I have a friend named Howard, who lives in Virginia. Like my friends Joel and Robert, Howard is the brother I never had. As self-deprecating as he is, he’s hilarious and someone I consider a spiritual mentor. If you’ve ever read my inspirational columns and think they’re great reads, chances are good I’ve bounced some ideas off of Howard. A few years ago Howard half-jokingly told me to brush up on Hebrew since it would be the official language of heaven. When Howard signed my yearbook in my senior year of college, he wrote: שלום
Shalom, in Hebrew, literally means “peace” and can be used as a greeting to say hello or goodbye. I knew almost nothing about Hebrew at the time and because of Howard’s handwriting (which is slightly better than mine), it took me almost an hour to look up the word in Strong’s Concordance!
As I learn the alphabet, memorize some vocabulary and begin the long, arduous process of learning pronunciation, verb conjugation and tenses and then grammar, I see just how fun my self-study will be (in the meantime I’m trying to brush up on the three languages I’ve studied [Spanish, Chinese and Russian] and even dabble a little into my great-grandfather’s language of German).
To you, Howard, I say:
I also learned the Hebrew words for our vocations.
As for Howard’s vocation when I knew him at college:
These are presented above without the vowel points. I hope someday to be able to read Hebrew without them, since I know they’re considered training wheels. Happy reading, Howard!