It is said that Hebrew –the “Lashon Kodesh” is the ultimate and source of world languages, not merely because it was through the power of speech that God is said to have created the world, but that there is no word in any other language that is not alluded to in some derivation from the holy tongue. Remember the story of the Tower of Babel? I did not make that up and I cannot prove it myself, but this is what I have read. I recently read an example of it from this week’s Parasha.
Parashat Naso contains the oldest known and most beloved of blessings, the blessing bestowed upon the People of Israel daily through the Kohanim (the religious leadership of Temple times), still daily in Israel and on major holy days around the world by those whose tradition traces their roots to the Kohanim.
This was a commandment to the Kohanim and before a mitzvah is performed, it is our tradition to recite a “brachah” –a blessing. Before conveying God’s blessing, the Kohanim would themselves recite “…asher kideshanu b’kedushato shel Aharon, v’tzivanu l’varech et amo Yisrael b’Ahavah” […who has sanctified us with the sanctity of Aaron and commanded us to bless His nation Israel, with love].
The Torah itself does not include the obligation that the blessing be conveyed with love—or does it?
The Torah says “…amor lahem” (literally “say to them). Bamidbar/Numbers 6:23.
This is said to imply the obligation of love. For instance, how does one say “love” in French? Amour. How does one say “love” in Italian? Amore. In Spanish? Amor.
A coincidence? I think not.
In learning of this example I was surprised at the number of scholars who have pointed out the many, many words in many languages that have their origins in Hebrew.
God may be teaching us an even broader lesson if we think of the relationship between the Hebrew word with the root “Amar” meaning “Say” and the word of the Romance languages “Amour” meaning love.
If we are obligated to “…love your neighbor as yourself,” then when you speak to your fellow, should you not speak in a loving way? Do we not wish to be spoken to kindly, respectfully…lovingly?
What a blessing that would be if we all spoke to each other with love.
Our Shabbat Torah Study this Shabbat is led by Adat Shalom’s Director of Education, Dr. Melissa Ser. 9:45 a.m. in the Shiffman Chapel. Come as you are. Stay as long as you like.