Dedication and Persistance

9 07 2013

perseverance-and-determinationI have been a student of biblical languages since 1981.  That year I fell in love with Hebrew.  I loved the look of the letters themselves, the guttural timbre of the words when spoken, the direction of the text–right to left–and the picturesque nature of this Semitic tongue.  Hebrew is a graphic vehicle of communication, the language of shepherds and farmers.  I learned the alphabet quickly and have been reading over for thirty years now.

In the wake of the Diaspora, Hebrew had ceased to be a spoken language.  It was, in effect, a dead language, confined to rabbinic and biblical studies.  And it remained that way until the 19th century.

And then Eliezer Ben-Yehuda stepped onto the scene.

Ben-Yehuda was a Lithuanian Jew, passionate for the return of Jews to their ancient homeland in Palestine.  He was also a language scholar and knew that a common language—other than Yiddish, a mishmash of Middle German and Hebrew—would unify his people.  In short, he was a fanatic.  A man with a mission.

So he set out to resurrect an essentially dead language.  He did this in an extreme way.  When he and his wife immigrated to Palestine, he determined that once they set foot on the Holy Land, they would only communicate in Hebrew.  A rigorous path indeed.

Eliezer Ben-Yehuda was fiercely determined to revive Hebrew.  Modern Hebrew is based on biblical and Rabbinic Hebrew.  And this amazing man, working tirelessly, single-handedly brought spoken Hebrew back to life.  It is the national language of Israel.  And a miracle of linguistics.

I’m stunned by Ben-Yehuda’s example of perseverance and determination.  It shows me that the most remarkable things are possible if one has grit, laser-like focus and tenacity in pursuit of a very specific goal.

What “impossible” goals do you have before you?  How can you learn from the example of Eliezer Ben-Yehuda?

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