Live always at the edge of poetic possibilty, even in the face of severe prose. - Walter Bruggemann

Thursday, August 2, 2007

When I am Cold you Should Wear a Coat

Sometimes what you say is NOT what you mean! Learning Hebrew is hard. Maybe not for you but for me, very difficult. If only I knew English grammar, perhaps that would help. If only I could remember verbs and pronouns, hey and how about that opatitive future tense? If only I could recall words, in the correct order, at a moment's notice, maybe then, when my teachers call on me I wouldn't look like a deer caught in headlights.

My teachers are patient, my fellow students are patient. They suffer through my present tense thoughts when they should be past tense. They do not laugh when my genders don't match. Really, who needs to pay attention to that stuff anyway? My friends are encouraging beyond any stroke of my imagination knowing that the entire State of Israel will laugh loudly at my Hebrew.

Today I thought I was really getting it, you know, making sense, actually speaking the language. And I was! Until, I made an error that cost me lots of ground. In Hebrew I was saying, "The men (masculine, plural), in the restaurant, wanted (masculine, plural, past tense) meat, vegetables, bread, soup, ice cream and cake." It was a perfect sentence - the King David's Hebrew.

A silence descended upon the class. I began to hear "lo" (no), "lo" (no). I was confused - in any tense. I tried to recount what I had said. The grammar was exemplary, for once, the words, right on target. The men weren't ordering dresses and sandals to eat in a restaurant. They were ordering food. What's wrong?

My fatal error? The men ordered meat and dairy together. It's not kosher. Of course, of course, what was I thinking? How tref of me. There is more to Hebrew than what the text can teach. You can't have meat and dairy together at the same meal. I have far to go, and a lot more than just the language to learn. Hebrew will come, perhaps not fluently but I know that I will not starve and can ask for directions. And hopefully, I will give Israeli's a good laugh with my efforts.

I am reminded of a story from the Book of Acts. The disciples were gathered in Jerusalem for the feast of Pentecost when all of a sudden a great wind blew into the room and at once each one of them could speak in intelligent languages, all different from the other. The Holy Spirit had gifted them with language so that they could communicate to all the people. I think that this will happen to me too. In time I'll be able to speak and make sense in Hebrew, understand it's nuances, and in this way be able to fully immerse myself into all that Israel has to offer.


Cousin Val said...

Hi Suzie, I am thrilled to be able to share some of your year abroad experiences. I think of you often and you are in my prayers.

Suzanne said...


I'm glad you were able to see the blog - stay tuned. Sounds like LG was really fun this year. I'm sorry that I had to miss. - take care and thanks for the prayers. oxoxo

Roland Engler Sr said...

Hi Suzie am trying again let me know by email if you get this note Love UNC

Suzanne said...


You got it

Padre Mickey said...

Great story, Suzanne!
Learning another language is difficult, but Hebrew is really, really difficult. The worst class I had in Seminary was Hebrew. I felt like I was back in the fifth grade with no idea what was going on and I couldn't seem to retain anything.
Learning Spanish has been somewhat difficult as my second language is Japanese, which I learned at the age of five. But I do not envy you learning Hebrew.

Also, great blog.

Suzanne said...

Dear Padre,

Thanks for checking in. Hebrew! That's exactly why I didn't take it in Seminary. Way too over the top. I'd think Japanese would present a few issues too.

Thanks for putting me on your blogroll - I love your Dance Party, look forward to more.


Roland Engler Sr said...

Suzie, tell me it isn't true about the belly dancing lessons,not you!!!! Going to the Bahsmas sounds like great fun and relaxation. Enjoy. I like your thoughts on OUR Cardinals YEAH!!! Looking forward tomore exciting blogs. Love always UNC

hoppy said...

I prefer Pig Latin.