Saturday, October 28, 2006

Artscroll censors hard at work



I was learning Ramban on Bereishis (imagine that!) and my Chavrusah went out and got the English Artscroll Ramban, which is very helpful. To our surprise, when we got to a piece where the Ramban mentions simple concepts in Kabbalah there is no translation! We both realized that this was no conincidence and turned back to the translator's preface.

[Let me preface this by saying that I don't believe this was requested by the Rabbinic Advisors or some other committee they may have there at A/S, but rather some do-gooder there decided this on his own and took his brainstorm to the A/S brass who ran with the idea. Then again, I'm very frequently proven wrong...]


(sample page)

I paraphrase here: Concepts that are rooted in Kabbalah are "beyond the scope of this elucidation." Because to understand Kabbalah properly one must be one of the initiated. Since it would be too beyond the scope of this project to provide sufficent background and context for mystical ideas, and we fear that his words will be misunderstood. In other words, we know what the Ramban says here, but you ignoramus, who needs this commentary translated, are not to be trusted with concepts that may be difficult to understand. The first example speaks of very basic concepts, of עשר ספירות, and that חכמה is the basis of those Sefiros etc. עיין שם Nothing that can be misconstrued really.

If this is the approach they take, and they do consider themselves the transmitters of Torah, and that Torah would be forgotten were it not for the Schottenstein Talmud, why then stop here? Why translate all those "strange" Agadatos, stories that are totally "inappropriate" in Today's society, won't they fall into unfriendly hands? The fact is they do, and Anti-Semitic groups use the Artscroll Shas daily to further their message of hate. Is there an anti-Kabbalah bias at the Great House of Artscroll?

10 comments:

A Simple Jew said...

A Yid recently commented on my blog
"Their cold relation to all nistar and chasidus is apparent in their censoring what they think is "too deep" etc. Even in their recent translation of such classics as Ramban on Chumash they cut out all Kabolo and nistar."

Hirshel Tzig said...

I assure you I didn't plagiarize fromyour site.

A Simple Jew said...

I wasn't implying that, Hirshel. :)

Anonymous said...

this is all to blame der alter Shach from Bnie brak,I saw in a forword to another sefer on the Ramban in hebrew that rav shach told him to omit all the kabala parts, his hate for epes gogliness is amazing, I lately heard that he told for reb moshe shapiro one of the haskafa stars in Isreal that he should stop with his style of lacing kabala and reb tsodak etc in his derashot, so the guy answered him that he his a talmid of Dessler and he imitates his style, so der alter answered hin dessler was already a problem.

A Yid said...

They prefer philosophy rather than Kabolo. But it worth to point out, that Reb Moyshe Fainshtein za"l whom they respect as well gave several haskomoys for printing sifrey Kabolo, and for chasidim too. For example on "Meiras Einaim" (R' Yitzchok deMin Akko za"l) which is a pirush on soydoys hoRamba"n by the way. I also saw his haskomo on the reprint of the "Omud hoAvoydo" (Reb Boruch miKosov zy"o).

Artscroll made several "mistakes" though, publishing Ari za"l's biography (only once as you can understand) and some interesting things on Kabolo bibliography in their "Rishoynim" and "Achroynim", which they didn't realize first, because their editor who worked on that edition was big liker of Kabolo, and when it came out it was already too late to change.

Hirshel Tzig said...

when were these published, in the 70's?

A Yid said...

Sorry, I made a mistake - it is only "Omud hoAvoydo" has a haskomo from Reb Moyshe Fainshtein za"l. It was given in תשמ"ה. It was published in תשמ"ח. "Meiras Einam" though has a haskomo of Reb Yakov Kanievski za"l (Der Staypler Goen), given in .תשל"ה The seyfer is published in תשנ"ג. You can see the whole seyfer (haskomo there on page 3) here.

Hirshel Tzig said...

Is Artscroll so indebted to the late Vaboylniker Tzadik? I doubt it. If it was up to him Torah would not be available to the masses like it is now. He'd have shut down Artscroll long ago if he could. It takes away the advantage that Bnei Teyreh have over Baaleibatim, now a BaaliBos could learn twice as much daily as the average Yeshivah Bocher!

Anonymous said...

it is ignorant and foolish to think that Kabala is more chasidish then the school of the Gra, just lately you had the Leshem the grandfather of the so called " Posek Hador" who was teaching and published Kabala on a constant basis all his life, this shach phonemon is new and small minded with no vast knowledge of torah and it"s history as was all his hashkofa ideas,no profond or original tought in them. Artscroll by trying to appeal the masses in to the femenised yeshiva world is trying the outmost not to ruffle the feathers.

Hirshel Tzig said...

That school of thought isn't followed by his grandson the Posek HaDor, nor by anyone else in the Lithuanian world. If the Leshem was alive today he'd be very lonely indeed.