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Loving Hebrew: 7th Annual Conference on Hol Hamoed Pesach

An unusual conference on the levels of meaning and fine points of the Hebrew language to be held on Pesach in Jerusalem.
By Arutz Sheva Staff
First Publish: 3/24/2013, 9:28 AM

ancient Hebrew document
ancient Hebrew document
Flash 90

One of the definitions of a nation is its common language. Hebrew, the language of the Jewish people, came back to use in everyday life as the return to Zion became a reality, after centuries of being kept alive mainly in learning Jewish texts and writing about them.

Hebrew seems like a language like any other, at least on the surface. It has an alphabet, vocabulary, grammatical rules and syntax. But it turns out that the ordinary attributes of a language just scratch the surface of the deeper levels of meaning that the language of the Torah contains -- and there is much to learn even if one is fluent in the language and familiar with its rules.

Sound interesting?

A group of Hebrew-language lovers decided to make that knowledge available to all, an idea that so many agreed with that proof of the concept's popularity is the 7th annual Conference of Devotees of the Hebrew Language. The conference is to be held Wednesday, the first day of Hol HaMoed, 16th of Nisan, at the Ohel Moshe Synagogue, Ma'alot Dushinsky 9, Sanhedria HaMurhevet, Jerusalem, right after 1:30 P.M. afternoon services, and will end at 18:00. Admission is free and the women's section of the synagogue will be open as well.

Over the years, the conference has attracted men and women of diverse cultural and religious backgrounds, including rabbis, Torah scholars and academics, and many Hebrew speakers who want to learn some of the fascinating fine points of the Hebrew language, called the "holy tongue" by Jewish sages.

The common denominator drawing the crowd is a love of the Torah, especially its myriad linguistic and grammatical aspects. Hebrew grammar is more than a matriculation exam subject and is not just for language buffs. Deeper knowledge of the Hebrew language contributes to the understanding the Torah, Talmud, and prayers.

Language may have practical halakhic significance as well and one of the lecturers at the conference will deal with the word "khazeret", listed as "a bitter herb" in the Talmudic tractate Pesakhim, which is not to be identified with the "khazeret" found in a present-day Israeli grocery and called "chrein" in Yiddish.

Speaking of Yiddish, Rav Ya'akov Loyfer will deal with the influence of the Yiddish language on Hebrew, while Dr. Yitzhak Schlesinger will focus on the proper pronunciation of the prayers.

"Precision in one's language is not just a technical matter" conference planner Uriel Frank told Arutz Sheva. "The manner in which one speaks may express fundamental moral values – in contrast to the dialogue in the political arena which is often degraded by the choice of words and style." He added that during the current period of tension/turmoil in Israeli society, it is especially important for all sectors of the populations to sit together as brothers in an atmosphere of mutual respect, to learn from each other and to listen to each other

More details on the conference may be found on the on the website "Ma'ane Lashon"at http://maanelashon.blogspot.co.il . Voluntary RSVP to Uriel by calling 0527-203297 or by emailing maanelashon@gmail.com.