Y - Z
"Yaakov" - Known as the "chosen one" of the "Avot," the "Founding Fathers" of the Jewish People, son of Yitzchak father of the Twelve Tribes. Yaakov struggled with Esav, who was the ancestor of Amalek, and of Edom, who would persecute the Jewish People through the ages, in the guise of the Romans and, after their mass conversion to Christianity, in the time of Constantine, of the Christian Church. He himself had twelve "righteous sons," with his two wives, Leah and Rachel, both belonging to the Imahot, the "Founding Mothers", and two concubines, Zilpah, Leah's hand-maiden and Bilhah, Rachel's hand-maiden, who became the Twelve Tribes of Israel. Called the "Master of Truth," Yaakov ironically felt it necessary to achieve some of his goals by methods in which absolute truth was not necessarily the route that he chose.
"Yahadut" - (f); the Jewish Religion, Judaism
"Yahrtzeit" (Yiddish) – the date on which the death of a loved one is commemorated. Generally it is the Hebrew date of the death; on the first “Yahrtzeit,” it is the date of the burial. Perhaps the thought is that the first time around, the burial is the deepest wound because it is the freshest and the most graphic, but afterwards, the psychological and spiritual focus centers upon the basic date, that of the departure of the soul.Yashan" - Grain in the state of being "old;" meaning that at least one "Sixteenth of Nisan" had passed over the grain after it had taken root; opposite of "Chadash."
"Yareach" - (m., pl. "yerachim"); the moon, the heavenly body that revolves around the earth once each month. It was created by HaShem on the fourth "Day of Creation" and called the "Maor Ha-Katan" Bereshit (1:16), the "Small Light," relative to the sun, the "Maor HaGadol," the Great Light."
Though it is the "Maor HaKatan," it is the key element in the Hebrew Calendar. At each New Moon, the Sanhedrin in Yerushalayim would proclaim the "Rosh Chodesh," the beginning of the New Month, which defined the Holidays of the Year for the Jewish People.
"Yechezkel" - see here.
"Yehonatan" - Johnathan; the son of Shaul, who befriended David, and eventually chose loyalty to David over his own succession to the throne. His relationship with David is described in the famous "Haftarah" (Supplementary Shabbat Reading from the Prophets), which is read on Shabbat Erev Rosh Chodesh, which discusses the agreement between Yehonatan and David as to how Yehonatan would indicate to David his father's feelings concerning him. The "Haftarah" concludes with the following oath which Yehonatan took with David, "What the two of us have sworn in the Name of Hashem - saying, 'Hashem shall be between me and you, and between my children and your children' - shall be forever." ("Shmuel Aleph"/Samuel I 20:42)
The relationship is also described by David himself in his eulogy for Yehonatan,
"My heart is greatly pained because of you, my brother, Yehonatan, you were so very
pleasant to me; my love for you exceeds that of my love for women." ("Shmuel
Beit"/Samuel II 1:26).
Ibid. - a term found in references in documents, such as this Glossary; it means the same document as just referred to. For an example, look at entry for "Yosef."
"Yehoshua" - the disciple of and successor to Moshe, who led the Jewish People into the Land of Israel, and completed the initial conquest of the Holy Land from the Seven Canaanite Nations. Refers also to the Book of the TANAKH by that name, which describes the events in Yehoshua's life.
"Yerushalayim" - Jerusalem; the Eternal Capital City of the Land of Israel and of the Jewish People. Established as such by King David approx. 3,000 years ago. First Temple was constructed there by David's son, Shlomo (Solomon), ca. 1000 B.C.E. and was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 B.C.E. The Second Temple was rebuilt by Ezra and Nechemiah ca. 516 B.C.E. and it stood until 70 C.E., when it was destroyed by the Romans. Thus a Temple stood in Yerushalayim some 1,000 years (according to this version; according to another version, a Temple stood 163 years less.)
The Old City of Jerusalem was captured by the Israel Defense Forces during the Six Day War of 1967, unifying the city for the first time in approximately 1900 years. According to Jewish Tradition, those who mourn for Jerusalem will one day merit to see it in its rebuilt state. At that time, according to Jewish prophecies, the Third Temple will be rebuilt, and then our mourning will turn into celebration.
"Yeshayahu" - see here.
"Yeshiva" - (f., pl. “Yeshivot”); a Torah academy. The “Yeshiva” has evolved greatly, from its form in Talmudic times, eastern and western Europe, the United States, and modern-day Israel.
"Yetzer HaRa" - (m.); "evil" inclination, desire to commit sin; as in "Yoseph HaTzaddik cavash et ha-yetzer ha-ra shelo," " 'Joseph the Righteous' conquered his "evil" inclination."
"Yichus" - (m., not generally used in plural); lineage, distinguished birth, pedigree; as in, “The new rebbe hired by the Yeshiva had outstanding “yichus;” for he was a direct descendant of the Chofetz Chaim.
“Yichus” is also at the center of a controversy today, in a time when many people are returning to the study and practice of Judaism after a lapse of several generations, such that they may have reached great spiritual heights themselves, but lack “yichus,” or “pedigree;” regarding the significance it should bear in evaluating the merit of a potential matrimonial candidate.
"Yiddish" - literally, "Jewish;" a Pseudo-Language based on German, with many Hebraisms, including Hebrew words, phrases, interjections (such as "Oy Vey!") and untranslatable manners of expression, inter-mixed to create a kind of uniquely Jewish language. In addition to the German, which is the base language, there are traces of Russian, Polish, Hungarian, Rumanian and just about all of the Northern and Western European languages spoken by the Peoples with whom the Jews lived during one thousand years, more-or-less, of their European "Galut," or Exile.
Yiddish is not the first Jewish Pseudo-Language. Mainly in the Plain of Spain (get the "My Fair Lady" reference - Ha! Ha!), the Jewish People created "Ladino," a different form of "Yiddish" developed with a similar admixture of Hebraisms into the base language of Spanish.
Aramaic as well, the language of the Babylonian Talmud, is a form of "Yiddish," with a heavy admixture of Hebraisms into the similar Semitic language spoken in Babylonia.
While it has been abandoned by large circles of Modern Jews in favor of "Ivrit, the Hebrew Language," the Classical Language of the Jewish People, and the language adopted officially by the State of Israel, it is maintained and spoken by equally large circles of Modern Jews, mainly of Chassidic Communities. They are waging a strong battle against the corrosive influences of Western Culture, outside and inside of Israel, and they reject certain aspects of the Modern State of Israel.
"Yiddishkeit" - Yiddish, meaning "Jewishness;" a word similar to Orthodoxy and Observance, but suggesting perhaps more an emotional attachment, and a feeling of identification with the Jewish People, than full commitment to a lifestyle based on observance of the "Mitzvot," the Commands of G-d, as recorded in the Torah.
"Yirat Hashem" - (f.); Fear of Hashem; as in "Reshit chochmah yirat Hashem," "The beginning of wisdom is fear of Hashem" (from the Prayer to be recited upon awakening)
"Yirat Shamayim" - (f., plural not generally used); fear of “heaven;” synonymous with “Yirat HaShem,” Fear of HaShem, or Fear of G-d. “Shamayim,” heaven, a spiritual “location,” is assumed to be more-or-less the abode of HaShem, despite these words of Shlomo, builder of the First Temple (“Melachim” 1, 8:27), “Behold, neither the heavens nor the heavens of the heavens can contain You, certainly not this House that I have built.”
Actually, HaShem is not in any location nor is He excluded from any location. One of His Names is “Makom,” which means “Place” or “Location,” suggesting that He is not in the Universe, nor is He the Universe but rather, He is the “Place” of, for want of a better term, the Universe.
This makes it all the more amazing that HaShem does constrain Himself somehow, in the Beit HaMikdash, to abide in its Holy of Holies.
"Yirmiyahu" - see here.
"Yishmael" - the son of Avraham and Hagar, handmaiden of Sarah. When he mocked Yitzchak, Sarah ordered Avraham to drive Yishmael away with his mother. Avraham was reluctant to do this, but Hashem consoled Avraham by telling him that Yishmael would also be a great nation and would have "twelve kings." Unfortunately, he is also described as "a wild person, his hand was in everyone else's property and consequently everyone else's hand was in his property."
"Yisrael" - 1. The name given by G-d to Yaakov, indicating that he struggled with heavenly and with earthly beings and, based on the idea of "s'rara," mastery, was able to overcome his rivals
2. The nation which descended from Yaakov and his twelve sons; otherwise known as the Jewish People: otherwise known as the "Chosen People of G-d," because they accepted His Torah
3. The "lowest" of the three classes within the Jewish People: Kohen, Levi and Yisrael; a member of the Jewish People with all obligations and privileges assigned him or her by the Torah, including "Make yourself holy, for I, the L-rd your G-d, Am Holy." (Vayikra 20:7)
4. The name of the Holy Land, which G-d promised to the Avot and to their descendants, the Jewish People. The Torah describes it as a Land "flowing with milk and honey;" there are certain Torah commandments which apply only to residents of Israel; the Land has a moral barometer of its own, and tends to eject residents who are immoral.
"Yitzchak" - One of the "Avot," the "Founding Fathers" of the Jewish People. The beloved son of Avraham and Sarah, he was the father of Yaakov and Esav, together with Rivkah, his beloved wife. He was the willing participant, as the potential sacrifice, in the trial of "Akeidat Yitzchak." In one of the conflicts between one of the "Avot," and one of the "Imahot:" namely, his wife, Rivkah, he seems to have favored Esav and she, Yaakov. She engineered a "deception" in which Yaakov "stole" the blessing of his father which was, at first glance, meant for his brother, Esav."Yom HaAtzmaut" - The Independence Day of the State of Israel. The Hebrew date is 5 Iyar, and the original English date, which varies from year to year while the Hebrew date is fixed, was May 14, 1948. On this date, the fledgling State declared its independence, thereby creating the first independent Jewish entity in nearly 1,900 years. News of this event brought tears of joy to Jews world-wide, as Israel's tiny armed forces organized and began to defend the State against invading Arab armies who vowed to crush it, G-d forbid. "Yom HaShoah Ve-HaGevurah" - Holocaust and Bravery Memorial Day. This Special Day commemorates the awful tragedy that befell the Jewish People at the hands of the Nazis during World War II, in which 6,000,000 innocent victims were killed, including one and a half million children. It also commemorates the valiant efforts of good and brave people, Jewish and non-Jewish, whose efforts probably saved, perhaps hundreds of thousands of people from certain death. One who saves a single soul is as if he saved a whole world, but against the background of the horrific crime, the good is almost, but not quite, overwhelmed by the evil. "Yom HaZikaron" - Israel's Memorial Day for those who gave their lives in defense of the State of Israel against its enemies - before Independence, in the War of Independence, the Sinai Campaign, the Six-Day War, the Yom-Kippur War, the Lebanon Engagement, the Intafada, and all related military tragedies.
"Yom Kippur" - The Day of Atonement, the holiest day of the year; climax of the Ten Days of Repentance, which begins with Rosh HaShanah and the forty day period which begins with Rosh Chodesh Elul. This is the Day that the fate of every living creature and all nations for the coming year, is sealed.
"Yom Rishon" - (m., pl. "Yamim Rishonim") Sunday or, in the plural, the "earlier days." (For Day One of Creation, see "Yom Echad")
Tov Sheni shel Galuyot" - (m.); the observance in the Diaspora
of the Major Holidays (Pesach, Shavuot
and Sukkot) as two-day, rather
than one-day Holidays, at both ends (except for Shavuot, which is observed
simply for two days).
observance was instituted in Talmudic times because of the difficulty in
communicating the decisions of the Sanhedrin in Yerushalayim
as to the beginnings of the various Hebrew Months to the Jewish communities in
the Exile, thereby creating confusion as to when certain holidays fell. Since
the doubt was only over two days, the two-day observance covered both
Despite the fact
that for many centuries already, there has been no doubt about the time of the
occurrence of the "Molad," or the "New Moon," Jews in the
Diaspora continue to observe the two-day holidays because of the principle of
"Minhag Avoteinu B'Yadeinu;" meaning that we retain certain of the
customs instituted in ancient times so as to recall significant events in our
The Sages had devised a method of torchlight communication by night from mountain-top to mountain-top to quickly alert the entire Diaspora of the decisions of the Sanhedrin with regard to the beginnings of the Month. But the Shomronim, the not-so-good Samaritans, frustrated their scheme by lighting torches on the wrong nights, thus forcing the adoption of the two-day system of Holiday observance in the Diaspora."Yom Yerushalayim" - commemorates the historic Day in the Six-Day War when Israel, after King Hussein of Jordan ignored Israel's warning to stay out of the fighting, seized the Old City of Jerusalem, and the Eternal Capital of Israel was re-united for the first time in 1,900 years. Among the national treasures returned to Jewish control were the "Kotel HaMaaravi," the Western Wall of the Temple, and the "Har HaBayit," the Temple Mount.
"Yosef" - Joseph; known in Jewish Tradition as "Yosef HaTzaddik," Joseph the Righteous, for his ability to control his passion when the Egyptian wife of Potifar, Joseph's initial master when he arrived as a slave in Egypt, attempted to seduce him ("Bereshit"/Genesis 39:12)
Earlier, as a brilliant youth of seventeen, a dreamer, and gifted by G-d with the ability to interpret dreams, he had aroused fierce anger in his brothers against him. He was clearly the favorite of his father, Yaakov ("Bereshit" 37:3). Next, he dreamed dreams of mastery, which pictured himself as the master of his brothers. (Ibid 37:7 and 37:10)
When his father made the fateful "error" of sending him to check on the welfare of his brothers who were grazing the family flocks (Ibid. 37:13), they took violent action against him, throwing him into a pit (Ibid. 37:24), and selling him into slavery (Ibid. 37:28). (This sin of wanton hatred haunted the Jewish People for thousands of years until atoned for finally by the deaths of the Ten Martyrs, at the hands of the Romans, at the time of the Destruction of the Second Temple)
"Yosef" rose to greatness in Egypt through his ability to
interpret the Pharaoh's dreams of the Seven Cows and the Seven Ears of Corn (Ibid. 41:26),
as seven years of "plenty" followed by seven years of famine.
When the sons of Yaakov came before Yosef to get food, he recreated, to an
extent, the earlier situation, with his brother, Binyamin, playing his role. When
"push came to shove," Yehudah, rose to the occasion, and to greatness, when he
offered himself as a substitute for Binyamin, thereby demonstrating his full
"Teshuvah," Repentance. (Ibid. 44: 32-34)
"Yovel" - Jubilee Year; Fiftieth year; "You shall count for yourself seven cycles of 'Shemitah' years, seven years seven times," ("Vayikra"/Leviticus 25:8), then "You shall sound a broken note in the Seventh Month, on the tenth of the month, on Yom HaKippurim, you shall sound the 'Shofar' throughout your Land. You shall sanctify the fiftieth year and Proclaim Freedom throughout the Land (that proclamation is inscribed on the Liberty Bell of the United States of America) for all its inhabitants; it shall be the Jubilee Year for you; you shall return, each one to his ancestral home, and you shall return, each man to his family." (ibid. 25:9-10)
A minimal compendium of the Laws of the "Yovel" is as follows:
"Zechut Avot" - (f.); merit of the "Avot," the forefathers Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov, possibly also referring to the merit of great ancestors, in general, that accrues to the benefit of later generations. The merit of the forefathers, in particular, is an inexhaustible or nearly inexhaustible reservoir of merit, that is of great benefit to their descendants on "Rosh HaShanah," Judgment Day, and on other occasions when we need some extra guidance in making important decisions that revolve around moral issues. The idea is thus closely related to the idea of "Maasei Avot Siman LeBanim," that the actions of our forefathers are models and prototypes of behavior for their descendants to follow.
"Zerichah" - (f., pl. "Zerichot"); shining; as in "Zerichat HaChamah"
"Zocheh" - (v. t. for masculine subject); he merits (something); as in, “David was not “zocheh” to build the “Beit HaMikdash” because he had been involved in wars and, of necessity, killing. Therefore, although he conceived the idea, it fell to his son, Shlomo to actually build the Temple.”
"Zohar" - Basic Book of Jewish Mysticism; written by Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai in the Galilean Cave, during his period of enforced hiding from the Romans. Bar Yochai was a disciple of Rabbi Akiva, and was the recipient of a living tradition of Kabbalah from his master, but he is the one who recorded it for posterity in this work, whose name means "The Splendor," or "The Brilliance."
"Zulat" - (m.); the other person, as opposed to one's self; as in "Mitzvat 'VeAhavta lereacha camocha' mechayev et ha-Yehudi le-hadgish et ha-Zulat," "The Commandment 'You shall Love Your Neighbor as Yourself' requires the Jew to emphasize the importance of the 'Other'."