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.



A section of an 11th-century Hebrew Bible with Aramaic commentary, perhaps from Tunisia, found in Iraq: part of the Schøyen Collection. Wikipedia.
A section of an 11th-century Hebrew Bible with Aramaic commentary, perhaps from Tunisia, found in Iraq: part of the Schøyen Collection. Wikipedia.
Observation
Aug. 18 2020
About the author

Philologos, the renowned Jewish-language columnist, appears twice a month in Mosaic. Questions for him may be sent to his email address by clicking here.


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.

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More about: Adin Steinsaltz, Gemara, History & Ideas, Religion & Holidays, Talmud