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Jewish Terms and their Meanings

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Ma'amadot Priestly divisions. See also "Mishmarot".
Ma'aravot An arrangement of piyyutim that embellish the Ma'ariv (Arvit) prayers for festivals and special Sabbaths.
Ma'ariv "Evening prayer"; one of the three regular daily services.
Ma'aseh A legal term; a legal principle bound to a particular set of concrete facts, from which it must be separated and abstracted if it is to be enunciated.
Ma'aser The tithe
Ma'aser rishon "Account of the chariot"; reference to the vision in the Book of Ezekiel.
Ma'aser sheni "Second Tithe"; a tractate of the Mishnah.
Ma'aserot "Tithes"; a tractate of the Mishnah.
Ma'barah, Ma'barot Transitional camp for immigrants.
Ma'ot Hittim "Wheat money"; collection made before Passover to ensure a supply of flour for unleavened bread (mazzot) for the poor.
Ma'oz Zur "Rock of ages"; a hymn.
Machmir, Machpid A legal term meaning the strict application of Jewish laws. See also "Makil".
Machzor Gadol "The Great Cycle"; refers to the sun's 28-year cycle, when "Birkat ha-Chama" is said as a blessing on the sun.
Maggid, Maggidim "One who relates"; a teacher or an angel.
Mah Nishtannah "What is different?"; first words of the four questions asked at the Passover seder service.
Mahalla The Jewish quarter in a town.
Mahaloket Conflict of opinion.
Mahzor, Mahzorim "Cycle"; a festival prayer book.
Makhshirin "Those things which render fit"; a tractate of the Mishnah.
Makil, Makel A legal term meaning the lenient application of Jewish laws. See also "Machmir".
Makkot "Flagellation"; a tractate of the Mishnah.
Maklim Humiliate
Malveh A Lender
Mamram, Mimram A promissory note.
Mamzer, Mamzerim An illegitimate child.
Marheshvan, Heshvan Name of the 8th month in the Jewish calendar.
Maror "Bitter herbs"; used at Passover meal.
Marrano, Marranos Scornful term used to denigrate the New Christians of Spain and Portugal.
Marshelik "Entertainer"; merrymaker who entertained guests, especially at weddings.
Mashal, Meshalim "Comparisons"; a parable.
Mashgiach The man who certifies that food is kosher.
Mashiv ha-ru'ah "He causes the wind to blow"; rain prayer
Mashkon A pledge.
Maskil, Maskilim Adherent of the Haskalah movement.
Masorah, Mesorot The term "masorah" today includes all the matters connected with the writing and recitation of the Bible.
Masoret Tradition
Matatron, Metatron Name of an angel who is accorded a special position in esoteric doctrine from the tannaitic period on. Same as "Sar ha-Panim ".
Mativ ha-Kazav "Sprouter of falsehood", man of lies.
Mattan Torah Revelation, literally "the giving of the Torah".
Matzah, Mazzah Unleavened bread.
Mayim Water
Mayim Aharonim "Latter waters"; term for the ritual washing of the hands after a meal, and before the recitation of the prayer after meals.
Mayim Hayyim Living waters.
Maytim Seeking contact with the dead.
Mazel Tov Good luck
Mazkir A prayer, same as "Hazkarat Neshamot". Mazkir is also used to refer to "the recorder" in the court of a king (e.g. Jehoshaphat in 2 Samuel 8:16).
Mazran Abutting neighbor.
Mazranut the right of preemption available to the owner of land over the abutting land of his neighbor, when the latter is sold; same meaning as "Abutter"
Mazzah Unleavened bread; same as Matzah.
Mazzevah A sacred pillar, the stone Jacob set up in Genesis 28:18.
Me Vushal The process of pasteurizing kosher wine, used in the USA.
Me'ilah Law concerning the unlawful use of sacred property.
Me'ilah "Sacrilege"; tractate of the Talmud.
Mechitza The barrier between men and women; used during prayer services.
Megillah Literally "scroll"; designation of each of the five scrolls of the Bible (Ruth, Song of Songs, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther).
Megillat Ester The scroll of Esther
Megillat Ta'anit Scroll of fasting.
Megillat Yuhasin Genealogical scroll.
Mehilah "Waiver"; the renunciation, repudiation, abandonment, or surrender of some claim, right, or privilege.
Mehizah "Partition"; designation of the partition screen in synagogues between the space reserved for men and that, generally in the rear or upstairs, for women.
Mekhilta The designation of a particular genre of rabbinic literature.
Mekhirat Hamez Sale of leaven; forbidden during the 7 Days of Unleavened Bread.
Melafefon Cucumber; same as "Kishu'im".
Melah Sedomit Salt of Sodom; a potent salt containing an admixture of the acrid potash of the Dead Sea.
Melokhim Bukh A poetic adaptation of biblical history and one of the great national epics in Old Yiddish literature.
Menahot "Meal offerings", title of a tractate of the Talmud.
Menorah The name given to the seven-branched candelabrum.
Menuddeh "Defiled"; applied to people who were to be disfellowshipped.
Merkavah The "chariot" of Ezekiel chapter 1.
Meshalim Proverb
Meshi Silk
Meshummadim Voluntary apostates who left the Jewish religion. See also "Anusim".
Metaksa same as "Kallak", peranda silk.
Mezonot Maintenance; generally speaking, the supply of all the necessaries of the party entitled thereto, i.e., not only food, but also matters such as medical expenses, raiment, lodging, etc.
Mezuzah Parchment scroll affixed to the doorpost of rooms in the Jewish home. The original meaning of the word mezuzah is "doorpost".
Middot "Measures"; tractate of the Talmud. Name given to the Jewish rules for interpreting the Scriptures according to the rules of Hillel and Ishmael.
Midras Literally "treading"; ritualistically this includes walking, leaning against, sitting, etc.
Midrash The designation of a particular genre of rabbinic literature constituting an anthology and compilation of homilies, consisting of both biblical exegesis and sermons delivered in public, as well as aggadot or halakhot and forming a running aggadic commentary on specific books of the Bible.
Midrash Aseret ha-Dibberot Midrash of the Ten Commandments.
Midrash Lekah Tov Late 11th-century Midrash on the Pentateuch and Five Scrolls by Tobias b. Eliezer. The author called it Lekah Tov which means "good doctrine".
Midrash Shoher Tov Midrash on the Book of Proverbs, also frequently but wrongly referred to as Midrash Shoher Tov. The correct designation is "Aggadat Proverbs", i.e. "an amplification on the Book of Proverbs".
Migdal Tower
Mikra Pentateuch; same as "Hummash".
Mikva'ot A tractate of the Talmud
Mikveh "A collection [of water]"; a pool or bath of clear water, immersion in which renders ritually clean a person who has become ritually unclean.
Milchik Kosher foods that contain dairy products.
Min, Minim Heretic, sectarian; same as "Kuti".
Minah A unit of money.
Mincha Afternoon prayer service.
Minhag, Minhagim Custom, usage.
Minhah Afternoon prayer service
Minhah Gedolah The major minhah service
Minhah Ketannah The minor minhah service
Minyan Aramaic for "number"; designation for the quorum of ten male adults, aged 13 years or over, necessary for public synagogue service and certain other religious ceremonies.
Miqdash Tabernacle; the portable sanctuary constructed in the wilderness. Same as Mishkan.
Mishkan Tabernacle; the portable sanctuary constructed in the wilderness. Same as Miqdash.
Mishle, Mishlei Book of Proverbs.
Mishmarot Literally "Guard Posts"; refers to priestly divisions. See also "Ma'amadot".
Mishmeret Watching
Mishmeret Kodesh Holy Watch; a Jewish charity organization.
Mishnah Derived from the verb "shanah" meaning "to repeat"; but the word "Mishnah" has been turned into a general designation for all aspects of the Oral Law.
Mishpat Ivri Jewish law.
Mishpatim Laws amongst the 613 mitzvot that are readily logical and make sense. See also “Mitzvot”.
Mit'assekim Attendants who wash the dead before burial. See also "Tohorah".
Mitah Yafah Pleasant death, mercy killing.
Mitnaggedim "Opponents"; a designation for the opponents of the Hasidim.
Mitzvah, Mitzvot A commandment, precept, or religious duty. In Talmud usage, mitzvah was given the meaning of a good deed, and usually means nothing more than "the words of the men quoted in the Talmud".
Mitzvot The 613 commands for Jews, first enumerated by Simlai, and later presented by Maimonides, who listed 365 NEGATIVE commands and 248 POSITIVE commands. 3 categories for these 613 mitzvot are: Mishpatim, Edot, and Chukim. See these 3 words for further details.
Mitzvot Aseh Command to do something (e.g. keep the Sabbath). See also "Mitzvot Lo-ta'aseh".
Mitzvot Lo-ta'aseh Command to NOT do something (e.g. don't steal). See also "Mitzvot Aseh".
Miyavvenim Hellenizers who, according to Jewish sources, adopted Hellenistic ways of life and religious worship during the reign of Antiochus IV Epiphanes.
Mizra Sown field.
Mizrah "East"; designation of the direction to be faced during prayer, of the wall of the synagogue where seats were reserved for the rabbi and other dignitaries, and of an ornamental wall plaque used to indicate the location of east.
Mizvah, Mitzvot Same as Mitzvah; commandment.
Mo'ed Katan Minor holiday.
Mo'ed, Mow'ed Assembling, meeting, appointed time; in the Bible used for all the Holy Days.
Mohar Dowry; in biblical times, mohar, whereby the groom bought his wife from her father, was the accepted practice. In the Talmud it has come to mean the property a wife brings to her husband at marriage.
Mohar betulot Literally "bride price for virgins"; payable to her father for the privilege of marrying her.
Mohel A man qualified to perform circumcisions. See also "Sandak".
Molad Name in the Jewish calendar calculations for the new moon conjunction. Literally means "birth", i.e. of the new moon.
Moserim Informers or slanderers who denounce individual Jews or the Jewish people in general to a foreign ruler.
Moshav, Moshavah Very similar to a "Kibbutz"; a worker's settlement.
Motzai Shabbat The time Saturday evening after the Sabbath ends.
Motzi A blessing said before meals.
Mufneh Redundant
Muktzeh The objects a devout Jew does not handle on the Sabbath.
Musaf The additional sacrifice or prayer instituted on the Sabbath and the festivals.
Musar Haskel The name of a frequently printed ethical poem of the 11th century.