Monday, November 29, 2010

Yeshiva guy says over a vort - with glossary for those who don't speak yeshivish

This video requires a glossary and some explanation if you are not familiar with yeshiva-speak, but I think the point is clear nonetheless. It makes a great case for the Conservative movement's historical approach to the continuously-unfolding revelation of Torah.


Glossary (in order of usage):

"to say over a vort" = to repeat a brief explanation of something in Jewish tradition that I learned from somebody else

"by my rebbe's" = at my rabbi's house

"Shabbos" (Israeli pronunciation: Shabbat) = the Sabbath

"pasuk" = verse in the Torah

"machlokes" (Israeli pronunciation: mahloqet) = a dispute between rabbis in the Talmud

"shehakol" = a berakhah (blessing) recited before eating food that does not fit neatly into certain other categories (i.e. unprocessed fruits and vegetables, wine, bread or other baked goods)

"mezonos" (mezonot) = baked wheat products other than bread

"to wash" = the ritual washing of hands, mandated by the rabbis of the Talmud before eating bread, a mitzvah (commandment) which is not found in the Torah

"bracha" = berakhah, a ritual blessing

"gemara" = literally, "completion," this refers to the rabbinic commentaries in the Talmud that were compiled primarily in Israel and Iraq from the 2nd to 5th centuries, CE; in this case, it is used to mean one specific discussion within that large body of work

"Masseches Brachos" (Massekhet Berakhot) = the tractate of the Talmud primarily dedicated to issues of prayer and berakhot over various items

"Avos" (Avot) = the biblical Patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob

"kol ha-Torah kulah" = the whole Torah, i.e. all the mitzvot explicitly stated in the Torah AND all those described in much later rabbinic literature

"mitzvos" (mitzvot) = commandments that are incumbent upon Jews to perform

"lulav and esrog" (etrog) = parts of four plant species (willow, myrtle, palm, and citron) that are used ("shaken") during rituals on the holiday of Sukkot

"Sukkos" (Sukkot) = one of the three major harvest festivals of the Jewish calendar, Sukkot commemorates not only the major harvest of the year, but also the time that the Israelites spent in the Sinai desert after the Exodus from Egypt. The Exodus occurs many generations after Yaaqov/Jacob and his family went down to Egypt.

"Amaleq" = a tribe that attacked the Israelites while they were traveling through the desert, also long after Yaaqov/Jacob.

"zekher" = literally, "remembrance"; the reference is to Deuteronomy 25:19, wherein there is a dispute regarding the pronunciation of the word zekher . It could be read with different vowels, either as "zekher" with the vowel segol under the letter zayin, or "zeikher" with a tzere under the zayin (although Israelis pronounce these vowels identically in this context). There is a recent Ashkenazic custom, according to Dr. Joshua Jacobson no older than 100 years, to repeat this verse when it is read on Shabbat Zakhor (the Shabbat before Purim), pronouncing the word once one way and then the other way.

"Parshas Zakhor" (Parashat Zakhor) = a portion of the Torah read on the Shabbat before the holiday of Purim, including the verse mentioned above

"leyn" = the Yiddish term for chanting from the Torah as Jews do every Monday, Thursday, and Saturday; Yaaqov/Jacob could not have done so because the Torah itself did not exist during his lifetime

"Sefer Torah" = a Torah scroll

"gid ha-nasheh" (badly mispronounced in the video) = the sciatic nerve, which Jews are forbidden to eat according to Genesis 32:33

"Crocs" = a brand of plastic sandals

"Tish'ah Be'Av" = a mournful day in the Jewish calendar, the Ninth of the month of Av is the day on which Jews commemorate the destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem at the hands of the Babylonians and Romans respectively. It is customary not to wear leather shoes on this day (hence the modern affection for Crocs).

"Rav Elyashiv" = Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, a prominent rabbi and decisor of Jewish law based in Israel. He recently banned the wearing of Crocs on Tish'ah Be'Av and Yom Kippur, citing their comfort.

"Converse" = a brand of canvas sneakers

"Rishonim" = Torah commentators who lived from the 11th through 15th centuries, CE

"YU" = Yeshiva University, an Orthodox-affiliated institution of higher learning in New York City, founded in 1886

"mesorah" = collection of traditional sources

"kefirah" = heresy


  1. Gross mispronunciations notwithstanding, YES.

  2. This American accent is ridiculous.

  3. @shulem: It's even better combined with the Ashkenazisms