[Avodah] Languages

Micha Berger micha at aishdas.org
Mon Nov 1 11:20:21 PDT 2021

On Sun, Oct 10, 2021 at 06:42:50AM -0400, Akiva Miller via Avodah wrote:
> I am much more intrigued by the answer of Rav S.R. Hirsch. ...
> all 3 cases in Perek 10 use the Hebrew word "lashon", and all 5 cases
> in Perek 11 use the Hebrew word "safah". (By the way, the pesukim in
> Perek 11 are 1, 6, twice in 7, and pasuk 9.)

There there is devarim, which RSRH also discusses. (9:1 in the first
English RSRH Pentateuch, the 6 vol blue set.)

Devarim achadim -- "sameness of the formation of words and sentences
which is brought about by spiritual mental agreement in the way that
things and their relations are looked at."

To my mind, this is most relevent. People who share the same view of the
world but speak different languages can hire a translator and eventually
come to a full agreement.

Two people speaking the same safah but have different devarim have
different mental associations with each word. Miscommunication is
possible because the same verbal token means different things in our

I find it hard to follow RSRH's argument that lashon refers to dialect,
but safah a language. To my instinct, tongues are more internal than
lips, and therefore more associated with internalities like meaning
rather than externalities like slightly different turns of phrase or
isolated vocabulary differences.

In any case, I found R/Dr Hertz's explanation compelling. (Which says
nothing about RSRH's point one way or the other. They are far from
mutually exclusive.)

The chain of yuchsin begins before the migdal. Hashem chose not to break
it up with a narrative in the middle. He gives us all 10 generations
from Noach to Avraham, and then adds "Meanwhile..."

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger                 Life isn't about finding yourself
http://www.aishdas.org/asp   Life is about creating yourself.
Author: Widen Your Tent                   - Bernard Shaw
- https://amzn.to/2JRxnDF

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