Thursday, December 8, 2016

Bit at a Time Bible Hebrew -- digitizing your study

In the future, I recommend you set up your computer to write Hebrew; in Windows, this is in the Control Panel under “Clock, Language, and Region.” It will also work over the Internet. Then you will be able to go to and search for words in Tannakh online. That will let you find verses using the same word, and it will help you expand your understanding of all the ways that word is used in Jewish literature. That’s a free solution.
I’ve had a lot of success using DavkaWriter, which comes with Tannakh and Mishnah. It has a powerful function for searching across multiple files, as well as inside the open document, and you can search in files you create in DavkaWriter as well as the canned files it comes with. You can also copy from other sites, such as Mechon Mamre, paste into DavkaWriter files, and search on those. You have to pay for DavkaWriter but it’s not expensive.
You can also buy Judaica Classics from the Davka Corporation. Then you can search all of midrash, Mishneh Torah, Shulchan Arukh by Yosef Caro, and other Jewish literature as well as Tannakh and Mishnah. The library can be accessed for reading, copying and pasting (in limited lengths), and printing as well as for searching. That’s more expensive because it has more material. If you want to find Aramaic terms, you will have to know in advance how to spell them.
There are free books online for learning Aramaic. I say go to Internet Archive and download the book by Max Margolis. He was the terror of his students because, as Cyrus Gordon tells it, he used to throw Bible quotes at them and expect the student to come up with chapter and verse. But he was a brilliant teacher, and Gordon finally asked him how to survive his classes. Margolis said to read the Bible. When Gordon came back and said he was done, Margolis said, do it again. Seven times Margolis told Gordon to read the Bible through –in Hebrew – but Gordon survived the class without having a nervous breakdown.
The rabbis say “turn it over and over, you’ll never get to the end.” After 40 years of turning it over, I’m still learning new things about Biblical Hebrew. Like Dr. Cook’s material. You have it all in front of you – but nobody can tell what the future will bring.
I plan to reboot these lessons in Januay with a rewrite that takes advantage of everything I learned since I started writing them.  If you read them, you will get basically the grammar portion of Parshah Breshit in Narrating the Torah. You won’t get most of the Olrik stuff or archaeology.
If you would rather I rebooted in Yiddish, let me know.  I know where you can get Sholem Aleichem’s Tevye stories free in text and in audio for practice. I also know where you can get Yehoash’s Yiddish Tannakh free, but remember three things. What you know from reading my blog is a product of the 21st century; Yehoash did his translation early in the 20th century and didn’t know anything about modality.  Yiddish is an Indo-European language; Hebrew is a Semitic language so they won’t have all the same grammar. And it’s a translation which I’ve been trying to drag you away from. The Tevye stories will be much more suitable.
If you have strong preference, email me or comment.
Thank you for your attention. Don’t forget to pick your coats up in the lobby.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

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