Monday, May 02, 2005

translation, Shir Hashirim, and R. Nosson

What is a translation? The simple answer is that it changes the words in one language to words in a different language. However, we all know that some words, phrases, and expressions do not translate exactly, and therefore translations are subject to some subjectivity. There are translations that try to be totally literal, those that go more for a "feel" and are a bit more loose, and then those that deliberately add some level of interpretation. And those that translate with an agenda, so the result reflects not only the meaning, but someone's slant on what it should mean. Then, on another level,there is what artscroll has done to Shir HaShirim(Song of Songs).

R. Akiva said that the song of songs is kodesh kodashim(holy of holies). There is poetry in the words, intense imagary, and words about physical love. Much has been written about the allegorical meaning and interpretation. Artscroll, in its infinite wisdom, totally eliminated the translation of Shir Hashirim. In the place of the love story and poetry is the allegorical conversation between Israel, God, and the nations. Why did they do that?

If you were not fluent in Hebrew, and owned only the artscroll publications chumash(I haven't checked the other publications)you would never know what was written in Shir Hashirim. Only the interpretation "based on Rashi and other commentators". In otherwords, Artscroll doesn't trust the reader to read the literal translation. It felt the need to CENSOR the translation. "You want the truth? you cant handle the truth?" R. Nosson Scherman plays Jack Nicholson in a remake of the classic movie. It was ok for Sholmo(going by the usual attribution) to write it. R. Akiva gave it good reviews. But Artscroll knows what is best for our delicate constitutions and belief structure.

I am going to check in shul in the artscroll siddur. I wonder when they lift the Torah, does it say "v'zot haTorah asher sam Moshe, l'fnei b'nei Yisrael al pi A-doshem, b'yad, Moshe? or have they changed it to b'yad Nosson Scherman?" it does have a little better rhythm to it. These are some books by a rav named Nosson that are banned from my house.

crossed blogged to bava dilbert where comments are active, and I will be establishing a new home in the future.

Comments-[ comments.]

4 Comments:

Blogger yeshivaguy said...

What's your beef? They didn't censor anything. They simply transmitted the pshat according to Rashi and others, and told you they're doing so.

3:30 PM  
Anonymous Zal said...

They certainly DID "censor" Shir Hashirim. Yes, Artscroll tells you right up front that this "translation" is different from their other translations. But what would have been intellectually honest would be to give an English translation and give Rashi's pshat in the commentary, like they do with every other work. Artscroll gives Rashi's allegorical pshat as the translation itself in their Pesach siddur, their regular siddur, their full size Tanach, and I believe even the Megillah Shir Hashirim sefer! Artscroll says this is because "fools and scoundrels" have misintrepreted the sefer in the past. Puleeze; do you think that they're really afraid of bible critics and reform rabbis? They're really afraid of the kinderlach and yeshivah buchers reading what appears on the surface to be an erotic love poem, plain and simple. I had to get out my "borrowed" Gideon's Bible to refresh my memory as to what the fuss is all about...

9:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"What's your beef? They didn't censor anything. They simply transmitted the pshat according to Rashi and others, and told you they're doing so."

They explicitly called the literal translation "false". That is shocking; a negation of "ain mikra yotzi medei peshuto".

5:14 PM  
Blogger yeshivaguy said...

"Yes, Artscroll tells you right up front that this "translation" is different from their other translations. But what would have been intellectually honest"

That is intellectually honest.

4:01 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home


Web Counter by TrafficFile.com Site Meter Add http://houseofhock.blogspot.com to your Kinja digest