aggadah (lit. “narrative”): The stories and chronicles, the sayings of the wise, and moral instructions; the rabbinic teaching that is not concerned with halakhah, the religious laws and regulations in the literature of the Oral Law (Mishnah).
Akedah (lit. “binding” [of Isaac]): This word refers to the narrative in Gen. 22:1–19 that describes God’s command to Abraham to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice. Abraham takes Isaac to the place of sacrifice and binds him on the altar. The angel of the Lord then tells him not to carry out the task and a ram appears that Abraham can use for sacrifice instead of his son. The Akedah is the supreme example of faith in God. Through the ages, Jews have used it as a symbol of Jewish martyrdom.
alefandbeit: The first two letters of the Hebrew alphabet.
Ashkenaz, Ashkenazim: A name applied since medieval times to Germany and the German Jews. After the Crusades, some of these Jews migrated to Eastern Europe.
ba’al shem (lit. “master of the Name”): Title attributed since the Middle Ages to a Jew, usually a kabbalist or Hasid, who knows the esoteric names to gain divine action. While the earlier masters were scholars, this title was later applied to Jews who worked wonders using kabbalistic methods.
Ba’al Shem Tov: Israel ben Eliezer (1700–1760), the founder of the eastern European Hasidic movement.
Chabad (an acrostic for hokhmah, binah, and da’at, three different types of knowledge used in finding and cleaving to God): The name used for a