A B D E F G H I K Ch L M N O P R S Sh T Tz U V Y Z

Gabbai A lay person in a synagogue, typically responsible for keeping things in ritual order, particularly during the service itself, making sure there are the requisite number of individuals for Aliyot, that their Hebrew names have been given to the Baal Koreh, and the like
Galil Galilee
Galilah The honor of dressing the Torah after it has been read during the worship service
Galut Exile Galut has come to mean the abnormal life of the Jewish minority in the lands of dispersion. In the words of Chayyim Greenberg: "Wherever Jews live as a minority...is Galut." Moses Ibn Ezra, one of the leading Hebrew poets of the Spanish period (1060 - 1138), describes galut as "a form of imprisonment...the refugees are like plants without soil or water." In 1906, Solomon Schechter wrote: "The term Galut expresses the despair and helplessness felt in the presence of a great tragedy... It is a tragedy to see a great ancient people, distinguished for its loyalty to its religion...losing thousands every day by mere process of attrition... It is a tragedy to see a language held sacred by all the world...doomed to oblivion and forced out gradually from the Synagogue... This may not be the Galut of the Jews, but it is the Galut of Judaism..."
Gam Lecha (masc. singular. Gam Lach...fem. singular) Also/Same to you
Gan Eden Paradise; Garden of Eden According to Jewish lore, there is a celestial as well as a terrestrial Garden of Eden, the earthly one being only a copy of the sublime heavenly Paradise. Nachmanides, in his commentary on Bereishit 4:13, says that the narrative of Eden has a double meaning and that its prototype is in heaven.
Gaon (pl. Geonim; adj. geonic) Genius; Excellence; Eminence A title of sages who lived during the post-Talmudic period (7th to 11th [6th - 12th] centuries)..and is known as the "Gaonic period"
Gavriel Gabriel G-d is my Might. One of the angels
Gebroks Soaked (literally) Mixture of matzah (or matzah meal) with water avoided during Pesach by some Ashkenazim of Chassidic descent
Gehenna The name Gehenna passed into use as a designation for the place of punishment in the hearafter.

According to a tannaitic statement, the doors of Gehenna close behind apostates, informers, promoters of sin and tyrants, for many generations (Tosefta Sanhedrin 13:5). According to the Zohar, sinners are punished in Gehenna for twelve months, half of the time in fire and half in snow. Among those who do not face Gehenna, a talmudic passage includes the very poor and the diseased. Some add, Any man who is afflicted with a shrew for a wife is likewise exempted from future Gehenna (Eruvin 41b).

Gelilah Act of dressing the Torah scroll after the reading from it at a service. One who performs this honor is called the golel
Gelt A Yiddish term for money, usually used in reference to coins, previously given on Purim and currently given as Chanukkah presents, especially for use in the Dreidel game
Gemara Completion The name Gemara is derived from the Aramaic verb (to learn), refers to the second part of the Talmud consisting of discussions and amplifications of the Mishnah whic is the first part.

The Mishnah (teaching), which was concluded at the beginning of the 3rd century, covers the whole range of Jewish legislation as well as religious and ethical teachings transmitted by the Tannaim who were the authorities on the Oral Law from the time of Hillel to that of Rabbi Judah ha-Nasi, a period of about 2 centuries. The Gemara is the interpretation of the Mishnah by the Amoraim, the bearers of the oral traditional lore, who were active in Palestine and Babylonia from the time of the completion of the Mishnah until the redaction of the Babylonian Talmud.

There is the Babylonian Gemara and the Jerusalem Gemara, referred to as Talmud Bavli and Tamud Yerushalami. The former, which is the more complete, was concluded by the academies of Babylon at the beginning of the 6th century; the latter was finished during the 5th century. When the Talmud is spoken of without any qualification the reference is to the Babylonian Talmud; the Jerusalem Talmud is only about a fourth the volume of the Babylonian, which contains about two million five hundred thousand words.

Gematria Hebrew numerology. A system for calculating the numerical equivalence of letters, words, and phrases. This system is used for the purpose of gaining insight into interrelating concepts.

A few examples:

According to Bereishit 14:14, Avraham had 318 trained servants. This number equals the sum of the letters spelling the name Eliezer; hence, the number 318 actually refers to Eliezer, the servant of Avraham mentioned in Bereishit 15:2 (Nederim 32a). Yayin (wine) and sod (secret) equal each other numerically (70). Hence, the saying, "When wine enters, secrets are out."

The ladder Yaakov saw in his dream, reaching from earth to heaven, referred to Sinai, since the numerical value of (130) equals that of Sinai. This means that the Torah, revealed at Sinai, is the ladder which leads from earth to heaven.

The tetragrammaton, or four-letter name of G-d, consisting of the numerical equivalents of 10, 5, 6, and 5, the sum value of whose squares is 186 (100+25+36+25), is numerically equivalent to makom, referring to G-d as the Omnipresent.

Gemilut Chasadim Practice of Kindness; Deeds of Lovingkindness A virtue which includes every kind of help: visiting the sick, comforting those who mourn, escorting the dead to the grave. The Mishnah counts it among the things for which no limit has been prescribed by the Torah (Peah 1:2). Since gemilut chasadim consists of personal acts of kindness, it can be practised by rich and poor alike. Gemilut chasadim finds expression in all efforts of goodwill, and is exemplified by receiving all men cheerfully, by lving peace and striving for peace (Avot 1:12, 15).

One of the three pillars on which the rabbis said the world rests

Genizah Hiding; Hiding Space A term applied to a place in which discarded ancient works and fragments of manuscripts were deposited for the purpose of preserving good things from harm and bad things from harming. The Genizah served as a storehouse for timeworn sacred writings, called shemot (divine names) because they contained references to Hashem. The sanctity attached to them forbade willful neglect. Heretical books, too, found their way into the Genizah, so that countless Hebrew manuscropts which have survived intact owe their preservation in part to their lodgment in an old synagogal storehouse.

The practice of Jewish congregations to this day is that all Hebrew writings, when they can no longer be used, are preserved from profanation by being deposited somewhere in the synagogue-building, whence they are taken from time to time to be buried in the cemetery with great pomp. This is based on the halachah which is formulated by Maimonides as follows: "A Sefer Torah which has become old or unfit for use is to be laid in an earthen vessel and buried beside a scholar. Its concealment consists in this" (Hilchot Sefer Torah). The same statement, verbally carried over into the Shulchan Aruch of Rabbi Joseph Karo, is to be found in Yoreh Deah 282:10. The instruction to bury the Genizah was not carried out in all places, and so the Cairo Genizah has disclosed its riches to students of ancient Jewish literature.

Geonim Excellenies Gaon was the title applied to the heads of the two major Babylonian academies at Sura and Pumbeditha, who were looked upon as the spiritual guides of the Jewish people from the end of the 6th to the middle of the 11th century. Thereafter the title Gaon has been used to designate any outstanding talmudic scholar, such as Rabbi Elijah Gaon of Vilna (1720-1797) who was consulted by celebrated rabbis even before this 20th year. The word gaon (excellency) was part of the name Gaon Yaakov (Pride of Yaakov) by which the Babylonian academies were known. The phrase gaon Yaakov was borrowed from Tehillim 47:5 "He chose our heritage for us, the pride of Yaakov whom he loves".

The duties of the Geonim were to serve as directors of the academies, continuing as such the educational activity of the talmudic sages, and to answer all questions that were addressed to them as the highest authorities on Jewish lore. Enjoying supreme religious and spiritual sway over all the Jews dispersed in many lands, the Geonim carried on an active correspondence with numerous widespread communities. It resulted in the branch of literature known as Geonic Responsa, which provides the means of tracing the religious and secular problems of the scattered Jews during the geonic period that lasted more than 5 centuries.

Because the Geonim did not make it a practice to preserve copies of their replies, or responsa, only a small number of these have come down to us. The Geonim not only disseminated the teachings of the Talmud, explaining its contents and developing its principles, but als maintained Jewish unity; all Jewry looked to them as guides to life in all its aspects. They attracted students to their academies from the entire Diaspora, who in turn eagerly communicated to others the talmudic knowledge they had gained in Sura and Pumbeditha.

The two ancient academies of Sura and Pumbeditha, dating from the early amoraic times, moved to Baghdad at the end of the 9th century and retained their distinctive names. The last Gaon of the Sura academy was Rav Azariah ha-Kohen (1034-1038)). the two academies then united in Baghdad and continued their existence for another 150 years.

Ger (pl. Gerim) Proselyte The name ger (stranger) has come to mean in Hebrew a convert to Judaism who performs the duties and enjoys the privileges of a Jew. Anyone who has accepted Judaism out of inner conviction and without ulterior motives is called ger tzedek (sincere, true proselyte)

There is also a partial proselyte, referred to as ger toshav (sojourning proselyte), who has not adopted Judaism in its entirety, but has agreed to observe the seven precepts imposed upon the descendants of Noach: abstinence from idolatry, murder, theft, blasphemy, incest, eating the flesh of a living animal, and the duty of promoting justice.

Minor tractate appended to the Talmud, containing legal statements related to the acceptance fo proselytes and the manner of conversion

Gerah A type of coin equivalent to approx. 0.64 gram of silver
Ger Toshav Resident Gentile One who accepts and worships the One G-d of Yisrael and who keeps the 7 Noachide precepts
Ger Tzedek Righteous Gentile A full convert to Judaism
Geshem v'Tal Rain and Dew The prayer for rain, solemnly recited on the 8th day of Sukkot as part of the Musaf service, introduces the formula "You cause the wind to blow and the rain to descend" which is inserted into the beginning of the Amidah during the period between Sukkot and Pesach, when the rainy season in Eretz Yisrael arrives. And, during the hot months between May and September, the atmospheric vapor, concensed in small drops on cool areas between evening and morning, saves the plants of Eretz Yisra'el which are refreshed by the regular descent of this dew.

The Scriptures employ dew to symbolize Hashem's word which has a wonderful reviving power though it falls, like dew, gently and unheard (Devarim 32:2). The freshness of youth, as well as the life-giving power of Hashem, is metaphorically represented by dew (Tehillim 110:3, 2Shmuel 1:21; Yeshayahu 18:4, 26:19).

Gesisah Jewish tradition considers a dying person (goses) as a living individual who must not be touched lest his death be hastened thereby. He is compared to a flickering candle which is extinguished by touching it. Even though he ahs been agonizing for a long time, it is unlawful to hasten his death by removing the pillows from under his head. Those present are expected to recite prayers and psalms instead of engaging in idle talk.

Since "there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins" (Kohelet 7:20), a Jew is expected to make confession on his death-bed (Shabbat 32a). If unable to make a confession verbally, he is expected to do so mentally. A form of confession recorded in the Mishnah (Sanhedrin 6:2) reads: "May my death be an atonement for all the sins I have committed." Like Rabbi Akiva, who was martyred by the Romans in 135, a dying Jew departs with the Shema' on his lips, uttering Yisra'el's confession of faith: "Hear, O Yisrael, Hashem is our G-d, Hashem is One."

Get (pl. Gittin) Divorce Document; Decree of Divorce The Scriptures mentions a bill of divorce (sefer keritut) on 3 occasions (Devarim 24:1; Yeshayahu 50:1; Yirmeyahu 3:8). The Prophets used the expression figuratively. The Torah presents a law concerning an actual bill of divorce when it forbids the husband to remarry his divorced wife if, in the meantime, she had been the wife of another man.

While the Torah does not indicate the contents of a sefer Keritut, the Mishnah gives the following as the essential formula of a get or bill of divorce: "Let this serve you as a bill of divorce from me, as a letter of dismissal and deed of liberation, that you may marry any many you wish" (Gittin 9:3).

This bill is handed by the husband to his wife together with a formal declaration in the presence of witnesses. The method of giving a get, which requires the sanction of a court (beit din) consisting of three men well versed in the religious laws of marriage and divorce, involves proceedings entailing delay, which in turn affords an opportunity of reconciliation.

The get, written on parchment or paper which must be in perfect condition without erasures or holes, has to contain the exact names of the husband and the wife and the exact date and place of the execution of the document. It must be written in Hebrew square characters, used in writing of a Sefer Torah, in twelve lines (the numerical value of the word get is twelve). The writing and the delivering of a get must take place in the daytime, but not on days immediately preceding Rosh Chodesh, Shabbat, or holy day.

Though the husband may remarry immediately after the divorce, the wife must wait three months after receiving the get. This is for the purpose of establishing definitely the paternity of the child she bears after her remarriage.

Geulah Redemption One of the most quoted Scriptural passages is the prophecy that "a redeemer shall come to Tziyon" (Yeshayahu 59:20). The redeemer is described as a king who shall reign and govern wisely. "He will administer justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Yehudah will be saved, and Yisrael will dwell securely." (Yirmeyahu 23:5-6) The principal features of this expectation are the recovery of independence, an era of peace and prosperity, of faith in G-d and His Torah, of justice and brotherly love among men, and of the ingathering of the homeless exiles.

The second book of Maccabees (1:27028) quotes a prayer which reads: "Gather together our scattered people, set at liberty those who are in slavery, look upon those who are despised, and let the nations know that You are Elokim." The tenth benediction of the Shemoneh Esrei prayer reads: "Sound the great shofar for our freedom; lift up the banner to bring our exiles together, and assemble us from the four corners of the earth."

Gevurah Might
Gezerah (pl. Gezerot) A rabbinical decree issued as a preventive measure is referred to as gezerah, from the root  (to decide). Gezerot are used for prohibitions, while takkanot are enactments of a positive character. On one occasion, 18 restrictions were enacted that were designed to improve the observance of fundamental laws. These included prohibitions against improper relations between Jews and non-Jews, against assimilation and intermarriage (Shabbat 17a).

The Talmud relates that after the destruction of the Second Temple, there were some Pharisees who planned to prohibit the eating of meat and the drinking of wine; but Rabbi Joshua prevented them from carrying out their intention, in consideration of the majority of the people who could not exist without the necessary food (Bava Batra 60b). Hence the rule: "We must not impose a restriction on the public which the majority cannot endure."

Gezerah Shavah A verbal analogy, a fundamental principle of biblical interpretation. If the same word or phrase appears in two places in the Scriptures, and a particular law is explicitly stated in one of these places, then one may infer on the basis of "verbal analogy" that the same law applies in the other case as well
Ghetto The term ghetto came into use in 1516 when Jews of Venice were confined in a special quarter of the city. A century before that, in 1416, the Spanish kings ordered Jews' quarters, as weel as those of the Moors, to be surrounded by walls and provided with gates locked at night. The compulsory concentration of Jews in ghettos - in Italy, Spain, Germany and Poland - gave the enemies of the Jewish people a convenient goal to murder and plunder in the event of an outburst. Many of these medieval Jewish settlements have been preserved in Rome, Prague, Amsterdam, and Frankfurt. The communal feeling and the traditional Jewish culture were maintained and nurtured in the ghettos.

The Nazis set up ghettos in eastern Europe (1939-1942) to concentrate, isolate, and break the spirit of the Jewish people prior to the "final liquidation" and annihilation. They systematically starved the ghettos, which they instituted in over-crowded areas of Warsaw, Lodz, Vilna, Cracow, and elsewhere in Poland, Hungary, Romania and Russia. On the eve of Pesach, April 19, 1943, began the battle of the Warsaw Ghetto. The pre-war Jewish community in Warsaw had been the largest in Europe, close to four hundred thousand. Starvation, disease and deportation had taken the lives of three hundred and thirty-seven thousand. Now, when the Germans marched in to begin the "final liquidation," Jews fought back. They heroically held out for twenty-seven days. Fewer than eighty escaped alive through the sewers under the ghetto walls

Gilah From the root word "gal" and means "to reveal" describing the full revelation of joy as contained within one's heart...often expressed in Torah as "yagel libi"--my heart shall be joyous
Gilgul Neshamot Reincarnation The Zohar describes the incarnation of the soul in the following manner:
From the beginning, G-d created all the souls in the very form in which they would afterwards appear in the world... At the time when the soul is to descend, Hashem calls it and says: "Go to such and such a place." The soul submits and descends against its will... If it returns laden with sin, it must obtain purification so as not to be delivered to Gehinnom... To be saved from punishment, the soul migrates from body to body.

In the opinion of most Kabbalists, no soul migrates through more than three bodies before it has run its entire course. The sinner expiates his sin in this world in the new existence in which his soul reappears. It may enter the body of a pious man, and by his good deeds he may cleanse the dross still adhering to the soul and facilitate its ascent on high. If pious men suffer, it is only and solely for sins committed in a previous existence; so that suffering is not a punishment for sins now committed, but a "purgatory" for evil deeds of a former life. On the other hand, the sinner may benefit from the good deeds that he performed in his previous existence. He prospers now, so that all his reward is eaten up by him in this world, and nothing but punishment is reserved for him in the hereafter

Gimmel - G Third letter of the Hebrew alphabet
Gittin Bills of Divorce Fifth tractate in the Mishnah order of Nashim, dealing with the laws of divorce
Goel Kinsman Redeemer A close relative who pays the price required to restore a person or persons who have lost their property and/or freedom, to their original state of richness and freedom, from which they had fallen into poverty and slavery
Gog u'Magog Gog and Magog Yechezkel's vision concerning an attack upon Yisrael by a violent enemy, Gog and Magog, occupies two chapters (38 & 39). The prophet foretells the utter destruction of Gog, whose weapons will provide Yisrael with fuel for seven years and whose corpses will require seven months to bury; then the entire world will acknowledge the power and majesty of the true G-d. "On that day, when Gog invades the land of Yisrael...mountains shall be torn apart, and cliffs shall topple over... I will overwhelm him with utter panic... O Gog, I will strike your bow from your left hand and will make your arrows drop out of your right hand. You shall fall upon the mountains of Yisrael, you and your hordes... I will restore the fortunes of Yaakov and have mercy on the whole house of Yisrael..."

Traditionally interpreted, this vision refers to a distant future, at the end of days, in which G-d will eventually defeat the enemies of Yisrael in the land of Yisrael. Rav Saadyah Gaon speaks of Gog and Magog in connection with the messianic era: "Then Gog and Magog will hear about the descendant of David and the excellence of his people and country and the abundance of their wealth... He will gather people from various nations...notorious sinners marked for perdition... On that day four types of misfortune will descend upon them.. Then the spirit of prophecy will descend upon all Yisrael, young and old. This blessed period will last until the end of time..."

Golem Boor; Dummy The word golem in the sense of an unformed substance is to be found in Tehillim 139:16. In the Mishnah (Avot 5:9), golem is used in the sense of a stupid person, whose habit it is to interrupt the speech of his fellow man and be hasty to answer, without acknowledging the truth or admitting that he does not know what he does not know. The Mishnah uses golem as the opposite of a wise person when it says: There are seven characteristics of a golem, and seven of a wise man. The wise man does not speak in the presence of one who is greater than he in wisdom... The opposite is to be found in a stupid person.

In medieval Jewish legends, the word signified an automaton, an artificial man, created by Kabbalistic methods, such as placing in its mouth a piece of paper inscribed with the divine name. When thus created, the automaton became the servant of its creator carrying out his orders, and at times turned into a monster of destruction. It turned into an inert mass when the divine name was removed. These legends always describe the golem as serving for the protection of the persecuted Jews of that period

Goy (pl. Goyim) Nation Yiddish word for a non-Jew
Goy Kadosh A Holy People/Nation
Gregger (al. Gragger; Hebrew - Raashan) Noisemaker used during the reading of the Megillah (of Ester) during the celebration of Purim to drown out Haman's name