On the Origin of Species September 29, 2022 Q I cultivate aravos and other shrubs…
Hold Your Tongue
Excerpted and adapted from a shiur by Rav Moshe Zev Granek
December 10, 2021
And behold, your eyes see, as well as the eyes of my brother Binyamin, that it is my mouth speaking to you.
According to Rashi, one of the things that proved Yosef’s identity to his brothers was that he spoke lashon hakodesh. The Ramban disagrees and says that everyone in Canaan at the time spoke lashon hakodesh.
The Nachalas Yaakov, backing Rashi, cites the Gemara in Sotah that each of the seventy nations spoke its own language, and Klal Yisroel spoke lashon hakodesh. If so, the Canaanites must have spoken a language other than lashon hakodesh.
It seems from here and other places that there is a machlokes whether lashon hakodesh was given only to Klal Yisrael. This question may have halachic implications. Sefer Vayomer Yitzchak is unsure whether it is permitted to teach a gentile lashon hakodesh, since it is asur to teach him Torah. (He concludes that it is permitted.) Other poskim, like the Yafeh Laleiv, hold that it is forbidden because the gentile may use his knowledge of lashon hakodesh to study Torah, so one violates lifnei iveir by teaching him the language and enabling sin.
Another potential ramification is the ruling of the Rama (O.C. 307) that one may read books written in lashon hakodesh on Shabbos even though books in other languages are often forbidden (due to the gzeirah against reading business documents). According to the Magein Avraham, the reason is that lashon hakodesh is intrinsically holy and renders the material similar to divrei Torah. However, others understand the Rama differently.