A Collection of Book Reviews
In Lashon HaKodesh: History, Holiness & Hebrew (Mosaica Press ISBN-10: 1937887367545), author Rabbi Reuven Chaim Klein takes a historical and linguistic look at Lashon Hakodesh and its derived languages. The title conveys the message that Lashon Hakodesh and Hebrew are two different languages. In fact, the author dedicates a chapter showing that Modern Hebrew, while connected to Lashon Hakodesh, is clearly not identical to the elemental Lashon Hakodesh language.
The book is a fascinating and engaging reference to the topic. For the traditional reader who wants to know the origins of the Divine language they are using for sacred purposes, the book will likely answer most of their questions. For the reader who simply wants to know the history and development of ancient Hebrew and Aramaic, the book will also be extremely rewarding.
I can't wait to explore this more. I have to hand it to Rabbi Reuven Chaim Klein for the intense and through footnotes and diversity of sources he has to offer on this topic (and others throughout the book, of course). My brain sparks are flying off in dozens of directions with every page turn.
…In his recent book “ Lashon Hakodesh : History, Holiness and Hebrew” (Mosaica Press 2014) Rabbi Reuven Chaim Klein affords Lashon Hakodesh the attention it deserves. Of particular importance is Rabbi Klein’s use of the academic method to provide an impressive survey of rabbinical commentary throughout the ages. The book addresses some basic and important questions concerning the language. Did Adam speak Lashon Hakodesh? What about our forefather Abraham? Did the letters of Lashon Hakodesh appear the same way throughout the centuries? How did the rabbis resolve Talmudic sources referring to the Ashuri script (which we use today) as the original with sources which indicate that the Ivri script (found in many archaeology sites and depicted on the State of Israel’s one shekel coin) came first?
The book also addresses the question of what distinguishes Lashon Hakodesh from other languages. Rabbi Klein cites prominent sources concerning the essential rather than arbitrary nature of the language as discussed above. He similarly provides a synopsis of the main interpretations as to why the language is called “holy”… (Click here to read the full article. Rabbi Baron adds many more interesting and fun facts about Lashon HaKodesh and language in general.)
Rabbi Reuven Klein’s Lashon Hakodesh is an outstanding work that traces the history of the Hebrew language, and by extension, the many languages that Jews have used over the centuries. In addition to Hebrew, much attention is given to Aramaic, including discussions on the many prayers that are recited in Aramaic. The book is replete with reference to the entire body of Torah literature, such as Tanach, Talmud, rishonim, achronim, midrashim, along with halachic material where relevant. History, archaeology, and other sciences also make an appearance where relevant.
Rabbi Klein has done an admirable job of presenting the multi-faceted history of the Hebrew language within Jewish tradition and culture. The discussion of any of the topics in Klein’s book is comprehensive and filled with a copious amount of sources from traditional Jewish literature ranging from the Talmud and Midrash, traditional parshanut (interpretation), halakhic and responsa literature, and works of Jewish thought and philosophy. All throughout the book Klein also brings modern scholarship about Hebrew, referring to the research of such scholars as Gilad Zuckerman and Gary Rendsberg.Batya Medad of me-ander writes:
Rabbi Klein has put together an amazingly deep, well-researched book about Hebrew.
A book of this nature, in English, is long overdue for the traditional Orthodox reader. I hope it inspires more interest in the history of the Hebrew language.
Lashon Hakodesh: History, Holiness & Hebrew by Rabbi Reuven Chaim Klein is one of the most exciting and intellectually stimulating books I and the other reviewers at Frumjewishbooks.com have read in a long time. Everyone here insisted on having a chance to read it... Rabbi Klein takes what seems like a mundane topic – the Hebrew language – and in this ground-breaking work, blasts it open with questions that leave the reader reeling Why didn’t I ever ask that? ...Rabbi Klein takes a systematic, academic approach in the presentation of his material, with careful documentation of sources, while remaining firmly grounded in Torah sources. The writing style is clear and accessible. As an added bonus, the book is clearly laid out, with a beautiful cover, which makes the experience of studying it a really joyful experience.