Many people can learn about Biblical Hebrew, the grammar, the vocabulary, but they never “learn” to speak it. They are never able to express their thoughts in Biblical Hebrew. They have never processed Hebrew back and forth with another person as in a conversation.
Biblical Hebrew is not just a religious code, like C++ or Java. It was meant to be heard. In fact, even when reading, it should be read aloud. You need to speak it to yourself. Then it starts becoming real.
There are too many who memorize prayers and recite them without any thought of what the words mean. Hebrew prayers are not a magic incantation, it’s a way to commune with a Person. When we say “Barukh Atta Adonai,” we are verbally kneeling before Adonai.
We are all distracted. We multi-task. But when we confess “Barukh atah Adonai, Eloheinu, melekh ha-olam,” we are saying perhaps, “I give up. I am making a mess out of my life. I turn it over to you. I acknowledge that you are the King of my life and I am not. You are the Master of the universe, and good thing that is because I have no control of what’s going on in this world.” When crazy things happen in our town, Adonai is still King of our town, of our country, of where we work. Confessing this helps calm us, resulting in trust. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.
When we say “Shema Israel, Adonai Eloheinu, Adonai echad,” we are praying together as one people. Shema is not in the plural here–it’s not addressing a crowd, but one entity–Israel. Also shema means more than “to hear”. It means to hear and obey. It’s saying when you really hear and not listen distractedly, when you allow Elohim to be your Master, your Adonai, then you will respond in obedience.
Biblical Hebrew is not a dead language. It your language of prayer, for conversation with the person most close to you, to express your heart. Adonai will always understand your Hebrew, no matter how many mistakes it has. He will not correct you in a middle of a sentence. He will not get annoyed if you use the wrong tense. He’s heard a lot worse.
Each of us has a distracted child that can’t sit still, who day dreams, and who is either, hungry, sleepy, thirsty, bored, depressed, or worse. Speaking to ourselves in Biblical Hebrew can calm this child and let him or her know that they are not in control but Adonai is in control.
If you can make Biblical Hebrew your heart language, you will learn more quickly than you ever thought.
These are thoughts that are still cooking and might need what you have to offer.