Monday, August 01, 2005

Aramaic, dikduk, Chaim Berlin, Zionism

There is a current discussion on mail-Jewish about teaching Aramaic systematically in yeshivos.

Someone posted the following anecdote
"My father a"h used to tell a great story that I would neverhave believed had he not been the one telling it. My father attendedChaim Berlin in Brooklyn in the mid-30's. My father was in a class as aboy and the rebbe/melamad was explaining that we read Bahaalotch onChanukah (the last day) because Chanukah starts with a Chet andBahaalotcha has a Chet (I kid you not). When one of the boys in theclass, who was obviously braver than my father, had the temerity to say:but rebbe, Chanukah starts with a Chet and Bahaalotcha ends with a Chaf!The rebbe screamed : get out my class, you Zionist!
At the risk of explaining the obvious, the story is amusing onat least 3 levels: 1) the melamed/rebbe's unfamiliarity withHeb. spelling, hard as that may be to believe, 2) the assumption thatone needed some specialized knowledge of dikduk to spell, and 3) thatanyone who knew dikduk was a Zionist."
The fourth level: 4) R. Chaim Berlin, son of the Netziv and brother of R. Meir Bar-Ilan (Berlin) was a Zionist.

In fact, a venerable Chaim Berliner once told me a bizarre story about an encounter between R. Baruch Ber Leibowitz and R. Chaim Berlin that had to do with the latter's Zionism and the formers conflicted feelings towards him.

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