A Jewish Voice

Home » Search results for 'lost in translation'

Search Results for: lost in translation

Lost in translation

BS”D

One of the things which made me reconsider my Christian faith, and eventually convert to Judaism, was the inherent different understanding I got of the Scriptures, when I finally got access to the Hebrew language and insights of the Jewish commentaries, who – more than any Christian commentary – understood the depths of the Hebrew language.

Unfortunately many Western readers and layman students of the Bible, don’t speak or understand Hebrew, even less Biblical Hebrew, something they shouldn’t be blamed for, no one can be expected to throw themselves out in intense studies of an ancient language, just to get an idea of what some Scriptures may really mean, though I would encourage it.

But the problem arising when trusting (blindly) in various translations, especially into Western languages, is the lack of the words covering aspects of words used in Hebrew. This is not only something that goes for the Jewish Scriptures, but also when talking about translations of the Qur’ân, of which I have seen many different translations, sometimes even ridiculous translations, more being an attempt to present a certain view than an honest attempt on letting the translation following the original text itself. And so also with the Hebrew Scriptures, where most English translations more are collections of interpretations than translations[1].

I don’t intend to make this post an attack on Christian translations though, but more ponder a little about the many details, which unfortunately are lost in a translation.

We can take my earlier posts on Bereshit as an example, where the word “r’du” is translated as “rule” or “govern,” which are not totally wrong translations, but the word carries a sense of “oppression” in it, not just “ruling.”

Another example is the word “yom,” which – and not incorrectly – are translated as “day.” But given the whole context of the Creation, the “days” at stake here cannot be “days” as we understand them. And indeed, “yom” can be translated to “period,” in the sense of having a beginning and an end. There is no, to say it straight, reason to read the Creation as being six days of 24 hours, as some people would prefer to read it.

And so it goes all the way through the Scriptures.

But learning the language isn’t the key to the “right” or “perfect” understanding of the Scriptures. Surely, it is helping to get a much deeper sense of what is being told, and an appreciation of it, but it actually also opens up for much more ways of interpretations, especially because one is left to one’s own reading and understanding, and doesn’t follow another person’s interpretation. We have the case of the “Ish Tzaddiq Tamim b’Dorotaw” of Noah[2], where some understand it to mean one thing, and others to mean another thing. But this just make the study of the Scriptures so much more interesting.

Another thing which I find interesting in this light, though it is only related to the subject, is the attempt to trace down the original meaning of words, by comparing them to other similar languages. I followed a course in comparative religion, where I focused on Law in Islam and Judaism, and attempted to find the true meaning of the word “Dîn,” which normally today in Arabic means religion, while in Hebrew it means judgment. The Hebrew meaning goes a long way back, but the Arabic meaning isn’t so clear, being used both in the understanding of religion[3], or as in judgment[4]. Another example, in Hebrew and Aramaic, is “Dat,” having in Aramaic the meaning of “ruling,” while not existing in Biblical Hebrew, but today is used as “religion” in Hebrew.

Also the word “lehem/lahem,” which means “bread” in Hebrew and “meat” in Arabic, seems to have changes its original meaning form “food” in general, into being more specific in Hebrew and Arabic.

That said I can only encourage all of you to spend just a little time to learn one of the amazing Semitic languages, and experience the opening of a new world of understandings.

All the best.


[1] Basically a translation is always an interpretation, but some put more emphasis on the interpretation than the translation. Even some Jewish translations are used as commentaries, take for example Onkelos’ Aramaic translation.

[2] See my post on Parashat Noah.

[3] Al-Qur’ân, al-Baqara, 256.

[4] Ibid, al-Fatiha, 4.

The process of interpretation when translating

BS”D

Most people have read a translated text of some sort, whether it be a novel, official text, religious scriptures or something else. There’s nothing weird in that, it happens more often than we are aware of. But there’s another thing we might not be so aware of, or even if we are, we don’t offer it much thought. When reading a translated text, we read an interpretation of a text – that is, when we read a text, which is translated from one language to another, the chance that the translator had to interpret the original text is great. Sure, in some cases the two languages are so close, that a direct translation can be done, for example with Danish and Norwegian, but for the most the case is that the translation involves two languages which are not that similar.

In my situation, studying religious text, this is most certainly the case, having sometimes to deal with text which do not only belong to different families (all languages belong to certain families, where they share some similarities with the other members of the family, often making it possible to either understand parts of written text in between the languages, or at least find a larger number of words they share), but also belonging to different times. For example, when I read the Talmud, I deal with a language belonging to the Semitic family of languages, which also covers Hebrew, Arabic, Amharic and so on, while myself speaking a language belonging to the Germanic family. The way of expression is very different in some cases.

Therefore it isn’t weird that we need a portion of interpretation when translating from the one language to the other, at least if we wish for the translation to give sense. I would like to present you for an example on this, showing you how many different ways a somehow simple text can be translated. The text is the first verse in the Torah, talking about the beginning of creation. The Hebrew text goes like this:

בְּרֵאשִׁית בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים אֵת הַשָּׁמַיִם וְאֵת הָאָרֶץ

Now, it would actually be pretty simple to translate this text, simply taking it word for word, ending with a result like this: “In beginning created God the heavens and the earth.” The only thing that would come out a little odd would be the lack of ‘the’ in the start of the sentence, between ‘in’ and ‘beginning.’ That is in the text, but implicit. But even in my attempt to make a very simple translation of a very simple text did I make an interpretation, namely of the word אֱלֹהִים, which I translated to ’God.’ The word ‘elohim’ (as it is written in English) is a plural form of the word ‘eloah,’ meaning god. That is, what I should have written, had I made the precise translation, would be “in beginning created gods the heaven and the earth.” So why didn’t I do that? Well, the answer lies in the word preceding the word for ‘gods,’ ‘bara.’ This word is a verb, meaning ‘to create,’ which is being expressed in 3rd person singular, not plural. Of course one could suggest that ‘beginning’ is the subject creating ‘gods,’ but not only would that not give any sense (beginning created gods), it would also be wrong, since Biblical Hebrew is a VSO-language, that is, the verb precedes the subject. To explain, in Biblical Hebrew you would say “eat I the food,” not “I eat the food,” as is the case in English. So from this alone, the fact that we are dealing with a verb being expressed in the singular, while the subject is being presented in the plural, can we see that an interpretation is needed for the translation.

Having said that I want to present you for four different translations of the word, being found in the most used Jewish English translations, namely those of JPS, Artscroll, Soncino, and Judaica Press:

JPS 1985/1999 Artscroll Soncino Judaica Press
When God began to create heaven and earth In the beginning of God’s creating the heavens and the earth In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth In the beginning of God’s creation of the heavens and the earth

The most noteworthy differences is in the first part of the sentence (Bereshit bara Elohim), but we also see one example in differing interpretations in the second part, namely with heaven/s, having JPS and Soncino interpreting it in the singular, while Artscroll and Judaica Press interpret it in the plural. The reason for the two differences is found in the fact that heaven in Hebrew is a plural word (as is for example ‘money’ in English). The question is how we understand it when we read the word, as a ‘name’ or as something expressing plurality of existence (this is also the case with elohim, is it one of God’s Names, or is it an expression of plurality)? JPS and Soncino interpret it as the former, Artscroll and Judaica Press as the latter.

When we look at the first part we see a more interesting differing between the translations, having JPS state that “When God began to create,” while Artscroll and Judaica Press both talk about the beginning of God’s action, though differing on whether it is ‘creating’ or ‘creation’ we are talking about, while Soncino agrees with the two that we indeed find ourselves “in the beginning.”

It is not without significant importance to deal with this interpretation, since it is a crucial question of ‘when.’ When are we finding ourselves here? In the beginning of time or in the beginning of creation? As we see, JPS wants to tell us that we are at a moment of time, where God began to create (heaven and earth), which is reflected in Artscroll’s translation, expressing the same idea in a different way, attempting to be more true to the Hebrew text. Judaica Press tells us that we find ourselves “in the beginning of God’s creation,” which alone would give us a sense that where we are (in time) is actually after God indeed did create, while Soncino leaves us with the question of “in the beginning” of what, though this is seemingly the most true translation.

So why not just leave it at that? Why not translate it as it says? Well, because that isn’t what the text says. The problematic word is ‘reshit,’ relating to something coming before something else, or rather, the start of something, not just “in the beginning.” The problem here is that ‘reshit’ has to be connected, telling something about the thing it is connected to, which here would be the ‘created’ and the object of ‘created,’ that is, what the verse actually says is “first God created heaven and earth,” which leaves us with the question “and then what?” It doesn’t deal so much with the matter of time, as it does with the order of creation. The word ‘reshit’ is also used in understandings as ‘source,’ ‘first fruit,’ and ‘origin.’ This is indeed what Artscroll and Judaica Press attempt to reflect in their translations, while JPS tries to express a sentence which give most sense for Western (or English speaking) readers, while Soncino attempts to follow the most ‘correct’ translations.

So what am I trying to tell with all this? Well, first and foremost I’m trying to share some thoughts with you on a subject I find interesting. I have written a little about this in another post, but with a somewhat different approach. Second off, I think it is important to be aware of this fact, when reading translations, especially when reading religious texts, where translations can be of crucial importance for the believer and his/her understanding of what the text wants to say. For example, when I read the first verse here in the Torah, I don’t read a text that is interested with the question of time whatsoever, but rather a text which is very interested in the order of creation. But for the Western reader, the question of time – when we talk about creation – is crucial, which also is why the question often pops up in various polemics. Basically, how I understand the text is rather as ‘God created heaven and earth as the source [of what follows],” not as “in the beginning of everything God created heaven and earth.” That doesn’t mean that my reading is correct, or that I would express that interpretation in my translation, should I translate it, but I would still attempt to translate the text as close to the Hebrew text, while still expressing what I believe the Hebrew text wants to tell us. And that is what every translator does, and that is also what we – as readers of translated texts – need to be aware of, when we read translations. Especially if we take part in polemics, studies of religions, or other forms of dialogue or discussions, which involves the use of translations and doctrines being expressed and searched in them.

Samaw’el and his proofs for the abrogation of the Bible

Let us take a look at Samaw’el’s polemical arguments in his Ifḥam al-Yahûd.

 

The work is organized in nineteen ‘chapters,’ but they can again be organized into overlaying themes of arguments, which is indeed what Perlmann has done in his translation of the Ifḥam. The themes as we find them are:

  1. Opening
  2. Abrogation
  3. Transmission
  4. A return to abrogation
  5. Jesus and Muḥammad
  6. The claim to being the chosen people
  7. The Bible
  8. Composition of the Bible
  9. Jews on Islam
  10. Objectionable aspects of Jewish law; levirate, segregation
  11. Rabbanites & Karaites
  12. Epilogue: Sins and follies of the Jews

 

What Samaw’el attempts to do is to prove that in the Jewish tradition there is found examples on abrogation, and by forcing the Jews to accept that he (feels he) proves that the Torah might have been abrogated.

With that established he argues for the status of Jesus and Muḥammad, then for why the Jews are not chosen, for then to focus on the Bible and its composition, Jewish reflection on Islam, a discussion on Halachah (Jewish religious law) and issues within the law, moving on to the particulars of the Rabbanites and the Karaites, for then finishing off with the sins and wrongdoings of the Jews as a whole.

 

I will be presenting one part on its own, not going through all of the arguments, since that probably will be rather overwhelming in just one post. When I am done with the presentation of his arguments I will attempt to present you for the various Jewish responses, and then finally try to give some responses myself, some of his arguments being rather time-bound and having lost their actuality today.

 

The first focus is on his arguments for abrogation.

 

Samaw’el first introduces us for his base of arguments, which – he claims – is meant to convince the Jews of the principle of naskh, abrogation, based on their own scriptures and methods.

His way of arguing is based on a proposal, which then can either be accepted or denied. Here it is the question on whether there was a divine law before the giving of the Torah or not.

If they, the Jews, deny this, then they will also deny – according to Samaw’el – that God gave Noah a commandment, namely the one against murder (Genesis 9:6). Besides this point, he also points out the commandment to Abraham to circumcise the male children at the eight day.

Should the Jew admit that, yes, God did give divine commandments before the giving of the Torah, then he will ask them, whether it didn’t add something to those earlier precepts. In case the Jews answer that it (the Torah) didn’t add anything then it is meaningless, since it does not contain anything besides the already given legislation, and thus it cannot be of divine origin. But, he states, that would be the same as to not believe.

In case the Jews says that, yes, it did add something new, then – Samaw’el asks – does this new addition not prohibit what has was allowed before? In case they deny this, then they are found in fault, since the Torah added the prohibition against working on Shabbat, something which before the giving of the Torah was permitted. And furthermore, all addition in law has as its purpose to either allow what was prohibited before or prohibit what before was allowed. These examples, he states, are clear examples on Naskh, abrogation.

One could argue, he maintains, that one does not first forbid something, in order for later to allow it, since that would be like allowing the same thing that one forbids, and that would go against the nature of God (described as “the wise one”). But since He is commanding two things at two different points of time, this will not be a problem, only if it happened at the same time.

Then the case might be forwarded that the Torah forbade what had been forbidden, but not the other way around. That is, it is true that there was a law before, and that law prohibited murder, but murder had not since been allowed (relating to his two examples), but earlier it had been allowed to work on Shabbat, but after the giving of the Torah that became prohibited.

The obvious problem for Samaw’el here, because he does accept that this is a legitimate claim, is that if one holds that that is the case, then the Quran can only prohibit what earlier was allowed, but not allow what earlier was prohibited. This is based on the rationale that one who abstains from what is permitted is not per ce a violator, but one who does what he has been forbidden certainly is a violator, and since the Quran allow working on Shabbat, then that would be an encouragement to violate a commandment.

Samaw’el attempts to answer this by pointing out that something does not necessarily need to be prohibited for good. Rather, he explains, since working on Shabbat had been permitted for Abraham and other before him, and then prohibited, then it certainly is possible that it again would be allowed.

The reasoning behind Samaw’el’s argument here is that either a law is imposed for all times, having God being displeased with it in total, or it is not imposed for all time, and God only displeased for a certain amount of time,[1] and since working on Shabbat was not prohibited for all time, then it holds that it is possible that it can be changed later.

Of course Samaw’el concludes from this that if a divine messenger, Muḥammad, would bring miracles and prove to be a prophet, then it would be possible that he would change what before was deemed illegal. Especially when – according to Samaw’el – a man brings clear proof that he is a prophet, then one should heed his message, which would be of reason, contrary the precept found in Judaism, such as cleansing impurities with ashes of the heifer, which in turn also would make the Kohen burning the heifer unclean (Numbers 19).

Since God is above any imperfection and criticism, and his messenger necessarily may speak a true message, then it stands for God to be able to change what He earlier has commanded, and Muḥammad, who is send by God, should be heeded, if one will not deviate from the truth.

Having dealt with the first approach to proving that abrogation also is part of the Jewish tradition, Samaw’el now continues with the next, relating to the matter of the red heifer, the cow having to be burned in order to use its ashes for purification, a process which would leave the one performing the burning impure himself. The problem, according to Samaw’el, is that since that process is needed in order to purify a person who has been in contact with a corpse, it is still not needed in order to allow the person to pray or carry holy texts, according to the Rabbinic tradition.

If this is explained with the fact that the ritual of the heifer cannot be done today, from the lack of the Temple, then Samaw’el’s answer – again in form of a new question – is whether the inability to perform the act also dispense it. Here, again, two answers are possible, either that yes, it does dispense it, which, he maintains, proves abrogation by reason of present circumstances, and thus proves his point, that laws and rules can be abrogated. In case that they answer in the negative, they basically admit that they are in a continuous state of impurity, so far as they have been in contact with a corpse, a tomb or the like. This is a build up for his coming point, being triggered by the strictness surrounding the menstruation of the woman, leading to a period on approximately two weeks, having the consequences that a man cannot touch her in that period, not even her husband, who has to sleep separate from her. The answer to this might be that it is a commandment from the Torah, which means that it has to be interpreted in its most strict sense, but if that is the case, then the case of a man having been in contact with a corpse has to be even more strict, since it demands the sacrifice and burning of an animal in order to purify him. And furthermore, should a non-Jewish woman being menstruating she won’t be considered impure, her touch not being shunned on the same level of that of a menstruating Jewish woman, even though nothing is mentioned about this in the Torah. And this leads to yet another example on abrogation.

The Jews might argue in return, that this is not based on the Scriptural text alone, but on the system of laws which constitutes the Oral Tradition. This, Samaw’el explains, is leading to the question of the Jewish sages, whether they are reaching their conclusions on human reasoning or whether they are divine tradition. As is the case, it would be stated that this is surely tradition going all the way back to Moses, which then will lead to Samaw’el asking how the sages then can reach different conclusions, since that would leave with a tradition which each of the disagrees will claim goes back to Sinai. This is contradictory in the eyes of Samaw’el, being an example on the Jews baseness, crediting God with contradictory commandments.

Samaw’el is aware that there is a principle of following the majority, when it comes to halachic decisions in Judaism, though he considers this to be the giving up of one of the sages’ tradition, or at least as consider the possibility of an error in his tradition, which would lead to the conclusion that he (the sage in question) cannot be trusted anymore, or – as a last consort – that the sages have agreed that one decision abrogates the other. And since there are many examples on sages being the minority in some cases, they are the majority and followed in others, this would have to lead to the acceptance of abrogation yet again.

 

His third argument over abrogation is focused on the Jewish prayers. This is introduced with the question on prayers and fasts, whether the prayers that the Jews are praying at his time (Samaw’el) are the same as those of Moses.

He presents us for a number of examples from the ‘Amidah, the main prayer prayed thrice daily, asking if any of these examples were prayed by Moses and the Jews of his time. The examples mentioned by Samaw’el of course cannot be said by Moses, since they mention the ingathering from the exile from the four corners of the earth, and the rebuilding of Jerusalem. Besides those two examples he also mentions the fast of Gedalyah, the fast of Tisha b’Av and others examples, which only can have been established long after Moses lived. If these examples still leave the Jews denying that there are talk about any abrogation, he will point to Deuteronomy 13:1 “Everything I command you that you shall be careful to do it. You shall neither add to it, nor subtract from it.”

 

His final argument on abrogation regards the first-born, who according to Exodus 13:2 is sanctified for God, but – Samaw’el points out – it was later changed so the Levites took the place of the first-borns of Israel, since they joined Moses when he came down from Mount Sinai and witnessed the worshiping of the gold-calf.

Based on all his arguments presented here, he conclude that the Jews cannot deny these arguments, leaving them only with admitting either that the Torah has been altered or that these are indeed proofs of abrogation.

 


[1] It is the same reasoning that can be found in medieval argument for God’s eternity. Nothing can be eternal if it has a beginning or an end.

Parashat Noah – פרשת נוח

BS”D

 

This week’s Parashah begins by the pretty straightforward remark: “These are the offspring of Noah!”[1]

The interesting thing about this introductory remark is the use of the word “Tol’dot” (תולדות), which is most often translated as “offspring” or “generations,” but have a much wider meaning that pointing at one’s children (and their children). The word can simply mean “outcome,” “result,” or “consequences,” or as it means in Halachah, “secondary act,” though that is most likely not the case here, but nevertheless an interesting fact in the understanding of the word. It can also be translated as “history,” telling an account about a certain person, which in this case would be Noah.

Now, if we take the broader meaning of the word, which would be the “outcome” or “result,” then we could read the verse as meaning; “these are the results of Noah…” This is what Rashi, Z”L, does, when pointing at a Midrash, explaining that we are meant to be taught that the primary “offspring” of the Tzaddiq are their righteous actions, since the most valuable things a person does, are the primary legacy of man. There is a sense in this, especially when we look at the historical accounts of the great men (and women) of history. There we often give account of their right (or for the wicked men, the wrong) they did.

For ibn ‘Ezra, Z”L, though, the word should be understood as “history,” meaning that this is the introduction to the “history of Noah.”

R. Eli Munk, Z”L, has a very interesting thought on this introduction to the Parashah, namely that just as the words “Eleh haTol’dot haShamayim v’haAretz” (אלה התולדות השמים והארץ) in the beginning of chapter two introduce a new chapter in the history of man, so the words here do, creating a new “Adam.” I will get back to that thought later, but first:

 

A defense for Noah!

 

I remember being told about Noah once by a rabbi, visiting Denmark while I was still living there, that Noah actually was somehow a coward. Here’s the deal: There is a comparison between Noah, Avraham Avinu, A”S, and Moshe Rabenu, A”S, both being faced with the destruction of people. We all – I believe – know the account about the dance around the Golden Calf, while Moshe Rabenu, A”S, was on Mount Sinai, receiving the two Tablets. The people, the Israelites, though Moshe Rabenu, A”S, had died, and then made for themselves a new “god.” Of course this enraged G-D, who told Moshe Rabenu, A”S, the He would destroy the Israelites and make a new people from him. Moshe Rabenu, A”S, instead of accepting G-D’s decision, pleaded for His mercy, stating that this would only be taken as proof from His enemies, that He holds no real power, since His people died in the desert. Moshe Rabenu, A”S, refused to accept the notion of G-D destroying a people. Not so with Noah, who didn’t react when faced with G-D’s decision to destroy the whole mankind, and start over with Noah (and his closest family).

Also Avraham Avinu, A”S, pleaded for mercy, when G-D told him that He would destroy S’dom and Gomorrah, requesting mercy for the account of few Tzaddiqim, next to many wicked people. This was accepted by G-D, but since the city (cities) was so full of wickedness, it had to be destroyed, only saving Lot and his closest family.

This, according to the honored rabbi, was something that sadden G-D, but nevertheless, since the only Tzaddiq wouldn’t even plead for mercy (and G-D doesn’t accept the prayers of the wicked), then it was so. Noah simply didn’t dare talk against G-D.

 

I have carried this account with me for a long time, and it does make sense, at least for me. It is not that I viewed Noah negatively, but it is true that contrary to our two greatest figures, Avraham Avinu and Moshe Rabenu, A”S, he didn’t plead for mercy.

But something has to be said in the defense of Noah. There is a discussion about how to understand the sentence “Noah was a righteous man, perfect in his generations…”[2] Rashi tells about the two opinions on how to understand this, that either it is to be understood that he, Noah, seemed as a Tzaddiq, compared to his generation (which was full of wickedness), but in other generations, especially next to the greater Tzaddiqim, would seem ordinary in his observance, or that since he was a Tzaddiq in his generations, full of wickedness and temptations, how much more would he have been a greater Tzaddiq, had he lived in better generations.

Following the last opinion, instead of the first, which was the one the rabbi focused on when telling me about the comparison with Avraham Avinu and Moshe Rabenu, A”S, we might get another understanding of what is at hand.

The Zohar points to an interesting fact, namely that while Noah is here described as “Ish Tzaddiq Tamim” (איש צדיק תמים), a righteous and whole man, later on he is described as “Ish haAdamah” (איש האדמה), a man of the earth. This is also the case with Yosef later on in the Torah, making a comparison between the two, that they were wealthy men, but didn’t let themselves be taken by earthly desires. So whereas there is a comparison with two Tzaddiqim against Noah’s favor, we also have a comparison with another Tzaddiq in his favor.

Maybe Noah, after all, had insight which my rabbi missed, namely that “the earth was corrupt” and “all flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth.” Maybe there simply wasn’t any other way. If we direct our focus at the two cases with both Avraham Avinu and Moshe Rabenu, A”S, there were people who were destroyed. There are people who have reached such a high degree of wickedness that no hope is left for them. Surely we can agree about that even today, recounting names such as Hitler, Hussein, Pol Pot, and others.

If this is so, then obviously Noah wasn’t a coward (or anything the like), he simply understood the state of the world as it was, without hope for improving.

 

Back to R. Munk’s thoughts.

 

There is something interesting about the statement about Noah being “Ish Tzaddiq Tamim.” The word “Tamim” is what interests me the most here. It can mean someone who is honest, upright or G-D fearing, but it can also mean naïve, innocent or simple.

Making yet another comparison, this time back in time, we might get yet another understanding of what happens here. When looking at Adam and Hawah, they were in a state of innocence, until they ate of the fruit. They were childlike, not having any worries. Now we see the word “Tamim” being used about Noah, and maybe he was kind of innocent also, which could explain his devotion to G-D, being a Tzaddiq. Adam and Hawah lost their innocence when they ate from the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, and the fruit, what it was, has been discussed for generations, both by Christians and Jews (and probably also other groups). Many suggestions have been given, such as the – famous, but also unlikely, – apple, the fig (in the Talmud, since they made covers of fig-leaves, indicating that the tree was a fig tree), pomegranate, etrog, citron or grapes (according to the Zohar and commentaries to some Slavic texts).

The last suggestion is interesting, if we relate to that in our comparison between Adam and Noah. When Noah got off the Ark, one of the first things he did was to plant a vineyard, made wine, and got drunk. The symbolism is interesting. First we have Adam (and Hawah) the first man, being the father of mankind, eating from the forbidden fruit, and then have to face the consequences. The we have Noah, the second Adam, also (maybe) eating of the – now not forbidden – fruit, and also having to face the consequences, namely that his son enters and treats him disrespectful. It seems like every time we let go of ourselves, catastrophes happen, which will have big impact down in history (Ham, who dishonored his father, became the father of the K’naanites, living on a controversial piece of land).

 

I have to admit that Parashat Noah this year opened my eyes for many things, B”H, especially how to understand Noah and his role.

This was also Rosh Hodesh Heshwan, so besides wishing you all a Shavu’a Tov, I also want to wish you all a Hodesh Tov. May we see a month full of blessings and people getting closer to G-D, BE”H.


[1] According to Artscroll’s translation. Other translations, such as the Soncino, has “generations.”

[2] Artscroll’s translation.