Jargon is a specialized vocabulary whereby a non- literal
meaning is given to a word to indicate a specialized meaning.
Jargon saves time because instead of using a lengthy
explanation or non-technical word, the `initiated' can use
just one word to express all he needs to convey. Furthermore,
often the word of jargon conveys various subtleties and
overtones of meaning that cannot be expressed in regular
We call the jargon of the Bnei Torah `Yeshivish' and using it
enables us to talk to each other without having to explain
ourselves too much. Through using it, we can understand more,
If we are reading a text written in one language, but think
in another language, then to understand the original, we need
to translate it into the other language. Then, when we want
to compare our thoughts back to the original, we need to
translate them back into the language of the text again. This
is laborious and expends much mental energy. When we think in
the language of the original words of the text, we short- cut
the need to translate at both stages.
Therefore, when we learn complex subjects, like
gemora, we feel more comfortable when we try to think
and speak using as much of the original language as possible,
because then the information goes in easier and faster. So it
is easier to follow and discuss the deep lomdus of the
gemora when using `Yeshivish.'
The other side of the coin is that it is possible to use
jargon words like building blocks, without knowing what they
The alternative to using jargon is to use regular language.
This lessens the possibility of mindless discussion. The
gedolim have stressed the importance of a person
learning "in his own language" so that he can achieve true
and total understanding. However, having to "spell everything
out" makes gemora discussion laborious and precludes
the analysis of fine points.
A further point is that every language reflects the mindset
of the people who speak that language. One of the purposes of
learning gemora is to enable the discussions of the
Tanaim and Amoraim to `reprogram' our way of
thought to enable us to think as the Torah wants us to think.
Therefore, consistently learning gemora in `pure'
English will hinder the student's ability to get into the
`mindset' of the great Sages.
For example, when first learning with a talmid, we
need to translate the word `baalus' as meaning
`ownership.' However, the Torah concept expressed by
`baalus' is not the same as the legal meaning of
ownership and if the talmid assumes that it is the
same, then he will become confused by many sugyas of
Therefore, there needs to be a gradual transition from
learning in clear, understandable language (which will be
slow and labored), to eventually learning more efficiently in
jargon. Once the student becomes fully initiated into the
jargon, navigating the sea of the Torah will become more
pleasant and he will be able to cover more ground, faster.
This point is important for parents who learn with their
children. Not all children pick up jargon at the same rate.
Therefore, it is possible that the teacher is using jargon
that your child has not yet fully integrated. You will then
need to explain the text using language he can understand and
then go back and show him how to use the jargon.
On the other hand, if you are confident that your child or
student does relate to the concepts efficiently, you can slip
into the jargon and encourage him to speak that way. However,
from time to time, you can check up on him by asking him to
explain a point using regular language.