ayin -- lit., nothingness. In Chassidic terminology, the term is used to refer to a state of non-being that serves as a contrast to true existence.

Baal Shem Tov -- (lit., "Master of the Good Name"): Rabbi Yisrael ben Eliezar (1698-1760), founder of Chassidism.

Chabad -- An acronym for the Hebrew words meaning "wisdom, understanding, and knowledge." The approach to Chassidism which filters its spiritual and emotional power through the intellect. A synonym for Chabad is Lubavitch, the name of the town where this movement flourished.

Chafetz Chayim -- (lit., "He who desires life"): Rabbi Yisrael Meir Kagan, one of the foremost Rabbinical figures of the European Jewish community before World War II. Called Chafetz Chayim because of his renown text of that title.

Chassidism -- The approach to orthodox Judaism founded by the Baal Shem Tov which stresses emotional involvement in prayer, the power of joy, the love for every Jew, and an awareness of mystic knowledge.

Elijah, the prophet -- A historical figure in the Bible, see I Kings, ch. 17-22, II Kings, ch. 1-2. According to the narrative in II Kings, ch. 2, he did not die, but rather rose into heaven. Tradition maintains that he descends to our material world from time to time and reveals himself to the righteous. Ultimately, it will be he who will announce the coming of the Messiah (see Malachi 3:23).

Era of the Redemption -- The Messianic Age.

Eretz Yisrael -- The land of Israel.

geulah -- The Hebrew word for "redemption."

golah -- The Hebrew word for "exile."

Ikvesa diMeshicha -- The time directly before the Messianic Age when Mashiach's approaching footsteps can already be heard.

Kabbalah -- (lit., the received tradition): The Jewish mystic tradition.

Rav Aryeh Levine -- One of the foremost Rabbinic leaders in Eretz Yisrael from the 1930's to the 1960's.

Lubavitch -- (lit., "town of love"): The town in White Russia which served as the center of Chabad Chassidism from 1813 to 1915 and whose name has become synonymous with the movement.

Lubavitcher Rebbe Shlita -- The present Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson (b. 1902), the leader of the Chabad Chassidic movement today.

Maimonides -- Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon, also referred to as the Rambam (1135-1204). One of the foremost Jewish thinkers of the Middle Ages. His Mishneh Torah is one of the classic texts of Jewish law, and his Guide to the Perplexed, one of the classics of Jewish philosophy.

Mashiach -- (lit., "the anointed one"): the Messiah.

mashpia -- (lit., "source of influence"): In Chassidic circles, a spiritual mentor.

Mishneh Torah -- Maimonides' classic text of Jewish law.

Midrash -- The classical collection of the Sages' homiletical teachings on the Bible.

mitzvah, pl. mitzvos -- (lit., "command"): a religious precept, one of the Torah's 613 commandments.

Previous Rebbe -- Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn (1880-1950). The sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe, who headed the movement's fight against the Communist oppression of religion in Russia and who transferred the movement to the U.S. during World War II.

Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi -- (1745-1812), the founder of the Chabad Chassidic movement. Author of the Tanya, a classic text of the Chassidic tradition, and Shulchan Aruch HaRav, one of the important texts of Jewish law.

Rebbe -- (lit., "teacher" or "master"): A realized Torah leader who serves as a spiritual guide to a following of Chassidim.

Shabbos -- The Sabbath.

shtetl -- (lit., "village"): the basic living unit of the Jewish community in Eastern Europe.

Talmud -- The basic compendium of Jewish law, thought, and Biblical commentary, comprising the Mishnah and the Gemara. When unspecified refers to the Babylonian Talmud edited in the end of the fifth century C.E.

tziruf -- Literally, the process of smelting ore, an analogy for the spiritual task of refining the world.

yesh -- (lit., "it is"). In Chassidic terminology "being," and ultimately "true being."

Yiddish -- Lit. "Jewish." The dialect of German spoken by the Jews that became their mother tongue.

Zohar -- (lit., "radiance"): the classic text of the Kabbalah.

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