Transcript: Menachem Brinker on The Miracle of the Revival of Hebrew | Jun 18, 2005

Menachem Brinker stands in a classroom in front of green chalkboards and addresses an unseen audience.
He's in his fifties, with wavy white hair and a moustache. He's wearing a gray tweed suit over a blue shirt.

He says IT IS VERY
DIFFICULT TO SPEAK 40 MINUTES
ON THE MIRACLE WITH QUOTATION
MARKS, THE QUOTATION MARKS WERE
MISTAKENLY TAKEN FROM THE
ANNOUNCEMENT.
BUT WHAT I MEANT TO TRY IN 40
MINUTES TO DEMIRACLIZE, IN
GERMAN YOU CAN CREATE SUCH VERBS.
TO SOME EXTENT ALSO IN HEBREW,
THAT IS TO, TO ADMIT THE
UNIQUENESS OF THE PHENOMENON OF
THE REVIVAL OF HEBREW.
BUT ALSO TO OFFER...

A caption appears on screen. It reads "Menachem Brinker. University of Chicago. The miracle of the revival of Hebrew. University of Toronto. March 21, 2005."

Menachem continues SOME
RATIONAL EXPLANATION AND
RATIONAL DESCRIPTION OF THE
PROCESS.
AND MAINLY TO COMBAT SOME
DEEPLY ENTRENCHED IDEAS...
WHICH ARE MORE OR LESS WRONG ABOUT THE
WAY THE REVIVAL OF HEBREW TOOK PLACE.
LET ME START WITH THE
DESCRIPTION USUALLY GIVEN TO HEBREW.
HEBREW WAS REGARDED USUALLY, IS
REGARDED USUALLY BY PEOPLE AS A
LANGUAGE THAT WAS DEAD FOR
2,000 YEARS.
AND WAS REVIVED SUDDENLY,
MAINLY BY THE WORK OF ONE
PERSON, ONE GREAT SCHOLAR, EZRA
BEN HERUDA.
AND THIS REVIVAL WAS SUPPORTED
BY ZIONISM AND BY THE POLITICAL
ASPIRATIONS OF ZIONISM.
NOTHING IN THIS GENERAL PICTURE
IS PRECISE OR EVEN CORRECT.
FIRST HEBREW WAS NEVER BANNED,
EVEN WHEN IT WAS NOT SPOKEN BY
THE JEWISH MASSES FOR 1,400
YEARS OR 1,500 YEARS.
IT DIDN'T TAKE 2,000 YEARS.
THIS IS A ZIONIST SLOGAN THAT
ENTERED ALSO THE ANTHEM OF
ISRAEL, 2,000 YEARS OF
DIASPORA.
BUT IT IS NOT PRECISE, 2,000
YEARS OF DIASPORA.
AND IT IS NOT PRECISE 2,000
YEARS OF THE DEATH OF HEBREW AS
A SPOKEN LANGUAGE.
HEBREW WAS SPOKEN UP TO THE
FIFTH CENTURY IN THE LAND OF
ISRAEL OR PALESTINE BY TENS OF
THOUSANDS.
AND IN THE THIRD CENTURY
PERHAPS STILL BY HUNDREDS OF
THOUSANDS OF JEWS.
GRADUALLY IT STOPPED BEING
SPOKEN IN THE FOURTH AND FIFTH
CENTURY AND INSTEAD THE EVER
GROWING SMALL YOU CAN SAY.
SO, THE EVER SMALLER COMMUNITY
THAT REMAINED, JEWISH COMMUNITY
THAT REMAINED IN ISRAEL TURNED
TO SPEAK ARAMAIC, SYRIAN AND
ARAMAIC, SOMETIMES MINGLED WITH
HEBREW.
SO WE DON'T KNOW EXACTLY WHEN
IT WAS, WHEN IT CEASED TO BE
SPOKEN BY THE MASSES, BUT IT
WOULD BE SOMEWHERE AROUND THE
FIFTH CENTURY.
THE SAME IS TRUE ALSO ABOUT THE
FULL EXILE OF THE JEWS FROM THE
LAND OF ISRAEL, THOUGH THIS IS
NOT MY TOPIC TODAY.
BUT IN THE SECOND CENTURY AND
IN THE THIRD CENTURY THERE WERE
MANY THOUSANDS OF JEWS LIVING
IN THE LAND OF ISRAEL.
AND THE, THE JEWISH COMMUNITY
IN THE LAND OF ISRAEL STOPPED
EXISTING ONLY AFTER THE MUSLIM
INVASION IN THE SEVENTH
CENTURY.
AND THEN IT RENEWED ITSELF FROM
THE 12TH CENTURY ON AND THERE
WAS ALWAYS A PRESENCE OF THE
COMMUNITY.
WHAT RELATES TO THE HEBREW IT
WAS STILL SPOKEN BUT MAINLY BY
AN ELITIST GROUP AND ON SPECIAL
OCCASIONS, NOT ALL OF THEM,
SACRED OCCASIONS, RITUALISTIC
OCCASIONS, THAT HAS TO DO WITH
THE SYNAGOGUE.
IT WAS SPOKEN BY PEOPLE IN
PRAYER.
IT WAS SPOKEN BY PEOPLE THAT
STUDIED THE TORAH OR THE MISHNA
AND THERE WAS NOT A SINGLE YEAR
IN THIS 1,500 YEARS WHEN IT WAS
NOT SPOKEN, AT WHICH NOTHING
WAS WRITTEN IN HEBREW.
AND NOT ONLY SACRED TEXTS, NOT
ONLY THE SPONSOR OF RABBIS OR
INTERPRETATIONS, EXEGETICAL
INTERPRETATIONS OF THE BIBLE,
BUT ALSO SECULAR WRITINGS.
SPEECHES FOR MARRIAGE, FOR BAR-
MITZVAH, LETTERS, COMPETITIONS
TO SHOW YOUR MASTERY IN HEBREW,
RIDDLES, POEMS, ANECDOTES, ROMANCES.
IT IS TRUE.
THESE HEBREW TEXTS, ESPECIALLY
THE PROFANE TEXTS WERE
UNDERSTOOD ONLY BY A SMALL ELITE.
BUT THEY WERE CONTINUOUSLY CREATED.
THERE WAS NOT A SINGLE YEAR,
AT, AT WHICH SOMETHING WAS NOT
WRITTEN IN HEBREW.
THOUGH FOR 15 CENTURIES IT
STOPPED TO BE A SPOKEN
LANGUAGE.
THE COMPARISON TO LATIN IS
COMING TO MIND, YET IT IS A BIT
MISLEADING.
FIRST, BECAUSE ALL MALES KNEW
SOMETHING OF HEBREW, BY THE
PRAYER BOOK AND BY THEIR STUDY.
AND THEY ALWAYS AS FAR AS WE
CAN SEE, ALWAYS HAD ALSO HAD
MADE PUNS AND JOKES ABOUT THEIR
KNOWLEDGE OF HEBREW, LIKED TO
DEMONSTRATE IT, AND BROUGHT IT
FROM THE SYNAGOGUE, IN THE...

[Speaks Hebrew]

He continues THE HOUSE
OF LEARNING TO THE MARKETS AND
ON SPECIAL OCCASIONS TO LARGE
PARTIES, ESPECIALLY IN
CELEBRATION.
AND THIS WAS NOT THE CASE WITH
LATIN.
AND THEN ALSO THE CONTINUATION
OF TEXTS AND NOT AS I SAID,
TEXTS THAT HAD TO DO WITH THE
RELIGIOUS LAW, WITH THEIR...

[Speaks Hebrew]

He continues BUT ALSO
PROFANE TEXTS, AND EVEN TEXTS
OF BUSINESS.
WE NOW HAVE LOTS OF
DOCUMENTATION TO SHOW THAT
MERCHANTS, JEWISH MERCHANTS IN
ENGLAND AND LATER IN FRANCE,
WHEN THEY WANTED TO DO SOME
BUSINESS AND WERE DEALING WITH
OTHER JEWISH MERCHANTS IN OTHER
COUNTRIES AND DIDN'T WANT THE
PEOPLE, THE GENTILE COMMUNITY
TO - THEIR -- WROTE IN HEBREW.
AND FOR LARGE PERIODS OF TIME,
UNDERWORLDS IN SEVERAL CAPITALS
OF EUROPE, ESPECIALLY BERLIN IN
THE 18TH CENTURY, 19TH CENTURY.
BUT ALSO IN OTHER CAPITALS,
AMSTERDAM, USED HEBREW TO HIDE
THEIR, THE MEANING OF WHAT THEY
WERE EXPRESSING OR WRITING.
AND YET DESPITE ALL THIS IT IS
TRUE THAT HEBREW WAS NOT A
SPOKEN LANGUAGE AND EVEN AS A
WRITTEN LANGUAGE AND AS A READ
LANGUAGE WAS KNOWN ONLY TO A FEW.
BECAUSE OF THIS, THE LANGUAGE
HAD MANY LIMITATIONS EVEN AS A
WRITTEN OR READ LANGUAGE.
MANY REALITIES THAT SURROUND
PEOPLE'S LIVES DIDN'T HAVE
WORDS, THERE WERE NO WORDS FOR
THEM IN HEBREW.
AND EVEN THOSE THAT INSISTED ON
WRITING HEBREW ON THE SPECIAL
OCCASIONS IN, WHICH THEY WISHED
TO USE HEBREW RATHER THEN
ANOTHER LANGUAGE, HAD TO
MINGLE.
IN THE LANGUAGE WORDS, ASTURIAN
WORDS, THEY HAD SPANISH WORDS
OR FRENCH WORDS OR GERMAN
WORDS, AS IS VERY WELL, KNOWN
TO SCHOLARS AND I SEE SOME OF
THEM HERE THAT READ RUSSIAN,
THE GREAT INTERPRETER OF THE
BIBLE OF THE TALMUD.
THAT FOR MANY TIMES, OF
VEGETABLES, OR ANIMALS OR
TOOLS, KITCHEN TOOLS OR OTHER
ELEMENTS OF HOUSEHOLD YOU
COULDN'T FIND A HEBREW WORD IN
THE SOURCES AND HAD TO USE A
WORD FROM ANOTHER LANGUAGE IN
HEBREW LETTERS.
AND IT IS TRUE THAT THE EFFORT
TO CHANGE THAT AND TO MODERNIZE
HEBREW AND TO TURN IT INTO A
LANGUAGE, IN WHICH EVERYTHING
THAT IS EXPRESSED IN THE
VERNACULAR OR PEER LANGUAGES
CAN BE EXPRESSED ALSO IN
HEBREW, THIS TOOK PLACE ONLY IN
THE 19TH CENTURY.
NOW HERE WE TO COME TO A
SECOND, DEEP ENTRENCHED IDEA,
BUT NOT PRECISE ONE.
THE MODERNIZATION OF HEBREW IN
THE SECOND AND THE THIRD THIRDS
OF THE 19TH CENTURY PROCEEDED.
THE NATIONALIST IDEOLOGY
WHETHER ZIONISM OR COMMUNISM OR
JEWISH SOCIALISM AND IT HAD NO
CONNECTION TO IT, JUST THE
OPPOSITE.
HEBREW WAS MODERNIZED WITH THE
IDEOLOGY THAT THE MODERNIZATION
OF HEBREW AS A WRITTEN LANGUAGE
WILL ENABLE THE JEWS TO
INTEGRATE IN THE SOCIETIES
AROUND THEM AND...
PROBABLY ALSO TO ASSIMILATE.
THE REVIVALS OF HEBREW, THE
FIRST REVIVALS OF HEBREW, THE
POETS AND THE NOVELISTS AND
ESSAYISTS OF THE HEBREW
ENLIGHTENMENT...
WHICH WAS PART OF A MORE, GENERAL JEWISH
MOVEMENT OF ENLIGHTENMENT, A
MORE GENERAL JEWISH MOVEMENT OF
ENLIGHTENMENT BECAUSE IT
EXPRESSED ITSELF ALSO IN GERMAN
AND THEN IN RUSSIAN AND IN
YIDDISH.
BUT THE HEBREW WRITERS, THE
HEBREW PARTS OF THE GENERAL
JEWISH MOVEMENT OF
ENLIGHTENMENT AT THE BEGINNING
WERE INSISTING ON SHOWING,
PROVING TO THE, TO THE NON-
JEWS, TO THE GENTILES, THAT
EVERYTHING THAT CAN BE
EXPRESSED IN GERMAN OR IN
RUSSIAN OR IN FRENCH, CAN BE
EXPRESSED ALSO IN HEBREW.
THEY WROTE IN LITERARY GENRES
THAT WERE ACCEPTED AT THE TIME
BY THE EUROPEAN GREAT
LITERATURES.
IN THE 18TH CENTURY, GERALD
MENDELSOHN IN THE BERLIN
ENLIGHTENMENT, THEY WROTE
FABLES, AND EPIGRAMS AND
DEDUCTIVE PHRASE, AND ODES.
AND SOME PASTORALS IMITATING
GERMAN AND SWISS POETS.
AND LATER IN RUSSIA THEY WROTE
ALSO LONG, AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL
POEMS, LONG, HISTORICAL POEMS.
AGAIN, PASTORAL, SOME SATIRICAL
WORKS, ODES, ALLEGORICAL PLAYS,
AND AT THE END, ALSO
PSYCHOLOGICAL AND SOCIAL
NOVELS.
ALL THIS EFFORT, WHICH WAS DONE
UNDER THE IDEOLOGY THAT THE
JEWS HAVE TO PROVE THAT THEY
ARE, THAT THEY CAN BE ACCEPTED
BY THE SOCIETIES AROUND THEM
SINCE THEIR LITERATURE IS AS
RICH, AS FLUENT AS ANY OTHER
EUROPEAN LITERATURE.
OF COURSE, THERE WAS HERE A
KIND OF DIALECTICS BY INTENDING
TO USE HEBREW AS A TRANSITIONAL
LANGUAGE FOR ENTERING EUROPE,
HEBREW BECAME MORE ENTRENCHED
AND HELPED LATER THE
NATIONALISM, THE NATIONALIST
MOVEMENT WHEN THE, WHEN THE
ASPIRATIONS OF THE RUSSIAN
ENLIGHTENMENT, THE RUSSIAN,
JEWISH ENLIGHTENMENT FELL DOWN
WITH THE POGROMS OF 81, 82 AND
LATER WITH THE POGROMS OF 1904,
THE HEBREW THAT WAS BY NOW
MODERNIZED TO THE POINT THAT
YOU COULD REALLY HAVE A
NEWSPAPER.
IN FACT THERE WAS A, A
NEWSPAPER CALLED HIAM, EDITED
BY A NON-ZIONIST -- CANTOR, AN
AUTONOMIST AND LATER A
SOCIALIST, AND DAVID RICHMOND
EDITED ALSO A NON-ZIONIST,
EDITED ITS LITERARY SUPPLEMENT
AND IT SOLD 60, 70,000 COPIES A
DAY, WHICH IS THE MOST
RESPECTABLE DAILY IN ISRAEL
TODAY WITH 7,000,000 READERS
TODAY SELLS.
THIS, THIS HEBREW EXPLOSION HAD
NOTHING TO DO WITH NATIONALIST
IDEOLOGY OR WITH ZIONISM.
JUST THE OPPOSITE, IT PREPARED
AN AUDIENCE FOR ZIONISM AND FOR
NATIONALISM.
BUT THE EXPLOSION OF HEBREW
CAME FROM THE FACT THAT TENS OF
THOUSANDS IN THE 60S AND 70S
AND HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS IN
THE 80S AND 90S OF JEWISH YOUTH
LEFT THEIR TRADITIONAL,
ORTHODOX ACADEMIES, THE
YESHIVAS, AND WERE EAGER TO
ACQUIRE EUROPEAN EDUCATION, AS
A SUBSTITUTE FOR THE ORTHODOX
EDUCATION OR AS COMPLIMENTARY
ELEMENT TO THEIR TRADITIONAL
EDUCATION.
IN RUSSIA AND EAST EUROPE
THERE, DEVELOPED A CULTURE THAT
TODAY IS SOME OF THE -- AUTHORS
OF EVEN IN ISRAEL LOOKS AT IT
AS THE MOST ORIGINAL JEWISH
CULTURE, BUT IT WAS SOMETHING
OF AN INNOVATION IN JEWISH
SOCIETY.
THAT IS A CURRICULUM OF STUDIES
BOTH IN GRAMMAR SCHOOL IN THE
HEDER, AND IN THE ACADEMY OR
HIGH SCHOOL, THE YESHIVA THAT
WERE CONSISTED ONLY OF STUDYING
THE RELIGIOUS LAW IN THE TORAH.
ITS INTERPRETATION IN THE
TALMUD, THEIR INTERPRETATIONS
OF THIS INTERPRETATION WITH
NOTHING ADDITION IN ADDITION TO THIS.
THE FIRST ENLIGHTENERS WERE RABBIS
THEMSELVES.
THE GREATEST FIGURE, THE ONE
THAT WHICH BEGUN STARTED THE
ENLIGHTENMENT MOVEMENT IN
RUSSIA OF YITZHAK BER LEVINSON
IN THE...
WROTE IN 1828 A KIND OF MANIFESTO TO...
ISRAEL, A VOCATION FOR ISRAEL
IN WHICH HE ASKED TO ADD TO THE
EDUCATION ALL DISCIPLINES AND
DOMAINS THAT ARE STUDIED
ELSEWHERE IN OTHER SCHOOLING
SYSTEMS.
TO ADD THE HISTORY OF THE JEWS,
WHICH WAS NOT THERE, THE
GRAMMAR OF HEBREW AND HEBREW,
WHICH WAS NEVER THEN AS A
SUBJECT.
THE RABBIS PREFERRED TO TEACH
IT, TRANSLATE IT INTO ENGLISH
AND ONLY THE, THE NECESSARY
HEBREW TO UNDERSTAND THE
ARAMAIC OF THE BABYLONIAN
TALMUD.
THE HISTORY OF THE JEWS,
PHILOSOPHY, HISTORY OF
HUMANITY, GEOGRAPHY, THE
LEARNING OF THE LANGUAGE OF THE
ENVIRONMENT, WHETHER RUSSIAN OR
GERMAN OR BOTH, ATHLETICS, SOME
TRAINING FOR THE BODY, ARTS AND
THE CULTURE.
AND THIS MANIFESTO STARTED THE
ENLIGHTENMENT MOVEMENT IN
RUSSIA, AND ITS FIRST YEAR WAS
ABOUT breaking THE CURRICULUM.
BREAKING THIS PARTICULARITY OF
THE 17TH AND 18TH CENTURY JEWISH
EDUCATION IN EAST EUROPE.
NOW, AS A RESULT OF THE
ENCLOSED NATURE CURRICULUM OF
THE TRADITIONAL ORTHODOX
ACADEMY, MANY, MANY, YOUTH
INCLUDING OBSERVANT YOUTH, YOUTH
THAT REALLY WISHED TO GO ON
OBSERVING THE JEWISH LAW, THE
RELIGIOUS JEWISH LAW, THE
HALACHA.
BUT THEY FELT THAT THEY NEED
ALSO TO GET ACQUAINTANCE OF
WHAT'S GOING ON IN EUROPE.
IT WAS TOO LATE FOR THEM TO
ACQUIRE A EUROPEAN LANGUAGE,
WHETHER RUSSIAN OR GERMAN.
ONLY THOSE THAT WERE CHILDREN
OF PEOPLE OF MEANS AND HAD
BRIGHTER TEACHERS LEARNED THE
LANGUAGE OF THEIR, THEIR
ENVIRONMENT.
MOST OF THOSE DISCIPLINES OF
THE HEDER AND THE YESHIVA, AND
AMONG THEM THE MOST CONSPICUOUS
WRITERS AND POETS, BIALIK,
BRENNER, PADECHEVSKY, WERE NOT
LUCKY ENOUGH TO HAVE PRIVATE
TEACHERS AND HAD TO START
LEARNING RUSSIAN OR GERMAN AND
USUALLY BOTH, ON THEIR OWN.
FOR THE TIME BEING THEY COULD
USE FOR ANY ACQUAINTANCE WITH
EUROPEAN CULTURE ONLY HEBREW,
THE LANGUAGE THAT THEY KNEW
FROM THEIR RELIGIOUS STUDIES.
AND THAT BROUGHT, AND THAT
CREATED A KIND OF EXPLOSION OF
HEBREW IN THE LAST PART OF THE
19TH CENTURY NEVER PRECEDENTED
BEFORE.
THERE WERE BOOKS FOR EXAMPLE,
THE HEBREW TRANSLATION OF...
THE HISTORY FOR JEWS, OR A
ROMANTIC NOVEL BY -- CALLED...
"THE LOVE OF ZION" DESCRIBING
LIFE IN, UNDER IN THE PERIOD OF
KING DAVID IN ZION IN ISRAEL.
AND SOME TRANSLATIONS...
TRANSLATED INTO HEBREW BY A
WRITER CALLED CARMEN SHULMAN.
ALL THOSE BOOKS HAD MORE THEN
100,000 COPIES.
NOW 100,000 COPIES IT'S ONLY
THREE OR FOUR BOOKS IN ISRAEL,
NOVELS IN ISRAEL WITH 7,000,000
READERS.
6,000,000 IN ISRAEL AND
1,000,000 ABROAD, 6,000,000
JEWS AND 1,000,000 NON-JEWS
THAT READ HEBREW.
ONLY THREE OR FOUR HEBREW
NOVELS SUCCEEDED IN HAVING THIS
NUMBER OF COPIES.
THAT THE HEBREW TRANSLATION OF
GRETZ OR OF -- OR THE HEBREW
NOVEL OF MAPU OR THE HEBREW
NOVEL OF -- MOLENSKI HAD AT THE
TIME.
THIS EXPLOSION IS, IT MUST BE
UNDERSTOOD ONLY IN TERMS OF
THOSE TENS OF THOUSANDS AND
LATER HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS
EAGER TO READ NOVELS, POEMS,
PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAYS, SCIENCES
AND DON'T HAVE ANY EUROPEAN
LANGUAGE AT THEIR DISPOSAL.
BUT THE MODERNIZATION OF HEBREW
WAS DONE BY THE WRITERS THAT
WROTE FOR THIS AUDIENCE, AND BY
THE MEMBERS OF THIS AUDIENCE,
AUDIENCE THEMSELVES.
THE CLIMATES WAS IN THE LAST
DECADE OF THE 19TH CENTURY...
WHILE FROM THE MIDDLE OF THE FIRST DECADE
OF THE 20TH CENTURY THERE WAS A
DEEP CRISIS.
FOR A LONG TIME HISTORIANS
EXPLAINED THIS CRISIS...
BY THE INFLUENCE OF SOCIALISM, THE
SUCCESS OF YIDDISH, THE DECLINE
OF THE, OF THE NATIONALIST
MOVEMENT, OF ZIONISM.
NOW WE KNOW THAT THIS HAS, MUST
BE EXPLAINED BY OTHER MEANS,
THANKS TO THE LEADING WORK OF
SOME OF MY COLLEAGUES,
ESPECIALLY, GUY MORAN IN A
SERIES OF ESSAYS.
WE WERE ABLE TO ACQUIRE A
BETTER PICTURE OF THIS CRISIS
OF THE HEBREW LANGUAGE IN THE
FIRST DECADE OF THE 20TH CENTURY.
THE REASON FOR THIS DECLINE IS
THAT THOSE ENLIGHTENED, OR
SEMI-ENLIGHTENED READERS THAT
DIDN'T HAVE RUSSIAN AND GERMAN
BY THEN AT THE BEGINNING OF THE
20TH CENTURY THEIR CHILDREN AND
SOMETIMES THEY THEMSELVES,
ACQUIRED THE MASTERY, THE
KNOWLEDGE OF THE EUROPEAN
LANGUAGE USUALLY GERMAN OR
RUSSIAN OR BOTH, AND WERE ABLE
TO READ NOVELS, AND POEMS, AND
PHILOSOPHY, PHILOSOPHICAL...
AND NEWS IN A EUROPEAN
LANGUAGE.
THEY DIDN'T NEED ANY MORE THE
SERVICES OF HEBREW.
FROM NOW ON HEBREW WOULD GET
OUT OF THE DECLINE WITH THE
HELP OF THE ZIONIST ENTERPRISE
IN THE LAND OF ISRAEL.
SO, IF WE DESCRIBE THE SO-
CALLED MIRACLE OF THE REVIVAL
OF HEBREW INTO TWO PHASES, THE
FIRST PHASE AT WHICH HEBREW WAS
MODERNIZED AS A WRITTEN
LANGUAGE.
AND THE SECOND PHASE WHEN IT
WAS BEGINNING TO BE A SPOKEN
LANGUAGE.
IN THE FIRST PHASE IT IS NOT
ZIONISM OR NATIONALISTIC
IDEOLOGIES THAT, THAT EXPLAIN
THE HEBREW EXPLOSION, JUST THE
OPPOSITE.
THE HEBREW EXPLOSION PREPARES A
WIDE PUBLIC FOR NATIONALIST
IDEOLOGY.
IN THE SECOND PHASE INDEED,
GETTING OUT OF THE SITUATION TO
WHICH HEBREW WAS BROUGHT AT THE
FIRST DECADE OF THE 20TH
CENTURY, THIS WAS DONE WITH THE
HELP OF THE PROCESS OF
COLONIZATION OF PALESTINE,
WHERE THERE WAS THE NEED OF THE
COMMON LANGUAGE AND ONLY HEBREW
COULD SERVE IT.
I WILL DESCRIBE IT A BIT LATER.
BOTH THE EXPLOSION OF HEBREW
AND ITS DECLINE IN THE FIRST
YEARS OF THE 20TH CENTURY, THE,
THE NUMBERS ARE REALLY AMAZING,
SHOCKING.
IN 1906 AND 1907 ALL THE
JOURNALS THAT EXISTED BEFORE IN
THE LAST TWO DECADES OF THE
19TH CENTURY, WEEKLIES,
MONTHLIES, JOURNALS OF
TECHNOLOGY, JOURNALS, JOURNALS
SPECIALIZED IN YOUTH, FOR
CHILDREN, ALL THOSE WERE
CLOSED, GRADUALLY WERE CLOSED
IN VILNA OR IN WARSAW OR IN
PATENBURG AND EVEN IN ODESSA.
AND IN 1906, 1907 WHERE EVEN...
THE PRESTIGIOUS LITERARY
MONTHLY OF HEBREW CULTURE WAS
CLOSED.
THERE WAS ONLY ONE MONTHLY THAT
WAS PUBLISHED IN LONDON BY THE
WRITER BRENNER, AND THIS HAD
400 SUBSCRIBERS, AND 100 COPIES
WERE ALSO SOLD BESIDE THE
SUBSCRIBERS, AND BRENNER WAS...
A NATIONAL LITERATURE WITH 500
READERS.
THIS WAS THE TIME.
AFTER THOSE POPULAR NOVELS GOT
HUNDRED THOUSAND COPIES, IN
THESE YEARS IN 1908 THERE WAS A
PUBLICATION OF THE COLLECTED
POETRY OF BIALIK TO, TO
CELEBRATE HIS 25 YEARS OF
POETRY WRITING.
THE PUBLISHER DIDN'T SUCCEED IN
SELLING 1,000 COPIES.
A NATIONAL POET, THE CENTRAL
FIGURE OF THE HEBREW
A NATIONAL LITERATURE WITH 500
READERS.
THIS WAS THE TIME.
AFTER THOSE POPULAR NOVELS GOT
HUNDRED THOUSAND COPIES, IN
THESE YEARS IN 1908 THERE WAS A
PUBLICATION OF THE COLLECTED
POETRY OF BIALIK TO, TO
CELEBRATE HIS 25 YEARS OF
POETRY WRITING.
THE PUBLISHER DIDN'T SUCCEED IN
SELLING 1,000 COPIES.
A NATIONAL POET, THE CENTRAL
FIGURE OF THE HEBREW
RENNAISSANCE, AND NOW 1,000
COPIES OF HIS COLLECTED POETRY
WERE SOLD.
OUT OF THIS DECLINE IT IS ONLY
THE PROCESS OF COLONIZATION, OF
IMMIGRATION TO ISRAEL THAT
SAVED THE HEBREW.
OTHERWISE IT WOULD BE PERHAPS
DIED AS OTHER JEWISH LANGUAGES
DIED.
THE JEWS HAD 32 LANGUAGES.
MOST OF THEM JARGONS.
BUT EVERYBODY KNOWS ABOUT THE
YIDDISH OR ABOUT LATINO.
BUT THERE WAS A JEWISH IZBECKI
AND A JEWISH...
AND A JEWISH...
AND A JEWISH -- AND, AND 32
LANGUAGES.
IN ALL OF THEM THERE WERE
WRITTEN IN THE 18TH AND 19TH
CENTURY POEMS FROM WEDDING,
RIDDLES, ANECDOTES AND
ROMANCES.
I VISITED IN 89, THREE MONTHS
BEFORE THE COLLAPSE OF THE
SOVIET UNION, WE VISITED A
GROUP OF WRITERS FROM ISRAEL AS
GUESTS OF THE SOVIET PEACE
MOVEMENT.
AND WE VISITED SOME OF -- THE
TASHKEN, AND THE TASHKEN SOME -
BUCHALI, IZBECKI, JEWISH
WRITERS TOOK US TO A SPECIAL
PLACE IN A MUSEUM, IN A MUSEUM
AND THEY SHOWED US BEHIND GLASS
SOME HEBREW BOOKS, SOME BOOKS
WITH LETTERS.
THEY WERE ABLE TO DECIPHER ONE
OF THEM AS THE TORAH PRINTED IN
JERUSALEM.
IN -- THE FAMOUS...
BUT ANOTHER BOOK WHERE THE
BINDING WAS TORN THEY COULDN'T
MAKE, THEY COULDN'T KNOW WHAT
IT IS.
IT STARTED AT PAGE 27.
I READ IT AND READ THE BUCHALI,
JEWISH BUCHALI AND DIDN'T
UNDERSTAND A WORD.

[Speaking Hebrew]

He continues YOU KNOW,
SUDDENLY I GOT SOME NAMES.
I GOT SOME BUCHALI AND THEN THE
NAME TEMAN, AND THEN THE NAME
AMNON AND THEN THE NAME TAMAL.
AND I KNEW THAT THIS IS A
TRANSLATION OF MAPU'S NOVEL,
"LOVE OF ZION" INTO JEWISH
BUCHALI.
AND BY THE NAME OF THE
CHARACTERS I WAS ABLE TO KNOW
WHAT THIS BOOK WAS.
NOW HEBREW COULD GO THE SAME
WAY.
BUT THEN REALLY THE SECOND PART
OF THE MIRACLE AFTER THE
MODERNIZATION OF HEBREW AS A
WRITTEN LANGUAGE, THE
INSTALLING OF HEBREW, OR
ENTRENCHING OF HEBREW AS A
SPOKEN LANGUAGE IN PALESTINE.
SO UM, I SAY THAT THE
RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN ZIONISM,
THE POLITICAL AND NATIONALIST
MOVEMENT, THE POLITICAL
MOVEMENT AND HEBREW WERE MUST
BE UNDERSTOOD IN THE FOLLOWING
WAY, IN THE FIRST WAVE OF THE
MODERNIZATION OF HEBREW IT IS
HEBREW THAT PUSHES ZIONISM,
OTHER THEN THE OTHER WAY
AROUND.
MOST OF THE HEBREW WRITERS, THE
GREATEST OF THEM WERE HIGHLY
SKEPTIC ABOUT THE ZIONIST
ENTERPRISE IF NOT ANTI-ZIONIST.
DISCOVER MENDELE, DISCOVER
FRISCHMANN, -- TO SOME, TO SOME
POINT SOME OF HIS CREATIVE LIFE
PADECHEVSKY AS WELL -- PERVITZ
AND A NUMBER OTHER IMPORTANT
NOVELISTS AND SHORT STORY
WRITERS.
THE POETS WERE INTO THE...
ABOUT ZIONISM.
THIS IS A TOPIC FOR PHDS, THAT
FOR 30 YEARS I TRIED TO SELL IT
TO ONE OF MY STUDENTS.
NOBODY PICKS IT.
HOW COME THAT ALL THOSE THAT
DID GREAT WORK IN HEBREW
LITERATURE HAVE ALL KINDS OF
RESERVATIONS ABOUT ZIONISM?
FROM THE FEEL THAT IT WILL END
IN A THEOCRACY, WHICH RICHMOND
EXPRESSED, TO LACK OF BELIEF.
TO SEEING THE ZIONIST
ENTERPRISE AS THE MOST TYPICAL
HALLUCINATION OF DILUTED JEWS
AS MENDELE SAW IT MOST OF HIS
LIFE, HIDING A BIT THE
SHARPNESS OF HIS VISION NOT TO
OFFEND FRIENDS LIKE -- OR
BIALIK.
THE POETS WERE ENTHUSIASTIC.
SO AT THE BEGINNING IT IS
HEBREW FROM THE NEED OF
HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF YOUTH
DEVELOPING AS A MODERN LANGUAGE.
AND THEN EXHAUST THIS ELAN AND IN DANGER
OF DISAPPEARING, AND THEN IT
STARTS TO HAVE A NEW LIFE AND
THIS TIME NOT ONLY AS A MODERN,
WRITTEN LANGUAGE, BUT ALSO AS A
SPOKEN LANGUAGE IN THE REALM OF ISRAEL.
WHAT HAPPENED IN ISRAEL STILL WE
HAVE SEVERAL DESCRIPTIONS THAT
ON SOME OF THEM, ARE REALLY,
LEGENDARY.
IT MUST BE SAID IN THE YEARS OF
THE BEN HERUDA WAS THE FIRST
EDITOR OF THE HEBREW DICTIONARY
AND ONE, WHICH INVENTED
HUNDREDS OF WORDS IN HEBREW OF
WHICH ABOUT 20 OR 30 percent WERE
ACCEPTED INTO THE LANGUAGE.
BEN HERUDA CAME AFTER SO MANY
WERE INVENTED BY THE
MODERNISTS, THE ESSAYISTS AND
THE, THE POETS OF THE 19TH
CENTURY, AND INDEED, INVENTED
MANY WORDS.
BUT, BUT MANY WORDS THAT WERE
ENTRENCHED IN THE LANGUAGE WERE
INVENTIONS OF WRITERS AND SOME
WRITERS AFTER BEN HERUDA
INVENTED MANY MORE WORDS IN
HEBREW THEN HE.
TO GIVE YOU A PICTURE OF WHAT
HAD TO BE DONE, I GIVE YOU THE
NUMBERS.
HEBREW TODAY HAS ABOUT 38,000
WORDS, DIFFERENT WORDS.
AT THE TIME THAT CHAIM RABIN, A
WELL KNOWN LINGUIST AND ONE OF
THE BEST SCHOLARS OF THE HEBREW
LANGUAGE AND THE HEBREW
UNIVERSITY WROTE HIS BOOK,...
OUR HEBREW" HE COUNTED 32,000.
BUT THIS WAS 20 YEARS AGO AND
IT NOW WOULD BE 38 OR 40.
NO COMPARISON WITH ENGLISH,
WHICH HAS 320,000 WORDS,
THERE'S ABOUT 12 percent OF, OF THE
WORDS IN ENGLISH.
AND OF COURSE WE CAN GUESS WHAT
ARE THE WORDS THAT ARE MISSING,
ANIMALS, TREES, KIND OF BEARS,
BEARDS, BIRDS, SORRY, VARIOUS
FURNITURE AND THINGS LIKE THAT.
NOW THE HEBREW OF TODAY, THE
HEBREW IS UNIQUE.
IT IS, IT IS NOT TO BE COMPARED
WITH THE GREEK, WITH MODERN,
GREEK FOR ONE GOOD REASON.
A, A GREEK GUY WITHOUT BEING
ABLE TO READ PLATO OR -- IT
MUST BE TRANSLATED FOR HIM.
AND INDEED KAZANZAKI TRANSLATED
"HOMER'S ODYSSEY."
SO THAT A GREEK GUY THAT DIDN'T
SPECIALIZE IN OLD, ANCIENT,
GREEK, WOULD BE ABLE TO READ
HOMER IN GREEK.
BUT NOT IN HOMERIC GREEK, BUT
IN KAZANZAKI'S GREEK.
MODERN, HEBREW USES MOST OF THE
BIBLICAL WORDS.
IT DOESN'T HAVE EQUIVALENT FOR
THE BIBLICAL AND THE MISHNA
QUILLS AS MODERN, GREEK HAS.
THE GREEKS WOULDN'T USE THE
WORDS HOMER USED FOR SEA, FOR
STAR, FOR TREE.
BUT HEBREW WOULD USE FOR TREE,
EITHER THE BIBLICAL X OR THE
MISHNIAC ELAN.
FOR MOON, EVEN THE HEBREW, THE
BIBLICAL...

[Speaks Hebrew]

He continues OR THE
MISHAIC LAVANA, AND SO ON.
AND MANY ESTHETIC EFFECTS CAN
BE CREATED BY THE MINGLING OF
THIS LANGUAGE, LANGUAGES OR BY
KEEPING THEM SEPARATE.
SO YOU HAVE FOR MANY SUBSTANCES
OF THE WORDS, TWO WORDS.
ONE PICKED FROM THE BIBLE,
WHICH GAVE HEBREW 8,000 WORDS
AND ANOTHER FROM THE MISHNA
THAT ADDED 6,000 WORDS.
BUT THE MODERN, HEBREW SPEAKER,
WE USE ONE OF THOSE WORDS AND
FOR MANY OF THEM HE WOULDN'T
HAVE A MODERN EQUIVALENT.
BESIDES THIS 8,000 AND 6,000,
THERE WERE 4,000 WORDS THAT
WERE INNOVATED IN MEDIVAL
TIMES.
EITHER IN HEBREW PHILOSOPHY
THAT WAS WRITTEN AT THE TIME,
MOSTLY RELIGION PHILOSOPHY, OR
IN THE LITURGY, LITURGY AND
SECULAR POETRY THAT WAS WRITTEN
BY THE MEDIEVAL POETS.
SO ALL TOGETHER WE HAVE 18,000
WORDS.
IF HEBREW TODAY HAS 38,000,
IT'S MEANING THAT AT LEAST HALF
OF THE VOCABULARY THAT THE
ISRAELI USES TODAY WAS INVENTED
IN THE LAST 100 YEARS OR 150
YEARS, FROM THE TIME OF THE
MODERNIZATION OF HEBREW AS
WRITTEN LANGUAGE TO TILL TODAY.
AND IT IS QUITE AMAZING OF
COURSE TO WATCH A LANGUAGE
WHOSE BASIC VOCABULARY IS
COMPOSED FROM LINGUISTIC LAYERS
THAT GO BACK 3,000 YEARS OR
2,600 YEARS IF WE ACCEPT THE
VIEW OF THE LATEST -- OF WHEN
WAS THE BIBLE WRITTEN.
SO IF WE HAVE 2,600 OR 2,700
YEARS AGO AND THE LAYERS SHOW,
SHOW IN THE HEBREW AT LEAST FOR
THOSE THAT LEARN THESE AS, AS
SCHOLARS, NOT FOR ISRAELI
SPEAKING.
ONE OF THE THINGS THAT IS LOST
JUST BECAUSE HEBREW HAD SUCH A
GREAT VICTORY, IS THE
REALIZATION OF EVERY HEBREW
SPEAKER OF THE LINGUISTIC
LAYERS FROM WHICH HE PICKS HIS
WORDS.
WHEN ISRAELIS SITS IN THE
MORNING TO EAT HIS SALAD, YOU
KNOW IN MEDITERRANEAN COUNTRIES
WHO DON'T HAVE TWO EGGS AND
SOMETHING, BUT YOU USUALLY EAT
SALADS.
SO HIS SALAD IS COMPOSED OF
ELEMENTS...
WHOSE NAMES COMES FROM 2,700 YEARS
AGO, TILL THINGS THAT WERE
INNOVATED 20 YEARS AGO.
HE OF COURSE HAS THE...

[Speaks Hebrew]

He continues THE ONION
FROM THE BIBLE.
AND PERHAPS ALSO THE...

[Speaks Hebrew]

He continues THE...
AND HE HAS THE -- PERHAPS IF HE
LIKES THAT'S KNOWN FROM THE
BIBLE.
BUT THEN HE HAS THE...

[Speaks Hebrew]

He continues FROM THE MISHNA.
AND THEN HAS THE VANYA THAT WAS
INNOVATED IN THE GANYA, IN THE
SECOND ELIJAH, IN 1910, 1917,
AS A TRANSLATION FOR --- AND...
AND THEN HE HAS THE CHASSAD
THAT WAS BORROWED FROM THE
ARABIC.
AND THEN HE HAD OTHER MANY
VEGETABLES THAT ARE, THAT CAME
TO ISRAEL ONLY IN THE LAST
DECADE AND GOT SOME HEBREW
NAMES IN THE LAST DECADE.
SO HE HAS, HE EATS VEGETABLES
WHOSE NAMES ARE, ARE PICKED
FROM 2,700 YEARS TO AGO UP TO
THE LAST DECADE.
NOW, THE, THE PICTURE ABOUT THE
SECOND PHASE OF THE REVIVAL OF
HEBREW ALSO PERHAPS IS MORE
ACCURATE THEN THE, THEN THE
USUAL PICTURE HELD BY PEOPLE
ABOUT THE, THE MODERNIZATION
OF HEBREW AS A WRITTEN
LANGUAGE.
STILL THERE, THERE ARE SOME
MISUNDERSTANDING THERE.
THE MAIN FACTOR BEHIND THE
TURNING OF HEBREW IN THE SPOKEN
LANGUAGE IS NECESSITY.
THIS IS NOT THE EFFORT AND THE
DEEDS OF ONE OR TWO, OR 20, OR
100 PEOPLE, BUT SIMPLY NECESSITY.
NOVEL ONLY YESTERDAY IT IS
NOW TRANSLATED BEAUTIFULLY INTO
ENGLISH, AND I, I RECOMMEND FOR
YOU TO READ IT.
THOSE THAT CANNOT READ HEBREW,
IT'S PERHAPS THE GREATEST EPIC
NARRATIVE OF, OF HEBREW
LITERATURE IN 19TH, IN THE 20TH
CENTURY HAS A SMALL ANECDOTE.
BEFORE THE ASSOCIATION OF
TEACHERS IN, IN THE LAND OF
ISRAEL DECIDED THAT HEBREW,
WILL BE THE LANGUAGE IN WHICH
PEOPLE STUDY, THERE WERE ONLY
TWO HIGH SCHOOLS IN ISRAEL, IN
THE LAND OF ISRAEL THAT TAUGHT
IN HEBREW.
THE FIRST ONE WAS THE HIGH
SCHOOL...

[Speaks Hebrew]

He continues
ESTABLISHED IN 1906 IN JAFFA,
AND THE SECOND THE...

[Speaks Hebrew]

He continues THE HEBREW
HIGH SCHOOL IN, IN 1908, IN
JERUSALEM.
AND THEIR EFFORTS WERE DONE TO
HELP THE MONOLOGY FOR ALL
DISCIPLINES TAUGHT IN HEBREW.
ALL OTHER SCHOOLS IN THE LAND
OF ISRAEL TAUGHT IN OTHER
LANGUAGES.
AND USUALLY THEY TAUGHT IN THE
LANGUAGE OF THE DONORS.
THE DONORS THAT GAVE MONEY TO
THOSE SCHOOLS.
IN THE NET, NET OF SCHOOLS OF
EZRA THEY TAUGHT IN GERMAN,
BECAUSE THAT WAS THE
PHILANTHROPIC GERMAN JEWISH.
IN ALIANCE THEY TAUGHT IN
FRENCH AND IN -- THEY TAUGHT IN
ENGLISH.
DEPENDS FROM WHERE THE MONEY
CAME OR FROM WHICH PART OF THE,
WHAT'S IT FAMILY CAME, WHETHER
IT CAME FROM THE FRENCH PART OR
THE ENGLISH PART.
NOW ADNON TELLS A STORY.
A SMALL ANECDOTE IN THIS NOVEL,
REALISTIC NOVEL OF 400 PAGES,
ABOUT SOMEBODY THAT WANTS TO
MAKE, TO EXPRESS LOVE TO HIS
BEAUTIFUL NEIGHBOUR GIRL IN
JERUSALEM.
BUT HE CANNOT DO IT, BECAUSE HE
STUDIES IN ALIANCE, AND HE CAN
SPEAK, ONLY FRENCH.
SHE STUDIES IN -- SCHOOL
SUPPORTED BY EZRA, AND SHE
SPEAKS ONLY GERMAN.
THEY CALL THEIR NEIGHBOUR TO
HELP THEM, BUT HE CANNOT
TRANSLATE BECAUSE HE STUDIES IN
A -- IN -- AND HE SPEAKS ONLY
ENGLISH.
THE THREE DECIDES TO LEARN HEBREW.

[Audience laughs]

Menachem says AND THOUGH
ANECDOTE AND TOLD IN A NOVEL
THAT WAS WRITTEN IN THE 30S.
BUT THIS ANECDOTE WILL REALLY
ENCAPSULATE, ENCAPSULATE AS IN
A NUTSHELL THE PROCESS.
THERE WERE -- DECISIONS.
THERE WERE POLITICAL
INTERVENTIONS.
FOR EXAMPLE, THE ESTABLISHMENT
OF TWO SCHOOLS AT WHICH HEBREW
WAS THE LANGUAGE IN WHICH YOU
TAUGHT MATHEMATICS, ALGEBRA AND
GEOMETRY IN 1906 AND 1908, IS
A, A DECISION.
AND THIS IS A DEED DONE BY GROUP OF
DEVOTED TEACHERS AND BY PARENTS
THAT WERE, WERE WILLING TO TAKE
THE RISK THAT THEIR CHILDREN
WILL LEARN...
IN A LANGUAGE, AT WHICH THERE
DOESN'T EXIST STILL A, A
TERMINOLOGY FOR ALL THE
SCIENTIFIC TOPICS THAT THEY'RE
GOING TO LEARN.
THIS TERMINOLOGY WILL BE
CREATED WHILE THEY LEARN.
ANOTHER THING WHICH IS DECIDED,
BEN-GURION DECIDED AFTER THE
FIRST WORLD WAR THAT NO PERSON
CAN BE ELECTED TO THE TRADE
UNIONS COUNCIL INSTITUTE OR TO
THE WORKING, WORKERS PARTIES IF
HE DOESN'T SPEAK HEBREW.
SO PEOPLE FROM THE, THE
DIASPORA THAT CAME IN THE THIRD
ELIJAH, OR ALREADY IN THE
SECOND ELIJAH HAD TO STUDY IN
HEBREW IF THEY WANTED TO BE
LEADERS, EVEN LOCAL LEADERS.
BANK -- PALESTINA DECIDED AT
1940, THE CHEQUES WILL BE
WRITTEN IN HEBREW.
THE COUNCIL OF THE FIRST HEBREW
CITY TEL AVIV, DECIDED IN 1922
THAT THE PROTOCOLS OF THE
MEETING OF THE COUNCIL WILL BE
IN HEBREW.
SO I CAN QUOTE MANY DECISIONS
LIKE THAT AND WHERE YOU SAW THE
STRONG WILL, THE DEVOTION TO
HEBREW OF PERSONS, STILL.
WHAT MADE IT POSSIBLE WAS NOT
JUST THE INSISTENCE OF TEACHERS
OR, OR POLITICAL LEADERS OR, OR
OWNERS OF THE BANK, BUT THE
SHEER NECESSITY.
PEOPLE WERE COMING FROM MANY,
MANY COUNTRIES, MORE THEN 100
DIFFERENT COUNTRIES.
THEY WERE SPEAKING DIFFERENT
LANGUAGES.
THEY DIDN'T HAVE ANY LANGUAGE
IN WHICH, THEY COULD
COMMUNICATE, AND THE EASIEST
THING, IT WAS THE MOST RATIONAL
THING WAS TO USE THE LANGUAGE
WHOSE RUDIMENTS THEY KNEW FROM
THE PRAYER BOOK AND FROM SACRED
STUDIES AND INHERITED FROM
THEIR PARENTS, AT LEAST THE
RUDIMENTS.
AND THIS COULD BE BROADENED
MORE AND MORE AND MORE.
THIS COULD ALSO BE DONE WITHOUT
THE FEELING OF ONE JEWISH
COMMUNITY OR ANOTHER JEWISH
COMMUNITY, THAT A CERTAIN
JEWISH COMMUNITY, LET'S, LET'S
SAY THE YIDDISH SPEAKING POLISH
JEWS, OR THE YIDDISH SPEAKING
RUSSIAN JEWS IMPOSE THEIR
LANGUAGE ON THE COUNTRY.
THIS IS A PROCESS THAT WAS NOT
BELIEVED BY EVEN BY OF COURSE
THE LEADERS OF ZIONISM AND EVEN
BY SOME OF THE MAIN HEBREW
WRITERS.
BOTH HADAM AND BIALIK WERE
SKEPTIC IF HEBREW WOULD BE
EVER, EVER SPOKEN BY MASSES OF
PEOPLE OR WILL REMAIN REALLY AS
THE LATIN IN THE RENAISSANCE
OF 17TH CENTURY, 16TH AND 17TH
CENTURY EUROPE, THE LANGUAGE OF
SCHOLARS OF READERS.
IT WAS DIFFICULT FOR THEM TO
MOVE INTO HEBREW AND THE
PROCESS WAS NOT MADE EASY FOR THEM.
IN THE LATE 20S THERE WAS A
DECISION AGAIN OF THE
ASSOCIATION OF TEACHERS THAT
IMPOSED THEIR DECISION ON THE
ASSOCIATION OF WRITERS THAT TRUE
HEBREW MUST BE SPOKEN IN THE
SEPHARDIC ACCENT, WHICH MEANS
WITH THE LAST SYLLABLE
EMPHASIZED RATHER THEN THE, THE
SYLLABLE BEFORE THE LAST ONE.
A COLLEAGUE OF MINE AND A GREAT
SCHOLAR, PERHAPS THE ONE THAT
WROTE THE BEST BOOK ON THE
HEBREW REVOLUTION, BIN AMIN
ALSHAV TELLS AN ANECDOTE, A
KIND OF A BLAME, IN WHICH
EXPLAINS BEN-GURION'S HARSH
ACCENT IN HEBREW THAT ALWAYS
WOULD SAY...

[Speaking Hebrew]

Menachem says IS, IS
BECAUSE HE NEEDED TO FORCE
HIMSELF TO SPEAK THE SEPHARDIC
HEBREW, WHICH WAS RECOGNIZED AS
THE ORIGINAL HEBREW.
THE HEBREW, SPOKEN IN BIBLICAL
TIMES.
NOBODY CAN BE SURE ABOUT THAT.
IT COULD VERY WELL BE THAT THE
HEBREW SPOKEN IN BIBLICAL TIMES
WERE CLOSER TO THE HEBREW IN A
CLOSED SYNAGOGUE, THEN IN A
YEMENITE QUARTER OF JERUSALEM
OR TEL AVIV.
NOBODY CAN GUARANTEE.
BUT IT IS BELIEVED THAT THIS
WAS THE ORIGINAL HEBREW, AND
BIN AMIN ALSHAV SAYS IT'S SIMPLE.
IT WAS SO CRUEL FOR HIM TO
FORCE HIMSELF NOT TO SPEAK AS
HE SPOKE IN SYNAGOGUE OR IN THE HEDER...

[Speaking Hebrew]

He continues BUT TO SAY

[Speaking Hebrew]

He continues THAT HE
HAVE TO PUT ALL HIS POWER ON
THE LAST SYLLABLE AND THE
RESULT WAS THE FAMOUS, BEN-
GURION ACCENT.
THIS WAS OF COURSE CRUEL.
IT WAS CRUEL FOR POETS, BECAUSE
WITH THE TRANSITION TO THE
SEPHARDIC ACCENT LARGE PART OF
THE CHARM OF THE POETRY, OF THE
GREATEST HEBREW POETS OF THE
BEGINNING OF THE CENTURY,
BIALIK AND GENEROVSKI WAS LOST.
AND COULDN'T BE UM, REGAINED UNLESS
A TEACHER IS EDUCATING HIS
STUDENTS TO READ THEM IN THE OLD...
ASHKENAZI ACCENT.
TO READ...

[Speaking Hebrew]

He continues AND NOT GO

[Speaking Hebrew]

He continues BUT I AM
DOING THIS EFFORT WHENEVER I
TEACH THE POETRY.
STUDENTS AT THE BEGINNING
LAUGH, AT THE CONTINUATION THEY
FIND IT INTERESTING.
THEY FEEL THE POETIC POWER OF
THE POETRY.
BUT IT CAN BE REVIVED ONLY FOR
STUDENTS WITH GOOD WILL,
READINESS FOR EFFORT IN A CLASS
IN LITERATURE.
OTHERWISE THE POETS, SOME POETS
STOPPED WRITING LIKE YAAKOV
FICHMAN FOR A LONG TIME.
IT WAS CRUEL NOT JUST FOR BEN-
GURION THAT WAS ONE OF, WAS
ABLE AS A REVOLUTIONARY TO, TO
BE CRUEL WHEN HE BELIEVED THAT
IT IS NEEDED.
IT WAS CRUEL FOR MANY, BUT IT
WAS NECESSARY AND IT WAS
SUCCESSFUL.
SO REALLY WHEN WE, WHEN WE
SPEAK ABOUT THE MIRACLE OF
HEBREW I REALLY WANT TO
EMPHASIZE THAT IT, THAT IT CAN
BE EXPLAINED RATIONALLY AND NOT
A MIRACLE.
AND YET IT IS A VERY, VERY
UNIQUE PHENOMENON,
UNPRECEDENTED THAT HAS NO OTHER
EQUIVALENT.
AT THE BEGINNING OF THE CENTURY
THE BEST LANGUAGE, LINGUISTS
THAT WERE, THAT WERE ACQUAINTED
WITH THE EFFORTS OF THE
IRISHMEN TO REVIVE THE GAELIC,
AND THE EFFORT OF SCOTS TO
REVIVE CELTIC THOUGHT THAT THE
HEBREW WOULD BE DOOMED IN THE
SAME WAY THAT ALL THOSE EFFORTS
WERE DOOMED.
IT WAS NOT.
AND A HUNDRED YEARS AGO IN 1904
THERE WAS EXACTLY ONE FAMILY
THAT SPOKE HEBREW AND THIS WAS
VERY CRUEL TO THE CHILDREN AND
THIS WAS IN THE YEARS OF BEN
HERUDA, THAT FORBADE HIS
CHILDREN, HIS DAUGHTER AND HIS
SON TO USE ANY NON-HEBREW WORDS
AS A RESULTS OF DEATH, THEIR
EXPRESSIVE COMMUNICATION WAS
LIMITED TO ONLY THINGS THAT
THEY COULD EXPRESS IN HEBREW
AND THEY SUFFERED.
AND THEY WERE HAPPY TO GO OUT
OF HOME WHEN THEY COULD USE
SOME NON-HEBREW WORDS IN, IN
THEIR SPEECH.
TODAY 7,000,000 PEOPLE SPEAK
IT, READ IT, WRITE IN IT AND AS
I SAID, 6,000,000 OF THEM ARE
JEWS.
A MILLION OF THEM ARE NON-JEWS,
6,000,000 OF THEM LIVE IN
ISRAEL, A MILLION OF THEM
LIVING ABROAD.
FOR THE FIRST HEBREW LITERATURE
HAS WRITERS THAT ARE NOT
JEWISH.
HEBREW WAS ONLY ONE JEWISH
LITERATURE AMONG MANY.
IT STILL IS ONE, JEWISH
LITERATURE AMONG MANY.
JEWS WRITE IN MANY OTHER
LANGUAGES.
BUT IT IS ALSO A LITERATURE, TO
WHICH NON-JEWS CONTRIBUTE.
AND, AND, AND ONE CANNOT THINK
OF ITS EXTINCTION.
THERE WERE TIMES THAT ALL THE
HEBREW WRITERS WERE LIVING IN
ANXIETY, THAT THEIR WRITINGS OR
THEIR POETRY WOULDN'T HAVE A
FUTURE BECAUSE IT WOULDN'T HAVE
AN AUDIENCE.
THESE WERE THE TIMES OF THE
LAST DECADE OF THE 19TH CENTURY
AND THE FIRST DECADE OF THE
20TH CENTURY.
THE POET YALAG -- GOLDEN, THE
GREAT POET OF THE
ENLIGHTENMENT, THE HEBREW
ENLIGHTENMENT IN RUSSIA SAID
THAT HEBREW LITERATURE IS A
CANDLE THAT IS BURNT OUT ON
BOTH OF ITS SIDES.
MANY JEWS THAT BECAME MORE
MODERNIZED WHEN THEY MAKE CHUVA
AND GO BACK TO THE ORTHODOX
STYLE OF LIFE THEY STOP READING
STORIES AND POEMS.
OTHER JEWS, WHEN THEY
ASSIMILATE AND INTEGRATE INTO
EUROPEAN SOCIETIES STOP READING
HEBREW.
IN SUCH A WAY THE CANDLE WAS
BURNT ON BOTH SIDES WILL SOON
BE EXTINGUISHED.
THIS FEAR IS...
A DRAMATIC EXPERIENCE OF THE HEBREW WRITER
AND THE HEBREW POET FOR NEARLY
HALF A CENTURY.
I REMEMBER IN THE 60S A MEETING WITH...
ONE OF THE GREAT, GREATEST HEBREW WRITERS,
CHAIM AZAZ KAFERTA IN JERUSALEM.
THIS WAS THE TIME THAT YAEL
DAYAN, THE DAUGHTER OF MOSHE
DAYAN, THE MINISTER OF DEFENSE
AND THE CHIEF OF STAFF FOR SOME
TIME PUBLISHED HER FIRST NOVEL
AND SHE PUBLISHED IT IN
ENGLISH, "TWO FACES IN THE
MIRROR."
THEN SHE TRANSLATED IT HERSELF
INTO HEBREW AND BROUGHT A
HEBREW VERSION.
AZAZ WAS VERY EXCITED ABOUT IT.
HE TOLD ME YOU KNOW WHAT,
BRINKER?
I MUST TELL YOU SOMETHING.
YOU SHOULDN'T TELL IT TO, TO,
TO ANYBODY, YOU SHOULDN'T TELL IT.
I'M TELLING IT BECAUSE I THINK
I CAN TELL IT.
HEBREW WOULDN'T STAY WITH US.
EVEN THE YOUNG ISRAELI WRITERS
STARTING WRITING IN ENGLISH.
SOON THEY'LL START WRITING IN
FRENCH.
HEBREW WILL DISAPPEAR, NOBODY
WILL SPEAK IT.
I ARGUED WITH HIM THEN AND I
THOUGHT THAT I'M HEARING
ANXIETY THAT PASSED FROM ONE
GENERATION OF HEBREW WRITERS
AND HEBREW INTELLECTUALS TO
ANOTHER GENERATION OF HEBREW
INTELLECTUALS.
I TOLD HIM THEN THAT I THINK
HEBREW IS THERE TO STAY AND I
BELIEVE THAT IF HE WAS ALIVE
TODAY, FIRST HE WOULD LET ME
TELL THE ANECDOTE AND THEN THAT
HE WOULD EVEN AGREE WITH ME,
THAT HEBREW IS THERE TO STAY.
THANK YOU.

[Audience applauding]

Watch: Menachem Brinker on The Miracle of the Revival of Hebrew