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...]
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?