Yes, argued Hayyim N. Bialik, one of the great poets of the early 20th century. He wanted to “reprogram” Hebrew for mundane use by stripping it of the layers of sacred connotation it had acquired over the centuries. Gershom Scholem, the great scholar of Jewish mysticism, held that to do so was impossible, but he also believed that Hebrew was “fraught with danger” because repressed religious meanings could resurface in unexpected ways. According to Jeffrey Saks, the Nobel Prize-winning novelist S. Y. Agnon showed through his works that Hebrew’s sacred reverberations could be channeled without being discarded:
Must Hebrew Shed Its Sanctity to Become a Modern Language?
Despite Reasons for Worry, Jews Shouldn’t Lose Faith in the American Promise
From synagogue shootings, to attacks on Jews on the streets, to the gathering strength and viciousness of anti-Zionism, especially in the corridors of political power, American Jewry has ample reason for concern about its safety and wellbeing. But, surveying both the present situation and the deep roots of what has made America a welcoming home to Jews with “no analogue in the 2,000 years after the destruction of the Temple,” Josef Joffe argues that the U.S. remains exceptional. The bad news, however, is still bad: