Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Back in print — Lashon HaKodesh: History, Holiness, & Hebrew

Rabbi Reuven Chaim Klein holding up a copy of his book Lashon HaKodesh: History, Holiness, & Hebrew (Mosaica Press). Image credit: Public domain.

Back in 2014, I published my first book Lashon HaKodesh: History, Holiness, & Hebrew (Mosaica Press), which goes through the history of Hebrew Language and other Jewish Languages. Since then, the book has been reprinted multiple times and keeps selling out. But now, I'm proud to announce that we've just released the third edition of my book and it is once again back in stock.

Over the years, various journalists and bloggers have read my book and published their reviews. For example, Rabbi Gil Student at the Jewish Action writes:

In an exhilarating journey through history, Rabbi Reuven Chaim Klein describes the progression from Adam (the first Hebrew speaker) to the Chazon Ish (who offered legitimacy to yeshivot that teach in Modern Hebrew), from the Tower of Babel’s linguistic destruction to Eliezer Ben-Yehudah’s linguistic victory. This masterful work weaves together midrash, Medieval philosophy, modern rabbinic commentary and a light touch of academia to create a traditionalist history of Hebrew.

With his feet firmly planted in rabbinic thought, Rabbi Klein fleshes out a theory of a holy language, corrupted at times by outside influence, replaced at times by other languages like Aramaic and Greek, and finally transformed into Modern Hebrew that has only been reluctantly adopted by religious Jews.Rabbi Klein sees history through a rabbinic lens but does not resort to harmonizing different views in order to present a single approach. What language did Adam speak? Rabbi Klein places six different opinions before the reader, covering a remarkably broad base of rabbinic texts. This book is a readable encyclopedia of rabbinic views on the Hebrew language and much more!

Ben Rothke, over at the Times of Israel wrote:

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 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”…

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.

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.

Alan Gerber, known as the Kosher Bookworm, writes about my book in the Jewish Star:

The author of “Lashon Hakodesh: History, Holiness, & Hebrew” (Mosaica Press, 2015), is Rabbi Reuven Chaim Klein, a native of Valley Village, California... In this work dealing with the origins and theological base of the Hebrew language, we learn many little known aspects of a language that has served as the base of our religious faith and a source of linguistic traditions going back to the very beginning of human history....

Rabbi Yair Hoffman at Yeshiva World News writes about the book:

There is an author out there whose combined erudition in Torah research as well as secular research is quite formidable. This is readily apparent in the revised edition of Lashon HaKodesh: History, Holiness and Hebrew... The book is true to our Mesorah, yet it finds a way to include the archaeological evidence behind various theories too. - I have no doubt that anyone who reads this remarkable work will be be thoroughly taken with it. This author looks forward to further works by Rabbi Klein.

Mr. Garnel Ironheart writes:

Rabbi Reuven Chaim Klein, in his new book on the development of the Hebrew language, finds himself having to maintain a delicate balance.  The purpose of the book is to take a serious look at the origins, development and current state of Hebrew as well as its influence on other languages through the ages.  The balance comes between presenting the opinion of Torah sources on the subject and those of academics... Overall I recommend this as a good read and one that will deepen the reader's appreciation of what Lashon Hakodesh truly is."

You can purchase your copy of Lashon HaKodesh: History, Holiness, & Hebrew from your local Jewish bookstore, from, from, or directly from me.

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