“Why do Jews pray in Hebrew? Is it because God doesn’t understand English?!”
NO! The language of the Jewish People is Hebrew, because language is the way that every group transmits its culture to the next generation. And the Hebrew language contains Jewish values and beliefs that teach and sustain.
Do Jews “fall in love”? No, we believe that we ‘rise in love’ and so we use the word ‘lehitahev’, which reflects mutuality and relationship.
And we know that the past and the future are connected, so the word for ‘before’, ‘kedem’, and ‘forward’, ‘kadima’, come from the same root. And these are just two examples of many.
Falling in love’ in Hebrew
Jews do not pray in Hebrew because God does not understand English. Jews pray in Hebrew because Jews always did important things in the language of their culture. Hebrew is vital to the Jewish people because the language is the way in which culture transfers itself from generation to generation. We Zionists lie when we say we took a dead language and turned it into a living language. It isn’t true. We took a living language and turned it into a spoken language . Every rabbinical Responsa throughout the generations was written in Hebrew. Hebrew as a conveyer of central concepts of Jewish life has always been essential to our lives. Jews of the world must talk to each other in the language which is deeply tied to our Jewish memory and recognizes that our relationship is that of a mishpacha. Lastly, if we are going to understand our Hebrew language not only as a means of communicating, but as a way in which each generation communicates itself to the next, I have great faith in the future of the Jewish people.
Questions to think about
What is the challenge of Hebrew as the Jewish language today?
What are the implications of using non-Hebrew languages to communicate with our Jewish lives?
To what extent does Hebrew affect your Jewish identity?