Holy Land/Holy Tongue לשון הקודש ארץ הקודש
Hebrew and the Land of Israel—the holy tongue and the holy land—have been intimately bound together in Jewish sources since the earliest times. The bond was forged in the Bible by prophets and lawgivers, kings and scribes, and it created a single, insoluble entity. “If I forget thee O Jerusalem” (Psalm 137: 5) is a phrase that has accompanied the Jewish people throughout their history, and the Hebraic collections in the Library of Congress amply reflect this connection. Images of Jerusalem—its walls, towers, and Temple—decorate many of the items in the Library’s collections, giving a visual dimension to the bond between language and land. They appear on wall plaques and posters and in illuminated manuscripts and Passover Haggadot from all parts of the Jewish Diaspora. Many of the oldest Hebrew books on the Library’s shelves, printed by Jewish and Christian printers alike, bear images of the Temple in Jerusalem on their frontispieces. The first book printed in the Land of Israel, in the city of Safed in 1577, which was a commentary on the Scroll of Esther by Yom-Tov Tsahalon, was written in Hebrew. In modern times, media such as posters and newspapers printed in Israel are both a graphic reminder of the resurgence of Hebrew as a spoken language and the latest embodiment of the ancient bond between language and land.
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