Ha’aretz: Their Worst Translation Of Hebrew Ever?

Haaretz bad translationThe following is a cross post from the Mostly Kosher blog. He nails Ha’aretz (again) for a completely revolting mis-translation of words spoken by a religious Jew. Republished with permission.

By Benjamin of Tudela:

Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu (Yeah I’m not a fan) is facing severe scrutiny. In the last few days an old answer he gave on the Website Kippa, was doing the rounds on Facebook, and through there made it into Ha’aretz. The screent-shot of the answer is on the left. The question being posed is how should a religious person use his anger over the disengagement in a positive manner.

However before we get to analyzing the answer lets have a quick look at how the Ha’aretz translators summarized the answer:

“The text attributed to Eliyahu urged revenge against secular Jews, calling on people to attack them, smash their heads in and bring their children back into the religious fold. “

Ha’aretz yet again demonstrate that their translators have no understanding of spoken Hebrew. The phrase להסתער עליהם, לטחון להם את הראש would if translated word for word using only a Hebrew-English dictionary mean roughly what Ha’aretz ascribed it. However, we do expect translators to have some basic understanding of the language they are translating beyond using a dictionary. In spoken Hebrew the phrase להסתער means to do something with enthusiasm. לטחון את הראש is usually used in the negative sense to mean to bring something up again and again to the point of being a nuisance. Together, the entire pharase would mean that you should go with enthusiasm to Hilonim and talk/argue with them to the point of being a nuisance. I.E. work really hard at convincing them to do Teshuvah (become religious).

**Late Edit – After I pointed out the error on Twitter, Ha’aretz swiftly corrected their translation.

OK, now that we’ve removed the bizarre interpretation given by Ha’aretz translators, lets try and understand what Rav Eliyahu actually said. When you read the text carefully, Harav Shmuel Eliyahu only really says two things:

  • One – you should get revenge on the non religious.
  • Two – that revenge will be by making them or their children do Teshuvah (become religious).

That’s it. The text is not as bad as some people are interpreting it. However, it is bad enough. I don’t think any real rabbi would object to a general aim of making all the non religious do Teshuvah. However, Rav Eliyahu is not talking about a process that comes out of a deep love for all of Israel.  What comes across quite clearly is that Rav Eliyahu sees all the non religious as the enemy. They need to be conquered. Just as troubling he is convinced that no one could be religious and approve of the disengagement. That is because for him there is only one legitimate religious position – a far right one.

A Chief Rabbi can not see the majority of the nation as enemies. The Rabbanut is already hated, and needless to say this kind of rhetoric will not make it any more loved.

About Brian of London

Brian of London is not the messiah, he's a very naughty boy. Since making aliyah in 2009, Brian has blogged at Israellycool. Brian's interests include electric cars, world peace and an end to world hunger. Besides blogging here, Brian of London now writes at the Times of Israel. Brian of London also hosted Shire Network News

Facebook Comments

  • https://twitter.com/jonorose Jono Rose

    Once upon a time newspapers used to print corrections. Now they just pretend like they never got anything wrong. Unbelievable.

  • Jim from Iowa

    I thought Jews didn’t try to promote their religion onto others, even other Jews. I think I got this idea from Jews complaining about various Christian denominations trying to convert them to Christianity. Maybe Ha’aretz didn’t do as good a job as they might presenting fully the intent of the speaker, but this rabbi sounds like a real piece of work to me.

  • Jewess

    They are literate in Hebrew over at Ha’aretz?

  • Dafna Yee

    Jim from Iowa,

    Jews are forbidden to proselytize non-Jews to adopt Judaism. There is nothing prohibiting Jews from urging — sometimes quite strongly — other Jews to be more observant! I happen to find such urging to be annoying but I find Christian missionaries to be very offensive. For the record, I find people from “messianic Jews” (even the name is an oxymoron) to be abominations. This particular rabbi is a nasty, self-righteous piece of work, but he’s not representative of Jews.

    • Jim from Iowa

      Thanks, Dafna. You cleared some things up for me. I am in complete agreement with your point of view on this subject.

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