Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, who died last week at the age of eighty-three, was a towering figure in the field of Jewish learning, with some 60 books to his credit in such diverse areas as Talmud, Kabbalah, and Jewish philosophy—an all the more astonishing output when one considers that he had no Jewish education to speak of until he was a teenager. Yet of all his contributions, the one having the greatest impact is not a book he authored. It is his translation into pure Hebrew of the entire Babylonian Talmud, a huge work of dozens of volumes written in a mixture of Hebrew and Aramaic, the now nearly extinct language spoken by the Middle East’s Jews in the Talmudic period.
Adin Steinsaltz's Glimpse into the Way That All Jewish Languages Work
Whether it’s Judeo-Arabic, or Judeo-Italian, or Judeo-Spanish, or the Judeo-German better known as Yiddish, they all mix in varying amounts of Hebrew.