Twelve Reasons to Learn Hebrew

  1. Your cerebral cortex, the thinking part of your brain, hasn’t done sit-ups since the days you left college behind. Seriously. It’s time.

  2. If you are a Bible reader — Jewish, Christian, or other — there is no more authentic way to explore its depths than in the original language.

  3. If you participate in Jewish prayers and rituals, studying the Hebrew of the Bible will help you understand where the words came from and what they mean.

  4. Studying the Hebrew of the Bible also teaches you the basics of Modern Hebrew, which becomes much easier to learn for people who have mastered grammar and who know how verbs work.

  5. Your language skills in general will come alive as you learn Hebrew, since much of your thinking about words and sentences was formed intuitively. Like most people you could use some remedial grammar to open up your mind as a reader of English.

  6. If you learn Hebrew, a curious thing will happen. You will read the Hebrew Bible more. And you will do so in a more intellectually satisfying fashion, gaining the ability to engage in intelligent discussion.

  7. There is a unique way of conveying ideas in the Hebrew Bible, a distinctive view of the human condition, the mystery of God, and the sublime things in nature.


  8. You will better be able to participate in the cycle of weekly readings that is foundational to Judaism. Many have found that the parashot (weekly Torah readings) mirror issues in their own lives.

  9. Learning Hebrew forces you to slow down, taking in one word or phrase at a time. This leads to thinking about the relationships between words and phrases — something called close reading. In a world of hurried sound bites and attention deficit disorder, your brain longs for a slow soaking in the beauty of ideas.

  10. There is a certain authority that comes with knowing the original language of the phrases and key words of the Bible. People can misuse this authority, it is true. But close reading is certainly preferable to shallow formulations of belief. Said “shallow formulations” are all too common when religious people quote a Bible verse to justify unexamined dogmas.

  11. There is no Judaism, really, apart from Hebrew. The language of prayer and Torah is the heart of Jewish life. It unites Jews from all countries. Practicing Judaism in virtual ignorance of Hebrew is like wearing sunglasses when gazing at the stars.

  12. Finally, you’re getting somewhat tired of the shows on Netflix and you need something meaningful to do with your time. You know I’m right.

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