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The angels in Heaven are said to not be able to understand Aramaic because it represents a deviation from the Hebrew language. My question is: Do they understand the Arabic language (as is very close to the Hebrew language)?

After all, most of the words in the Arabic language sound like Hebrew.

For example,

  • murder sounds like the hebrew word.
  • servant sounds like in hebrew.
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It's actually a quasi-interesting question. @!@#$%^& : If you translate it to English maybe you can get an answer. –  Double AA Apr 18 '12 at 18:50
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people i know who speak arabic say that while there are roots in common, hearing one will not mean being able to discern meanings of actual words and phrases. the angels' not "understanding" aramaic is something (imho) a bit more spiritual and deeper than simply saying "they didn't learn it in angel school." –  Danno Apr 18 '12 at 19:05
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الآرامية هي أقرب بكثير الى العبرية من اللغة العربية. واعتقد انه اذا لم يتمكنوا من فهم اللغة الآرامية لم يتمكنوا من فهم اللغة العربية أيضا. –  Seth J Apr 18 '12 at 21:17
    
قد اخترت أمثلة أفضل من ذلك بكثير. –  Seth J Apr 18 '12 at 21:20
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@SethJ was the point that they couldn't understand Aramaic or non-Hebrew? Your kal vachomer (if not Aramaic which is close, then not Arabic which is further) would not be necessary if the actual logic is "they don't understand anything that isn't lashon hakodesh, no matter how close but Aramaic is just the most relevant choice since that was the vernacular." –  Danno Apr 18 '12 at 21:20
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5 Answers 5

Whether that statement means that the angels don't understand Aramaic, or that they can understand it but consider it vulgar, is a topic of debate among the various commentaries. There is a summary of the whole issue, with extensive sources, in Beis Aharon, s.v. אין מלאכי השרת מכירין בלשון ארמי.

Maharsha (to Sotah 33a) explains that the specific mention of Aramaic is not to exclude other languages, but on the contrary: even though it's closely related to Hebrew, and even though it's prestigious enough that the original Aramaic Targum of the Torah was given at Sinai (Megillah 3a) (plus, also, parts of Tanach are written in it), still the angels consider it a low-class language as compared to Hebrew. All the more so, then, that other languages - which don't share these advantages - would be in that category too.

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@Maxood, please keep in mind that Alex's answer, like most content here, is from the point of view of Jewish tradition, and that here in particular, the relative values of languages being discussed are spiritual values, as understood by Jewish tradition. –  Isaac Moses Apr 19 '12 at 17:00
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Also, @Maxood: to borrow a phrase from the Khazar king (see here, par. 6), "Although your book may be a miracle, as long as it is written in Arabic, a non-Arab as I am, cannot perceive its miraculous character; and even if it were read to me, I could not distinguish between it and any other book written in the Arabic language." Maybe Quranic Arabic is indeed a beautiful literary language; I don't know. But I do know that none of the Jewish Bible is written in it, and that there is no canonically Jewish Arabic translation of the Bible like there is with Aramaic. –  Alex Apr 19 '12 at 17:15
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@Maxood, please remember that this is a Jewish site. I do not, nor do, I believe, very many contributors here, visit Muslim sites and question the holiness or validity of the Quran and push the community there to embrace and accept the holiness of the Torah/Tanach. Please stop doing the reverse here. I often appreciate your contributions to our community, but sometimes you go too far. –  Seth J Apr 20 '12 at 4:39
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@Maxood To answer your original question: According to Judaism, (Biblical) Hebrew is the language with which G-d created the world, this is why it is superior to all other languages. Kabbalistically, the Hebrew word for an object is intrinsically linked with that object (since the word is actually the creative force behind the object), while the English word (for example) is only an arbitrary reference to that object that English-speakers agreed upon. –  HodofHod Apr 22 '12 at 21:04
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@Maxood If your question is: "According to Kabbalah, how do physical objects derive their life-force from their Hebrew name, if Hebrew doesn't have names for everything?", then I think it's a great question that you should consider asking here. –  HodofHod Apr 25 '12 at 14:48
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The Eliyah Rabbah on the Levush (101:9) says explicitly that Arabic is as bad as Aramaic if we say the reason is because of the language being a corruption of Hebrew.

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See my answer here and here is the gist: The Maadanei Yom Tov (note 7) ask a question that I won't bring up, but I will bring down what he says at the end: Arabic would fall into the same category as Aramaic.

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I agree with that, since both Aramaic and Arabic are very close to Hebrew. However, certain words WOULD be understood because they are valid ways to pronounce the Hebrew word. For example, tishma3 in Hebrew and tisma3 in Arabic. Shevet Efraim pronounced shin "sin" always, so this is how they would say it, and we know "s" is one of the two authentic sounds of the letter shin. Ata and inta are hardly different, and the -ak and -ik suffixes aren't really different than -akh, -kha, -ekh, ayikh suffixes in Hebrew. These are just some examples. –  Aman Jul 5 '12 at 15:23
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Based on this Aramaic is not acceptable because it is a distortion of Hebrew, not simply a mutant or related language. I don't believe Arabic would fall into this category.

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Actually, it would seem to be in the same category as Aramaic (see Mechokekei Yehudah in the name of the Rika"m (?) note 93 here) –  b a Oct 12 '12 at 21:37
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I am a Muslim by religion. I love Hebrew and Aramaic as much as I love Arabic! The angels would understand any language as long as God likes them to understand that language. All languages are beautiful whether Hebrew, Aramaic or Arabic.

I would reckon that they would speak the language of the heaven dwellers, no matter what language background they have. What you say about those infants or children who were yet to speak but died during their childhood. So God knows best what language the angels would speak with them. We can state one fact with certainty that the language spoken by angels in heaven is of love, peace and blessings.

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I like your answer a lot, but I think you (and the question) are taking things too literally. God isn't physical, and neither are angels, unless god needs them to be so for a particular reason. I doubt they communicate through language as do you and I. Does your theology disagree? –  Baal Shemot Tovot Apr 19 '12 at 20:02
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I happen to like your answer, but I wonder if you can say that it comes from a Jewish perspective, since that is what this site aims for, after all. That's not to say that a non-Jew is incapable of writing a good answer on this site, they are. But to be on-topic here, it must draw from Jewish sources. –  HodofHod Apr 19 '12 at 20:05
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I do love all languages. I do agree they are all beautiful (God created them!). I do believe angels can understand any language God wants them to understand. I agree that those in heaven speak the language of the heaven dwellers (that's a tautology really). I agree that the language in heaven is of love, peace and blessing. But I am not a Muslim by religion, and I believe that the language described above is Hebrew. If you edit that in than I will +1. Otherwise I'm not sure this answer is really Jewish in nature. –  Double AA Apr 19 '12 at 20:14
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I also like this answer. The original poster of the question is asking based on Jewish traditional sources. That statement is taught in the Talmud. The Talmud is a bedrock set of books that are the underpinnings of our tradition (post-bible). A statement like that in the Talmud has to be taken seriously (although not necessarily literally, depending on the case). The question, then, is: "Since our tradition states that Aramaic, which is different from Hebrew, isn't understood by Angels, does this apply to Arabic, which is closely related to Hebrew?" (Apparently the asker thinks Arabic is.... –  Seth J Apr 19 '12 at 20:40
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...closer than Aramaic. That's how I understood the question, anyway. I personally think Aramaic is much closer than Arabic, which is reflected in my comments on the question.) Having said that, I would really love to upvote this answer, if not for the fact that it is not in line with Jewish tradition, which is the basis for the question (and the purpose of this site). Howerver, I will not downvote it. –  Seth J Apr 19 '12 at 20:41
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