Tradition & Innovation

Glossary beginning with G




Lit. Exile 

Since the destruction of the Temple, Jews have been in a state of galut, exiled from their land. This has been understood as a spiritual as well as physical state. Traditionally, Jews have longed for the coming of the messiah to end the long exile. Others feel that it has ended with the advent of the State of Israel, while still others see the State of Israel as a step on the way to redemption. 

Synonyms: Galus

Often used synonymously with Talmud, although the Talmud actually contains both the Gemara and the Mishna. The Gemara is the compendium of rabbinic thought collected and redacted in Babylon between 200 and 500 CE.


The equation of Hebrew letters to numbers and the derivation of meaning from these equations. For instance, Jacob, in Genesis 28, dreams of a ladder on which angels ascend and descend from heaven to earth. A ladder, in Hebrew sulam, has the numerical value of 130 – samech 60, lamed 30, mem 40 – which is equivalent to Sinai – samech 60, yud 10, nun 50, yud 10. This means, according to gematria, that the ladder in Jacob’s dream was in fact Sinai or that this revelation was a precursor to God’s revelation to Moses at Sinai.

Gemilut Chasadim
Lit. acts of loving kindness. Often mentioned in reference to the famous Jewish saying, “On three things the world stands: on Torah, on Avodah, and on Gemilut Chasadim.” (Pirkei Avot 1:2)
Synonyms: Gemilut Chassadim, Gemilut Hasadim
Ger Tzedek

Lit. Righteous Convert

A person who converts to Judaism.


Lit. Rain (Hebrew)


A writ of divorce. Traditionally, only a man can grant his wife a get. Liberal Jews have amended this tradition, making divorce more egalitarian.


A person who is convert to Judaism. Giyor is the term for a man and Giyoret for a woman.


Birkat Hagomel is the blessing said by someone who survives a potentially life-threatening situation. Traditionally said after childbirth, serious illness, travel, or other types of danger.


Lit. Destruction.

The noise makers sounded on Purim during the reading of the Megilla every time the evil Haman's name is mentioned, thus fulfilling the commandment to wipe out his memory.

Want the latest news from Ritualwell?

Subscribe for the latest rituals, online learning opportunities, and unique Judaica finds from our store. Plus special discounts for subscribers!

* indicates required