2 Friday, December 10, 1976
THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS
The Psalms and the Agonies Created for Adherents to
the King James Version by the Modernized Transla-
tions . . . An Epic Letter by Ben-Gurion on Zionism
Ben-Gurion's Zionist Ideology:
His Defense in Talmudic Lore
David Ben-Gurion had a definite attitude on
Zionist obligations. He insisted that to be truly a
Zionist one must live in Israel.
The architect of the Jewish state aroused resent-
ment in some Zionist ranks for such a view. Ben-
Gurion, who thus defined the Zionist term when he
was Israel's Prime Minister, had many disputes on the
subject. He resorted to history and to Jewish tradi-
tional dedication to Eretz Israel when defining his
A Detroiter who had an important, role in provid-
ing defensive means for Israel from the earliest days
of Israel's statehood was among those who challenged
B-G. Harry Cohen quietly aided the efforts for the
the rebirth of
Israel, with im-
The story of his
labors for the
Israel is yet to
be told. He con-
tinued it until a
few months ago
when he gave a
$250,000 gift to
stitute of Sci-
ence in Rehovot
for the es-
DAVID BEN GURION
When David Ben-Gurion excoriated Zionists for not
settling in Israel and defined a Zionist as a Jew who
settles in Israel, Harry Cohen was resentful. He wrote
to B-G expressing his objection to a view that would
compel him, a dedicated Zionist, to abandon his home
in Detroit whence, he believed, came his ability to
continue to aid Israel.
The Ben-Gurion response to that criticism is a
masterpiece of logic and a frankly assertive declara-
tion. Under the date of June 21, 1961, Ben-Gurion
turned to the Talmud for a defensive argument in
replying to the Detroit critic. He then wrote to Harry
Cohen from the Office of the Prime Minister in
I was astonished by the end of your letter. Where did you get the
impression that I ever said, wrote or thought that anyone who does
not live in Israel is not a Jew? Moses was a Jew, although he never
lived in the Land of Israel . The great figures of mediaeval Jewry —
lbn Gabirol, Maimonides, Yehuda Halevi, and so forth — did not
live in the Land of Israel ; were they not Jews? It is not the country he
lives in that makes a man a Jew, but his origin and his feelings.
What I say is — and I do not know whether this affects you —
that since the establishment of the State, no one, in my opinion,
can be a Zionist unless he comes to settle in Israel. But even in this
matter, I do not lay down the law, and if a Jew who lives in the
United States, speaks English and brings up his children in English,
buys a Shekel, joins the ZOA and calls himself a Zionist — no one
can deprive him from that name. If that is the case, I am sorry to say
that the title of Zionist has no meaning, but any other Jew has the
right to think otherwise.
But a Jew is a Jew — wherever he may be.
You are apparently thinking of a quotation from the Talmud —
a saying which I did not compose and with which I do not agree —
which says: "Whoever lives outside the Land of Israel resembles one
who does not have a God." You are fully entitled to object to this
saying, but I am not responsible for any aphorism in the Talmud.
And since you have written to me, i want to tell you that in my
opinion, it is a duty of every Jew, wherever he may live, to see to it
that his children receive a Hebrew education, are able to read the
Bible in the original, are imbued with love and attachment to Israel.
Masterful in its brevity, this statement may
well be viewed as an epic definition of a great ideal.
The Ben-Gurion view has its emphasis in an in-
teresting episode that occurred in. Jerusalem some 10
or 12 years ago. Leonard Lyons, the
popular columnist whose feature en-
titled "Lyons' Den" was widely syndi-
cated, had become deeply interested
in Israel. He visited the country sev-
eral times and on the specific occasion
referred to he went to see Ben-Gurion
before returning to the United States
and said: "B-G, I am so sorry I must
leave, I can only spend these two
weeks here. I wish I could stay at least
To which Ben-Gurion replied:
"Oh, no! Either two weeks or a lifetime."
Copyright 1976, JTA, Inc.
I A psalm of DaYid.
The LORI) is in shepherd:
1 lack nothing.
Npsa -r NV'T 111N I 2 - . 2 He makes inc lie down in green pastures;
I le leads inc to " - water in places of repose; a
I le renews my lire:
He guides innin right paths
as befits 1-Iis name.
N')2 --15N ---)o) 4 Thoti:,,- 11 I walk through
valley of deepest darkness, -
DPN -) D
1 rear no 11,11. 111, for 1 Olt :ire With 111C:
70.1) 71 In)VV)3)
Your rod and Your stalf—they comfort
' . 7
1- 7)vi - r -
You spread a table for me in full ie\\- of my enemies;
You anoint WV head with oil;
my drink is abundant.
0 Only goodness and steadfast love shall purstre inc
all the da\ s
and I shall dwell in the house of the Awl)
:DThr "ON L.1
for many - Iono vcars.
The Bible Translator . . .
Role of the Jewish Scholar
"Yahweh is my shepherd, I lack nothing. Ii
meadows of green grass he lets me lie. To th
waters of repose he leads me; there he revives
When the traditional "In the,obeginning God
soul . .
created heaven and the earth . . ." was changed by
Additionally interesting is .the text of thi:
scholars whO were revising the Torah translation, it Psalm in "The Septuagint Bible", the historic text
was changed to "When God began to create the heaven the 'Translation of the Seventy". Here is how tx r
and the earth . . . there was consternation in some Psalm begins in this traditional work:
ranks. Some were genuinely distressed: "How could
"The Lord is my shepherd, I shall want nothing.
any one tamper with the King James Version . . .",
a verdant pasture He hath fixed my abode. H
etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.
hath fed me by gently flowing water and restore°
Yet the latter version is now the accepted corn-
my soul. He hath led me in paths of righteousnes. ,
mencernent of the translation of Genesis, which was
for His name's sake . . ."
done by eminent scholars under the chairmanship of
Many scholars, in all areas of the world, reading
the distinguished authority Dr. Harry Orlinsky, and the Psalms in all languages, have been fascinated b
that's how Jewish Publication Society's treasured them. The preachers of all religions have been ins?
"The Torah" commences. red by them. Thomas. Jefferson made it a major topi
Consternation over scriptural translations con- in his literary career. It has been especially notable
tinues, especially in the emendations made in the the emphasis by the British. While too many of tht.
newest JPS work, "Tehilim —The Psalms," the newest texts of Psalm 23 cannot be quoted it is worth referring
in the translations also sponsored by the Jewish Publi- to a British scholarly work "The Psalms of Sir Phili
cation Society of America and pursued by very emi- Sidney and The Countess of Pembroke":
The Lord, the Lord my shepheard is,
The best known of the Psalms — because it is
And so can never I
said often at funerals — is the 23rd, and already there
are some distressed people because the original has
He rests me in greene pasture his:
been tampered with. A study of the criticisms based on
By waters still, and sweete
the 23rd Psalm is therefore in order. But first it is
Hee guides my feete . . ."
necessary to present the text of the new translation as
Whatever aggravations may, at the outsec,
it appears in the very beautiful volume of the JPS be caused by changes in the King James Version and
excellently illustrated by Ismar David. The trans- other texts for those who have become used to ti,
lators' committee was composed of noted scholars, established that is viewed as traditional, if it induces
Professors Moshe Greenberg, Jonas Greenfield , Saul comparisons, studies, interest in all of the Psalms an ca
Leemon, Martin Rozenberg,l\tahum Sarna and David not necessarily a single often-used one, then the result
is for the best in scriptural interest.
The actual text of the Psalm and the translation
.. Having made some comparisons, and having read
from the new JPS epic is reproduced above.
the results of the labors in this Ketubim portion b ■
In truth, the new translation lends new beauty to eminent Jewish scholars, we accept ,the new version.
Psalm 23. The translators were concerned with the There is fascination in it. There is thrill and comfort
traditional and with the applicability of the truest in changes, and the revision is commendable. It ad
English terms to transplant the meaning from the appreciation for the Bible translations done by I
Hebrew into the English. scholars for JPS readers.
The Psalms may have had more translators and
Perhaps the new and very marvelous "Tel
interpreters than any other scriptural text. The man- The Psalms," while produced in a limited editi
ner in which Psalm 23 was treated is especially nota- encourage more readership and increased P .
ble. bership. Too few are among the enrollees in JF here
Example: "The Jerusalem Bible," certainly one of are less than 15,000 where there should be more the
the most christological of the Bibles that include the 100,000. And if there is an increase in membershi
Torah, the Prophets, the Ketubim and the New Tes- perhaps it will result in encouragement to JPS to issu
tament, entitled Psalm 23 as "The Good Shepherd." It a popularly-priced edition of this notable translation
commences as follows: an illustrated gem as a printer's superb creation.