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Ask the Aish Rabbi a Question

Recent Questions:

Pareve Food

Please could you explain to me the origins of the term Pareve and how this came to refer to food that is neither dairy nor meat? Thanks very much.

The Aish Rabbi Replies:

The Yiddish word "Pareve" may have its roots in the Hebrew word "Pri" – meaning fruit. Fruit is, of course, neither dairy nor meat. In Yiddish, "ve" is frequently added when turning a noun into an adjective.

Alternatively, in old French, "parevis" is the term used for a vacant lot in front of a Temple. This vacant lot stands between the mundane street and the sanctified house of worship. Similarly, Pareve food lies between the two extremes of dairy and meat.

A few more suggestions:

The Latin word "par" means "pair." Pareve foods can be "paired" with either milk or meat.

The Latin "parus" means "equal," neither more to one side or another.

In the Holy Temple, a chamber called the Bais HaPareve was located half in, and half out of the Kohanic section. It was "neither here nor there," so to speak, just as pareve food is neither meat nor dairy.

Water from the Rock?

I heard that the Temple Mount in Jerusalem is leaking and that there is great significance to this event. Can you tell me more?

The Aish Rabbi Replies:

Rumors have been circulating that a trickle of water has started to flow from under the Foundation Stone on the Temple Mount. Media reports say that it is impossible to locate the source or to stop the flow.

According to Jewish tradition, the Foundation Stone is the holiest spot on earth. It is the connection point between Heaven and Earth, and is referred to by the kabbalists as the "umbilical cord." Furthermore, it is the site of the binding of Isaac, and the site of the Holy of Holies in the Temple. (see Pirkei D'Rebbe Eliezer 35)

So what's the significance today?

The Talmud (Yoma 78a) writes that in the Messianic era, water will begin flowing from the Temple Mount. The water, originally a trickle, will gradually increase until it becomes deep enough to immerse the impure. As the prophet says: "On that day there will be a spring opened up for the House of David and for the residents of Jerusalem, for cleansing and for purification." (Zechariah 13:1)

The recent reports are difficult to verify. The Foundation Stone is 13 by 17 meters in size, and it has steps leading down to a large cave. The room around it is even bigger. It would be like asking someone to find a trickle of water in a large convention center.

In the meantime, keep checking the Western Wall Camera (http://www.aish.com/w/) and let us know if you detect anything!

Maoz Tzur

I remember singing Maoz Tzur as a child during Chanukah. What does this song mean, and how does it go?

The Aish Rabbi Replies:

The first two words of the song, "Maoz Tzur," mean "Stronghold of Rock," a reference to God. The song goes on to describe the various oppressors who have risen against the Jewish people (Pharaoh, Nebuchadnezzar, Haman, Antiochus), and how they have ultimately all been defeated. The song also expresses our wish for the final redemption.

The popular melody is associated with an old German folk-song "So weiss ich eins," dating back to the 15th century. You can hear it sung at: http://www.aish.com/h/c/mm/s/48970856.html#song2

Here are the words:

Maoz tzur yeshua-si

Lecha na-eh li-sha-beyach

Tikone bais ti-fee-lasi

Vi-sham todah ni-za-beyach.

Li-ase ta-chin mat-beyach

Mee-tzar ham-na-beyach

Az eg-more vi-sheer meez-mor

Chanukas ha-meez-beyach

Az eg-more vi-sheer meez-mor

Chanukas ha-meez-beyach.

(English Synopsis)

O Rock of my salvation, with delight we praise You.

Restore the Temple where we will bring offerings.

When You will eliminate our enemies,

Then I shall sing at the rededication.

Have a happy Chanukah!