Did you know the Hebrew letters for "man" and "woman" combine as mathematical symbols to produce the two words "God" and "fire"? Support this equation with the letters representing God's name, and you stabilize the passion between the sexes in an enduring spiritual union. Popular author Rabbi Daniel Lapin digs into the "holy" Hebrew language -- which not only conveys data but, as linguists know, also contains it. On a fascinating treasure hunt, his book decodes eternal wisdom embedded in the ancient tongue on relationships, human pleasure, life's meaning, and more. With real-life anecdotes, drawn from his lifetime in the rabbinate, the author uncovers a wealth of insights intended for our enrichment and enjoyment. A practical, easy read which will fascinate, entertain, and instruct us in the awesomeness of the Lord's language.
"Buried Treasure" is an accurate title for this book
By Jacob Schneir on May 11, 2001
I went to Hebrew school in the 1970s for my bar mitzvah and "learned Hebrew" -- meaning, learned how to pronounce the letters, while having absolute no idea what the words meant. This is about all the Hebrew education Reform and Conservative Jews tend to get from their temples. Later I learned to understand Hebrew well enough to read the Pentateuch. As a longtime resident of the Upper West Side, Manhattan, I heard all kinds of rabbis talk about all kinds of Jewish subjects. But I didn't REALLY begin to comprehend this amazing language till I started reading Rabbi Lapin's writings about the insights that are coded in the very structure of Hebrew grammar, spelling, etc. So when I heard he'd written a whole book about Hebrew, I was very excited. I'm a little disappointed that the book isn't more comprehensive; it's fairly short. Hopefully there'll be a second volume. But what's here is great: a variety of Hebrew words analyzed in detail, in a very accessible, charming way, that yield lots of sometimes-counterintuitive "life lessons" about everything from sex to work to deepening your relationship with God. There's no heavy grammar or vocabulary. You won't come away from the book being able to speak or read Hebrew. That's not the point. It's more like a series of fun, elegant essays about life that unfold from Lapin's incomparable command of this ancient tongue. I've read all about those "Bible code" books, that are supposed to show how information is coded in the text of the Hebrew Bible. I'm not sure about that. But the way Hebrew works -- almost like mathematics -- is enough to make you wonder if there's something supernatural going on with this language. I mean, I don't think Enlish works that way. "Buried Treasure" is a pretty accurate title for this book.
A Thoughtful Look at the Mother of All Languages.
By Yaakov Mosher on Oct 19, 2004
Rabbi Daniel Lapin, known for his penetrating insights into the country's political clashes (see ``America's Real War''), gets back to more traditional rabbinic fare in ``Buried Treasure,'' an examination of key words in the Hebrew language. Rabbi Lapin informs us that Hebrew is more like mathematics (perhaps that's why I'm lousy at math and also break my teeth on Hebrew) than it is like another language. Thus the Torah (the Jewish Bible) is a complex data stream, a long computer program that explains all of reality, the rabbi says. Delving deeply into a Hebrew word yields important lessons that if incorporated into the way one lives makes the person and the world a better place. Reading a word backwards is another way to derive meaning, Rabbi Lapin says. Also, numerical analysis using the ancient Jewish numbering system known as gemetria (in which attached to consonants are fixed numerical values) is helpful. Vowels are of secondary importance, Rabbi Lapin says. In fact, Hebrew roots can be vowelized in different ways to derive additional meanings, he says. The chapter on the verb Paleil, which approximately means ``I pray'' in English, should be reviewed periodically by those desiring to keep their prayers from becoming a rote mechanical exercise. Orthodox Jewish sensibilities might be slightly offended by the book's cover which features a Siddur (Jewish prayer book) in dirt as well as by the fact that the Orthodox Rabbi Lapin admits to having a video player in his home so that his family can occasionally - gasp! - watch movies. But, make no mistake, ``Buried Treasure'' is a kosher book and a refreshing book. The work is very approachable and readable. No previous experience with Hebrew is required. The chapters are short which is surprising considering the depth of the material. Rabbi Lapin is internationally known for his ability to give over Jewish wisdom in practical, useful ways. Some rabbis might imagine the height of spirituality is prattling in Yiddish about what some commentator said 1,000 years ago about an arcane aspect of Jewish law. It is pleasing to see a rav leave the ivory tower to teach important life lessons from the Holy Torah that benefit all people. Such a man is practicing true Chesed (kindness).
A Customer on Jun 09, 2001
This book is so enjoyable to read that you may be surprised how much you are learning and gleaning from its insights. This book has great examples of how to apply lessons to your day-to-day life. I loved Rabbi's other book, but this is great in a totally different way. It is non-political but still has a lot to say on th best way for us to organize our relationships, relate to our Maker, and become successful in our professional lives. This book made me want to meet the author and ask his advice on everything- which most 'self help' books do not usually do. I heartily recommend it.
By Gregory Olsen on Dec 23, 2003
The title for this book is perfect. Rabbi Lapin uses details about the Hebrew language as a springboard to wisdom. I first learned about Rabbi Lapin when he filled in for a local talkshow host. This book is not about politics as you would expect. Instead it is a collection of essays about relationships, parenting, and business. Some of his explanations of Hebrew grammar are flaky as are his flights of gematria (studies using the numeric values of the Hebrew letters). But they are not the point. The point of the book is to teach life lessons based on Hebrew words - that the Torah is a guidebook for successful living.
By Char on Mar 18, 2011
Hebrew is a unique language rich with meaning that adheres in large part not only in the obvious translation of words, but also in the pictographs of its characters, arrangement of its units of meaning, number plays of meaning (gematria), and a long, 3000-year tradition of Torah wisdom. As an heir of Hebrew expertise, Rabbi Daniel Lapin mines the "buried treasure" that he is in charge of in order to provide the fundamental concepts that can be applied in the making of everyday decisions for the building of strong and beautiful lives. His book is not an esoteric treatise, but a simple discussion easily understandable to a general reader. In the book's Foreword, a former student of Lapin writes that his teaching is "a vibrant, electrifying sense of the Hebrew Language as a key to understanding God's blueprint for the world...." The Torah tradition as taught by Lapin uses Hebrew as a "unique precious window into the mind of God." The wisdom and tradition emphasize "the joys of the family along with the importance of intellectual and spiritual fulfillment." The book contains teachings on twenty-eight words arranged into six categories: Relationships and Marriage, Family and Children, Community and Work, Growth and Success, Ideas, and Spiritual Life. Interestingly, up-front, the very first word that Lapin writes about is PaNiM, or "face," which he labels "The Window of the Soul." The exterior thing that reveals interior things. One of the points Lapin makes about the face is that "being a person of integrity is the challenge we know it to be because it is very difficult to reconcile all the various aspects of our personalities under one unifying umbrella. The face's many moods reflect how our very essence is not singular; instead, like the word PaNiM, it is plural." I found especially interesting one particular observance about faces from Lapin's experience as a young rabbi learning to do inspections of slaughterhouses. He says he used to wonder why there was so much emphasis upon the rabbinically trained slaughterers reciting a liturgy of psalms and blessings, asking God's blessing and giving him thanks. Then, he felt he understood why when he noted the great difference in the appearances of the faces of the praying slaughterers and those of the non-praying workers in the abattoir. While the faces of the rabbinical slaughterers were benign, refined, and serene-looking, those of the non-praying workers were dark, heavy, and crudely modeled, and they LOOKED as if they worked in a slaughterhouse. From Faces, Lapin moves on to a chapter which deals with love in a word which means "obligation." ChoVa is a kind of love that Lapin places over and above love that is a feeling which can fade away. Examining the root meanings of two related words, ChiBa, which means love and affection, and ChaVer, which means friend, Lapin reaches a conclusion that: "Not only does love (ChiBa) best endure when constructed upon the foundation of obligation (ChoVa), but friendship (ChaVer) does the same." He demonstrates that "Obligations are good things that have the capacity to expand the envelope of your life." The Talmud, Lapin points out, divides all human relationships into two categories: those that are sexual and those that are not. He asks what kind of activity can create nonsexual relationships as profound as sexual ones and his answer is those activities creating or assuming an OBLIGATION. He then writes about the meaningfulness of the KINDNESS of lending money--not GIVING someone money, which could risk robbing the recipient of his dignity and self-respect--but LENDING money. He says that giving away money in patronage is not as great an act of kindness as is helping someone to independence. Lapin concludes his discussion of "obligation" as the basis for profound marriage and friendship by citing the "pictograph" (my word) created in the word "YeDid," which is another word for "friend." It is a four-letter word spelled yud, dalet, yud, dalet. Yud dalet, as in YaD spells the Hebrew word for hand. Lapin asks the reader if the yud dalet, yud dalet "picture" of two hands clasping does not make a good image to symbolize friendship. "Now you can clearly see the probable origin of the handshake," says Lapin. "Furthermore, since this kabalistic symbolism of the hand means 'acquiring that which the world has to offer,' the word for a friend, YeDid, has an additional important meaning and lesson. Just as my hand helps me survive by moving food and drink from the table to my mouth, so the juxtaposition of two hands to mean "friend" suggests that two friends help one another to survive and prosper. They do this by each trying to move toward the other those things he thinks his friend needs and wants. In other words, each serves as an additional hand for the other. They are like two adjacent hands. What a perfect metaphor for friendship." Among other words of good advice, Lapin concludes the teaching with saying, "Seek out obligations to undertake." The title of this one little chapter is "Love's Enduring Foundation." Considering just these points from this one brief chapter of a few pages about love defined as obligation, how Rich is that? Orthodox Rabbi Daniel Lapin is a well-known TV and radio personality with an interest in furthering friendship between Christians and Jews. Information about him, his work, and his books is available on-line.
Pirate's Booty For the Soul
By Mozesonisaac on Apr 22, 2007
Buried Treasure adds a deeply human and Godly element to the kinds of work I do with Hebrew words at [...]. Whereas Edenics is the science of Hebrew, Rabbi Lapin's unearthed golden dubloons reflect The Sacred Tongue's ethical and social wisdom. Sure, there are occasional treatments of Hebrew where there might be technical weaknesses. For exaple, why compare HoRiM (parents) to distantly related words for "early rains" or "shooting a bow?" It is HaRim (mountains -- which we look up to, get refuge and revelation from) that is the better fit with HoRiM (parents), and with the Hey-Resh of pregnancy (when a woman HILLS up with child). But Rabbi Lapin smoothly and profoundly makes his insightful points with these Hebraicisms. We are pointed towards tradition and away from harmful contemporary trends in a most natural, positive and loving way. It is impossible to read Buried Treasure and not wish that we had Rabbi Lapin and family as our lifelong neighbors. --Isaac Mozeson
By Pete on Oct 12, 2011
This is a very informative and interesting book, especially if you understand a little Hebrew. It really has much to say about how we live and how the Bible is so relevant to life in today's world. I didn't realize that in Hebrew a word spelled backwards has the exact opposite meaning of when it is spelled forward. There is much wisdom in the book and I highly recommend reading it.
Treasures in Hebrew
By Julia Morgan on Sep 08, 2013
The author uncovers some wonderful truths buried in the Hebrew language, which I wouldn't want to be without. However, I find that he then tries to spin out the chapters without saying much more. Once I've discovered the treasure, I find myself wanting to escape the rather woolly rambling, and move onto the next chapter. Bearing this in mind, I'd still recommend the book.
By Bennie L. Miles, Jr. on Apr 28, 2012
THIS BOOK IS VERY STIMULATING,IT"S MAKE LIFE A LITTLE MORE UNDERSTANDING TO THE SCRIPTURES. I WOULD ALSO RECOMMEND THE CDS, SUCH AS "TOWER OF POWER, "LET ME GO, AND MANY MORE OF HIS MATERIALS.
By Stephen Pechenik on Dec 28, 2011
This book is a must for unobservant Jews who don't realize that Hebrew words have multiple meanings and conotations. The chapters for each designated "word" are short, eye-opening,easy reading and thought provoking. I am trilled with the new knowledge imparted. Steve P, Texas