Glossary

ASTRONOMY -- The study of celestial bodies. Branches of astronomy which are of particular interest in Jewish archeo-chrononomy are:

-- DYNAMICAL ASTRONOMY -- Provides a mathematical explanation of the motions of bodies in space on the basis of gravitational theory and celestial mechanics.

-- POSITIONAL ASTRONOMY -- Enables the mapping, on the celestial sphere, of the paths described by the apparent motion of celestial bodies as seen from earth and the prediction of the positions of those bodies on the celestial sphere and, where appropriate, their orientations at any particular time. It is based on the principles of dynamical astronomy, and spherical astronomy, and makes extensive use of the techniques of spherical trigonometry.

-- SPHERICAL ASTRONOMY -- Explains how the varying directions of celestial objects may be represented by positions on the surface of the celestial sphere.

BETH DIN -- Jewish ecclesiastical court of rabbis qualified to act as judges in Jewish law. It may pass on matters of religious law and adjudicate in litigation between Jews brought under Jewish law. Outside Israel, its functions, nowadays, are largely confined to the conducting of religious divorces and conversions to Judaism and to acting as the sanctioning authority in areas where religious services are provided on a community-wide basis, such as kosher meat production, the use of Jewish cemeteries, and, sometimes, mikvah (ritual bath) facilities.

CELESTIAL SPHERE -- An imaginary sphere of arbitrary radius upon which the celestial bodies may be considered to be located. As circumstances require, the celestial sphere may be centred at the observer, at the earth's centre or at any other location.

HALACHAH -- (Lit: The way.) The body of Jewish law covering Jews' rights and obligations in the spheres of religious, moral, family, social, civil, contractual, tort and criminal law. It includes laws held to be mandated biblically as well as laws enacted by the early rabbis and judges of the Talmudic age and questions of law passed upon by the rabbis of later periods.

HALACHIC, HALACHICALLY -- of, by, or pertaining to halachah.

MITZVAH (pl. MITZVOT) -- Religious obligation or meritorious deed.

SHABBAT -- The Jewish sabbath day, commencing shortly before sundown on Friday evening and terminating at nightfall on Saturday evening.

SHULCHAN ARUCH -- (Lit: The "Set Table.") Codification of Jewish law compiled by Rabbi Joseph Karo, scholar and mystic of Safed, over a period of 32 years towards the end of the fifteenth century.

TOSEFET SHABBAT -- (Addition to Shabbat.) The practice, required by halachah, of commencing Shabbat observance slightly earlier and ending it slightly later than true nightfall on Friday and Saturday evenings, respectively.

YOM TOV -- A Jewish festival day observed in a manner akin to Shabbat. (Minor festival days which are celebrated without Shabbat-like observances are usually referred to by the more generic term chag.)

Copyright © Mottel Gutnick