Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Lashon HaKodesh: History, Holiness, & Hebrew (Collection of Book Reviews)

Lashon HaKodesh: History, Holiness, & Hebrew (Mosaica Press)
By Rabbi Reuven Chaim Klein

A Collection of Book Reviews

As you might know, I recently published my first book Lashon HaKodesh: History, Holiness, & Hebrew (Mosaica Press, 2014), which is now in its second edition. Several bloggers and journalists have already read my book and have posted positive reviews.
For example, Ben Rothke, over at the Times of Israel and the Jewish Link of New Jersey writes:
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.
Chaviva Gordon-Bennett, also known as the Kvetching Editor, writes:
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.
Rabbi Doniel Baron (from offers a favorable review of my book Lashon HaKodesh: History, Holiness, & Hebrew (Mosaica Press, 2014). Rabbi Baron writes in his essay entitled "Biblical Hebrew: A Story of Survival":
…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.)
The greatly esteemed Rabbi Ari Enkin, veteran blogger and book reviewer, writes in his blog Torah Book Reviews:
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, rishonimachronimmidrashim, along with halachic material where relevant. History, archaeology, and other sciences also make an appearance where relevant. 
Dr. Michael Pitkowsky from HUC writes on his blog Menachem Mendel:
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.
And, of course, we hear from the expert in Hebrew himself, David Curwin, the Balashon, who writes:
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.
The Jewish Diary (Diario Judio), the most popular Jewish website in Spanish, has recently published a review of my book Lashon HaKodesh: History, Holiness, & Hebrew (Mosaica Press). This glowing review, written by Daniel Ajzen, compares and contrasts my book with that of Professor Bernard Spolsky, who wrote on the same subject, ultimately recommending my book for its striking truthfulness. An English translation of this book review is available through Google Translate. You can purchase the book through them or on
The Frum Jewish Books blog also has a nice review about my book. They write:
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 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.

My alma mater, Emek Hebrew Academy, posted a nice interview with yours truly about my schooling experience there and about my book. Speaking of Los Angeles, for your reading pleasure, I have also embedded below a book review written by Ruth Judah about my book Lashon HaKodesh: History, Holiness, & Hebrew (Mosaica Press). It was published in the Feb. 26, 2015 edition of the newspaper Jewish Home LA. It is also available on and on Jewish Home LA's website.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

NEW BOOK- Lashon HaKodesh: History, Holiness, & Hebrew (Mosaica Press, 2014)

Lashon HaKodesh: History, Holiness, & Hebrew (Mosaica Press, 2014)
I am proud to announce the publication of my first book "Lashon HaKodesh: History, Holiness, & Hebrew" (Mosaica Press, 2014).
Hardcover: 289 pages
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1937887367
ISBN-13: 978-1937887360

Throughout Jewish literature, the Hebrew language is referred to as Lashon HaKodesh. Its history, origins, decline, and rebirth are simply fascinating. Furthermore, at its deepest level, Lashon HaKodesh is called such (“the Holy Language”) because it is intrinsically sacred – and is thus unlike any other language known to Man.

Lashon HaKodesh: History, Holiness, & Hebrew seeks to understand the holiness of Lashon HaKodesh, follows its history, and focuses on the significance of Aramaic and other ‘Jewish languages’ such as Yiddish and Ladino. An extended section is devoted to Modern Hebrew, its controversies, and its implications from a religious perspective. This unique work delves into the linguistic history of each ‘Jewish language’, as well as the philological, Kabbalistic, and Halachic approaches to this topic taken by various Rabbinic figures through the ages. The author also compares and contrasts traditional Jewish views to those of modern-day academia, offering proofs and difficulties to both approaches.

As the old saying goes, “Two Jews, three opinions.” In almost every chapter, more than one way of looking at the matter at hand is presented. In some cases, the differing opinions can be harmonized, but ultimately many matters remain subject to dispute. Hopefully, the mere knowledge of these sources will whet the reader’s intellectual curiosity to learn more.
Written by a brilliant young scholar, Lashon HaKodesh: History, Holiness, & Hebrew is ground-breaking, intriguing, and remarkable.

This book is available for purchase in Jewish bookstores in America and Israel and online at the following websites:

...has done a great service to us in his work on the Hebrew language, its origins, and inherent holiness. It is the only language of the ancient past that has survived, revived itself, and is in use by millions of people in today's world. This relatively short work is full of information, tradition, and insights. The history of Hebrew is a microcosm of the history of the story of the Jewish people itself. It is a work to be studied, appreciated, and read by all those who truly wish to understand Torah, holiness, and Jewish survival. --Rabbi Berel Wein (Jewish Destiny Foundation, founder)

...provides a very thorough and intriguing account of the language that secular scholars and laypeople generally call Hebrew as it is presented by Rabbinic scholars in the vast Jewish religious literature from the Talmud up to the present day... a major resource for all who wish to understand traditional Jewish scholarly approaches to Jewish linguistics. --Dr. Bernard Spolsky (Bar Ilan University, professor emeritus)

...I commend the author on this enlightening presentation and recommend this work to all those who want to enrich their understanding of the importance and implications of our holy language... --Rabbi Zev Leff (Moshav Matityahu, Rabbi and Rosh Yeshiva)

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

The Wives of Esau

This paper discusses various Medieval approaches to reconciling the apparent contradiction in the names of Esau's wives as given in the book of Genesis. It explores the merits and disadvantages of each approach and concludes with a succinct summary.

This paper was printed as R.C. Klein, "The Wives of Esau", Jewish Bible Quarterly, Vol. 42:4 (Jerusalem, Jewish Bible Association, 2014).

Keywords: Esau, wives, Oholibaham, Basemah, Bible, contradiction, Talmud, Radak, Rashi, Sefer HaYashar, Rashbam, Ibn Ezra, Midrash, bastard, polygamy, Zibeon, Josephus

This article is also available at several other locations:
Jewish Bible Quarterly Online Archive

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Articles in Kovetz Hamaor

(שער בלאט לקובץ המאור גליון תצ"ד (סיון-תמוז תשע"ד

I have recently had the chance to upload facsimiles of some of my recent articles printed in the rabbinic bi-monthly journal, Kovetz Hamaor  and I would like to share the links to these articles with my readers. They are all written in Rabbinic Hebrew.

Here we go:

    The English cover page of the Rabbinical bimonthly journal Hamaor Issue 459 (June-July 2014)

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