Can One Buy In A Bnei Brak Store That Has A Sign In English And Not Hebrew?

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1As the culture of the international community has changed over the last decade, more and more store signs include a company logo or brand name in English while in the past the entire sign would be in Hebrew. For many the subtle change is benign while for others, it represents an unwanted cultural change impacting Israel.

Recently, a question was posed to HaGaon HaRav Yitzchok Zilberstein Shlita, rav of the Ramat Elchanan community of Bnei Brak as well as a member of the Degel Hatorah Moetzas Gedolei Yisrael. The question addressed shopping on Rabbi Akiva Street in the Bnei Brak, with the person explaining he noticed a growing number of signs on the street are in English. The rav explained from his perspective, the English signs have a “טעם לפגם”, pointing out there are almost no residents from abroad in the city, and using English for signs sends a message, that the store with English writing is inferior to those with only Hebrew signs.

The rav was asked according to a Kikar Shabbos report that if the store with a Hebrew sign is slightly more expensive, should one add the extra money or purchase in the store with an English sign?

The rav is quoted saying “ווי העמודים וחשוקיהם”, stating one should avoid the stores changing the language from loshon HaKodesh even if in the second store things are a bit more expensive, one should trying shopping in the second store (without the English). The rav says that buying in the second store is not enough, but one should send a letter to the store explaining he wishes to buy by him but does not since he removed the Hebrew from the sign and replaced it with English.

The rav explains his position, explaining when Bnei Yisrael was redeemed in the merit of not changing their language, and the Mishna Brura adds places where the seder of tefilla are changed from Hebrew to the language of the ‘amim’, and one avreira leads to another as the bracha of kibbutz galious was omitted as well as the bracha ולירושלים עירך. He adds “as they wish to remove Yerushalayim from our memories, they wish to remove loshon HaKodesh as the language of Am Yisrael…”

“וכשם שרוצים להשכיח זכרון ירושלים, כן רוצים להשכיח לשון הקודש מישראל פן יגאלו בזכות שלא שינו את לשונם”.

The rav continues, explaining this ‘taam lifgam’ stems from the belief if the sign contains English, it will make the store appear on a higher level but the truth is that not only is this not the case, it shouts the owner of the store is inferior and wants to simulate the way of the nations but we have the writing of HKBH.

מנחיתות ומקטנות המוחין שחושבים שאם יכתבו אותיות לועזיות זה יראה כאילו זו חנות יוקרתית, אבל האמת שלא רק שאין זו חנות יוקרתית אלא שהשלט זועק שהבעלים של החנות הוא אדם נחיתי ורוצה להדמות לחוקות העמים, ולנו יש את הכתב של הקב”ה.

The rav says it a ‘mitzvah gedola’ to bring an end to the this unwanted trend and to avoid buying in such stores toward bringing a total end to the trend and the return to all of the signs in Hebrew.

The rav concludes;

“צריך גם לעשות מחאה מועילה על התופעה המבזה שבעלי חנויות חושבים שאם יכתבו באותיות לועזיות זה יראה כחנות יוקרתית ואנשים יבואו לקנות שם”, ולכן לשלוח את המכתב כפי שהשיב לעיל.

There must also be protest against those who lead this trend, store owners who believe if they write in English it will give the appearance of being a higher-end store and therefore one should also send a letter as I explained above.

(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)




12 COMMENTS

  1. Aha – now I understand why that solicitation from Kupat Ha’ir that I just got was in Hebrew only!

    Chaval that they can’t accept my money and check that are written in English. Oh well…. Gonna have to find another way to get some of those Segulos they promise.

    There’re some funny commentors on this board and I’m looking forward to the posts!

  2. i think what needs next to be done is to outlaw meshulachim who come to chutz laaretz from Eretz Yisroel from accepting any currency other than israeli shekels which has only “lashon hakodesh” language on it. we have to ask Trump to instruct the Treasury to make a special printing of israeli shekel for the primary use of have donations available for these meshulachim. my above “plan” will last for exactly 5 seconds. and the following time honored expression will once again ring true”:
    “KESEF YA’ANEH AL HAKOL”!

  3. the problem is that the Israelis think America is great and anything that is American has to be better and therefore we find so many stores with their names in English.

    Even worse are the stupid Israeli seculars who ape the American lack of morality as the new morals.

    I think it is time for us to bring back Jewish Pride, to be proud to be a Jew, to be proud to keep the Torah, to be proud to live a life as HaShem has directed and not as America does.

  4. Interesting how all you got on them is money! The heilige Mishne Brura is quoted saying the reason for this psak, which is actually quite simple to understand. Small things like changing from lushon hakodesh leads to big things like intermarriage c”v! And Dr. I’m not looking to some self hating yid, post any “hilarious” jokes.

  5. Purim has come early this year. We have to simply stop supporting these crazies financially. That is the the only language they understand. Next time a meshulach comes tell him “I am sorry but I cannot support you because I am from an inferior speaking group”

  6. Before making letsanus of one of the gedolim of our generation – a gadol that probably every single one of you enjoys his numerous beautiful sefarim and shiurim, just read again and try to understand his point!
    First of all he is clearly talking about rechov Rebi Akiva in Bne Brak, not a street that many americans do their shopping in.
    First understand, Bne Brak is a very closed community that make every effort to keep foreign influences out, that’s one of the main things they stand for, if you dont like it then nobody is telling you to live there, but the ppl that chose to live there want to be closed up, and it only takes a bit of broad mindedness to understand the advantages of such a system (dont just think about your hashkafa of wanting to be open etc etc, every hashkafa has its points and this is the one adopted by the gedolim in Israel).
    So basically these store owners that only write (mispelt etc) ‘Inglish’ only to be cool and bring in ‘foreign influences’ are against what the whole city stands for!

  7. SORRY I buy a lot in Bnei Brak but don’t speak Hebrew. I have 30 grandchildren in Israel that if they can’t write in English I will bring gifts from chultz la Eretz. I respect all legitmate Rabbain which Rav Ziberstein is certainly one; however when he made such a statement it holds him of to ridicule and that boths me to no end because all his other rulings are spot on

  8. To No. 9:

    You say that, “I respect all legitmate Rabbain which Rav Ziberstein is certainly one; however when he made such a statement [about signs in English] it holds him of to ridicule”…

    Perhaps he is being ridiculed by you and others is that the logic of his statement is not made clear by the article. Is he saying that we should boycott all the stores in EY, BP, Willy, Monsey and Lakewood with signs in lashon ha “unkodesh” (aka Yiddish)??? I think not. If there is any rationality to his statements it must be read in the context of the overall objective of insularity in BB. While I personally think its stupid in modern and multi-cultural society such as EY to take such parochial positions, the Rav position makes sense in his very narrow framework and should not be ridiculed.

  9. #3: “the problem is that the Israelis think America is great” Now they think, imagine when Trump becomes president and America really “is made great again” the whole Bnei Brak will have signs in English! Seriously, it’s not lashon kodesh it’s ivrit for Heaven sakes and the whole thing is a marketing thing, the whole world likes to make signs in English. And #10 it’s a bizayon to call Yiddish “unkodosh”. No one in their right mind would call it lashon kodesh but it has a kedusha of being a Yiddeshe shprach for hundreds of years and millions of ehrlicher Yidden have spoken it and learned Torah in it including great tzadikim such as the Baal Shem Tov, Gra, Chasam Sofer etc..

  10. Two questions:
    1. Is R’ Zilberstein equating Ivrit with Lashon HaKodesh?
    2. Are the signs only in English, or are they bilingual? If the latter, isn’t it likely that the merchants aren’t trying to be cool, they are simply trying to attract customers who are more comfortable in English, just as American stores will put up a sign saying “Se Habla Espanol” to attract Spanish speakers?