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October 07, 1983 - Image 50

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1983-10-07

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

50 Friday, October 7, 1983


Teitsch Humash' Is Revived in Fascinating
Tz'enah Ur'enah' Translation from Yiddish

An important personal-
ity, nearly forgotten, reap-
pears on the scene with the

publication of "Tz'enah
Ur'enah," subtitled "the
classic anthology of Torah


lore and Midrashic com-
ment:" Mesorah Publica-
tions render a great service




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der of Hillel Press in
Jerusalem also intro-
duces the inspirer of this
volume who gave Miss
Vakon the encourage-
ment to produce so fas-
cinating a classic.

The translator preface is
the paean for Yiddish and a
brief acclaim for the central
personality in this interest-
ing book. Miss Zakon wrote:
"The Tz'enah Ur'enah
Years ago, it evoked images
in my mind of a wizened
bubba, sitting and reading,
the flickering Shabbos can-
dles the only source of il-
lumination in her im-
poverished home in the
shtetl. A work of historical
interest, perhaps, part of an
era dead and gone.
'The very language it had
been written in, Yiddish,
was fast following the shtetl,
consigned to the dusty back
shelves of historical inter-
est. The language, the book,
the shtetl — all part of a fad-
ing past.
"Or so I thought.
"Almost immediately
upon opening the sefer, I
realized that his was no
antiquated work. This was
Torah, living Torah, with
the dynamic vitality that
Torah never loses. The
words of Humash, of Mid-
rash, of the commentaries,
came alive under the skill-
ful hand of their compiler.

That's right, we can dress
you in your own tuxedo for
only $99.00!* That's just for
starters in this event.

begins on October

to Jewish historical records
Reb Meir Holder provides
with this volume which a veritable linguistic
brings to light again a most analysis in his introduction.
interesting character in He quotes, introducing his
Jewish experience, the theme, from the Rambam,
"Zogerkeh," who was the Maimonides, who, in his
reader of Torah, Bible and "Sefer Ahava" defined the
Mishna selections for obligations for Jews to read
women who could not them- the Torah on Mondays and
selves read them in the orig- Thursdays so as never to be
, inal Hebrew.
without Torah study. Such
In addition to reviving was the obligation that also
interest in the "Zogerkeh," was shared by the women.
this Mesorah volume also Also indicated is the rule set
adds glory to the adherents forth by Ezra for Torah
to Yiddish, those who reading and study on the
encourage an ending inter- Sabbath.
est in the language.
Reb Holder proceeds to
The translation from the trace the dialects in which
Yiddish of this classic an- Jews spoke and therefore
thology is by Miriam Stark
used for their Torah
Vakon, whose preface is in readings. He refers to the
itself a marvelous appendix Aramaic which became the
to the campaign for Yiddish popular Jewish language
and adds to the defining of - upon the return of Jews
the "Tz'enah Ur'enah" from the Babylonian exile.
At this point Reb Holder
An introduction to this continues to trace the his-
volume by Reb Meir Hol- toric record:

732-7070 •

"And the 'dead' lan-
guage? As I read through
the work, I felt, with
growing excitement, the
joyful sense of life which
permeates it. It is a lively
work, with the words
practically stepping off
the pages, begging you to
see, to learn, to become a
part of them. It is Yiddish,
that wonderful, evoca-
tive, dynamic — and very
much living — language.

"It is my sincere hope that
this translation awaken in
the reader the desire to
understand and read the
Tz'enah Ur'enah in its orig-
inal, inimitable form. It is,
as I myself learned, an ex-
citing, worthwhile trip to
our Jewish past — and fu-

"Since Greek never be-
came a language used by
large numbers of Jews, it
has remained a scholar's
rather than a popular
translation (of the Bible).
Later still, after the de-
struction of the Second
Beis HaMikdash, On-
kelos — under the super-
vision of R'Eliezer and
R'Yehoshua — wrote his
classic translation (see
Tractate Megillah 3a),
known to this day simply
as 'the Targum.'

must have cultivated in the
course of his decades of in-
spirational instruction in
the hamlets of his native
East Poland — for before us
stands a folk narrator of
rare skill who intimately
knew the needs of his flock.
"Tackling his subject in a
novel manner, he orches-
trated a charmingly infor-
mal medley of biblical
paraphrase, midrashic
exegesis, illustrative narra-
tive — and unabashedly
moral instruction. In pre-
senting selected passages
from the Humash, the liar
toros and the Megillos, he
drew freely on the exposi-
tions of Rashi, Ramban,
R'Bechaye and other
classical commentators,
often citing them (and
likewise more ancient texts)
in the form in which they
were paraphrased by
writers of later genera-
Perhaps the best way of
reintroducing "Tz'enah
Ur'enah" is by quoting the
very first bit of classicism,
the explanation given for
the commencing of the
Torah with the Beis instead
of the Aleph:

Bereishis . . . "At the
original creation of
heaven and earth, the
land was desolate and
empty, and God's holy
throne was suspended
over the water (1:1).

"Why did the Torah com-
"Generations later, as mence with the letter Beis?
Aramaic gradually lost its To show us that just as the
place as the major spoken letter Beis is closed on
language, other transla- three sides and open on the
tions appeared. In the 10th fourth, so God enclosed the
Century R'Saadiah Gaon world on three sides, while
published the first (and the northern side remained
classic) Arabic translation open.
"Another reason is that
of the Torah. We know also
of Persian, Spanish and the letter beis stands for the
word berakha
other versions.
"In the early Middle Ages beginning with the letter
Jews settled in considerable beis), while the alef (the
numbers in Germanic first letter of the alphabet)
speaking areas, and the represents arur (`cursed,'
language that evolved and beginning with an alef). Not
became the common heri- wishing to begin his Torah
tage of Ashkenazi Jewry with the letter of a curse,
was Yiddish. Hence a the Almighty started with
number of translations of the beis.
"Upset, the alef flew be-
the Torah appeared in this
fore God and complained
"However no Yiddish that the Torah ought to
rendition of the Torah ever begin with the first letter
approached even remotely of the alef-beis. God ap-
the popularity of that pub- peased the offended let-
lished by an itinerant ter, assuring it that the
preacher from Yanov, near Ten Commandments
Lublin — R' Yaakov ben given on.Mt. Sinai would
Yitzchak Ashkenazi begin with the word ,_J
(1550-1624/8) — and known anochi ('I'), which begins
as Tz'enah Ur'enah. The with an alef."
It is in this fashion that
title means "Come out and
see," and is borrowed from the "Teitsch Humash" is -
Shir HaShirim 3:11, which presented by the Zogerkeh
the Sages (in Tractate to her listeners who could
Taanis 4:1) apply to the Giv- not read and who absorbed
the test in the original
ing of the Torah at Sinai.
"The ungrammatical translation by the classical
but universal pronuncia- reader. It is the revival of
tion of the title among interest in the reader that
Yiddish speakers is lends significance to a very '-
Tzenerene, and its alter- important work.
While it is presented here
native familiar name be-
came Teitsch Humash in a marvelous translation
from the Yiddish by Miriam '
(Humash Translation).
"The unprecedented Stark Zakon, thus lending
acclaim which the book glory to Yiddish, it serves
aroused bears witness to the an immense purpose for his-
keen sensitivity to feedback torians.
—P. S.
which this born teacher

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