Month: December 2009

The Tenth of Teves

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(Based on a lecture by Rabbi Berel Wein)

The Talmud (Megillah 9b) tells how King Ptolemy (died 246 BCE ) placed 72 Jewish scholars in different rooms and told them to translate the Torah. In an act of Divine Providence the 72 translations all matched each other.

The translation became known as the Septuagint, which means “the 70” in Greek – in reference to the general amount of scholars who translated it. This is the basic translation of the Bible that much of the non-Jewish world has today.

Despite advantages to teaching the non-Jewish world the Written Torah, the Torah Sages did not welcome the opportunity. “The day when the Torah was written in Greek was as unfortunate for Israel as the day of the Golden Calf” (Soferim 1:7). They even decreed that the day the Septuagint was completed, the eighth day of the month of Teves (in the winter), was to be marked on the Jewish calendar as “a day of darkness” (Megillas Taanis).

It was combined with two other tragedies around that date – the death of Ezra and the breaching of the walls of Jerusalem – and decreed a public fast day (Asara B’Teves, “the Tenth of Teves”). Perhaps the reason was because they saw that the translation would open the door for usurpers and new religions claiming to supplant or succeed the Torah.

Mistranslation of the “Virgin Birth”

History has proven the Sages right for their ambivalence about translating the Torah into a language that the masses could read. There are numerous examples, but perhaps the most famous is the mistranslation that led to the Christian doctrine of the Virgin Birth.

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2 Chanukah articles

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I have two online articles on Chanukah. You can read them by clicking the pictures below:

The menorah’s flames remind us that technology is but a gift from God.

 

Shoot for the stars or be more realistic? Two perspectives reflected in the Chanukah light.

Writing Rabbi Wein's History Classes

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Information about Rabbi Wein’s new, soon-to-be published Jewish History free online classes that I am writing…

I am in the middle of a major project for Rabbi Berel Wein‘s organization, The Destiny Foundation.

In the late 80’s Rabbi Wein put together, over a period of four years, 116 tapes on Jewish history. They quickly became a classic and touched all types of Jews from the very uninformed to the most scholarly.

My assignment is to take those tapes and turn them into online classes that will be offered for free on his subsidiary website: http://www.jewishhistory.org

Yes, free. (Not the CDs or MP3s, but the written versions.)

I plan to create a new blog with a name like “A Taste of Wein” or “A Sip of Wein” which will excerpt from chapters I am currently working on or have worked on in the past.

If you sign up for an email subscription to my blog you can receive these automatically as I post them (after I create the blog).