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responsa

Heb. Sh'e-lot u-t'shuvot. Lit. "Questions and Answers" posed to rabbis—a genre of Jewish literature developed from the period of the exile in Babylonia to the present among all religious streams. The Reform movement has a rich body of Responsa on virtually every aspect of Jewish ritual and ethical life.

rabbi

Lit. "My master" or "My teacher"—the Yiddish pronunciation is Rebbe (In the Chassidic world, rabbis are referred to as Rebbe). In Orthodox communities the Rav (the suffix is possessive) is a master of the law. In Conservative and Reform communities, the rabbi serves as a community spiritual leader, a teacher and pastor, among many other functions.

names for God

Alternate Spelling: 

YHVH, Adonai, Elohim, El, Rachamim, El Shadai, Ha-makom, Ha-shem, Yah

The most holy of these names is YHVH—otherwise known in Greek as the four-letter Tetragrammaton. This Name was said once annually by the Kohen Gadol (High Priest) on the afternoon of Yom Kippur in the Holy of Holies in the Temple in Jerusalem. After the Temple was destroyed by Rome in 70 C.E., knowledge of how this Name was pronounced passed from the community. Most scholars believe it was articulated as "Yahweh." Today, though the Hebrew letters—yod-heh-vav-heh—are printed in the Torah and religious writings of the Jewish people, it is never pronounced as it was once said. Instead, the name Adonai (meaning, "my Master" or "my Lord") is said. Note the vocalization (i.d., vowels) beneath YHVH is usually identical to the vocalization of Adonai. Some Jews write "God" as "G-d." This second spelling leaving out the "o" derives from this tradition of not pronouncing the holiest of God's names, YHVH. It is, however, a stretch to transfer this idea to the English designation of God, and the Reform movement does not accept this variant spelling, though many Reform Jews continue to do so.

Mishnah

"Second or repetition of the law." This 2nd century law code (200 C.E.) was codified by Rabbi Judah the Prince in Palestine and was the first legal code established after the codification of the Hebrew scriptures in 90 C.E.

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