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    We claim that Hebrew is the most ancient language and the original language as Rashi states lashon hakodesh was spoken by all before migdal bavel.

    All the hebrew writings on artifacts and such are not the letters that we recognize as hebrew today. Why did the letters change and is Paleo Hebrew the origin or Hebrew as we know it?

    Also we look at letters such as aleph and claim it’s 2 yuds and a vav and so on with many letters. How did this originate if none of the artifacts have hebrew letters as we know then today?


    That’s a head scratcher… Not really. Just like dinosaur bones, Paleo-Hebrew artifacts were buried to confuse the nonbelievers.

    Avi K

    This is a discussion in the Gemara and Rishonim. You can read it in the Wikishiva. Google כתב עברי (עתיק).


    1. Define a language. By one way of defining things, Lashon Kodesh is a dead language, and Ivrit is a modern derivative (similar to the relationship of Latin to French, or modern American English to Middle English).

    2. Fonts constantly change. Note the history of “Rashi” font (once used for popular literature, now only for serious sefarim). The writing system is independent of the language (e.g English uses the Roman alphabet, Yiddish uses the Hebrew alphabet, Farsi uses the Arabic alphabet, most ancient Mesopotamian Semitic languages used the Sumerian script).


    The Hebrew writing that you find strange is ksav Ashuris (in English. “Syriac”) and was the alphabet in which Hebrew was written until Galus Bavel. After the return and binyan Bais Sheini the Aramaic alphabet (ksav Aramis) was adopted and is the Hebrew alphabet with which we are familiar today.
    N.B. Sifrei Torah are NOT written in ksav Ashuris! The alphabet characters in Sifrei Torah are simply a different font of ksav Aramis.


    Nice to see you redleg.


    Nice to be seen, Mod 29. thank you.

    anonymous Jew

    The language didn’t change, just the alphabet. Noone really knows why the change was made. Some of Bar Kochba’s minted coins have Paleo-Hebrew on them. I sometimes wonder when I hear a crush based upon the Aramaic letters in the Torah since that’s that how the Torah was written for centuries . How do we know that sifrei Torah had been written in Paleo-Hebrew ? The Sanaritans, who copied everything we did when the Assyrians brought them in, still write their sifrei torah in Paleo-Hebrew.


    If the language/letters changed, on what basis do we claim that we as a people are the same and unchanged as the Jewish Nation from the beginning?

    Because if we are different than the “original” why do we claim that all those empires are gone and we are still here? On this basis italians can still claim to be from the Roman empire, Iranians from Persian Empire and so on. Our empire is gone as well. Only as a people we are still here.

    The fact that the language/writing has changed kind of throws a wrench in the whole machinery of things.

    Shimon Nodel

    Rightwriter, the only wrench thrown is the wrench in your question. (No offense intended.)

    Of course, the Italians and Persians are a continuation of the genetic lines of Rome and Persia, but they are completely different today culturally and are entirely different nations in every aspect. We are a continuation of the Jewish nation of then, as we are currently. Lack of sovereignty doesn’t mitigate the status of a cohesive nation or people. Though we are international and broadly diverse, we maintain our identity and distinctive existence as uniquely Am Yisrael.

    As far as Languages go, they constantly change even within individual nations. Just look at the 2500 year linguistic histories of Germany and Britain. Our language evolved too, just like others. Notice how the words in Navi are different than Toras Moshe and evolve even from sefer to sefer.

    Lashon Kodesh is indeed the original language, though it may have already evolved into many dialects by the time we stood at har Sinai.


    The Torah and Navi are still similar enough in language. And even if Navi is a bit different or more modern tongue, it’s still no comparison to having totally unrecognizable letters of the alphabet. Even if you compare the paleo hebrew letters to modern letters, many letters are just totally unrecognizable.

    I understand that letters can change or be refined over time, but we claim that we are unchanged. So how do we know we are the same people as in early years? What makes us different than the italians, iranians, egyptians and so on to claim that they are a different nation but we are still the same?

    Also if you look at what the oldest languages are, hebrew is not one of them. There are indian and Chinese and arabic languages which are claimed to be oldest and unchanged. Again they probably aren’t going by Torah but we can’t really claim that our language or alphabet hasn’t changed.

    Instead of just claiming that we are the same as always, what is the proof that we have not changed. On what basis do we go by, if even our language evolved
    I understand that language can evolve, but why would it evolve and so change so drastically in a nation who keeps tradition and does not move an inch to avoid straying away and getting lost. In such a nation, the question is WHY would it change. If this is the language/letters that the Torah was written in, who would want to change that? If this was the original text!
    And again nolne answers how we look at letters as combinations of other letter such as alef being 2 yuds and a vav etc. When the earlier letters seem to be totally different or even having symbols such as an eye for the letter ayin.

    So who changed these letters and why would they if this was the original writings?

    On that note how do we know what language was used for everything written in the Torah? We have perushim in which they focus on every specific letter as being significant and having meaning. But how do we know they even spoke in this written language let alone spoke in the Hebrew which we know and use today!

    And if the pesukim in Torah were not spoken in our language, what significance does each word or letter have that’s like taking a translation and giving the translated words significance saying they were specifically used in order to convey a different meaning. You can only say that when looking at the original text. I mean did pharaoh speak Hebrew whether it was ancient hebrew or modern? Why are his words so significant in the way the pesukim are written if most likely he spoke some dialect of ancient Egyptian or arabic?


    @rightwriter I believe your questions are valid, however I don’t think this isn’t the right forum for them. One can ask questions, do research and evaluate evidence no matter where it leads you in the end – that’s called scientific method, or one can have a predetermined answer and explain away the questions in order to fit it – that’s called faith. You can have rationality or you can have faith, but you can’t have both.


    ” , but we claim that we are unchanged.”

    Who claims that?

    So much has changed We don’t have a Beis hamikdash a king, not too mention countless modern inventions like printing presses, cars etc. Why are all those changes “ok” but changing the script, THAT is where you draw the line?

    “What makes us different than the italians, iranians, egyptians and so on ”

    That we keep the Torah.

    ” what is the proof that we have not changed”
    We have!

    I’m not dismissing your questions.
    Just pointing out that your angst over the sudden realization that not everything we do/practice etc is EXACTLY the same is a bit misplaced


    The sources and discussions on this issue are there for those that want to find them. I vaguely remembered the Gemara and found the following just by googling:
    Start with the Gemara in Sanhedrin 21b – 22a – a three way machloket about which was the original script and how/why it was changed.
    The Rishonim also discuss it on the spot. There is discussion of the issue in Sefer Ikarim (maamar 3), Meshech Chochma (in devarim 31:9), Maharal (tifferet yisrael), Torah Temima (devarim 17, nt 92) as well.


    It is surprising that there is a discussion on YWN about whether Lashon Hakodesh is the language that the Aibishter created the world with and whether He conveyed his Divine instructions through every letter and crown in the Torah.

    All the questions asked above have answers, but if the questions are just excuses to criticize than they do not deserve answers. The questions should not be asked on YWN but to your LOR.

    Shimon Nodel

    The answers aren’t pre determined to prop up our mesorah. It seems you are suggesting that the Torah is secondary to your assumptions of fact. Chalilah! It seems you are strangely misguided. Please set your logic straight for your sake!
    תורה צוה לנו משה מורשה קהילת יעקב
    אחזנוה ולא נעזבנה

    There is no such thing as faith in Judaism. We have only knowledge and testimony. Faith is for the foolish Christians. Faith is for feeble minded idiots. One must know Hashem, not have faith. וידעת היום, אתה הראית לדעת

    Emunah is mistranslated as faith. Emunah is trusting that Hashem knows best even when things seem dark and hopeless. That is not faith. That is like knowing that the pilot will land safely. Or that the architect will execute his blueprint. We know Hashem, we do not merely believe.

    In reply to rightwriter, of course we have changed. Nations are constantly changing. We are the same nation and people as always because of how we identified as a nation from the very beginning. Each nation has a way of self determination. The Roman’s, Egyptians, Persians are all gone because they are currently nothing like they were before especially in regards to their respective expressions of national identity.

    Am Yisrael continues it’s expression and core cultural aspects of yore ad hayom hazeh. See Rashi on the pasuk עמים הר יקראו


    “The questions should not be asked on YWN but to your LOR.”

    “Ask your LOR” is the appropriate response to a halachic question involving multiple opinions or customs or is fact specific. It’s not the appropriate answer to a question like this. OP might indeed learn more by discussing this with a LOR than by online discussion (depending on who the rabbi is) but many people are uncomfortable asking questions like this to their LOR, if they even have one. And many LORs lack the knowledge or inclination to discuss the subject seriously. I don’t know if CR is the best forum to have a thoughtful exchange on this kind of subject, but if you can get past inevitable knee jerk reactions to anything that challenges what you were told in cheder, there are some intelligent and knowledgeable posters here as can be seen from some of the responses.

    Reb Eliezer

    You might want to look at the Yerushalmi Megilla Halacha 9.

    Reb Eliezer

    We also find it in Bavli Sanhedrin (21,1).

    Reb Eliezer

    כי פי המדבר עליכם – בלשון הקודש the writings I don’t know, referenced the gemoras speaking about it but the language is holy as the Ramban says there are no dirty words in it. Akuperma it is despicable to say Loshan Hakadash is dead as it is too holy to be used.


    RE: I think you mean Rambam.

    Ramban on כי פי המדבר עליכם says.

    כי איננה ראיה שידבר אדם אחד במצרים בלשון הקדש כי על דעתי הוא שפת כנען כי אברהם לא הביאו מאור כשדים ומחרן כי ארמית היא והגל הזה עד ואיננו לשון לאיש אחד לבד אבל הוא לשון כנען ורבים במצרים יודעים אותו כי קרוב הוא

    The Ramban elsewhere says:

    וכן הטעם אצלי במה שרבותינו קוראין לשון התורה ”לשון הקודש”, שהוא מפני שדברי התורה והנבואות וכל דברי קדושה כולם בלשון ההוא נאמרו והנה הוא הלשון שהקב”ה יתעלה שמו מדבר בו עם נביאיו ועם עדתו אנכי ולא יהיה לך ושאר דברות התורה והנבואה, ובו נקרא בשמותיו הקדושים אל, אלהים, צבאות, ושדי, ויו”ד ה”א, והשם הגדול המיוחד, ובו ברא עולמו (ב”ר יח ו), וקרא שמות שמים וארץ וכל אשר בם, ומלאכיו וכל צבאיו לכולם בשם יקרא מיכאל וגבריאל בלשון ההוא, ובו קרא שמות לקדושים אשר בארץ אברהם יצחק ויעקב ושלמה וזולתם:

    והרב אמר במורה הנבוכים (ג ח) אל תחשוב שנקרא לשוננו לשון הקדש לגאותינו או לטעותינו, אבל הוא בדין, כי זה הלשון קדוש לא ימצאו בו שמות לאבר הבעילה בזכר או בנקבה, ולא לטפה ולשתן ולצואה רק בכנוי

    I’d post translations, but I don’t know if it’s copyrighted. You can find translations on – Bereshis 45:12 and Shemos 30:13.

    Reb Eliezer

    se2015, thank you for quoting the Rambam.

    Reb Eliezer

    תורת משה בראשית פרק מה
    כי פי המדבר אליכם. פירש”י כי פי המדבר בלשון הקודש, נראה כי סגולת לשון הקודש שלא יתקיים באדם שאינו משמר עצמו בקדושה, שפלא גדול הוא בגלות בבל בזמן שבעים שנה נשתכח לשון הקודש והי’ העם חציים מדבר כשדית ואשדודי’ יען כי לא שמרו עצמם בקדושה, ולזה נתן להם יוסף אות על דרכו הטוב במה שלשון הקודש מורגל ושגור בפיו.

    The words of the Chasam Sofer in Torahs Moshe:
    The speaking of Lashon Hakadash has a benefit that it only stays if one conducts oneself with sanctity because it is a great wonder how in the duration of seventy years lashon hakadash was forgotten and other languages spoken because they did not keep themselves holy, so Yosef gave them a proof on his proper behavior that his constant speaking language was lashon hakadash.
    And we can add the fact that he was circumcised.


    @Shimon Nodel To be sure, I would never impugn anyone’s faith, trust, testament, emunah (whatever word you want to use, the essence is the same). I was merely pointing out the difference between a faith-based and scientific method of inquiry. Without getting too much into the epistemological thickets, let’s take a famous and neutral example. In the Classical world it was assumed that all swans are white. So what is one to do when confronted with a black swan (yes, they do in fact exist)? A follower of the scientific method will have to admit that the fundamental postulate (all swans are white) is no longer tenable and will discard it thus shifting the paradigm. However, someone who believes in the infallibility of the fundamental postulate (whether through faith or testimony, etc.) will have to explain away the black swan, e.g. the postulate is metaphorical, admits an exception, the black swan is not really black, etc., etc.. It is similar to your example of trusting the pilot will land the plane safely–it only takes one plane crash to demolish this supposition (problem of induction). All of this is to say that scientific method and religion are fundamentally incompatible and cannot be reconciled without making a category mistake–never twain shall meet. To someone with emunah it should never matter that science claims that the earth is 4.5 billion years old, or that Paleo-Hebrew looks suspiciously similar to the much older Phoenician or Proto-Canaanite, or whether there are textual inconsistencies or scribal errors in ancient texts. This category mistake is why the word ‘talmudic’ acquired the pejorative connotation in the secular world–the function of Talmud is not to overturn the testament that is assumed to be infallible but to reconcile it with any fact that is contrary to it.

    Reb Eliezer

    To your example the Malbim in Parashas Noach explains that the mabul created a chemical change thereby make it look that the earth is older than it really is.



    Even framed that way, it leaves plenty of room to discuss what exactly qualifies as a fundamental postulate where faith based thinking takes over. Is the statement that lashon hakodesh, or the formation of its letters, is ancient and original, a fundamental postulate, or is it more like a white swan?

    Ramban quoted above states that lashon hakodesh is Canaanite (or that people of Canaan spoke lashon hakodesh). It had nothing to do with its similarities to Phoenician, so it wasn’t a concession based on scientific evidence. Ramban emphasizes that the kedushah derives from the fact that it is the language the Torah was given in.

    Shimon Nodel

    NonImpeditiRationeCogitationis, I wanted to reply earlier but didn’t have the time.

    The way you understand our mesorah is in fact the exact opposite of what we believe. Literally, a 180 degree angle. You were clearly given terrible chinuch. Perhaps this year’s seder is an opportunity for you to relearn everything you thought you knew about Yahadus.
    You think that there is Torah, and then there is emes. You think there are truths we deliberately ignore in order to prop up our religion which has already been shown to be fake due to certain contrary evidence. So we choose the fake Torah over emes. Nu, that’s pretty much what you said.

    What you don’t know (yet) is that emes is above everything, and yes even above Torah because emes is unbreakable. (Torah is unbreakable because it is emes, but you don’t know that yet, no spoilers.)
    Lu yitzur – theoretically, if something or someone came along that really does prove the Torah wrong, there is no question we would all throw away our tefillin and disavow yahadus and disregard it forever. Because emes comes first. We don’t ignore emes, we don’t break truth in order to prop up yiddishkeit.

    The big spoiler is we already know 100% without any doubt whatsoever that משה אמת ותורתו אמת, that everything Hashem told our forebears is everlasting and infallible.
    We also know that Hashem promised us that there will never be anything or anyone to change or dispel our testament. So when we do hear or see something that initially seems to show that the Torah made a mistake chalilah, it doesn’t take much more than a half of a brain to realize that patience is due and a solution I’d forthcoming. Sometimes we are able to see a clear answer relatively soon, other times it can be difficult to understand. But we know that ברי ושמא ברי עדיף. And the dvar Hashem is ברי, we already know the truth. So it doesn’t bother us if a שמא comes along because at the end of the day it won’t even be a שמא anymore.
    Some people who didn’t receive a proper chinuch but merely got yahadus served in a tuna can and shoved down their throat will be extra concerned about these supposed new facts come to light. Those people never saw any light.

    Take this Pesach as an opportunity to forget everything you got wrong about the universe.

    Reb Eliezer

    Leosid Lavo we pasken like the Beis Shamai, why when the majority does not agree? However, currently there are views we don’t understand, like Rebbi Eliezer, Rebbi Meir. Leosid lavo we come to a new understanding and we will understand the stringencies of the Beis Shamai, so the majority will accept their view.


    Dear ShimonNodel, thank you for illustrating my point so beautifully and eloquently! I couldn’t have said better myself. Have a wonderful Pesach!

    Reb Eliezer

    Look at the Sefer Hachinuch in his hakdama saying that six hundred thousand people would not pass over, inherit false principles to their children but what they saw with their own eyes. We just found a new meaning for Passover, tradition. This also explains why we start Pirkei Avos on Passover as the Torah was passed over to forty gernerations.

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