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Changed meaning of Lashon haKodesh words in Modern Hebrew

Question

Shalom Rav! I read your article online how modern Hebrew is Lashon Kodesh. I agree and Im actually doing some research now and it seems that there are actually 2000 - 3000 added words to Hebrew after the Torah. So in the mishna there are loanwords and chazal after that also added words. My question is there are some who claim that Ivrit kind of distorted Lashon kodesh. I was reading a new book released by Rabbi Klein, who gives several examples. What would your response be?

Answer

Shalom- and Kol haKavod for your idealism and efforts! I imagine that you saw my brief English response on Yeshiva Beit El website, but if you're really interested, I authored an entire book on the topic, להרים את הדגל, but it obviously is in Hebrew! If you do read Hebrew, you can already find online 4 much more extensive articles of mine on the topic. In continuation of what you wrote, the Rambam also added many words which he himself "conjuncted" in his Mishneh Torah, so obviously there's no problem. In addition, it's important to know that the saintly Rav Kook zt"l helped Ben-Yehuda a lot, whenever he was stuck for finding a word in Hebrew (BY chose to live about an 80 second (!) walk from Beit HaRav, and even on the last day of his life, we have testimony that he went to confer with the Rav). Not all of Ben-Yehuda's words have Rav Kook's haskama, but many of them were even initiated by the Rav zt"l. Regarding R. Klein's question: 1. In every spoken and living language changes in the usage occur, and we inevitably find that even in the Tanach and Chazal, e.g. etz changed from tree to wood, as did the roots chl"t, nk"f etc. There's obviously no problem for the latter versions in Chazal are still considered Lashon HaKodesh, and if we want to speak Lashon HaKodesh, this is inevitable. 2. The Otzar Yisrael which R. Klein himself mentions (in the photocopy you sent) cites Ahad HaAm that obviously, one cannot use a half-language, where many ideas can't be expressed. Life today is significantly different than in the Tanachic times, just as Mishnaic times were different, and accordingly, one who wants to speak Lashon HaKodesh must answer those needs. There are very few experts in each generation that can successfully fill this void, so we have no choice but to use the usages which those specialists have suggested, unless we offer a better alternative, and even then, it won't solve the problem that we won't understand each other! This ideal of achdut Yisrael, speaking our national language and understanding eachother is not just a technicality, but an ideal for anyone who loves the Jewish people and wants the gathering of the exiles. Like always, anyone can suggest making improvements, but if they are not accepted, he "shouldn't fight the windmills", and should go with the Chosen Nation. 3. Chazal express in many places that the customs of Israel are holy, and "Kol hamon k'kol Sha-dai"- that what the masses of Am Yisrael decide, is an expression of the voice of HaShem (who watches over and guides us), so if certain words are accepted, at least b'dieved, it's the will of G-d (until otherwise changed). 4.All would agree that even if certain words are misused, it's still better to speak 97% Lashon HaKoshesh, than to speak Yiddish (maybe 20% Lashon haKodesh- and there even more (because Yiddish is among the most flexible languages!), some of those Lashon Hakodesh words are also very misused, e.g. cheshbon), or English (maybe 1% Lashon HaKodesh)! 5. And if still a person is such a specialized linguist and perfectionist, who refuses to "misuse" words, he is surely invited to correct those individual words, and we all wish him all the success! In short, if anyone prefers to "break their teeth" to speak exactly Biblical Hebrew, he is invited to try, but as we've seen, Chazal felt that there's no reason to do so, and the mitzvah to speak Hebrew (Sifre, Dvarim 11, 19; Vayikra Rabba 32; Igrot Moshe Ev.H. iii, 35), applies to modern Hebrew as well. With Love of Israel, Rav Ari Shvat (Chwat)

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