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

Especially on the Shabbat
Maamadot Stands; Posts Group of Yisraelim attending the Temple sacrifice. The people were divided into 24 lots of Kohanim, Leviim, and Yisraelim; each being assigned a specific time to serve in the Temple. Each went in his appointed week of service
Maariv Evening liturgy and worship service
Maaser (pl. Maasrot) Tithes given to the Kohen and the Leviim or the poor
Maaser Sheni Second Tithe Eighth tractate in the Mishnah order of Zeraim, dealing with tithes eaten in Yerushalayim (Devarim 14:22-27)
Maasey HaTorah Works of the Law Referring to the aspects of the Torah that set Yisrael apart from all the other nations--circumcision, dietary laws (Kashrut) and the keeping of Shabbat
Maasim Tovim Good Deeds
Mabul Flood Specifically the deluge in the days of Noach
Machah Stroke or Rub By implication to erase; Also to smooth, wipe away
Machshirin Predisposing Eighth tractate in the Mishnah order of Tohorot, dealing with the laws of ritual impurity in connection with foods that are susceptible to such impurity when wet (VaYikra 11:24, 38)
Machzor Repetition A prayer book used during Regalim (Pilgrimage festivals) and moedim (appointed times, festivals)
Maftir The last part of Torah reading on a Shabbat or Festival; The man who is "called up" for the reading of the concluding passage
Magen Avot Shield of our Fathers A short summary of the Shabbat Amidah prayer that is recited on Erev Shabbat after the silent prayer. 

Magen Avot was originally added in order to prolong the service for the convenience of late-comers.  The synagogues were often located outside the precinct of the city, since the rulers did not tolerate Jewish worship within the confines of their municipalities, and it was dangerous to walk home alone at night.  By prolonging the Shabbat-eve service, which was far better attended than weekday services, the late-comers were given an opportunity to finish their prayers with the rest of the congregation (Rashi, Shabbat 24b)

Magen David Shield of David (known as Star of David) Like the 7-branched Menorah, the Magen David, composed of two triangles, has been a symbolical ornament of Judaism for centuries
Maggid Speaker; Preacher The expression is found in Yeshayahu 45:19 "speaking the truth and declaring what is right" (dover meisharim maggid). 

The term maggid is used for one who preaches sermons in which Jewish stories and moral lessons are embodied.

Midrashic literature has preserved much of this type of popular lectures referred to as derashot.  The regular form ofr the sermon consisted of three parts during the Talmudic-midrashic period:

1) the introduction or opening

2) the exposition proper

3) the conclusion

The preacher began by quoting a biblical verse, interpreting it by illustration and parable that would gradually lead up to the text that he was particularly trying to explain to his audience.  Having derived from his text various ideas linked or associated with it, by the use of parable, story and allegory, the preacher concluded with words of comfort followed by the Kaddish prayer.  As a rule, the maggidim inspired the people with expressions of encouragement and hope amidst all suffering.

A Kabbalistic notion of how the holy spirit is mediated to the mystic; later meant a preacher among the eighteenth century Chasidim (as Dov Baer, the Maggid of Mezritch).

Maharsha A combination of two works by Rabbi Shmuel Eliezer Edels (1555-1631), a Polish rabbi. The two words are called Chiddushei Halakhot and Chiddushei Aggadot, covering almost the entire Talmud
Mah Nishtanah (Yiddish - Fir Kashes) Four questions asked by the youngest child during the Pesach Seder service
Mahoz (pl. Mahozim) Fortification Fortified stronghold
Mah Tovu Prayer that begins morning service, five verses from BaMidbar and Tehillim, beginning "Mah tovu ohalecha Yaakov mishkenotcha Yisrael, "How lovely are your tents, O Yaakov, your dwelling places, O Yisrael"
Makkot Stripes Fifth tractate in the Mishnah order of Nezikin, it deals with lashings administered by court degree (Devarim 25:1-3), false witnesses, and cities of refuge (BaMidbar 35:9-28)
Makom Place The Sages applied this term to Hashem...He is not in the universe, the universe is in Him. He is HaMakom (The Place)
Malach (pl. Malachim) Heavenly Messenger; angel
Malach HaMavet Messenger of Death
Malachi My Angel; My Messenger
Malchut Kingdom
Malchut Shamayim Kingdom of G-d; Kingship of G-d From the last half of the Second Temple period this phrase "heaven" is used as synonym for Hashem or G-d
Malchuyot Sovereignty Refers to the section of the Amidah during the Musaf recited during the High Holidays, acknowledging G-d's sovereignty in the world
Mame-loshn (Yiddish) The Mother Tongue
Mamzer Bastard A technical, legal term, referring to a bastard child born of a forbidden marriage as stated in the Scriptures (cf. VaYikra)
Maot Chittin Wheat Money A requisite charitable contribution over one's normal gift of tzedakah, prior to Pesach in order to make sure poor Jews have a festive Seder
Maoz Tzur Rock of Ages A Chanukkah song
Maror Bitter Herb The bitter herb such as horseradish used at the Pesach Seder to symbolize the bitter enslavement of the Bnei Yisrael
Mashiach (al. Moshiach) Anointed One Ancient priests and kings (and sometimes prophets) of Yisrael were anointed with oil. In early Judaism, the term came to mean a royal descendant of the dynasty of David who would restore the united kingdom of Yisrael and Judah and usher in an age of peace, justice, and plenty, rebuild the Beit HaMikdash and lead those in the galut back to Eretz Yisrael; the redeemer figure
Mashiach Sheker False Messiah
Maskilim The Enlightened Ones Eighteenth and nineteenth century Jews who engaged in secular rationalistic studies and facilitated the acculturation of Jews to Western society; adherents of the Haskalah
Mashpia Influence  
Masoretes; Masoretic text Derived from masorah, meaning "tradition"; the Masoretes were the rabbis in ninth-century Palestine who sought to preserve the traditional text of the Bible (hence called the Masoretic text), which is still used in contemporary synagogues. The Masoretes were scholars who encouraged Bible study and attempted to achieve uniformity by establishing rules for correcting the test in matters of spelling, grammar, and pronunciation
Masoret HaShas Refers to parallel texts and cross-references to identical passages elsewhere in the Talmud. It is printed in small letters on the inside margin of a page of Talmud
Matan Torah Giving of the Instruction Giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai
Mattanot L'Evyonim Gifts for the Poor A mitzvah for Purim in which each person is required to give gifts (or charity) to at least two needy people or worthy causes
Matzah (pl. Matzot) Unleavened Bread The unleavened bread eaten at the Pesach Seder and thereafter for the festival of Unleavend Bread in recollection of the hurried departure from Egypt
Matzevah Tombstone; Monument
Mayim Chayim Living Waters
Mazal Fortune; Sign
Mazal Tov (al. Mazel Tov) Good Fortune An expression of congratulations for the good fortune bestowed upon one from heaven
Mechashaif Sorcerer
Mechitzah A divider used in synagogue (and gatherings) to separate men from women
Meforshim Commentaries
Megillah (pl. Megillot) Scroll There are five Megillot in the Scriptures: Ester, Shir HaShirim (The Song of Songs), Rut, Eicha (Lamentations) and Kohelet (Eccl). Each of these have a specifically reading on a particular moed (appointed time--festival). Ester--Purim, Shir HaShirim--Pesach, Rut--Shavuot, Eicha--Tishah Be'Av, Kohelet--Sukkot; Tenth tractate in the Mishnah order of Moed, dealing with the reading of the Scroll of Ester and regulations for the care of synagogue and holy objects
Megillat Ester Scroll of Esther The scroll of Ester, known as the Megillah, is chanted in the synagogues at the eve of Purim and again the next morning.

The last of the five scrolls that form part of the third division of the Bible, Megillat Ester tells the story of a Jewish girl who used her influence as queen of Persia to save her people from a general massacre which Haman had plotted against them.  It is a tale of plot and counterplot, showing the downfall of the arrogant and the vindication of the innocent

Megillat Taanit Scroll of Fasting Early Aramaic work listing month by month the days in the calendar that commemorate miracles and joyous events on which it is forbidden to fast
Megillot Yam HaMelat Dead Sea Scrolls  
Meil Torah Mantle In modern Hebrew, it is simply a jacket or outer garment
Meilah Trespass Trespass, that is, in regard to holy things; Eighth tractate in the Mishnah order of Kodashim, dealing with the laws concerning profane use of things for holy purposes (VaYikra 5:15-16)
Mekorot Sources Certain citations
Mechilta Name applied to certain midrashic works (e.g. the oldest midrashic commentary to the Book of Shemot is called the Mechilta). Mechilta is also used as a synonym for masechet, that is, tractate of the Mishnah or Talmud
Mechirat Chametz The legal fiction in which one sells all the chametz remaining in the house (if not destroyed) in preparation for Pesach
Melachah Work Any of the categories of labor forbidden on the Shabbat
Melave Malkah On Saturday evening, following Havdalah, a social party and farewell banquet for the Shabbat Queen
Melech King
Mem - M The thirteenth letter of the Hebrew alphabet
Menachot Meal Offerings Second tractate in the Mishnah order of Kodashim, dealing with preparation of the meal offering (VaYikra 2:1-14)
Menorah The seven-branched lamp stand that was lit in the Sanctuary of the Mishkan and in the Beit HaMikdash. The word is used to designate a light bulb in modern Hebrew and the synagogue Shabbat candelabra. It generally refers to the special Menorah used for Chanukkah, also called a Chanukiah. The Arch of Titus menorah has been adopted as the official symbol of the state of Yisrael
Menuchah Rest
Merkavah Chariot The "chariot vision" was an integral element of the first school of Jewish mysticism, drawn from the Book of Yechezkel, signifying a mystical vision of divinity
Meshech Some commentators linked this name to Moscow and some Talmudic rabbis saw that historical Ashshur under Sankheriv is a prophetic picture of eschatological Gog from the land of Magog (Russia)
Meshumad An apostate who converts from Judaism to another religion
Mesorah Tradition Traditions which comprise the basis of Jewish law; also specific traditions regarding the exact text of the Written torah
Metatron Guide Tradition teaches that Metatron is the name of the angel mentioned in "Take heed of him, and hearken unto his voice; be not rebellious against him; for he will not pardon your transgression; for My Name is in him." Shemot 23:21 Metatron bears the Name of G-d (Jewish Encyclopedia, Vol. 8, p.519) The Talmud states that though Metatron bears the Ineffable Name he may not be worshiped, that Hashem commanded "Exchange Me not for him."

The Sages taught that Metatron is the prince of the world, a teacher of the Torah and a power in heaven. Some rabbis identify Metatron as the Malach ha-Panim (Angel of the Face/Presence), spoken of in Yeshayahu 63:9

Meturgaman Former practice, the person who translates the Torah from Hebrew into the vernacular during its public reading to ensure understanding
Mezuzah (pl. Mezuzot) Doorposts Refers to both the ritually scripted parchment which we are commanded to affix to our doorposts (Devarim 6:9, 11:20), on which are written the first two paragraphs of the Shema', and the case in which it is placed. The mezuzah is set on the doorpost (upper one-third, right side upon entering). It also, and somewhat incorrectly, refers to similar-looking jewelry. Also, minor Talmudic tractate dealing with the laws relating to the writing of the parchment scroll to be placed on the doorpost
Midat Hadin Divine Attribute of Justice
Middot Measures Tenth tractate in the Mishnah order of Kodashim, describing the architecture of the Second Temple
Midot Ethics  
Midrash (pl. Midrashim) Seeking; Investigating From Hebrew darash, "to inquire," whence it comes to mean "exposition" (of Scripture). Refers to the "commentary" literature developed in classical Judaism that attempts to interpret Jewish Scriptures in a thorough manner. Literary Midrash may focus either on halachah, directing the Jew to specific patterns of religious practice, or on aggadah, dealing with theological ideas, ethical teachings, popular philosophy, imaginative exposition, legend, allegory, animal fables, etc. - that is, whatever is not halachah
Midrash Rabbah Collection of aggadic Midrashim to the Torah and the five Megillot
Midrash Tanchuma Midrash attributed to Rabbi Tanchuma ben Abba, also known as Yelammedenu, from the characteristic opening phrase in each sermon, yelammedenu rabbenu (let our master teach us). The discourses center around the opening verse of each Scripture portion of the week
Migdal Bavel Tower of Babel "Let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves lest we be scattered all over the earth... So Hashem scattered them all over the earth, and they stopped building the city.  For this reason it was called Bavel, because there Hashem confused (balal) the speech of all the earth" (Bereishit 11:4-9)

The phrase verosho bashamayim (its top in the heavens) has been interpreted as a Baylonian figure of speech in the sense of a very high tower, similar to the description of the Kenaani cities as "great and fortified to the heavens" (Devarim 1:28)

Ibn Ezra's comment on Bereishit 11:4 reads:

"It is probably that they were neither so foolish as to believe that they could ascend to heaven, nor were they afraid of another flood.  They merely wanted a central and conspicuous city which would ensure them fame."

It has been observed that the Biblical story cannot mean that the erection of the tower was the only cause of the diversity of languages,.  It shows rather the futility of human attempts to maintain unity by material means alone, excluding G-d

Mikdash Meat A small set-apart place, which the home is considered as such. And the father of the household is seen as a kohen (priest) serving Hashem in his house
Mikraot Gedolot The Commentators Bible, a single volume that incorporates the text of the entire chumash and the commentaries on it authored by numerous important medieval and early modern rabbis, including Rashi, Ibn Ezra, and others
Mikrah Kodesh Holy Convocation; Holy Assembly; Rehearsal
Mikvah  (al. Mikveh; pl. Mikvaot) Ritual Bath
Used for spiritual purification. It is used primarily in conversion rituals and after a woman's menstrual cycles, but many Chasidim immerse themselves in the mikvah regularly for general spiritual purification. Immersion in such a bath is called tevilah
Milchig (Yiddish; Hebrew - Chalavi) Dairy Yiddish term used to refer to those foods that are dairy or to be eaten with dairy, as well as utensils for that purpose; may also be used to refer to a person's culinary state of being
Milui V'irui Soaking in cold water, a method for making kosher for Pesach. Used for glassware that has been used primarily for cold food or drink, it requires three days minimum
Minchah (pl. Menachot) Gift; Offering Afternoon worship service which stems from the afternoon Temple sacrifice
Minhag (pl. minhagim) Custom Custom that evolved for worthy religious reasons and has continued long enough to become binding religious practice. The word is also used more loosely to describe any customary religious practice
Minyan Quorum An assembly of ten men required for the reciting of prayers limited to community recitation
Mi Shebeirach A prayer for the well-being of one who is ill, has just given birth, or is about to be circumcised. Requested by an individual and read following the blessing after reading the Torah
Mishkan Dwelling Specifically the Tabernacle
Mishlei Proverbs  
Mishnah Repetition; Teaching The Mishnah is a six part review of Jewish law compiled in early 3rd century under Rabbi Yehudah haNasi, of which served as the focus of Talmudic interpretation; A single passage from that work is also called mishnah; The Mishnah is arranged in 63 tractates and has six divisions: Zeraim (agriculture), Moed (festivals), Nashim (marriage), Nezikin (damages), Kodashim (sacrifices), and Tohorot (purity)
Mishnah Torah Repetition of the Torah Mishnah Torah is Rambam's systematization of the Oral Torah
Mishpachah Family
Mishpat (pl. Mishpatim) Judgment Ethical commandments of the Torah; right ruling
Mitnaged (pl. Mitnagdim) Opposer[s] Traditionalist and rationalistic Jewish opponents of eighteenth century Jewish Chasidim
Mitzrayim Egypt
Mitzvah (pl. Mitzvot) Commandment Refers to a specifically designated set of 613 commandments (positive and negative) traditionally acknowledged to have been given by G-d to the Jewish people at Mt. Sinai. Generally used to refer to a good deed, especially when pronounced as mitzveh
Mitzvat Aseh A commandment to do; a positive command
Mitzvat Lo Taaseh A commandment of something not to do; a prohibition
Mitzvot HaTeluyot B'Aretz Special laws which operate only in Eretz Yisrael, namely, laws that were in force at the time when the Beit HaMikdash was in existence and in connection with the Beit HaMidash service: the paschal lamb, the bringing of the first-fruits to Yerushalayim, the pilgrimage three times a year, the poor man's rights to the gleanings, the unreaped grain in the corners of the fields, the sanctification of Rosh Chodesh, and the regulations for the cities of refuge
Mitzvot Shelo Taaseh Negative commandments, behaviors that are forbidden, of the "Thou shalt not" variety
Mitzvot Taaseh Positive commandments, behaviors that are to be done, of the "Thou shalt" variety
Mivchar haPeninim Select Pearls Originally composed in Arbic, Ibn Gabirol's Mivchar haPeninim has survived in a Hebrew translation made in the 20th century.  Rabbi Solomon ibn Gabirol, the famous poet-philosopher who lived in Spain during the 11th century, began to compose Hebrew poetry at an early age and, during his short life, won for himself a place among the greatest Hebrew poets.

Judah Alcharizi of the 13th century, writing on Ibn Babirol, says:

"The poets who succeeded him strove to learn from his poems, but were unable to touch even the dust of his feet... He was snatched away when still young... his light was extinguished before he had completed his 30th year."

Ibn Gabirol may well refer to his Select Pearls when he writes:  "I gather stray phrases into strings of thought, and from scattered words I collect pearls of wisdom."


Mizbeach Meat A Small Altar Refers to the dinner table at home and represents the sacrificial altar fo the Temple
Mizrach East A wall plague used to designate the eastern wall in the house so that one knows the direction to face (toward Yerushalayim) during prayer
Moadim LeSimchah Joyous festival; also used as festival greeting
Modeh Ani I Acknowledge Name of a thanksgiving prayer recited upon awakening each morning
Moed Appointed time; Set Festival An fixed time or season, specifically a festival. VaYikra 23 has the listing of the moedim; Second order of the Mishnah, consisting of twelve tractates dealing with the laws related to the Shabbat, festivals, and fast days
Moed Katan Minor Festival Eleventh tractate in the Mishnah order of Moed, dealing with the type of work permitted during the intermediate days of Pesach and Sukkot. The tractate also deals with the laws of mourning on festivals
Mohar Bride-price
Mohel The one who performs the ritual of Brit Milah (circumcision)
Molad HaLevanah The appearance of the Rosh Chodesh (New Moon)
Moriel G-d is my teacher
Moriya (al. Moriah) Hashem is my teacher Name of the Mountain in Yerushalayim where first, second Temple stood and where the third will be rebuilt
Moshe Moses Drawn Out
Moshe Rabbenu Moses our teacher
Mosheim Saviors Ovadiya 21
Motze Shabbat Saturday evening after Shabbat
Motzi Brings forth; takes out The blessing recited over bread and is the standard blessing before meals. Also one of the 15 steps of the Pesach Seder
Muktzeh Things that aren ot be used on Shabbat, such as work tools, and therefore should not be handled
Mum A blemish particularly in regard to Kohanim and animals designated for sacrifice
Musaf Additional The additional prayer service that is "added" and recited on Shabbat, Rosh Chodesh (New Moon) and Yom Tovim (Holidays) for when an additional offering was presented in the ancient Temple
Musar (al. Mussar) Ethical Guidance Nineteenth century Orthodox movement, headed by Rabbi Israel Salanter, that espoused a renewed focus on ethics