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Jewish Thinking

The Hebrew Language: A Supreme Meaning

Published on Tuesday May 4th, 2021

The Hebrew language is extremely significant in Judaism. Through this language, we recite blessings, prayers, and learn the Torah. In the Ten Commandments there is even a prohibition on pronouncing G-d's Name in vain, and reciting a Bracha in vain (known as a "Bracha Levatala") is considered a serious sin. Amulets are also proof of the importance of the Hebrew language. What is an amulet? It is an association of letters that create a new reality.

We can deduce from this that Hebrew is not a language like any other. It has a special power, and most importantly, the world was created through this language! We asked Rav Zamir Cohen, whose work Hatsofen, is devoted to the secret of Hebrew letters, about the origins of Hebrew, and why Judaism holds that it is older than other languages.

"The Torah teaches us that all mankind spoke one language, until the famous sin of the Tower of Bavel," says Rav Zamir Cohen. During this revolt, men exploited this union in a negative way, hence the intervention of the Holy One, who mixed up the unique language they spoke."

But How Do We Know that It Was Hebrew?

"Apart from what we know from Jewish tradition, especially Kabbalah, evidence can be found in the names of men from earlier generation until the generation of the Tower of Bavel: Adam was thus named because he came from the earth (Adama); Cain comes from: "I gave birth to (Kaniti) a man jointly with Hashem", Noach came from: "May he relieve us (Yenachemu) from our task", etc. These are all Hebrew terms. The original Hebrew language remained only with Ever, son of Shalach, a descendant of Noach, who was a Tzaddik and did not participate in the construction of the Tower of Bavel, and he transferred it to Avraham Avinu, one of his descendants. Avraham Avinu was the sole source of the original language."

Beyond that, How Do You Explain the Special Meaning of Hebrew?

"The Kabbalistic Sages have maintained that clarifications and concrete spiritual forces were concealed by G-d in the Hebrew letters, and through these letters, He actually created the world. It can be compared in a certain way to chemical formulas; in this case, the association of different components creates a certain reality, and the association and strength of the Hebrew letters create the situation that the word expresses. In the Sefer Yetzirah, attributed to Avraham Avinu, it is written: "He engraved, carved, weighed and transcended twenty-two letters, he associated the letters and inserted all the essences of life created and He created at the same time. Thus, through various associations, the Creator drew the details of creation - every detail from the associations of letters that make it up."

What About Other Languages? Do They Originate from Hebrew, or Are They Totally Disconnected?

"The Hebrew language is the source and root of all the languages ​​of the world. When one tries to discover the links and the resemblance between words of different languages, one discovers extraordinary things. For example, the term "Samuraim", a Japanese term, is very similar to the Hebrew term "Shomrim" ("guardians"). The term "alternative" looks like "Alter Nativ", namely: "look for a way". "Alter" comes from the term "Latur", "search". Similarly, the term "Cat" is linked to the Hebrew source.

The origin of the word leads us to ancient Latin, where the cat is named: Katolus. In English, the word has been shortened to "Cat", and we do not discern the Hebrew root. We can find traces of Hebrew in other languages: cat in French, Katz in German, etc. Other terms where the resemblance has remained as in Erets: earth, Lev: love, Mara: mirror, Semel: symbol, Ayin: eye, Atik: antique; Kushia: question; Nafal: fall; Irgun: organization; Raav: raving."

Rav Cohen also points out that the order of the letters is interestingly parallel to English letters. Another interesting point is that a number of original Hebrew terms have been drastically interwoven with their original meaning. For example, we all know that the term "Chashmal" (electricity) is related to a widespread physical phenomenon, but the original term was basically a spiritual concept from the world of Kabbalah. "Nashaf" refers to a dance party, but in the past, this term was synonymous with "night". "Laftan" is a dessert, but its original meaning was that of the main dish that was eaten with bread.

There are even cases where the difference comes from a reversal of meaning, as in the expression "Assmachta - written proof", which is today considered a very reliable proof, whereas originally the word meant a thin proof on which we could not rely.

The Torah-Box Team - © Torah-Box Account

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