Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Twebrew School Instructional Video: Lesson 47

Today, you'll be learning your last letter of the Aleph-Bet! We'll be focusing on the letter Tzadi, along with it's Final Letter, the Tzadi Sofit. This letter makes a Tz sound like in the word Matzah. We conclude by reading the blessing Ha'motzi Lechem Min Ha'aretz, which you may recognize as the bracha said over challah on Shabbat.



(Remember: To request your very own copy of our Hebrew textbook, which corresponds to our online instructional videos, please "Enroll" in Twebrew School by clicking here. Within 2 Business Days, you will receive an email from us with a personalized link to a site where you can download the book. If you have any questions, please feel free to email us at JewishTreats@NJOP.org.)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Twebrew School Instructional Video: Lesson 43 & 44

Today we learn how to read 3 new characters, the Pay, Fay, and Fay Sofit. The Fay Sofit, or Final Fay, only appears at the end of words. We conclude by reading the blessing Boray P'ree Hagafen, which we recite over wine on Shabbat.



If you haven't received your copy of the book, remember to enroll here for your free copy!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Twebrew School Instructional Video: Lesson 42

Today we learn how to read the letter Tet, which we saw previously when we learned about it's look-a-like letter, the Mem.

If you haven't received your copy of the book, remember to enroll here for your free copy!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Twebrew School Instructional Video: Lesson 40

Today we're going to learn the letter Kuf, a letter thought to represent the concept of holiness since it is the first letter of the word Kadosh (Holy).

If you haven't received your copy of the book, remember to enroll here for your free copy.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Twebrew School Instructional Video: Lesson 38

In today's Twebrew video, we learn how to read the letter Chet. Chet is the first letter in the word Chupah, the Jewish wedding canopy.

Want some extra Hebrew reading practice? You may enjoy taking a look at lessons 36, 37, and 39. Each page includes prayers that you just may recognize from synagogue.

If you haven't received your copy of the book, remember to enroll here for your free copy.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Twebrew School Instructional Video: Lessons 32, 34 & 35

Today we'll be learning the letters Kaf, Chaf, Kaf Sofit and Chaf Sofit. Sofit is used to signify that these letters only appear at the end of the word. Lesson 33 in our textbook is a great opportunity for you to practice reading the letter Kaf.

If you haven't received your copy of the book, remember to enroll here for your free copy!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Twebrew School Instructional Video: Lesson 30

Today's Twebrew letter introduces you to the letter Zayin. The Zayin is a key letter in the spelling of the Hebrew word Mezuzah, the special parchment that is affixed to the doorframe of a Jewish home.

If you are enrolled in Twebrew School and have a copy of our textbook, Lesson 31 offers you an opportunity to practice reading additional words that utilize the letter Zayin. Sign up here to receive your copy!


Letter Twins Tav/Sav



The last letter of the Hebrew alphabet is also one of the five letters that changes its sound depending on whether it has a dagesh (dot) in the middle or not - but that change of sound is highly dependant on the community of origin. Most Sephardim do not make any distinction between the two letters. Ashkenazim, however, will pronounce the letter with the dagesh as a “t” and without a dagesh as an “s.” Jews from Yemen pronounce the one without the dot as a “th.”

More than any other letter in the Hebrew alphabet, these differences in pronunciation of the tav distinguish Jewish communities from one another. Most interesting of all, however, is that the common English translation of certain nouns may also demonstrate that the Yemenite pronunciation is the most historically accurate. Two examples:

Shin-Bet-Tav: Ashkenazim say Shabbos, Sephardim say Shabbat and Yemenites say Shabbath. The English rendition of the word is Sabbath.

Reish-Vav-Tav: Ashkenazim say Roos, Sephardim say Root and Yemenites say Ruth. The English rendition of the word is Ruth.

Tav is the first letter of the word tamim, which means complete or whole. Mastering the complete Hebrew alphabet from aleph through tav, completes the first step in opening the majestic and mystical doors to the Hebrew language and to Hebrew texts.

The letter tav has the numeric value of 400.

Bibliographical acknowledgment: The Wisdom In The Hebrew Alphabet: The Sacred Letters as a Guide to Jewish Deed and Thought. By Rabbi Michael L. Munk. Mesorah Publications, 1983.

The Final Treat
This completes the Twebrew School Treats. We hope that you enjoyed learning a little more about the Hebrew language and that you will continue your Twebrew School studies through the online instructional video component of Twebrew School (Introductory video, the video archive). All Twebrew School Treats are available on this website.

Thank you for joining us on this unique online exploration of the Hebrew alphabet. Please take a moment and share your thoughts and comments about Twebrew School.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Twebrew School Instructional Video: Lesson 29

Today's Twebrew video focuses on the Samach. The Samach makes a Sss sound like in the beginning of the word Circle. This is a helpful tip since the Samach looks Circular. Check it out in the video!



(Remember: To request your very own copy of our Hebrew textbook, which corresponds to our online instructional videos, please "Enroll" in Twebrew School by clicking here. Within 2 Business Days, you will receive an email from us with a personalized link to a site where you can download the book. If you have any questions, please feel free to email us at JewishTreats@NJOP.org.)

Letter Twins Shin/Sin




The letter shin/sin is unique in that the two versions of this letter are mirror images of each other. The difference is in the dot that floats above the letter. If the dot is to the right of the letter, then it is a shin and makes a “sh” sound. If the dot is to the left of the letter, then it is a sin and makes an “ssss” sound. The shin is more common than the sin.

The name of the letter, shin, is related to the word shain, which means tooth. In its calligraphic form as used in the Torah scroll, each of the three prongs of the shin has a cap, making them look like molars.

However, the shape of the shin/sin also can be seen as an allusion to the word shamayim, heavens, (which begins with the letter shin). During the process of creation, God took the water that covered the earth and split them. He set half in the firmament (meaning atmosphere) and half upon the earth. The water set in the firmament became part of shamayim. When a shin is written properly, one can imagine a vertical mirror image interlocking the two shins. The shin that is visible is the water of earth; the unseen shin is the water of heaven. The arms of the shin are perpetually reaching up to receive those waters.

When used as a prefix, the letter shin becomes the word “that” or “who.” For instance, ha’eesh sheh’rotzeh et ha’lechem means “the man who wants the bread.”

The letter shin/sin has the numeric value of 300.

Bibliographical acknowledgment: The Wisdom In The Hebrew Alphabet: The Sacred Letters as a Guide to Jewish Deed and Thought. By Rabbi Michael L. Munk. Mesorah Publications, 1983.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Letter Reish


The name of the letter reish is related to the Hebrew word rosh, which means head, and rishon, which means first. In fact, reish is the second letter of the Torah, following the bet of Bereishit (In the beginning).

At the same time, reish is also related to the word rasha, meaning wicked one. Note the similarity in shape between the reish and the daled. It has been said that the roundness of the reish symbolizes the person who bends to the fashions and ways of the times and looks to acher (spelled aleph-chet-reish), the other, for direction. Whereas the daled has a flat top symbolizing the straight path toward the Divine, looking toward Echad (spelled aleph-chet-daled), the One, as God is called in the Shema prayer: Shema Yisrael Ah’doh’nai Eh’loh’hay’nu Ah’doh’nai Echad, Hear O Israel the Lord is our God, the Lord is One.

The order of the alphabet can also teach a meaningful lesson about life. The letter reish comes one letter after the letter kuf, which begins the word kodesh, holy. Someone who has turned to wickedness (ra’ah) is still only one step away from a place of holiness (kedusha). All that is necessary is to turn around.

The letter reish will sometimes stand alone in front of a name to signify that person’s title of Rabbi--similar to the English abbreviation for Mister (Mr.).

The numeric value of reish is 200.

Bibliographical acknowledgment: The Wisdom In The Hebrew Alphabet: The Sacred Letters as a Guide to Jewish Deed and Thought. By Rabbi Michael L. Munk. Mesorah Publications, 1983.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Twebrew School Instructional Video: Lesson 26

Today we have a Twebrew Treat for you! Not only will you learn how to read the letter Nun, you've also built up enough Hebrew skills to read an important part of the Passover Haggadah, the song Dayeinu!




(Remember: To request your very own copy of our Hebrew textbook, which corresponds to our online instructional videos, please "Enroll" in Twebrew School by clicking here. Within 2 Business Days, you will receive an email from us with a personalized link to a site where you can download the book. If you have any questions, please feel free to email us at JewishTreats@NJOP.org.)

The Letter Kuf


The letter kuf (which should not be confused with the letter kaf) represents the concept of holiness because it is the first letter of the word k’dusha (as well as: kiddush, kaddish, kadosh, all of which represent sanctification/holiness). To be holy, or to sanctify something and make it holy, is, in actuality, the act of separating that object from the mundane and elevating it to a state of holiness. A silver goblet holds no special meaning until one fills it with wine and blesses that wine in order to honor the Sabbath. Perhaps this is why the form of the letter kuf is separated into two pieces.

The numerical value of kuf is 100, which represents completion, an entire unit. This concept of completion is also symbolic of God’s holiness.

The name of the letter, kuf, is closely related to the word monkey (kof). At a quick glance, when looking at the shape of the kuf, one can actually see the physical shape of a monkey crouched down with its tail hanging.

Kuf, however, also derives from the same root of the word hakif, which means to go around. Kuf, therefore, is representative of the cycle of the seasons and the year, as well as having a connection to the hakafot (circuits of dancing with the Torah) on Simchat Torah.

Bibliographical acknowledgment: The Wisdom In The Hebrew Alphabet: The Sacred Letters as a Guide to Jewish Deed and Thought. By Rabbi Michael L. Munk. Mesorah Publications, 1983.