In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review May 16, 2008 / 11 Iyar 5768

Torah talk ‘lost in translation’?

By Rabbi Hillel Goldberg

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JewishWorldReview.com | In November, 1977, the late president of Egypt, Anwar Sadat, shattered a barrier. He came to Israel and addressed the Knesset. Before that, no Arab leader had acknowledged the existence of Israel. The late Israeli prime minister, Menachem Begin, welcomed Sadat with great solemnity and pomp, and then made his own contribution to the political breakthrough with a visit to Ismailia, Egypt, a month or so later.

This was the beginning of the "peace process."

A glitch occurred at Ismailia. Menachem Begin was in the midst of a very warm speech about Sadat and one of his assistants when the translator quoted Begin as calling Sadat's assistant a "good boy." It came off as very insulting, like the pre-Civil Rights era use of "boy" to refer to a grown black man. Grown black men weren't "boys," and neither was Sadat's assistant.

However, Begin, meant no insult. In Hebrew, a bachur tov literally means a "good boy," but when used with reference to a grown man it connotes "an up and coming young man of excellent prospects and abilities." Begin intended a compliment, but it was not captured by the translator from Hebrew to Arabic. The meaning, as they say, was "lost in translation." The translation, literally correct, was completely wrong.

A famous comment by the foremost commentator, Rashi, on the first verse of the first Torah portion read this week offers a window into the problems — and possibilities — of translation from Hebrew to English.

"And the L-rd spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai saying" (Lev. 25: 1). It sounds like the standard biblical refrain, but it's not. The usual refrain is "And G-d spoke to Moses saying" — minus any reference to Mount Sinai. Why, suddenly, a mention of Mount Sinai?

Rashi answers that the context here, the laws of the Sabbatical year, differ from other laws. Only the general principles of other laws are laid down in the Pentateuch (the Five Books of Moses), while details are reserved for the oral tradition. Not so the details of the Sabbatical year. G-d told them to Moses on Sinai for inclusion in the written law, the Pentateuch.

More important than Rashi's answer is his question: "What does the Sabbatical year have to do with Mount Sinai?"

The phrase has become a popular idiom in written and spoken Hebrew. But if I translate it literally — What does the Sabbatical year have to do with Mount Sinai? — no English speaker will have the slightest idea what I am talking about. Here is the correct translation of the meaning of these words:

What does this have to do with the price of tea in China?

Only the very first word of this translation is found in the original Hebrew, but this translation conveys the idiomatic meaning of the Hebrew. A literal translation is senseless to the English speaker.

You get the problem — and the potential.

The problem is clear. Literal translations can be awkward, or even dead wrong.

The potential is the creativity of the translator. He must deeply understand the Hebrew in order to find just the right phrase — and cadence — in the English.

Here are some of the finest translations from Hebrew to English that I know of.

Nachmanides (13th century) devised a pungent phrase for the deft cheat. Always within the letter of the law, the deft cheat still manages to steal, deceive or hate. Translated literally, Nachmanides' phrase describes this sinner as "the degenerate with the permission of the Torah" or "the degenerate within the realm of the Torah."

Not only are these translations awkward, they don't quite convey the condemnatory tone and elegant concision of the phrase. Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein, long time dean of the yeshiva in Gush Etzion, Israel, earned a doctorate in English from Harvard. His fine sense of both Hebrew and English led him to this translation:

"A scoundrel with a Torah license."

Another crisp Hebrew phrase that has gained circulation translates literally as "Honor him, but suspect him." This is a phrase for negotiations, meaning, "Show respect to the person on the other side of the table, but keep your eyes wide open." I came up with a translation that locates the fitting idiomatic English phrase whose meaning captures the Hebrew precisely:

"Trust and verify."

Popular spiritual lyrics are attributed variously to Rebbe Nachman of Bratslav (18th-19th centuries) and the Alter of Novorodock (Rabbi Joseph J. Hurvitz, 19th-20th centuries). They translate literally this way:

"This world is a very narrow bridge. The essence is not to be afraid at all."

This clumsy wording, while literally faithful to the original, robs the song of its punch. Rabbi Yechiel J. Perr, long time dean of the Yeshiva of Far Rockaway, never went to college. He developed a fine sense of English on his own. He translates the lyrics this way:

"This world is a very narrow span. Cross it — if you're unafraid, you can."

The first five letters of Rabbi Israel Salanter (19th century) are notoriously elliptical. In preparing my doctorate I needed to translate passages from these letters. One three-word phrase, in particular, stumped me. It could literally be rendered, "There is no integrity in a person" or "there is no integrity in humankind." The late Rabbi Nachman Bulman, who, among his many other talents, was a professional translator, rendered the phrase this way:

"There is no upright man."

The late Rabbi Aryeh Levin, the tzaddik (saint) of Jerusalem, frequently used a phrase that is so pithy and ripe that people think it is biblical (from the book of Psalms, for example). In fact, its origin is unknown. One might literally render it, "The salvation of the L-rd is like the momentary pause of an eye." This translation does not capture the phrase's image of the eye, nor does it clearly convey the meaning of the phrase: G-d's help comes in an instant.

The late Charles Wengrov translated the Hebrew version of "A Tzaddik in Our Time," the biography of Rabbi Levin. It is an excellent translation. He rendered the line this way: "G-d's rescuing help comes like the twinkling of an eye."

My wife Elaine, who has a very fine sense for these matters, feels that "G-d's rescuing help" is awkward, that a cleaner rendering is available. She renders the line this way:

"G-d's salvation comes in the twinkling of an eye."

Even though Bialik said that translation is like "kissing a girl through a veil," some translations do capture the original.

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JWR contributor Rabbi Hillel Goldberg is executive editor of the Intermountain Jewish News.

© 2008, Rabbi Hillel Goldberg