Why Learn Hebrew?

Three things define a nationi: land, language, and history.ii Hebrew is the national language of the Jewish people. What of Yiddish, Ladino and other Jewish languages such as Bukhori, the mixed language of Bukharian Jewsiii? In halakhic literature Yiddish and Ladino are called “the language of a foreign people.”iv This is why in wedding documents names in these languages always come second, e.g. “Moshe, who is also known as Moishe.”v The Jewish people will never relinquish their land for a foreign territory such as Uganda and they will never cease to remember and relive yearly their wondrous history. Similarly, the Hebrew language is an essential part of Jewish identity and one should learn it and speak it whenever possible. According to the last major survey 41%vi of the Jewish people live in the land of Israel, more than in any other land.vii Israel has become the Jewish demographic, economic, cultural and Torah center of the world. In the last century it has become the center of history-in-the-making for the nation. Now, more than ever, is the time for Jewish people in the exile to strengthen their connection to the land of Israel and the language of Israel. Learn the language of your people. Identify with them. Furthermore, it is not possible to fully understand the Tanach without knowing Hebrew. Many American thinkers, including the drafters of the Constitution, learned Hebrew in order to improve their comprehension of the Bible. In universities around the world Hebrew is studied in order to be able to directly interact with the text.viii It should come as not surprise that one of the major biblical commentators, Rabbi David Kimhi (the Radak), wrote a dictionary on the Hebrew language and an exposition on Hebrew grammar.ix Saadia Gaon, the head of the Babylonian academy of Sura, in addition to a Torah commentary also wrote a Hebrew dictionary called the Agron.x The following appears in a textbook for learning biblical Hebrew, "A translation of the biblical text is a translator's "interpretation" of the text. The translator's beliefs will often influence how the text will be translated and anyone using his translation is seeing it through his eyes rather than the original authors. Only by studying the original language of the Bible can one see the text in its original state."xi Learning the language enables one to return to the source and learn the words as they were written.xii Aside from enhancing learning of Hebrew texts, knowledge of the language is itself a source of spiritual inspiration. It is a key to Jewish philosophy and provides a fertile environment for Torah thoughts. The 19th century leader of German Orthodoxy, Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, included innumerable insights that emerged from an understanding of the Hebrew language. However, Hirsch was not unprecedented. Hebrew vocabulary and grammar serves as the springboard for many midrashim and is used in every major Torah

there is one that is more fundamental than any of the others: Learn Hebrew because you are Jewish. However. to enjoy speaking with Israelis. men of spirit and men of action all these built their visions not only with the physical but also with the spiritual building blocks of the Hebrew language.xiii All Hebrew is relatively the same. This is because the holy language flows in the veins of those that draw their inspiration from the soul of the nation. “But isn’t biblical Hebrew very different than modern Hebrew?” The fear of having to learn two Hebrew languages. Poets and mystics. Aside from any side benefits. there are many powerful reasons to learn Hebrew: to have a nicer vacation in Israel. anything that is truly worthwhile requires effort. there is no Hebrew translation in existence of Maimonides’s Code of Law since all Hebrew speakers can easily open up and understand it! All in all. Likewise. sages and prophets. is a dread that weighs heavily on the minds of those standing at the beginning of the long path to Hebrew proficiency. However. from Bar Kohba to Moshe Dayan. Veritable proof of this is that no synagogue in Israel has translations of the Torah unless they have a large number of foreign speakers. Hatzlacha Raba! (lit. to be able to read and understand the Haggadda in Hebrew or to improve one's ability to learn the classic sources of Judaism.commentary. "Much Success") . one biblical and one modern." However. All great leaders of the Jewish nation throughout history knew Hebrew from Moses to Maimonides. Hebrew is the national language of the Jewish people. it’s your language! "All beginnings are difficult. you should learn it because you are part of that nation. the fact is that if you can understand the Torah then you can understand Modern Hebrew. philosophers and halakhicists.

org/wiki/Saadia_Gaon xi Jeff A. the language of Bukharian Jews. Like most Jewish languages uses Hebrew characters. p.1 and 4. Arabric.israelnationalnews.doc v Rama Ev.com/hasen/spages/942009. telefon (German and Swedish) .16.129. there is a significant amount of actually shared history which continued for the majority of the Jewish people up until some time around 700 CE.jsp?artid=217&letter=K#653 x en.wikipedia. Resp. and psychological make-up manifested in a community of culture. however.haaretz.229. Rabbi Berel Wein. territory. coming first. iii Another Jewish language is Bukhori. Henkin in the additions at the end of part 1. vi http://www. telephone.A. Iggrot Moshe Ev.tora. " . Jews of non-European origin learn Rashi and Abarbanel.html vii http://www. teléfono (Spanish). http://en.jewishencyclopedia.simpletoremember.aspx/96801 viii http://www. http://www. Learn Biblical Hebrew xii Evidence that the Torah is as it was received: http://www.il/shiurim/shvat/Hebrew1. also: http://www. a mix of Persian. and Uzbek.H. economic life. Jews of European origin learn Maimonides and Nachmanides despite the fact that Jews moved to Europe before either of these two great luminaries.3. It can actually be heard today weekly on an Israel radio station Kol Israel.g. And see also in the writings of Rav Y. the following three criteria can be argued to be consequences of a nation living its national life in its land.org/wiki/Nation#cite_note-0) Admittedly Stalin includes more than three. Benner. ii The Jewish people do not have an entirely shared history. stable community of language.co.org/wiki/Bukhori_language iv Rav Ari Shvat.H. Also.Stalin Y''S (http://en. Aside from these intellectual and even emotional connections forged with Jewish figures in the process of learning about their works and life.aspx/138491 ix Herald of Destiny. It is only when all these characteristics are present that we have a nation.com/News/News.wikipedia. but these three are the most essential in this definition.. The Mitvah of Speaking Hebrew.i "A nation is a historically evolved.wikipedia. we do have a connection to each other's history. Téléphone (French).com/articles/a/torahaccuracy/ xiii with the exception of modern words which have entered most languages today in a similar fashion (e.com/view.israelnationalnews.35.com/News/Flash. Hebrew.