אחרונים – Latter authorities, literally, “Last Ones,” meaning Torah scholars who lived after the compilation of the Shulchan ‘Arukh in 1563, and continuing on to the present day. The Achronim were preceded by the Rishonim, former authorities of “First Ones,” c. 1038 CE -1563; by the Geonim, c. 650-1038 CE; by Hazal, c. 250 BCE-625 […]
Belonging to the era of the Amoraim (sing. Amora – אמורא). The Amoraim are the rabbis who formulated and transmitted the Gemara, or commentary on the Mishnah known collectively as Talmud, in the 3rd through 5th centuries CE. Amoraim lived in both Eretz Yisrael and Bavel (Babylonia, which is how Jews referred to Sassanian Persia […]
Bavel – בבל (Babylonia) is what Jews called the region of present-day Iraq. In the Talmudic period it included Persia and was ruled in Sasanians. Later, in the period of the Geonim, by the Abbasid Muslim caliphate.
The Babylonian Talmud, referring to the Gemara as redacted in Bavel, the major Jewish community of antiquity outside of Eretz Yisrael. Also refered to as Shas.
בראשית רבתי – A late midrash on Sefer Bereshit that is attributed to the school of Moshe ha-Darshan of Narbonne in Provence, who was active during the first half of the 11th century. Bereshit Rabbati was known only by references to it until modernity, when a single Hebrew manuscript of it surfaced, which was published […]
ברכת האילנות – A blessing said upon seeing blossoming fruit trees in Nisan, or first time one sees flowering trees in the season. The words of the blessing are: בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה’ אֱלֹקינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם שֶׁלֹּא חִסַּר בְּעוֹלָמוֹ כְּלוּם וּבָרָא בוֹ בְּרִיּוֹת טוֹבוֹת וְאִילָנוֹת טוֹבוֹת לֵהָנוֹת בָּהֶם בְּנֵי אָדָם. Blessed are You, the Lrd our […]
חז”ל – “our Sages, of blessed memory,” the abbreviation for חכמנו זכרונם לברכה – Chakhmenu zikhronam li-verakhah, meaning the rabbis of the Mishnah and Talmud, the Tannaim and Amoraim, respectively. Variations are also used, such as רז”ל – Rabbotenu zichronam li-verakhah, “our Rabbis, of blessed memory.”
חומש – The five books of the Torah, the first five of Tanach: Bereshit, Shemot, Vayikra, Bemidbar, and Devarim (as we call them today); in English, via Greek and Latin: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. On other terms used for Chumash and its books, see my Introduction to Sefer Bereshit. As the Written Torah […]
Among the special Shabbatot in the calendar year, there are four preceding Pesach known as the Four Parshiyot (Arba Parshiyot – ארבע פרשיות), during which special maftir and haftarah portions are read. In distinction to special Shabbatot that coincide with holidays, the Four Parshiyot do not have a coinciding occasion. Rather, they are tied to […]
גאון – pl. גאונים – Geonim – “excellency,” the formal title of the head of one of the academies of Bavel (Babylon, or present-day Iraq), and later Israel, Baghdad, Damascus, and Egypt. It is apparently shortened from the phrase gaon Yaakov, “pride of Jacob,” found in Amos 6:8, 8:7, Nachum 2:3, and Tehillim 47:5. In […]