As 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)