Jewish Words: Vort
Avort in Yiddish is far more than wort, “word”, its German root. A vort means first of all any concisely expressed idea, saying or expression. You could say, “I heard an interesting vort on why the stock market went down”, or “Here’s a great vort you could use in your speech”.
A vort also means the moral or message, as in “You clearly didn’t understand the story; actually the vort is…” From this, vort also means a pithy disquisition on Torah. It’s briefer than a dvar Torah and much shorter than a derashah. A vortlich is briefer still. A vort might be as short as “Rabbi Zusha said, ‘When I die, they won’t ask me in heaven, why were you not Moses or Abraham. They’ll ask me, why were you not Zusha.’”
This explains why a Charedi engagement party is also called a vort. Although the pre-wedding engagement does not have strong halachic significance, there is a custom at a vort to sign tenaim, financial conditions binding the families of the bride and groom.
There is also a tradition at a vort of smashing crockery and giving a piece to unmarried friends of the couple. (The reason for this appears to be the same as for breaking a glass at a wedding, to remember that Jerusalem is not yet rebuilt.) But the party takes its name from the vort, the word of Torah that someone gives, wishing the bride and groom well.
Rabbi Julian Sinclair’s dip into the dictionary