web analytics
November 28, 2014 / 6 Kislev, 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post
IDC Herzliya Campus A Day on Campus

To mark IDC Herzliya’s 20th anniversary, we spent a day following Prof. Uriel Reichman, IDC’s founder and president, and Jonathan Davis, VP for External Relations, around its delightful campus.



Q & A: Torah In English (Conclusion)


QuestionsandAnswers-logo

QUESTION: Is one allowed to publish Torah discussions in any language other than in the original Hebrew?
A Reader
Wilkes Barre, PA
ANSWER: Last week we mentioned the founding of The Jewish Press as a response to the communal need for an English language Torah newspaper. A vehicle for promoting Torah, love of Israel, and news of the various Jewish communities worldwide, The Jewish Press has reached and continues to reach many Jews, resulting in increased religious observance. We continued with the premise that publishing Torah topics in languages other than the original is allowed in order to prevent wholesale failure to recall what was taught (Temura 14b). A verse in Psalms (119:126) served as the basis for altering a rule to prevent the entire Torah from being forgotten. A verse in Proverbs (22:6) was interpreted similarly by Metzudat David.We conclude this week with further support for publishing Torah related material in the language spoken and understood by the students.

* * *

Chidushei HaRim offers another reason why the Torah had to be transcribed into 70 languages (Deuteronomy 27:8, ba’er heitev). It was not only for ummot haolam, the nations of the world, but, more importantly, for the benefit of Klal Yisrael. Moses knew that in the future Klal Yisrael would be driven into exile. In order to ensure that they would be able to study Torah wherever they might settle, it was written in all 70 languages.

HaGaon R. Moshe Feinstein discusses the matter in his responsa (Iggrot Moshe, Orach Chayyim Vol. 5:10): “… We find that the Torah Sages’ language, specifically as regards Torah study, was in the local vernacular. For example, the sages in France spoke French and studied Torah in French, [the language] in which they had to explain it to their students.

“As for the sages of Sefarad [Moorish Spain], where the language was Arabic, they taught and wrote their Talmudic compositions in Arabic. We find that Rambam wrote his commentary on the Mishna as well as his Moreh Nevuchim, ‘The Guide to the Perplexed,’ in Arabic. It was only his book of halachic rulings [the Mishneh Torah, also referred to as Yad Hachazaka] that he wrote in the holy tongue, Hebrew, because he did not want to change the language of halachic rulings, which are based on the Mishna and the Gemara, from the language of their source.

“However, even though the sages of France conversed with and instructed their students in French, their many Torah compositions were drafted in the language of the Talmud [Hebrew].

“Similarly, we do not find that the sages of Germany, whose language of conversation and instruction was German, penned their Torah works in any language other than Hebrew….”

R. Feinstein now takes a very novel approach as he continues: “The German language merited [to be a language of Torah] because of the blessing that Noach bestowed on his son Japhet: ‘Yaft Elokim leYephet ve’yishkon be’oholei Shem… - May G-d extend Japhet; he shall dwell in the tents of Shem. . .’ [The Torah (Genesis 9:20-27) has just described how Ham disgraced Noach after he became drunk. According to Rashi, Shem's and Japhet's quick action of covering their father's nakedness restored Noach's dignity. Shem, who took the initiative, was blessed that his descendants were given the mitzva of tzitzit, the fringed garment. Japhet, who joined Shem, was given a secondary blessing that he shall dwell within the tents of Shem].”

R. Feinstein explains that Japhet is connected to Ashkenaz (the German speaking countries). Thus, even after we left the countries of Ashkenaz, German remained a language of the Jews, albeit in an altered version now known as Yiddish. The basic syntax of the language remained the syntax of German. Interestingly, R. Feinstein notes, Jews in different areas developed different dialects of this Judeo-German.

We also find a responsum (dated 27 Adar II 5738) of the Gaon R. Eliezer Menachem Man Shach, zt”l, about learning Torah in Yiddish in order to understand the lectures (shiurim) delivered in the yeshiva gedola, the advanced level of yeshiva.

He rules: “However, in the event that these lectures are delivered in English, the students’ language of fluency, and [if] they do not understand Yiddish, then it is far better to do so [i.e., lecture in English].”

From all of the above it should be clear that the response to your question is that it is certainly proper to publish and circulate as widely as possible Torah topics in the local vernacular. In fact, we have already seen the benefits of spreading Torah in this manner.

May we thus merit to witness the realization of the prophecy of Isaiah (11:9), “Ki mal’ah ha’aretz de’ah et Hashem kamayim layam mechasim – For the earth will be filled with knowledge of Hashem as the water covers the sea bed.”

About the Author: Rabbi Yaakov Klass, rav of Congregation K’hal Bnei Matisyahu in Flatbush, Brooklyn, is Torah Editor of The Jewish Press. He can be contacted at yklass@jewishpress.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Q & A: Torah In English (Conclusion)”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
IDF Chief Rabbi Rafi Peretz delivers lecture.
IDF Chief Rabbi: Nothing is Holy to Muslims on Temple Mount except Al Aqsa
Latest Judaism Stories
The Story of Jacob and Esau (2010) 11 x 19, bronze relief by Lynda Caspe. Courtesy Derfner Judaica Museum – Hebrew Home at Riverdale

Yaacov returns the stolen blessing of material wealth and physical might to Esav

Rapps-Rabbi-Joshua-logo

The Jew, from the perspective of the name Yaakov, is dependent on the non-Jewish world. This can be seen today in the relationship between the State of Israel and the United States

Lessons-Emunah-logo

Yet, ultimately, looking back, these “setbacks” turned out to be really for the patient’s best – for the good.

In the afternoon, he reached into his pocket to check for the money, but it was empty. “The $50 bill must have fallen out,” Alex exclaimed. “It’s got to be in one of the rooms I was just at.”

Although the conversion ceremony involves more than circumcision and immersion, these are the two essential requirements, without which the conversion is ineffective.

Question: If Abraham was commanded to circumcise his descendants on the eighth day, why do Arabs – who claim to descend from Abraham through Yishmael – wait until their children are 13 to circumcise them? I am aware that this is a matter of little consequence to our people. Nevertheless, this inconsistency is one that piques my curiosity.

M. Goldman
(Via E-mail)

Rashi in Shabbos 9b writes that the reason why the tefillah of Ma’ariv is a reshus is because it was instituted corresponding to the burning of the eimurim from the korbanos – which was performed at night.

It almost sounds as if Hashem is saying, “I have to keep Yaakov from getting too comfortable; otherwise he will forget Me. I can’t promise him sustenance because then he won’t need Me. He won’t write. He won’t call. He won’t love Me anymore.”

The Decree Of 1587
“Two Kabs Of Dinars Were Given…To King Yanai”
(Yevamos 61a)

Simply too many cases of prayers being answered to deny it makes a difference to our fate. It does.

Prayer is our language: Hakol kol Yaakov – the voice is the voice of Jacob – the voice of prayer.

Jacob cries, overcome by the knowledge that his great love for Rachel will end in unbearable pain.

There’s a perfect mirror between Jacob running away from Esav to when he reunites with his brother.

Yitzhak called you Esav and you answered him, then he called you Yaakov and you also answered him!”

Yitzchak thought the Jewish people needed dual leadership: Eisav the physical; Yaakov the spiritual

More Articles from Rabbi Yaakov Klass
QuestionsandAnswers-logo

Question: If Abraham was commanded to circumcise his descendants on the eighth day, why do Arabs – who claim to descend from Abraham through Yishmael – wait until their children are 13 to circumcise them? I am aware that this is a matter of little consequence to our people. Nevertheless, this inconsistency is one that piques my curiosity.

M. Goldman
(Via E-mail)

Question: My young daughter was recently diagnosed with autism. She does not function well socially and is extremely introverted, but we have noticed that she reacts very well to small animals. We reported this to her therapist who suggested that we get a dog or cat as a pet. We know that most religious people frown upon having pets, but we hate to see our daughter suffer and want to do anything that would make her happy. Would it be okay to own a pet in the circumstances we described?

Her Loving Parents
(Via E-Mail)

Question: My young daughter was recently diagnosed with autism. She does not function well socially and is extremely introverted, but we have noticed that she reacts very well to small animals. We reported this to her therapist who suggested that we get a dog or cat as a pet. We know that most religious people frown upon having pets, but we hate to see our daughter suffer and want to do anything that would make her happy. Would it be okay to own a pet in the circumstances we described?

Her Loving Parents
(Via E-Mail)

Question: My young daughter was recently diagnosed with autism. She does not function well socially and is extremely introverted, but we have noticed that she reacts very well to small animals. We reported this to her therapist who suggested that we get a dog or cat as a pet. We know that most religious people frown upon having pets, but we hate to see our daughter suffer and want to do anything that would make her happy. Would it be okay to own a pet in the circumstances we described?

Her Loving Parents
(Via E-Mail)

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/ask-the-rabbi/q-a-torah-in-english-conclusion/2004/11/03/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: