Veritas contributed this:
I took up the study of Latin. You may ask why?
One could explain it, as some would say, that you do not choose what you love it.This is how the culture that surrounds us would respond to a question like this, assuming that why one does things is mysterious and impossible to understand, and we should just follow what we are and do what our heart tells us to do, without questions. I do not agree with that. As Yidden we should at least make an effort to understand what motivates us, so that we may know whether it is worthy or unworthy and how to proceed with it or manage it, and thus we gain self insight and wisdom.
My wife not bothered by it. In fact, she is proud of her husband, the scholar. But, my kids.....they don't like it at all.
The other day, one of my younger ones asked me why I took up the study of Latin. The older one broke in and answered for me: "Because Totty is studying to be a priest!".
Why would one study Latin? It is a dead language and everyone who ever spoke it is long dead. As one, now immortal student had said:
'Latin is a dead language,
As dead as dead can be.
It killed the ancient Romans,
And now it's killing me.
All are dead who ever spoke it
All are dead who ever wrote it
All will die who ever learned it
Blessed death, they surely earned it!
There the facile explanations for I am drawn to Latin, the ones that come first to mind.
It helps the study of the Talmud, which contains many words of Latin provenance. This is especially true of Yerushalmi, and as Professor Shaul Lieberman and Samuel Krauss have shown, many times the knowledge of these words opens up the sugya in ways that are otherwise not possible. I always paid a lot of attentions to understanding the realia of daily life described in the Talmud and learning Latin would be nothing more than an extension of that.
But, then I should study Greek, which everyone agrees was a much stronger presence in the Talmud than Latin.
Perhaps I can trace my interest in Latin to a conversation with a former student, a classics major, who explained how he first came into contact with Jewish learning. He found a copy of a translated Tanya in his college library, and was fascinated by it. However, h could not understand anything in it and was tempted to put it away and never come back; but, he reminded himself that he is a student of ancient texts and has the skills to tackle this challenge - so he did, and made headway, and now can boast of generations of Lubavitch Hassidim.
So, I thought to myself - Hmm, Latin is an ancient text! I also study ancient texts!
On a deeper level, Roman culture was a counterpart and counterweight to the Jewish culture. It was a reflection and a mirror image of our civilization, and by comparison, one can understand one by reference to the other. When one rises, the other one falls (Megilla 6a). It is interesting that modern scholars have come to the same conclusions without a reference to the Talmudic maxim.
Is this enough? Who knows? May be one really cannot explain or account for what and who one loves.