If we accept the Lurianic Doctrine that לא נשתלחו ישראל לבין האומות אלא כדי שיתוסף עליהם גרים= "The only reason that Israel was dispersed among the nations" was to be augmented by converts" then perhaps "love the righteous convert" extends beyond actual Gerei Tzedek=righteous converts and applies to anything co-opted (i.e. scattered holy sparks raised) from the balance of humanity and incorporated into the boundaries of Qedusha by K’lal Yisrael . If I do not err then, by all rights, it is almost the mitzvah of וַאֲהַבְתֶּם, אֶת-הַגֵּר to love Yiddish!
I grew up in a home in which my parents conversed in Yiddish with one another, with their friends and, to a great extent, with their children. All but a few of the mispaleleim of my childhood Shul were post and pre war immigrants and their babble was a veritable Babel of Yiddishs with dialects and accents representative of Poland, Raissin, Vohleen, Mizrakh Galitzia, Maariv Galitzia, Romania and Hungary. The same was nearly true of the elementary and high schools that I attended where many of the Rebbeim conducted classes and shiurim in Momma Loshon. In addition to what I picked up in Shul I also heard Israelified wrinkles, my first classical Litvisha Yiddish, and the Americanized drawl of Chofetz Chaim alum affecting the same, in school.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I think that Yiddish is either unique in Jewish History or irreplaceable in the future of the Jewish Diaspora (though I passionately hope that the Diaspora will be a distant memory long before the centuries that need to pass to evolve such a language come to pass). I’m sure speakers of Babylonian Aramaic and Ladino felt much the same way that I do about Yiddish. They too took Leshonei La’az , infused it with words and letters from Lashon Qodesh, concepts from the written and oral Torah, uniquely Jewish sensibilities, the wry gallows humor of a dispersed and oppressed People and, converting the Goyims language, made it their own. It was “their” convert and they loved it above and beyond the language that was “born Jewish”
When listening to recordings of the Shiurim and Schmuessen of the post-war Torah Giants I am transported to a rarefied time and place and enthralled by the cohesion of medium and message, of style and substance. The brilliance and clarity filtering through the stentorian tones of Rav Yoshe Ber Soloveitchik, the grandfatherly gentleness of Rav Yaakov Kaminetsky,the passion and bell-clear elocution of the American born Rav Gifter in his Shiurei Da’as (or as one arch Telshe alumnus told me they called them “back in the day” in Cleveland -Shiurei Ka’as), the newly minted phrases, well timed pregnant pauses and emphasizing repetitions of Rav Hutner, the stamina and raw power of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, the Varshaver “yakhs” and “kuns” of Yerachmiel Domb, the almost-but-not-quite german of Rav Mikhel Ber Wiessmandel, the pathos and humanity apparent in the post-stroke slurring of Rav Chaim Shmulevitz all convince the listener that there exists no better temporal language for conveying the eternity of Torah than Yiddish.
Truth be told I am a bit of a Yiddishist and have blurred the havdala bein Qodesh L’khol when it comes to Momma Loshon. I also enjoy the comedy of Dzigan and Schumacher, the songs of Theodore Bikel or some of the contemporary figures in the Klezmer revival and the occasional reading of Bashevis or Peretz in the original.
I love the diminutives and terms of endearment in Yiddish. I roar with laughter at roundabout Yiddish curses. The inflections, modifiers and idioms are zaftig and wry. The syntax and sentence structure sound, by turns, exotic, clever, enigmatic, antebellum southern or British Cockney to the SWE trained ear.
Of course I speak here of a language that is rapidly growing extinct. Languages are not static .They evolve and, sometimes, devolve. IMO something Orwellian has happened to Yiddish over the past 20-30 years and lacking more than 2-3 overused and misapplied modifiers the language one hears today is impoverished and dry. Everything, but I mean everything is “Gevaltik” or “Moiradik”. There has also been a dilution through over-infusion of Hebrew, Aramaic and English. Things are no longer “Bah-voost” but instead are “Yodua-dik”. A window is just a vindow and no longer a fenster. A trained ear will hear in the rhetoric of Yeshivasha orators attempting Yiddish, line by line translations of English idioms and syntax rather than the original Yiddish. Their Yiddish jars my ears as those cheap giveaway English translation Breslover tracts burn my eyes.
Here’s is one of the great remarkable historical ironies: Among the many hostile Jew-hating nations that hosted the Jewries that grew Yiddish it was the native speakers of the language that gave birth to Yiddish alone who would design, implement and execute the Jewish genocide. To coin a phrase it was a Lingocide as well. For as it destroyed 5 million or more Yiddish speakers, frum and frei alike, it nearly killed off the language as well.
I don’t want to leave the 3 readers of this post with the wrong impression. So I will close on a Havdala note. Yiddish is not, never was and never can be Lashon Qodesh. The formers Qedusha is acquired while the latter’s is innate. I know of one great pre-war Polish Rebbe who spoke only Loshson Qodesh on Shabbos and Yom Tov and not a word of Yiddish. [Listening to his Tisch Torah must’ve been a real hoot!] Yet I think that my father z”l summed it up best when he said זאהל זי-ין אז אידיש איז נישט לשון קודש-עס איז כאטש לשון קדושים = "While Yiddish may not be Loshon Qodesh (the Holy tongue) it is, still, Loshon Qedoshim (the tongue of Holy Martyrs)".
The words in blue are edits to the original post and reflect the authors original intent
Qedusha-Havdala...have you had yours today???