Religion & Beliefs

Who is Wise?

Okay, so if you don't read the blather in our Faithhacker comment boxes, you might not know that there's been a bit of a brouhaha going on of late.  If this is the case, I congradulate you on your focus, … Read More

By / May 4, 2007

Okay, so if you don't read the blather in our Faithhacker comment boxes, you might not know that there's been a bit of a brouhaha going on of late.  If this is the case, I congradulate you on your focus, and wish you well.  I'm not even going to link to such silliness here. 

Focused reader, I suggest you continue on with your day.

However, if you HAVE been following those threads, you might (like me) be a little confused by some of the terminology getting thrown around by our more observant Jewcy readers.  And Faithhacker feels strongly that defining our terms as we proceed is one MAJOR way we can help to bridge the gap between people with different bases of knowledge. 

A huge part of what scares many of us away from Jewish content is simply a lack of comfort with Jewish vocabulary, so I urge that in future you might, if you comment, link or define your terms…  so you can teach us something.

After all… just because we get a little hot under the collar doesn't mean we can't grow at the same time.  You know, there's that handy line:  

"Who is wise?  One who learns from every man…"

And in that spirit, I want to try to mend and ease out of the furious comments… by learning from them.  I thought I'd do what I could to translate and explain the comment-box terminology, and I hope people will correct me, as my google-studies and context-clue definitions are sure to be inadequate.

shomer mitzvot: this just means people who observe all the commandments, like keeping the sabbath, and eating kosher, and being modest, and so on…   "I'd love to come to Talladega with you on Saturday, but I'm Shomer Mitzvot!" HaShem:  Is one of the many ways we avoid saying the name of God.  If you grew up Reform, you're used to "Adonai" but you probably didn't hear "HaShem" much.    Literally it means "The Name."  "The farm is suffering from lack of rain, but it's going to storm tonight, Thanks to HaShem!"

hillul  HaShem:  Well, now we know HaShem, right?  So since Hillul means a kind of absence, then Hillul Hashem means all the things you do that hide God's presence.  I also find a bunch of places that define this one as "desecration of God's name.  But truthfully, I don't fully understand it. Can anyone help me out?

kahal:  This word means "community" but I'm not sure how specific a definition it has to have.  It seems it can refer to a congregation, a Jewish population, etc.  But maybe you can use it more loosely too.  "On Sesame Street, the Kahal of puppets boycotted Maria's fixit shop."  Can I say that?

atid lavo:  This one refers to the messianic age, the time to come.  "I'm going to eat bon bons all day long in Atid Lavo." 

averos: Is plural  for avera, which is the most commonly used Hebrew word meaning "sins".  "So I ate the last piece of pie!  Chill out, it's not an avera or anything…"

sinas chinam:  Everyone seems to agree that this phrase means "baseless hatred."  "I don't know why I feel the way I do about Avril Lavigne.  I guess it's just sinas chinam."