"Ma'amin" - (m., pl. "ma'aminim"); one who believes; actually the "binyan," in this context meaning the grammatical form, is "hipheil," the "causative," rather than "pa'al," the "active," indicating a more pro-active verb. In other words, believing in something of a spiritual nature, requires an effort of the mind and the imagination of the individual, and is not merely a passive "act;" as in "Ani ma'amin be-Emunah Shelemah B'viat HaMashiach " "I believe with perfect faith in the Coming of the 'Mashiach' (the Messianic Redeemer of Israel), " the Twelfth Principle of the RAMBAM.
"Maasei Avot Siman L'Banim" - (m); the idea that the actions of the Forefathers are a model for the actions of the descendants; for example, Yaakov Avinu, Jacob our forefather, is described in the Bible, as elaborated in the Midrash, as having dealt with Esav, his twin brother but archenemy, in the following three ways: by "Tefila," Prayer, "Doron," the giving of gifts, as Yaakov sent a large gift to Esav, as they approached their fateful confrontation, and, if all else failed, "Milchamah," War; Yaakov was prepared to fight with his brother.
So should the Jewish People at all times of confrontation with their enemies, take that triple approach - first and foremost, Prayer to the Almighty, second, sending a gift to the enemy, indicating their desire to settle differences amicably, but always, as a last resort, to be ready to fight.
"Machashavah" - (f., pl. "machashavot"); thought; sometimes used in the sense of Jewish Thought, in particular; as in "She was very happy in her new school because her teachers excelled in both "Halachah" and "Machashavah."
"Machzor" - Jewish Prayer Book, used on the Days of Awe, Rosh HaShanah and Yom HaKippurim, and on the three major holidays, Pesach, or Passover, Shavuot, and Sukkot. Prayers and Torah Readings are included which capture the spirit of these great holidays. A tiny sample: On Rosh HaShanah, "Malchiyot," Kingliness, "Zichronot," Remembrances, and "Shofarot," Sounds of the Shofar, which express the transcendent themes of Rosh HaShanah. First, the unique majesty of Hashem, the Holy King, His Knowledge of our innermost thoughts, and that He gave to Mankind the ultimate gift when He gave the Torah to the Jewish People amidst thunder and lightning and the rising call of the Shofar. The "Viduyim" (Confessions) which we recite on Yom Kippur until "Neilah," the "Closing of the Gates of Prayer," when our Judgments are sealed.
The Prayer "Tal" for Dew, symbolizing the renewal and liberation of Pesach, the chant of Akdamot, in which we attempt to express our gratitude for the Torah, on Shavuot, and the "Geshem" Prayer for Rain, in which we petition Hashem for that great life-sustaining gift (for which our appreciation is heightened from the perspective of the Northeast United States in the Summer of 5759 (1999), during which we are experiencing the worst drought of the century), and we recognize Hashem as our Redeemer from all manner of trouble throughout all of Jewish History, on the Holiday of Divine Protection, Sukkot.
"Maftir" - (m); the additional Torah reading added to the seven basic divisions of each Parshah, either a repetition of the last verses of the Parshah, or special holiday-related verses recited on the Chagim, or the person "called up" to recite the blessing on that portion of the Torah; related to the Hebrew root "PTR," meaning "to leave," since it is the last portion of each Parshah; as in (somewhat untranslatably) "BeShabbat 'Shuva' kor'im le-'Maftir' et haRav;" "On the (special Shabbat called) 'Shabbat Shuva,' the Shabbat of Repentance which falls between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, the honor of being 'called up' as 'Maftir' is given to the Rabbi."
"Magen Avraham" - Commentary of Rabbi Avraham "Abaleh" Gombiner (1637-1683) of Kalisz, Poland, on "Orach Chayim," the Section of the "Shulchan Aruch" that deals with the Laws of Daily Life and Holiday Behavior, such as the Laws concerning Rising in the Morning, the various Prayers, Special Prayers and Mitzvot of the Holidays.
"Magen Avraham" means "Shield of Avraham," a phrase taken from the "Shemoneh Esray" Prayer, obviously reflecting the author's name, and possibly using the name of the First of the "Avot" because the Laws dealt with in this section of the Shulchan Aruch are the most fundamental for the Jew to become familiar with and practice.
"Malach" - (m., pl. "Malachim"); a messenger; frequently used in the sense of a "messenger of G-d;" that is, an angel. An example is found in Yaakov's dream, in which he was shown a vision of a "Sulam mutzav Artzah, ve-hineh Malachei Elokim olim ve-yoredim bo," "a Ladder reaching to Heaven, with Angels of the L-rd ascending and descending upon it" (Bereshit 28:12). Another example, where both "messenger" in the human sense and "angel" in the heavenly sense are possible, is found in Bereshit (32:4) where the verse reads, "And Yaakov sent 'messengers' to Esav, his brother," where one Midrash says that, because of his close relationship with the Master of Heaven, he was actually permitted to dispatch angels on this mission.
"Malkah" - (f., pl. "Malkot"); queen; as in "Shabbat HaMalkah," "the Sabbath Queen;" or as in, "Malkot me-fursamot ve-tzidkaniyot behistoriah shel Am Yisrael hayu Esther HaMalkah u-Shlomtzion HaMalkah," "Famous and righteous queens in the History of the People of Israel were Queen Esther and Queen Shlom-Tziyon."
"Malkeinu" - (m.) our king; as in the Prayer "Avinu Malkeinu," "Our Father, Our King," authored by Rabbi Akiva and recited on Fast Days and the "Yamim Noraim," the High Holy Days, Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur
"Mapah" - Hebrew for "Table-Cover," the name of the great work of the RAMA, Rabbi Moshe Isserles, which represented the Halachic opinions of the Ashkenazic (Northern and Western Europe) Jewish World. This work was integrated with the "Shulchan Aruch," Hebrew for "Set Table," of Rabbi Yosef Karo, which represented the Halachic opinions of the Sephardic (Spain and North Africa, basically) Jewish World.
"Mashiach" - see here
Matrilineal Descent - determining descent by the mother; this is the method of determining religious identity; that is, from the point of view of biology, a child is Jewish if and only if its mother was Jewish; as opposed to patrilineal descent
- (m., pl. "maimot"); water; involved as a primary element on the
Second and on the Third Days of Creation; when G-d separated the
"upper" from the "lower" waters, and when G-d gathered
them into one place, calling them "Yamim," Seas.
A human being
is delivered at birth in a bag of waters; some say that one never forgets
this experience; to drink water is one of the primary needs of life.
In Biblical and
Temple times, the method of becoming spiritually "clean" after
having become spiritually "unclean;" for example, by contact with
a human corpse, involved being sprinkled with the ashes of a "Parah
Adumah," a red heifer (cow) (regarded as a Divine decree, without
need of explanation, though symbolic meanings have been attached), dissolved
necessary ingredient in the process of regaining purity was and is immersion
in a "Mikvah," a pool of "mayim chayim,"
"living (non-stagnant) waters." The word "Mikvah" is
based on the root "hope." In the absence of a Mikvah, the ocean,
or a river or a flowing lake will serve.
The Mikvah is
used as an element of "Teshuvah," Repentance.
In marital law, the Mikvah is also a vital component. Those laws, regarding Sexual Discipline in Marriage, are generally referred to as "Taharat HaMishpacha," or family purity.
"Mechaber" - Hebrew for "The Compiler," Rabbi Yosef Karo, author of the Shulchan Aruch, described above under Mapah. The original "Shulchan Aruch," when covered with the "Mapah," allowed the creation of a "Super" (doesn't sound appropriate, somehow, but nevertheless it's true) Shulchan Aruch.
"Mechilah" - (f.; pl. "mechilot"); pardon; from G-d and from human beings whom we have harmed in some way. In case of sins against our fellow man, Hashem requires that we obtain the pardon of the injured party, before he will grant us forgiveness.
"Medaber" - (m.; pl. "Medaberim"); speaking, or the state-of-being capable of speech, a uniquely human feature; as in "Hu hayah Rosh HaMedaberim bechol makom," "He was the featured speaker everywhere;" or as in "Yesh arbaah matzavei metziut:: Domem, Nefesh, Chai, Medaber; dugmaot hem: sela, eitz, tzvi, ben-adam," "There are four states of being: Silent, Living, Animated, Speaking; examples are: a rock, a tree, a deer, a human being."
"Medinat Yisrael" - see here
"Megilat Esther" - the sacred document, telling the story of Purim, that was incorporated into the "TANACH," the acronym for the collection of works from the Torah, the "Five Books of Moses," the Neviim, the Prophets, and the K'tuvim, the Sacred Writings, that together make up the Hebrew Bible, at the request of Queen Esther and Mordechai.
"Melach" - (m.); Salt; Sodium Chloride (NaCl); a basic substance of Nature, but one which plays a crucial role in the spiritual life of the Jew. Because it was used until modern times as an effective preservative, it carries the connotation of "eternity;" as in Bamidbar 18:19 where the gifts of the sacrifices are described as "Brit Melach Olam Hi," "An Eternal Salt-Covenant." Its association with the idea of a "covenant," designed as a long-lasting agreement, makes it a perfect metaphor for the agreement between G-d and the Jewish People concerning their observance of the Torah, which is to last forever.
"Melech" - (m.; pl. "melachim"); King; as in "David, Melech Yisrael, Chai V'Kayam," "David, King of Israel, lives and exists."
Men of the Great Assembly - See "Anshei K'nesset HaGedolah"
Merit of the Forefathers - see "Zechut Avot"
pl. "Mezuzot"); literally, the door-post of a house. In the
context of Torah commands, it has the related meaning of a scroll affixed
to the door-posts of one's house and the rooms within one's house. The
Command to do so is found in Devarim 6:9, "And these words
that I command you this day
you shall write them on the door-posts of
your house and on your gates."
commemorates the time in ancient Egypt that HaShem commanded the Jewish
People to mark their door-posts with the blood of a lamb, the animal that
was worshipped by the Egyptians, and that was used as a sacrifice by the
Jewish People. So that when He brought the Tenth
Plague, the Plague of the Killing of the First-Born upon the
Egyptians, He would "Pass Over" (hence the name
"Passover," or Pesach, for the Holiday that celebrates the
Exodus) the houses whose door-posts were marked.
is a small scroll of parchment on which are written two Biblical passages:
they are, "Hear O Israel, the L-rd our G-d, the L-rd is One
(Devarim 6:4-9) and "And it shall be that if you carefully observe My
" (Devarim 11:13-21)
Before the Mezuzah is
affixed to one's door-post, one recites the following Berachah:
"Blessed are You, L-rd our G-d, King of the universe, Who has
sanctified us with His Commandments and has commanded us to Affix the
The Mezuzah, in its case, is then nailed or screwed or glued to the right side of the door, in the upper third part of the door-post, leaning inward towards the interior of the house or the room.
(f.; pl. "Midot); characteristic or attribute; Divine or human, a measure; as in
"Shlosh Esray Midot," the Thirteen Attributes of Hashem;
"Midat HaDin" - (f.); the Divine Attribute of Strict Justice. Generally speaking, it is Hashem's "Midat HaDin" His Attribute of Strict Justice," which is most in evidence on "Rosh HaShanah," the "Day of Judgment."
"Midat HaRachamim" - (f.); the Divine Attribute, or Quality, of Mercy. Generally speaking, it is Hashem's "Midat HaRachamim," His Attribute of Mercy," which is most in evidence on "Yom Kippur," the "Day of Atonement." Shakespeare writes of this Attribute, or Quality, when practiced by human beings, in "The Merchant of Venice," as follows:
"The Quality of Mercy is not strained;
It is used in
connection with Repentance, to remove the impurity of sin.
It is also used
in connection with Conversion, because the convert has taken upon himself or
herself to adopt the lifestyle of the Jew, that is based on the recognition of
G-d as King of the Universe and on the obligation to perform the commandments
of the Torah.
It is the ritual
act that divides two periods of time - the period of separation when marital
relations are forbidden, because the wife is in the state of "niddah,"
and the period of union when such relations are not only permissible but
regarded as essential to a healthy marriage. (See also "Taharat
HaMishpacha" - family purity)
"Minhag"- (m., pl. “Minhagim”);a custom; in Jewish Law, the term is used in contradistinction to “Din” or “Halachah,” both of which mean the “Law,” or the “way to go.” “Minhag” is more optional; for example, according to the “minhag” of the Ashkenazic Jewish community, a certain selection from the Prophets is read for the Haftarah on a given Shabbat, while according to the Sephardic Jewish community, a different selection from the Prophets is used.
"Minyan" - (pl. "minyanim"); quorum (generally ten men) required for praying as a "community," or for the public reading of the Torah, or for reciting the "Kaddish," or other ritual matters of special holiness.
"Mishkan" - (pl. "Mishkanim") - Sanctuary, or Portable Temple. This was the first institutionalized mechanism for the presence of G-d on earth. It was moved from place to place with the Jewish People during the period of their forty year sojourn in the wilderness. Later, in the Land of Israel, before the Temple was built in Yerushalayim, the Mishkan was still present, and existed in a number of places, such as Shiloh, Nov and Givon.
"Mishlei" - See hereOral Law of Judaism. Rabbi Akiva was first such compiler. "Rabbi Yehudah HaNasi," also known as "Rabbeinu HaKadosh," "Our Holy Rabbi;" was the final and authoritative compiler of the Mishnayot, in approximately 200 C.E. It is divided into six "Sedarim," or Orders. They are: "Zeraim," Seeds, Agriculture-Related Mitzvot, etc., "Moed," Shabbat and the Holidays, etc., "Nashim," Mitzvot relating to women, etc., "Nezikin," Laws regarding Damages, etc., "Kodshim," Holy matters, such as Mitzvot related to the Temple and Sacrifices, etc., and "Taharot," Matters of Purity, such as Family Purity, Impurity emanating from a corpse, etc.
"Mohn" - the miraculous food that was given to the Jewish People when they traveled through the desert for forty years. One of the miraculous characteristics of this food was that, according to the Bible, it did not fall on Shabbat, while a double portion fell on Friday. According to the Midrash, whatever a person liked in terms of food, he or she would taste in the "mohn."
Monday - "Yom Sheni" - the second day of the week; this has the same Hebrew equivalent as the Second Day of Creation because, according to Jewish Tradition, that "Day" was Monday
- the belief in One G-d. This is considered one of the great
contributions of "Avraham Avinu,"
Avraham our forefather. The Midrash teaches that
"at age three, Avraham recognized his Creator!"
The child had looked at the complicated and
beautiful world and determined that it was obvious that such a world,
comparable to a palace, had to have a builder! He considered the sun as the
builder but rejected that idea when the sun, with the arrival of night, set.
Likewise were the moon and the stars considered and rejected. In desperation
the child called out, "Who is the builder of the house?" Whereupon
HaShem revealed Himself and said, "I am the
Creator and Owner of the world."
There is another Monotheistic Religion in the world; namely Islam. The great advantage that makes Judaism incalculably superior to Islam is that the Oral Law is a part, if not the most important part, of the Jewish Religion, while Islam has no comparable Oral Law.
Moses - See "Moshe"
"Moshe" - the individual who became, by his own great effort, the greatest human being who ever lived; Chosen by G-d to lead the Jewish People out of Egypt, and to be main Teacher of Torah to the Jewish People. Called "Moshe Rabbeinu," Moshe our "Master," or "Teacher," because he was the teacher par excellence of all of Jewish History. Brother of Aharon and Miriam; son of Amram and Yocheved; raised in the palace of Pharaoh because rescued from the Nile by the daughter of Pharaoh. Called "Master of the Prophets," the "humblest of men," and, by G-d, "he is trustworthy in all of My Palace."
Probably the classic text in “Mussar” is “Pirkei Avot”, Ethics of the Fathers.
Some ideas of Mussar are the awesome potential of man to obtain the greatest spiritual heights, serene acceptance of whatever G-d causes to happen to one in life; not over-concern with matters of “Olam HaZeh,” “This World;” preferred is focus on “Olam HaBa,” the “World-to-Come”
In the sense of reproof, the word is used in the context of “mussar ha-neviim,” the warning or reproof of the prophets.
In the sense of punishment, the word is used in the context of “mussar HaShem,” “the punishment of HaShem.”
Myrtle - see "Hadas"