewish Holidays and for Jewish celebrations such as weddings and Bar Mitzvahs.|
|B"N||B'li Neder; Without Taking a Vow.||Used after a promise, since failure to fulfill a promise is a serious violation of Jewish law. For example, "I'll check that reference tomorrow, B"N." (i.e., if I forget, I don't want to be liable under Jewish law).|
|Benei Yisrael||Children of Israel|
|Benei Noach||Sheva' Mitzvot; Noachian Precepts.||The term Noachians (Benei Noach) denotes all the descendants of Noach, who survived the Flood along with his closest kin. The Seven Noachian precepts, distant from the laws obligatory on the people of Yisrael alone, are binding on all human beings. They prohibit:
1) Idolatry 2) Murder 3) Theft 4) Blasphemy 5) Incest 6) Eating the flesh of a living animal; and include the duty of 7) Promotion of justice.
All non-Jews who observe these laws, upon which all civilized society depends, are deemed worthy of life in the Olam Haba (World to Come). Hence, there is no imperative need for a non-Jew to adopt the Jewish faith in order to merit salvation.
The Noachian precepts represent a theory of universal religion, emphasizing good actions rather than right belief, ethical living rather than creedal adherence; they require only loyalty to a basic code of ethical conduct, and rest upon the recognition of a Divine Creator.
|Ben HaMevorach||Son of the Blessed One.|
|Bentch (al. Bentching)||Yiddish for Saying a Blessing||To say a blessing over the Lulav or over food, etc. Bentching is the act of saying a blessing. "To bentch" is a verb and is Yiddish and when used alone is meant to be a reference to the Grace After Meals.|
|Ben Sira||Known as Ecclesiasticus, and was written in Hebrew by one named Joshua Ben Sira who lived in Yerushalayim before the period of the Maccabees. Ben Sira has much to say of the values of social relations and the benefits of friendship.
Ben Sira's grandson tells us that he translated the book into Greek at a date corresponding to 132 before the common era. About 2/3 of the Hebrew text was recovered in manuscripts found in the famous Genizah of Cairo, Egypt, where it had been customary for many centuries to deposit old Hebrew books. Ben Sira belongs to the post-biblical literature known as Apocrypha, Genuzim (hidden away books) or Sefarim Chitzonim (outside books), that is, books excluded from the Hebrew Bible.
The book of Ben Sira, which contains 51 chapters, was written by a man who had the gift for clear and forceful expression. It reminds us of the Biblical books of Mishlei (Proverbs), Kohelet (Ecclesiastes) and Iyov (Job).
|Ben Sorer UMoreh||Rebellious Son.||The serve punishment of an incorrigible son described in the Torah (Devarim 21:18-21) was never administered, according to a Tannaitic statement (Sanhedrin 71a).
The law of a rebellious son applies to one beyond the age of 13 years and one day, exhibiting signs of puberty, when he already possesses a mind of his own but is still under the control of his parents, who are without defect so that they can fully exercise their authority under normal conditions. When the entire blame cannot be placed on the son, because of disagreement between his parents who are not fit for each other, he is left unpunished. Hence, the Talmud says that the law of a rebellious son, which can never be carried out on account of the numerous strictures, was imposed merely for the purpose of receiving a reward through studying it.
|Ben-Yomo||Of the Day.||A pot used within the previous twenty-four hours.|
|Beracha (pl. Berachot, B'rachot)||Benediction, a Blessing.||Formula of thanksgiving in Jewish prayers; The benedictions pronounced on various occasions are attributed to the Men of the Great Assembly, the spiritual leaders in the time of Ezra the Scribe, who are considered the successors of the prophets in that they kept alive the knowledge of the Torah and Jewish traditions.
According to Rabbi Meir, who lived during the second century, it is the duty of every Jew to recite one hundred benedictions daily.
Three kinds of benedictions are to be distinguished in addition to those connected with the three daily services. They are:
1) blessings pronounced in gratitude for the pleasure we derive from eating, drinking, scenting; 2) blessings designed to show that certain religious practices are divinely commanded; 3) blessings which express the idea that all tragic or joyous events in private life come from G-d.
By means of these benedictions the Jew acknowledges his dependence on G-d for all things.
|Berachot||Blessings; Benedictions||First tractate of the Mishnah Order Zeraim, dealing with the reciting of the Shema', blessings, and prayer in general. See: Brachot|
|BeReishit||In the Beginning.||The Book of Bereishit, the first book of the Bible, contains the early history of mankind, describes the lives of the forefathers of Yisrael, and ends with the death of Yosef in Egypt.
Like the rest of the Torah, Bereishit is primarily a book of instruction, conveying the idea that the Creator of the universe guides those who trust in Him . See Bereishit Index for Torah verse(s) & Commentary.
|Bereishit Rabbah||A collection of Midrashim on the Book of Bereishit.|
|Beriah (al. Berya)||Creation.||The realm of Beriah is called Kiseh HaKavod (Throne of G-d). Beriah is the realm of the Sefirah Binah, the realm of "I am what I am," in other words the realm of Mind, the abstract level of pure consciousness.|
|Berich Shemeh||Blessed Be the Name of HaShem.||The prayer recited just before the Sefer Torah is taken out to be read during congregational services and is taken from the Zohar.
The Zohar introduces this inspiring and uplifting prayer in these terms:
"When the Torah is taken out to be read before the congregation, the heavenly Gates of Mercy are opened and the Divine Love is aroused; therefore one should say: "Blessed... You are He who nourishes and sustains all; You are He who rules over all... Not in man do I put my trust, nor do I rely on any angel, but only in the G-d of heaven who is the G-d of truth, whose Torah is truth and whose Prophets are truth. In Him I put my trust, and to His holy and glorious Name I utter praises..."
|Berit||Covenant; Contract.||Refers to the Covenant between G-d and Avraham and his descendants.|
|Berit Milah||Covenant of Circumcision.||A religious ceremony where an eight day old child is circumcised. See: Berit Milah Index.|
|B'shaah Tovah||In a Good Hour.||Congratulations to an expectant mother. Means "at an auspicious time," i.e. may whatever time the child is born be a good time.|
|Besamin||Spices.||Specifically used in the Havdalah ceremony that closes the Shabbat each week.|
|Beshalach||When He Sent.||A portion in Sefer Shemot (Book of Exodus).|
|Beshert||Soul Mate.||See the Zohar on: Soul Mates.|
|BS"D||Aramaic - B'siyata d'shmaya - With the Help of Heaven.|
|Bet||B||Second letter of the Hebrew alphabet.|
|Betzah||Egg||A roasted egg, a symbol for the chagigah - the second sacrifice of Pesach. Also the Seventh tractate in the Mishnah Order of Moed. Its original name was Yom Tov (Festival Day), and it deals with a myriad of laws related to Jewish festivals.|
|Betzelem Elokim||In the Image of G-d.|
|Bikkur Cholim (al. Bikkur Holim)||Visiting the Sick||Counted in the Talmud among the religious duties (mitzvot) to which no limit has been prescribed (Shabbat 127a).
Hashem Himself is said to have visited Avraham during his illness. The Rabbis of the Talmud found reference to this visit in Bereishit 18:1, where we are told that Hashem appeared to Avraham soon after his circumcision.
Visiting the sick is, according to the Talmud, one of the precepts for the fulfillment of which a man is rewarded in both this world and the Olam Haba (World to Come). According to the Talmud, whoever visits a sick person helps him to recover (Nedarim 40a). The purpose of visiting the sick is to cheer them by pleasant conversation and good advise, by rendering them any service and inspiring them with hope.
In some Jewish communities there is a special Bikkur Cholim Society, whose function it is to visit those who are confined to the house by illness. Bikkur Cholim is a term which is also used to denote Jewish hospitals and homes for the aged.
In the Shemoneh Esreh, the nineteen benedictions which are recited three times daily, there is a prayer for the sick, known as Refuah (healing). It reads: "Heal us, O Hashem, and we shall be healed; save us, and we shall be saved... Grant a perfect healing to all our wounds, for You are a faithful and merciful G-d, King and Healer..."
|Bikkurim||First Fruits.||The law of bikkurim is stated in the Torah as follows:
"It will be when you enter the Land that HaShem, your G-d, gives you as an inheritance, and you possess it, and dwell in it, that you shall take of the first of every fruit of the ground that you bring in from your Land that HaShem, your G-d, gives you, and you shall put it in a basket and go to the place that HaShem, your G-d, will choose, to make His Name rest there. You shall come to whomever will be the Kohen in those days, and you shall say to him, "I declare today to HaShem, your G-d, that I have come to the Land that HaShem swore to our forefathers to give us." The Kohen shall take the basket from your hand, and lay it before the Mizbeach of HaShem, your G-d. Then you shalll call out and say before HaShem, your G-d, "an Aramean tried to destroy our forefather. He descended to Egypt and sojourned there, few in number, and there he became a nation - great, strong, and numerous. The Egyptians mistreated us and afflicted us, and placed hard work upon us. Then we cried out to HaShem, the G-d of our forefathers, and HaShem heard our voice and saw our affliction, our travail, and our oppression. HaShem took us out of Egypt with a strong hand and with an outstretched arm, with great awesomeness, and with signs and with wonders. He brought us to this place, and He gave us this Land, a Land flowing with milk and honey. And now, behold! I have brought the first fruit of the ground that You have given me, O HaShem!: And you shall lay it before HaShem, your G-d, and you shall prostrate yourself before HaShem, your G-d. You shall be glad with all the goodness that HaShem, your G-d, has given you and your household - you and the Levi and the proselyte who is in your midst." (Devarim 26:1-11)
The word mereshit (some of the firstfruits) intimates, according to tradition, that not all fruits were subject to this enactment. By means of an analogy it is deduced that the law of bikkurim applied only to the seven species which were special products of Eretz Yisrael. They are mentioned in Devarim 8:8 as typical of the fruitfulness of the land - wheat, barley, vines, figs, pomegranates, olives, and date-honey.
The Mishnah, describing bikurim, informs us that "when a man goes down to his field and sees (for the first time) a ripe fig or a ripe cluster of grapes or a ripe pomegranate, he binds it round with reed-grass and says: 'These are bikurim'... Those who lived near Yerushalayim brought fresh figs and grapes, and those who lived far off brought dried figs and raisins. Before them went the ox, having its horns overlaid with gold and a wreath of olive-leaves on its head. The flute was played before them until they came close to Yerushalayim, when they sent messengers before them. Priestly and Levitical authorities of the Temple came forth to meet them... They were greeted by all, saying: 'Brethren, men of such-and-such a place, you are welcome!...' (Bikurim 3:1-3)
Mishnah Bikurim, the 11th and final tractate in Seder Zeraim, consists of three chapters concerning the offering of first fruits. Its vivid description of the bikurim ceremony is well known and often quoted.
|Bimah (pl. Bimot)||Platform; High Place.||A local altar outside the precincts of the Mishkan (Tabernacle) or Beit HaMikdash (Temple). Also the elevated platform where the Torah is read in the Synagogue.
The term bimah is mentioned in the Mishnah (Sotah 7:8) as the elevated stand prepared for the king in the Temple Court after the close of the Sabbatical Year, that he might sit on it and read passages from the book of Devarim in the presence of the assembled throng. The word is derived from the Greek bema (tribune from which speakers address the public), and is otherwise known as almemar (from the Arabic alminbar from pulpit, platform). Rashi (Sukkah 51b) explains bimah by equating it with the minbar used in his time.
This platform stands in the middle of the synagogue, after the pattern of Ezra's platform, from which he recited the Torah in the midst for the men and women who listened attentively from early morning until midday (Nechemyah 8:2-4). In modernized synagogues, however, it has been placed in front of the Aron HaKodesh (Holy Ark).
Several authorities have recently explained the position of the bimah in the following terms: According to the Jewish religion, the rabbi enjoys no special status or priestly power in the eyes of G-d, nor does he fulfill any sacramental function. Rather, he is a combination of spiritual leader and teacher. Therefore, the bimah, or reading platform, is designed so that when the rabbi leads the congregation in prayer he faces the Ark rather than the congregation. This procedure is followed during all worship. When the rabbi is offering a sermon or instruction, he uses the adjacent side of the bimah and faces the congregation. The early synagogue architecture of second century Palestine contained the same feature. Under the strong influence of church architecture of the nineteenth century this style of design was dropped. Our architects have reestablished this ancient practice and have integrated this feature into the present design of synagogues.
|Binyan Av||Analogy, or an interpretation based on induction. It is one of the fundamental Talmudic principles of Biblical interpretation.|
|Birchot Hashachar (al. Birkat HaShachar)||Morning Benedictions.||Consisting of thanksgivings for the divine benefits bestowed upon us. Originally designed as home meditations to be recited when the Jew awakens in the morning, washes, dresses, respectively. Later on, they were included in the preliminary morning service, containing Scripture and Talmud selections. In keeping with our duty to engage in the study of the Torah at all times, the readings from the Scriptures and the Talmud as part of the preliminary morning service are meant to enable every Jew to have a daily share in the study of the Torah, written and oral. These readings are preceded by a blessing which gives expression to Yisrael's gratitude for the privilege of studying G-d's teachings.|
|Birchot HaTorah (al. Birkat HaTorah)||Torah Blessings.||The two benedictions pronounced over the Torah by the person honored with an aliyah contain forty words, which are said to allude to the forty days spent by Moshe on Mt. Sinai. These benedictions each of which consists of an identical number of words (twenty), are quoted in the Talmud (Berachot 11b; 49b). Formerly, the worshipers themselves read the Torah selections to which they were called up. Because the whole section is now read by an expert baal keriah (reader), the persons honored with an aliyah are content with reciting the blessings before and after the reading.|
|Birkat HaChodesh||Blessing of the New Month.||Recited after the Torah reading on the Shabbat preceding the new Jewish month, and is reminiscent of the Temple period when the arrival of a new month was solemnly announced by the Sanhedrin after examining the witnesses who had noticed the appearance of the new moon. The 30th day of the expiring month was proclaimed as the first day of the new month if the statement of the witnesses was found to be correct. In the middle of the 4th century, Hillel II published scientific rules for the computation of the calendar, making the months to alternate between 30 and 29 days.
The petition yehi ratzon (may it be Your will), which serves as an introduction to the formal announcement of the new month, is quoted in the Talmud (Berachot 16b) as the daily personal prayer of Rav, the founder of the Babylonian Academy of Sura (3rd century). It was adopted in the 18th century as a prayer for the coming month.
the prayer that follows the announcement of the day starting the new month gives expression to the hope that G-d will grant us "life and peace, joy and gladness, salvation and comfort..." The prayer which immediately precedes the announcement reads: "May he who performed miracles for our fathers, and freed them from slavery, speedily redeem us and gather our dispersed people from the four corners of the earth, so that all Yisrael be knit together...Amen."
The expression of messianic hopes contained in these prayers is closely connected with the idea of the moon's monthly renewal, serving as an encouraging symbol of revival and regeneration.
|Birkat HaGomel||Thanksgiving Prayer for a Safe Return.||Persons who have safely returned from some hazardous voyage or recovered from a serious illness, or been released from unjust imprisonment, must offer thanks to G-d in the form of a benediction recited in addition to the Torah blessings when called to the public reading of the Torah in the synagogue. This benediction, known as birkat ha-gomel, is derived from Tehillim 107, according to a Talmudic interpretation (Berachot, 54b). Tehillim 107 begins by calling upon the exiles, brought back to their homes, to give thanks. Then it describes G-d's goodness in taking care of lost travelers, prisoners, the sick, and sea voyagers.
The birkat ha-gomel, which is offered within a minyan (group of ten men) and reads as follows: "Blessed are You, Hashem our G-d, King of the universe, Who bestows favors on the undeserving and has shown me every kindness." Upon hearing this blessing, the congregation responds: "May He Who has shown you every kindness ever deal kindly with you."
|Birkat HaLevanah||New Moon Blessing.||Kiddush HaLevanah (Sanctification of the Moon) is another name for Birkat Halevanah (Blessing of the Moon). The blessing of the new moon is recited in the open air when the moon is visible between the 4th and the 16th of the month, preferably on a Saturday night, after Havdalah, when the observant Jew is in a joyous frame of mind. This festive ceremony of ancient origin is fully discussed in the Talmud (Sanhedrin 42a; Sofrim 20:1-2).
The moon, appearing periodically in several phases, has been looked upon as symbolic of the Jewish people whose history consists of varied phases. Also, like the moon, Jews regularly reappear after being temporarily eclipsed.
|Birkat HaMazon||Bentschen in Yiddish; Blessing After Meals.||Grace recited after meals that include bread. It is based on the Biblical command: "You will eat and you will be satisfied, and bless Hashem, your G-d, for the good Land that He gave you." (Devarim 8:10) It consists of four benedictions, or paragraphs, three of which are of high antiquity; the fourth, of later origin, was instituted after Bar Kochva's defeat, about 135 C.E.
According to the Talmud, the first paragraph was composed by Moshe, the second by Yehoshua, the third by David and Shlomo, and the fourth by the Sages (Berachot 48b). The first is an acknowledgment of G-d as the sustainer of all creatures; the second, a thanksgiving for the grant of the Torah and Eretz Yisrael; the third, a prayer for the restoration of Tziyon and Yerushalayim; the fourth, an expression of gratitude for the general benefits and favors bestowed on man by his Creator. The third paragraph closes with Amen so as to mark the end of the three benedictions which are based on Devarim 8:10.
Any food that does not consist of the seven species (Devarim 8:8) requires a shorter form of grace, known as birkat nefashot "Blessed are You, Hashem our G-d, King of the universe, for all the things You have created to sustain every living being..." See Encyclopedia Judaica: Birkat MaMazon.
|Birkat HaMinim||Blessing Concerning Heretics.||Request in the Amidah (12th blessing) for the defeat of apostasy. See Encyclopedia Article: Birkat HaMinim Index.|
|Birkat HaMitzvot||Blessing recited on the performance of mitzvot (commandments).|
|Birkat HaNehenin||Blessing recited on enjoyments.|
|Birkat HaNerot||Blessing of Lights.||The lighting of the Shabbat lights has been the special duty of Jewish women ever since ancient times (Mishnah Shabbat 2:6). Though there is no Scriptural command concerning the Shabbat lights, the benediction is worded as such: "Blessed are You, Hashem our G-d, King of the universe, Who has sanctified us with His commandments, and has commanded us to kindle the light of the Shabbat." This is in keeping with the mitzvah: "You shall carry out the directions they (the Sages) give you." (Devarim 17:10) The traditions of Judaism are regarded as a continuous chain, even though some of its links are not directly to be traced from the Scriptures.
The blessing is not quoted in the Talmud, but is found in the 9th century Siddur of Rav Amram Gaon. The custom of lighting a minimum of two lights, then adding one for each of the remaining members of the household, alludes to the two words "Remember" and "Observe" which introduce the Shabbat mitzvah in Torah (Shemot 20:8; Devarim 5:12). The lights are symbolical of the cheerfulness and serenity which distinguish the Shabbat as a day of delight. The same applies to all Holidays.
Another custom is for the woman to cover her eyes while reciting the blessing at the lighting of the Shabbat lights. The reason is that she must not enjoy the Shabbat lights prior to the blessing, in keeping with the rule that the benediction ought to precede the act. When she kindles the festival lights, however, she recites the blessing and then she lights the candles. This same procedure cannot be followed in the case of the Shabbat lights, because she must not light a fire after her formal reception of the Shabbat expressed by the blessing of the lights. There has been a deep-rooted belief that all noble prayers uttered during the moments of covering of the eyes will be answered. Hence, various supplications have been used by women during the performance of lighting the Shabbat lights. See: Hadlakat HaNerot.
|Birkat HaShanim||Blessing of Years.||Request in the Amidah (9th blessing) for a fruitful year.|
|Birkat HaTefillah||Blessing of prayer and supplication.|
|Birkat HaTorah||Blessing of the Torah.|
|Birkat HaDaah||Blessing of petition, praise or thanksgiving.|
|Birkat Horim||Blessing of Parents||The blessing of children by their parents on all important occasions, notably on the eves of Shabbatot (Sabbaths) and Chaggim (Festivals), is hailed as one of the most beautiful customs. The Brandspiegel, a medieval treatise on morals (published in 1602), speaks of this practice in these terms: "Before the children can walk they should be carried on Sabbaths and festivals to the father and mother to be blessed; after they are able to walk they shall go of their own accord with bowed body and shall incline their heads to receive the blessing." This custom has linked the generations together in mutual loyalty and affection.
The customary blessing for sons is: "May G-d make you like Efrayim and like Menashshe (Bereishit 48:20). May Hashem bless you and protect you; may Hashem let His countenance shine upon you and be gracious to you; may Hashem favor you and grant you peace" (BaMidbar 6:24-26). For daughters: "May G-d make you like Sarah and Rivkah, Rachel and Leah" (Rut 4:12). These words are followed by the priestly blessing: "May Hashem bless you and protect you..." Parents or grandparents also bless the bridal couple under the chuppah (wedding canopy).
|Birkat Kiddushin||Blessing recited at a wedding ceremony.|
|Birkat Kohanim||Priestly Blessing.||The priestly benediction, expressed in three Scriptural verses and chanted at the end of the Amidah prayer, was part of the daily Temple service. Every morning and evening the priests raised their hands up and pronounced the birkat kohanim (priestly blessing) from a special platform (duchan).
In Yisrael, Kohanim chant it daily in the synagogues; in the Galut (Diaspora), it is chanted only on festivals. Those of priestly descent remove their shoes, wash their hands, and ascend the platform in front of the Ark. Then they face the congregation and, with fingers stretched in a symbolic arrangement underneath the tallit covering their face, they repeat the priestly blessing word for word after the chazzan.
The worshipers refrain from looking at the kohanim during the repetition of the fifteen majestic words of which the priestly benediction is composed, to indicate that they emanate from the highest spheres. This priestly service is termed "duchenen" from duchan (platform). Taken from BaMidbar 6:24-26, the benediction reads:
"May Hashem bless you and safeguard you. May Hashem illuminate His countenance for you and be gracious to you. May Hashem lift His countenance to you and establish shalom for you."
The text of Birkat Kohanim is often regarded as the "pearl" of the Written Torah.
|Birkat Sheva||Seven Blessings.||The Shabbat Amidah is named Birkat Sheva or Tefilat Sheva because it contains seven blessings. The first three and the last three benedictions are the same as in all forms of the Amidah, whereas the intermediary benediction varies in all four services of the Shabbat. The thirteen petitions of the weekday Shemoneh Esrei are omitted because the worshiper is likely to be reminded of his failings and troubles while inserting his personal requests, and on Shabbatot and Festivals, the days of rest, he ought rather to forget his sorrows and be cheerful (Tanchuma, Vayera). The special benediction inserted in place of the thirteen intermediate paragraphs deals with the particular day, Shabbat or Festival. The Musaf service of Rosh Hashanah, however, has three intermediate benedictions instead of one, thus constituting a total of nine benedictions.|
|Birkat Nehenim||These blessings persuade us to take nothing for granted for they help us to acknowledge, when appropriately recited, the beauty of the world and that which sustains us, such as food and the wonders of nature; it is even recited on hearing of someone's death.|
|Birur||Clarification.||A spiritual process of clarifying and redeeming the "fallen sparks" of Divine Light which are dormant throughout nature.|
|Bitachon||Confidence; Trust in G-d.||The prophet Yirmeyahu emphasizes that G-d alone is worthy of trust..."Blessed is the man who trusts in Hashem, then Hashem will be his security. He will be like a tree planted near water, which spreads out its roots along a brook and does not see when heat comes, whose foliage is ever fresh; it will not worry in a year of drought and will not stop producing fruit." (Yirmeyahu 17:7-8).
The concluding verse of the book of Chavakkuk (Habakkuk) stress a faith in G-d which is independent of things material..."For the fig tree blossoms not; there is no fruit on the grapevines; the labor of the olive trees has failed and the fields do not yield food; the sheep are cut off from the fold and no cattle are in the stall. But as for me, in HaShem will I rejoice; I will exult in the G-d of my salvation. HaShem, YKVK, is my strength. He makes my legs [as swift] as harts; and He leads me upon my high places." (Chavakkuk 3:17-19) This is the triumph of faith.
The concept of bitachon (trust in G-d) is by no means a negation of the need for self-reliance. Hillel teaches: "If I am not for myself, who is for me?...If not now, when?" (Avot 1:14). That is, one must be self-reliant and take swift advantage of opportunity. See: Bitachon Index.
|Bitul Chametz||The renouncing of ownership of leavened products gathered in a household just prior to Pesach. These products are then burned. The formula itself is called Kol Chamira.|
|Bitul Torah||The neglect of the study of the Torah.|
|BLA"H||B'li Ayin HaRa; K'ain Ayin HaRa; Without the 'Evil Eye.'||Means, "I'm saying this without hubris"; Often pronounced Kanaina Horo (Yiddish).|
|Blech||A metal sheet placed over stove top to permit foods to be placed there for Shabbat.|
|Bo||Come.||A portion in Sefer Shemot (Book of Exodus).|
|Boethuseans||A religious party of the 1st Century composed of wealthy and influential members of the priesthood, similar in doctrine with the Sadducees.|
|Boneh Yerushalayim||The blessing over the rebuilding of Jerusalem.|
|Bore' Minei Besamim||Who has Created Varieties of Fragrant Spices.||The blessing recited before enjoying fragrances, spices.|
|Bore' Morei Ha'Eish||Who Has Created the Light of Fire.||The blessing recited over fire of the candles during the Havdalah service.|
|Borei Nefeshot||Who has Created Living Beings.||A short blessing after the eating of food that does not require Birkat HaMatzon.|
|Borei Peri Ha'Adama||Who Has Created Fruits of the Earth.||The blessing recited over vegetables.|
|Borei Peri Ha'Etz||Who Has Created Fruits of the Tree.||The blessing recited over fruit of the Tree.|
|Borei Peri Ha'Gafen||Who Has Created Fruits of the Vine.||The blessing recited over wine.|
|Bore' Minei Mezonot||Who Has Created Varieties of Nutritious Foods.||The blessing recited over grain foods.|
|Brach Dodi||Make Haste, My Friend.||Three prayer-poems, composed by three different payyetanim or liturgical poets, consist of three, five and six stanzas, respectively, each of which begins with the phrase "brach dodi."
The first of these, comprising three stanzas to be chanted on the first day of Pesach, was written by Rabbi Shelomoh ben Yehudah haBavli, tenth-century liturgist and author of many piyyutim. Various phrases from Shir HaShirim (Song of Songs) are interwoven in the texture of this poem, pleading for deliverance and liberation of the people of Yisrael.
The second Brach Dodi, recited on the second day of Pesach and consisting of four stanzas, is like the preceding one in content, structure and form. It was composed by Rabbi Meshullam ben Kalonymus, a native of eleventh-century Italy. It is a plea for the restoration of Yerushalayim and the liberation of Yisrael, "as at the first month of Nissan in days of old."
The third Brach Dodi, recited on the Shabbat of Chol haMoed Pesach (the inbetween days of first and last days of Passover), is by Rabbi Simeon ben Isaac ben Abun of Mayenece, one of the most prolific liturgists of the eleventh century. He is said to have used his prodigious political influence in preventing persecutions and unfavorable laws inflicted upon his people. Like the preceding two piyyutim, it is a prayer for prompt and complete redemption ("You who are our only strength, our comforter and liberator, we look to You to free our captive people").
Each of the three Geullah poems concludes with the passage "For the sake of the fathers You will save the children, and bring liberation to their children's children". This is directly connected with the Amidah prayer, the first benediction of which refers to the merits of our forefathers, for the sake of whom G-d will bring a redeemer.
|Bracha Achronah||An after blessing.|
|Bracha Arucha (pl. Aruchot)||A long blessing.|
|Bracha K'tzarah (pl. K'tzarot)||A short blessing.|
|Bracha L'vatalah||A blessing recited in vain.|
|Bracha Ma'en Shalosh||The after blessing for the "Seven Species" of Sukkot.|
|Bracha Rishonah||A blessing recited before partaking of food.|
|Bushah||Shame.||There is shame that brings sin and shame that brings glory (Ben Sira 4:21). Shyness is a good trait, since it leads to fear of sin (Mechilta on Shemot 20:17).
On the other hand, we are told that the sin of putting another to shame in public is one of the gravest crimes..."Let a man throw himself into a blazing furnace rather than shame a fellow man in public" (Berakhot 43b). "Shaming a fellow man in public is like shedding blood" (Bava Metzia 58b)
|Byur Chametz||Burning of the chametz (leavened food).|
|Byur Maasrot||The disposal of tithes.|
|A B D E F G H I K Ch L M N O P R S Sh T Tz U V Y Z|