Hebrew Vocabulary Words Related to Rabbinical Decision Making (Halacha)

The Hebrew words below define some common words and Hebrew vocabulary related to Rabbinical Decision Making:

Halacha (or Halaka) – Jewish law, from the verb Halach, which means “go” or “walk”. The implication is that this is the way you go or the way you walk.

Assur – (also: ISSUR) prohibited, bound. The morning blessings say “Baruch Ata HaShem, Elokeinu Melech Ha-Olam, matir asurim” – “Blessed are you, HaShem our God, King of the Universe, who releases the bound.” The word “asurim” refers to “those who are bound” or the “bound ones”. The Sephardic pronunication is “as-SUR” (with accent on the last syllable), but the Asheknaz pronunciation is more like “US-er”, with the accent on the first syllable and more of an short “uh” sound.

Mutar – permitted, allowed.

Heter – permission – usually a rabbinic ruling that permits some item that is might have been questionable or not otherwise permitted.

Takana (or taqana) – a correction, a Rabbinic decision that supersedes existing Halacha. One example might be Rabbi Gershon’s decision that bigamy is now allowed (even thought the written Torah, the books of Moses, does not forbid it). This is related to the word “Tiqun” (a repair). Sometimes you hear the phrase “Tiqun Olam” referring to repairing the world.

Syag = fence. Pirkei Avot 1;1 says “Be deliberate in judgment, development many disciples, and build a fence for the Torah.” A fence helps you to not come close to breaking a commandment by not allowing you to even get close to it.

Gezer = a decree.

NOTE: I will try to come back and update this page soon, I have learned so much since I originally wrote it.

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