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Hebrew Glossary - D Category

Glossary of Jewish Terms and Concepts

By 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!

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Hebrew Transliteration English Translation Meaning
Hebrew Letter Bet    
Daat Knowledge  
Daf Yomi The Daily Page A program of studying Talmud, one page a day, a cycle that takes approximately seven years to complete.
Dag Tameh   Non kosher fish.
Dai Enough!  
Dalet - small hebrew letter dalet D The fourth letter of the Hebrew Alphabet.
Dam Blood  
Dani'el G-d is My Judge The book of Dani'el consists of twelve chapters, and is made up of two parts. The first six chapters are written chiefly in Aramaic and tell of the miraculous deliverance of Daniel and his three friends who were exiled to Babylon by Nevuchadnetzar before the fall of Judea; they also include Daniel's interpretations of Nevuchadnetzar's dreams. The last six chapters are apocalyptic writings, professing to reveal the future. The book of Dani'el exerted a deep influence on Jewish mysticism. It teaches the absolute supremacy of G-d, and the ultimate triumph of what is good in the world after the conflict between good and evil. See: Dani'el Index for commentary.
Darash Seek; Search To tread or frequent; usually to follow (for pursuit or search).
Dati Religious (lo dati - not religious) Used in current Hebrew in Yisrael. Black and white distinction...meaning Orthodox and non-Orthodox.
Dat Sheker False Religion  
Dat Yehudit Special obligation; Jewish practice  
Daven To Pray The Yiddish word meaning to "pray". Davening--"praying"; the traditional Jewish posture of prayer. See: Davening Index.
Dayan (al. Dayyan) Judge Halachic decisor or judge; member of a rabbinical court. The first judiciary of Yisrael was organized by Moshe on the advice of his father-in-law Yitro. For the adjudication of cases of less moment, be assigned a judge to each thousand, to each hundred, to each fifty, and to each ten (Shemot 18:13-26). Before his death, Moshe gave the following instructions to his people: "You shall appoint judges and officers in all your towns...to administer true justice for the people. You shall not distort justice; you must not be partial. You shall not take a bribe; for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the just. Justice and justice alone shall you follow, that you may live and possess the land which Hashem your Elokim is giving you" (Devarim 16:18-20).

Courts of three dayanim (judges) each existed in all towns of Eretz Yisrael for the adjustment of civil disputes. The term dayan is now used in the sense of a member of a rabbinical court (beit din). The rabbinical dayan, unlike ordinary rabbis, has to be qualified as a judge in money matters and problems of civil law that are brought before a beit din.
David HaMelech King David Second king of Yisrael (10th Century BCE). According to Masorah, G-d promised David that his kingdom will endure forever - meaning the future Mashiach would be a scion of David.

According to Kabbalah, David represents on earth the quality of Sovereignty, the Shechinah, the tenth of the Sefirot, which has both male and female aspect - male in relationship to the lower words and female in retaining and absorbing the light of the other Sefirot. See: King David Index
Dayenu It Would Have Been Enough A traditional Pesach Seder song.
Demai Suspicion; Doubt; Dubious Produce Produce concerning which there is a doubt as to whether the rules relating to the Levitical tithes were strictly observed is known as demai. The term is applied to produce bought from a farmer who happens to be an am ha-aretz, ignorant of the rules governing tithes; Third tractate in the Mishnah order of Zeraim, dealing with the requirements for tithing produce where there is doubt regarding whether the proper tithes have been given.
Derasha   A sermon or lecture.
Derech Eretz Way of the Land Signifies local custom, good behavior, courtesy, politeness, etiquette.

Derech Eretz is also the title of two lesser tractates appended to the Babylonian Talmud: Derech Eretz Rabbah and Derech Eretz Zuta, each being independent of the other despite their common name. Derech Eretz Rabbah (large) emphasizes many a rule by the use of stories of the private life of the Sages. Derech Eretz Zuta (small) is not a shorter version of Derech Eretz Rabbah, but rather a collection of ethical teachings consisting of nine chapters, including the section on peace, and contains rules of conduct and urges gentleness, patience, respect for age, readiness to forgive; it finally dells on the moral and social duties of a rabbinic scholar.
Derech Hayashar The Straight Way; Right Path  
Derush (pl. Derushim)   Scholarly discourse, spoken or written, to inspire and instruct; an instance of derasha.
D'tzach Adash B'Achav   In the Pesach Haggadah, the three words consisting of a combination of the initial letters of the ten plagues that came upon Egypt in the order we read about them in the Torah (Shemot 7:8-12:30). This mnemonic device is attributed to Rabbi Yehudah, one of the most eminent Tannaim of the second century. Elsewhere, Rabbi Yehudah suggested a mnemonic of two words, "lest you should make an error" (Menachot 11:4). He stressed the serious responsibility of a teacher when he said: "Be careful in teaching, for an error in teachings amounts to intentional sin" (Avot 4:16).
Devar Torah A Word of Torah Follows the Torah reading taking the form of a sermon, talk, explication, story, discussion, or program either within the context of worship or not.
Devarim Words; The Book of Deuteronomy The fifth book of the Torah. A book not only of review of events and laws given in the previous books, but a further interpretation of teachings to be found in Shemot, VaYikra, and BaMidbar; The book carries events up to the death of Moshe and prepares for the succession of Yehoshua. The greater part of the book is taken up with the addresses of Moshe to the people of Yisrael as they were about to cross the Yarden to the land of Kenaan. In these discourses Moshe reviews the events and the legislation of the forty years spent in the wilderness. There are at least three speeches. The first is a summary of the main experiences of Yisrael in the desert; the second reviews the Ten Commandments and includes the declaration of G-d's Oneness; the third stresses the duty of loyalty to G-d. The final chapters consist of two poems recited by Moshe in the hearing of the people; they also tell the story of his death. The moving narrative describing the death of Moshe reveals the final experience of the great leader. From the peak of Mount Nevo, Moshe surveys the whole extend of the Promised Land; he dies on Mount Nevo in solitude at the age of 120.

A number of passages from Devarim have been incorporated into the daily prayers, notably the Shema', Yisrael's confession of faith, which expresses the duty of loving and serving G-d with our whole being. The fifth book of the Torah contains a considerable number of human laws and is one of the most beautiful and profoundly ethical books of the Bible. The long poem Haazinu, in Chapter 32, is one of the best productions of biblical poetry.
Devash Honey  
Devekut Cleaving "Cleaving" to G-d, aspiring to oneness with the Divine through meditative or ecstatic prayer; key concept in Chassidic prayer.
Din (pl. Dinim) Judgment A secular or religious law, a legal decision, or lawsuit; Halachic law.
Din-Torah (pl. Dinei-Torah)   Legal decision concerning Torah.
Dinei Mamonot Civil Cases Talmudic law, civil and criminal, is discussed mostly in the third and fourth divisions of the Mishnah: Nashim (women) and Nezikin (damages). Of the ten tractates contained in Nezikin, the first three are Bava Kamma, Bava Metzia, and Bava Batra (first gate, middle gate, and last gate). Each of these three tractates consists of ten chapters in both Mishnah and Gemara, which deal with compensation for injury or loss occasioned to person or property.
Dinei Nepashot Capital Cases In capital cases, witnesses had to undergo severely strict tests and cross-examinations and were warned of the gravity of their charges. False witnesses had at times to suffer the punishment they intended to inflict on the accused. The sanctity of human life is one of the basic principles of the Torah, according to which deliberate homicide is punishable by death, and involuntary manslaughter with exile. There is no difference between the life of an infant and that of an adult. Though attempted suicide is not punishable, it is strongly condemned. Since life is not man's own possession, but a trust from G-d who creates life, the man who commits suicide is a murderer.

Only a court of 23 judges (Sanhedrin Ketannah) was considered competent to try capital cases. The Sanhedrin Gedolah, the Great Sanhedrin, with 71 members, was the Supreme Court of Appeal on all disputed points of law; it met in the Temple at Yerushalayim. Death sentence was pronounced only if there was a majority of at least two judges. All possible privileges were given to the accused by the court. Once the accused was acquitted he could not be tried again. Even though a convict was already on the way to execution, fresh evidence in his favor had to be heard. A man marched in front of the procession asking people to give their evidence if favorable to the convict. He was given a strong drink before the execution; the period between sentence and execution was kept as short as possible.

In Talmudic literature there is a marked tendency to restrict capital punishment, if not to abolish it altogether. According to a statement in the Mishnah, a court was stigmatized as murderous if in the course of seven years it condemned a human being to death.

Rabbi Tarfon and Rabbi Akiva declared: "Had we belonged to the Sanhedrin, during Judea's independence, no person would ever have been executed," as they would always have found some legal technicalities by whichi to make a sentence of death impossible (Makkot 1:10). During the Roman occupation of Palestine, the right to carry out death sentences was taken from Jewish authorities long before the destruction of the Temple.
Dinei Shamayim Laws (Courts) of Heaven According to a tannaitic statement in Bava Kamma 55b, there are four acts for which the offender is exempt from the laws of man but liable under the laws of heaven namely: he who breaks down a fence which encloses his neighbor's animal, so that it goes out and causes damage; he who bends a neighbor's standing corn towards a fire; he who hires witnesses to testify falsely; he who knows of evidence in favor of another but refrains from testifying in his behalf.

In these four instances, the offender cannot be punished by a human court, though he provided others with the opportunity to commit a criminal act. The Torah makes one legally responsible only for injuries and damages directly inflicted, whereas injuries and damages by indirect action are not subject to a suit at law, though they are forbidden (Bava Kamma 60a; Bava Batra 22b).

The concept laws of heaven conveys the thought that, to the Sages of the Talmud, the Torah is revelation of the divine ideal for the improvement of human character and conduct. Hence, it was their objective to widen the scope of the law in accordance with the spirit of equity and fairness.
Divre Words  
Divrei HaYamim Words of the Days; Chronicles Very last book in the Hebrew Bible. Consists of two books which count as one in Jewish tradition, and contains a historical record dating from the creation of the world to the end of the Babylonian captivity. Unlike the book of Melachim (Kings), which covers the history of the kingdoms of Yisrael and Yehudah, Divrei HaYamim is confined to the story of the kingdom of Yehudah only, and completely ignores the northern kingdom of Yisrael. The religious view presented by the book of Divrei HaYamim is the conviction that history is not made by chance. Only those events are treated which illustrate a divine purpose and providence.
Divrei Kabbalah   A mitzvah whose source is the Books of the Neviim (Prophets) or the Ketuvim (Writtings); not to be confused with Kabbalah.
Divrei Torah   Mitzvah deoraysa; a law given orally to Moshe Rabbeinu at Har Sinai; (also: discourse or conversation on Torah subjects).
Doresh el HaMatim   One who inquires of the dead.
Drash (pl. Drashot)   Biblical explanation and interpretation; One of the four modes of rabbinic interpretation of a text.
Drasha   Interpretation of a Torah passage (often a creative interpretation) (from a root meaning "search").
Dreidel (Hebrew - Sivivon)   Spinning top, part of Chanukah festival celebration. On it is written "A Great Miracle Happened [T]there," referring to the defeat of the Assyrian-Greeks by the Maccabees.
Duchan (al. Duchanen)   The stand in front of the Ark in the synagogue from which the Kohen bless the congregation.
Dvir   Inner Sanctuary of the Temple.
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