Image: Exodus 31: 16-17 in Hebrew. (from If you look carefully, you can see the word “Shabbat.”

Yesterday’s post about a first Hebrew lesson got such a warm response that I thought I’d follow up with the secret for learning Hebrew as an adult. People often say to me, “I don’t know, Rabbi, I am not good with languages.”

Here’s the secret I learned the hard way: persistence counts. When I was learning Hebrew, there are two and only two things that may be happening:  I was improving, or or I was falling back. There is no standing still with Hebrew.

I needed to practice every single day because either my Hebrew was getting better or it was getting worse. 5 minutes moved me forward. On days I skipped, I lost ground.

I began my Hebrew studies in my 40’s. I still read some Hebrew every day (easy for me now, since it is also my work.) I get out the book, I look at the words, and I read them. It is still true, twenty years later, that I am either moving forward or backward in my skills.

The good news is that persistence will work, even if you believe you are no good at languages. Persistence is everything.