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Lech Lecha |  11 Cheshvan 5776  |  October 24th, 2015  |  Issue 622

Mazal tov to David Baras (Melbourne 2010-11) on his engagement
Mazal Tov to Oren Sheffer (Memphis 2004-5) on his marriage 

 

   Rabbi Ilan Goldman


Educational Director at Mibereshit

Speak the Language of the Hebrew Man 
 
 
Rabbi Yehuda HaLevi, in his masterpiece The Kuzari, discusses the Hebrew language, ‘Ivrit’. The Midrash explains that Avraham was given the name ‘Ivri’ (a Hebrew) because the entire world was on one ‘eiver’ (side) and Avraham on the other. The Kuzari, however, offers an alternative explanation.

Our nation is named Am Yisrael, or Bnei Yisrael, after our patriarch Yaacov (Yisrael). Examples for this are endless, the first being at the beginning of Chumash Shemot, when we first became a nation: "He (Pharaoh) said to his people, 'Behold, the people of the children of Israel are more numerous and stronger than we are'". (1:9)

Another name is used to refer to us: ‘Jews’, relating to the kingdom of Judea at the time of the first Beit HaMikdash (from which most of us descend). The first "Jew" was Mordechai: "איש יהודי", "There was a Jewish man in Shushan the capital, whose name was Mordechai" (Ester 2:5).

Finally, we are also named ‘Hebrews’. The first Hebrew was Avraham: "And the fugitive came and he told Abram the Hebrew" (Bereshit 14:13).

Whilst two of these three names are historic, connecting us to a common patriarch or kingdom, according to The Kuzari, the title ‘Hebrews’ (‘Ivrim’) links us to a language.

In most cases one may assume that the language is named after the nation, be it English, Chinese, Arabic or any other language. However, Hebrew, according to The Kuzari, is the exception. Why would a nation be named after its language?

Furthermore, a language is supposedly merely a means to an end; it is a method of communication agreed upon between people to enable everyday contact. Yet, we find that both the Midrash and Halacha state that it is a Mitzvah to teach the Hebrew language to our children.

The world was created in Ivrit. Hashem spoke to Adam in Ivrit, and Adam spoke it. Hebrew was used by the entire world for the first twenty generations of humanity. It was only when the united language of Ivrit was misused and abused to allow the building of Migdal Bavel, that Hashem used language to disperse and confuse the builders of the tower. For once the builders lost the ability to communicate – they were no longer able to build the Tower of Babylon.

 Avraham was soon after to represent the original language of the universe, and was to be named after it. The language itself was named after the one who maintained it at the time when languages were confused – his ancestor Eiver. The Kuzari believes that different tongues have more in common than one might think, because they are all derived from one original language and all of humanity is descended from the same father.

After 2,000 years of exile, Ivrit remains the richest and noblest of languages; this can be demonstrated simply by opening any book of Tanach. The richness of the language is apparent in every book of the Tanach; in the exclusive language of the different prophets, in the psalms of King David, and in the wisdom of King Solomon.

Yet there is more to Ivrit than simply its beauty: Ivrit is the language of prophecy and the receptacle of Kedusha. When one learns or speaks Ivrit he is elevating himself.
 
The Midrash teaches us that just as the Torah can elevate us so too can the language of the Torah. When speaking a language a person is connecting to the essence of that language. For example, if a person were to learn Chinese and yet never go to China and never meet a Chinese person, they would nevertheless be connecting to the essence of the culture of the Chinese. Therefore when people speak Hebrew, they are connecting to the highest form of speech. As Hebrew is the language in which the world was created, Hebrew is the language of prophecy.

It is taught that one of the reasons why our ancestors merited the redemption from Egypt was because they preserved their language. How close are we to that today? Perhaps the time has come for us to prioritise the acquisition and use of our very own national tongue.
Around The World
Torah MiTzion Washington had a Rosh Chodesh event at Melvin J. Berman Hebrew Academy
The Kollel in St. Louis held a learning night in solidatrity with recent attacks in Israel
 Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan Parent and Teen learning night in Montreal
 Uruguay celebrated 25 years of the Yavneh community by flying in past Roshei Kollel 
ISRAtag

     Arik Speaker                                   In cooperation with:


'Lilmod' Coordinator and Head of  European Desk in Torah MiTzion

Many generations of Jews, archaeologists and bible lovers have been trying to locate the place where Jacob dreamed about the famous ladder reaching to heaven.
 
The first to recognize Beit El, a city of central importance in the Bible, was Robinson in 1838. He relied on geographic data and the Arab tradition of preserving Hebrew names, and identified it with Beitin village, about 20 kilometres north of Jerusalem.
 
About 100 years later (in 1927) a delegation of archaeologists headed by Prof. William Albright came to the village and started excavations which continued intermittently until 1960, during which they discovered a large Canaanite city, Luz.
 
Albright was looking for the site of Jacob's dream around the city of Beit-El, and identified it at a ruin, about half a kilometer south of the village Beitin - Burj Beitin. On the site the remains of an ancient church were found, presumably built on the site where Jacob slept and dreamed his dream.
 
However, during a tour with Beit El settlers in 1980 Professor Zeev Vilnai z"l identified it elsewhere - at the Maqam of Sheikh Abdullah, atop Mount Pisgat Yaakov (Artis). This was last week's picture. 
 
This location has a few advatages over the Burj Beitin theory. An interesting one is the fact that this site is the heightest mountain in the area, which would be ideal for Jacob to see the land that God promised to give to his descendants. Another important discovery that strengthened that theory is the fact that it precisely there that Jeroboam, the first king of the Kingdom of Israel after its separation from the kingdom of Judah, built the so-called alternative temple for the Temple in Jerusalem.
 
 

Yasher Koach to 

Gil Ben Yashar
 
for providing the
correct answer

                                                                        Where was this photo taken?

Please send answers to -
 arik@torahmitzion.org


The answer, further information
about this location as well as the
  name of the  first person to recognize this site will be published in next week‘s edition. 

 

 

Torah MiTzion was established in 1995 with the goal of strengthening Jewish communities around the globe and infusing them with the love for Torah,
the Jewish People and the State of Israel. 

Over the past twenty years Torah MiTzion's shlichim have inspired
and enriched their host communities through a wide range of
high impact formal and informal

educational programs. 

 
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