Crown, Keren & Koreen (aka Koren)

gohebrew's picture

Eliyahu Korngold, later Koren, was considered one of the greatest Hebrew type designers during the mid 20th century.

Koren's landmark work, named after his Israelized surname, was initially created in the 1950s. The design was based upon a hand-written document of the section of the Prophets, attributed to the Moshe ben Asher geneza, of scrolls belonging to the Karaite community, a pariah sect to normative Judaism.

This design was drawn and redrawn many times, both before and after his employment by the Koren Publishers Jerusalem Ltd., which he founded in 1961. Koren spent most of his career at the Jewish National Fund, where most of this typeface design was created, under the JNF's auspices.

The design was finally used in the Koren Bible in 1962, but was never created as an outline typeface. Koren printed his siddur in 1981 at the age of 74. Instead, a digital type company in Israel used its software code for two products: the Koren Bible typeface, and its own identical typeface. Later, the Israeli company called 'Koreen' (and widened one letter). Koren approved the design.

Shmuel Guttman created another typeface, called 'Keren', in digital form in 1993, prior to the Koren Bible digital typeface. His typeface features many significant differences, but maintains the basic look-and-feel of the Koren Bible design. Koren never approved Guttman's design.

I also created a set of typeface software, which I called 'Crown'. They are based upon large drawings created by an unnamed talented graphic artist, perhaps from the former USSR. The software was created in the United States, where it was registered for US Copyright at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC, in 1989. My design is based upon ancient manuscripts as well, and modified to comply with the various instructions, as expressed in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eliyahu_Koren, regarding legibility and readability.

gohebrew's picture

Thank you, David.

There are some similarities between the typeface design in the above example, and between that used by Koren, in certain letters.

However, overall, in my view the typeface design in the above example, compared to Koren's design, is very different.

What do you think?

quadibloc's picture

The illustration of the colophon from that book in "A Sign and a Witness", a book about an exhibition of Jewish printing and manuscripts by the New York Public Library, was on a small scale. So, from the larger-scale sample here, I think I was mistaken in the resemblance I noted.

gohebrew's picture

John,

E. Koren seems the unlikely designer of the Koren type design. If it were totally new, why did he not create others afterwards? But if it was a refinement, improvement, of an ancient design, the question disappears.

What bothers me from an Orthodoc Jewish point of view, is the use of Koren in the Siddur and Bible (sorry, Raphael), after it has clear influences from Asher Ben Asher's Karaite codex. Rabbi Hai Gaon used Ben Naftali's codex for this same reason. One would think that a Siddur prayerbook to G-d or His Bible be from a kosher source.

H. Friedlander created the popular Hadasa by combining the best qualities of other typefaces and adding his unique design. Why didn't he create a newer design afterwards, like T. Narkis and I. David? Is this a valid question.

I think that Friedlander couldn't create a better design. Hence, he came out with no new design.

What do you think, John?

david h's picture

> the colophon from that book in "A Sign and a Witness"

Why you didn't say that before. The colophon is MS 5699, my sample is MS 2626-2628; not the same scribe, but the same style (see page 33 -- A Sign and a Witness).

> What bothers me from an Orthodoc Jewish point of view, is the use of Koren in the Siddur and Bible (sorry, Raphael), after it has clear influences from Asher Ben Asher's Karaite codex.

?

Do you have a Bible? Which one?

gohebrew's picture

Gutnik Chumash.
ArtScroll - Stone and others.
Mikraot Gedolot.
The New Kehot by Rabbi Moshe Wishevsky (similar to Rabbi Chaim Miller's Gutnik Chumash - yea Chaim; I'm a fan/friend).
Shai L'Moreh.
and yes I admit, some old Koren Bible (I lost it recently; I won't buy it again b"n) (but his kids could sell his house to Arabs, if they charge them 15% more than Dibs).

:)

PS Soon, everyone will have shva-nahs in the Bible.

PPS Is a Karaite Bible have the din of a 'sefer torah sh'ktav min yisraf'?

gohebrew's picture

David,

Really, I gave my JPS Bible away when I was a teen. Everything now is from memory. Do have you Gideon's?

david h's picture

Every Bible is Ben Asher :

"Aharon Ben Moshe Ben Asher was the Masorete and vocalizer of the Aleppo Codex, as stated in the dedication of the manuscript, which was written several decades after his death: This is the complete codex of the twenty-four books, written by our teacher the rabbi Shlomo known as Ben Boya’a the swift scribe, and the spirit of the Lord guided him, and it was vocalized and transmitted with great meticulousness by the great scholar and wise sage, the lord of scribes and the father of sages, the chief of scholars, swift in his deeds, whose understanding of the work was unique in his generation, master Rabbi Aharon the son of master Rabbi Asher, may his soul be bound in life with the prophets and righteous and pious.

For generations the name Ben Asher signified the most precise and reliable text of the Bible, and many Masoretes and printers sought to emulate the text he had established. Here are the words of Rabbi Menahem De Lonzano of the sixteenth century in the beginning of his book, “The Light of the Torah”: And all the Jews in those lands relied upon the reading of Ben Asher, as though a divine voice had proclaimed: “Ben Asher and Ben Naphtali – the Halakhah is according to Ben Asher.” In the nineteenth century, certain scholars suggested that Aharon Ben Asher might have been a Karaite and not a rabbinic Jew. Aharon Dothan has examined this issue from many angles, and his conclusion is that Ben Asher was a rabbinic Jew. Recently, Raphael Zer has raised this issue again and presented new evidence."

gohebrew's picture

So, why did I read that Ibn Ezra chose to read Ben Naphtali's rendition, if Ben Asher's was more accurate?

gohebrew's picture

David,

I make a distinction in my mind between "sefer sh'k'tav min" "ספר שכתב מין", "a book composed by a rebeller of Torah", and between the 'contents' of the sefer.

Every Bible appears as it does by the typesetter and/or publisher. So, each Bible is different.

This distinction I made earlier by the origin of Hebrew letters. Instead, I was pointed to diagrams on Wikipedia articles plotting the evolution of Hebrew letter forms, much like Darwin's theory of man's evolution.

"See, the Rashi type design is the missing link. It is the bridge between the ancient Hebrew script and the square letter Vilna-like design."

I laughed louder than Bill's burst, when I suggested that Ashurit was connected to ashir with an ayin, as I read in the Talmud. Often, words are explained by exchanging letters, such as Aleph for Ayin, Shin/Sin for Samech, etc.

Beneath every statement is a concept. If you look only at the surface meaning, you get the statement; but if you look beneath or behind the statement, you get the concept.

raphaelfreeman's picture

E. Koren seems the unlikely designer of the Koren type design. If it were totally new, why did he not create others afterwards? But if it was a refinement, improvement, of an ancient design, the question disappears.

Firstly, who said he didn't create other type designs other than the Koren Tanakh font? Just for the public record, he created the Koren Tanakh and the Koren Siddur font both of which are digitised and available. He created no few than 3 Rashi fonts, one of which is currently being digitised and he created a sans serif font. He also did work on other faces, but they are no more than a few letters here and there.

Secondly, E. Koren wasn't just a font designer. His ambition was to create a Bible, he cared as much about the letter, the page and the paper it was printed on. It wasn't just a work of creating a typeface, but the whole finished product.

His siddur that he made in the early '80s wasn't just about a typeface, but about how to pray. The fact that he designed typefaces is primary to this forum, but secondary to his life work. He spent many more years making sure that the Tanakh was perfect from a nusach point of view than on the typeface itself.

So you must not think of him of just a type designer and then that answers your question as to why he didn't spend his life design 100s of typefaces.

raphaelfreeman's picture

What bothers me from an Orthodoc Jewish point of view, is the use of Koren in the Siddur and Bible (sorry, Raphael), after it has clear influences from Asher Ben Asher's Karaite codex. Rabbi Hai Gaon used Ben Naftali's codex for this same reason. One would think that a Siddur prayerbook to G-d or His Bible be from a kosher source

For the record, there is no evidence to suggest that he has any influence at all from Asher Ben Asher's Karaite codex. Just because you type it, it doesn't make it true.

But I don't understand your comment of a kosher source? This is soooo wrong on sooo many levels.

1. Only in recent history has rabbinic judaism separated itself from karaite judaism. Don't forget that Rambam had a special ketuba for a rabbinate who married a karaite and whose minhagim were followed. You can't exactly say that karaite therefore is not kosher.
2. Many hebrew typefaces, heck, ALL hebrew typefaces have in someway been influenced by non-Jewish sources. There is nothing wrong with that in Judaism despite what you may believe. Your comment is a ridiculous as, an early Grey's Anatomy TV episode depicting a strictly orthodox girl not accepting a pig's heart to save her life. If the producer had checked with his local orthodox rabbi, he would have known that it's okay to put a pig's heart in your body, as long as you don't eat the heart (putting aside the fact that if it's to save a life, you can eat pork too!)

gohebrew's picture

Raphael,

Thank you for your enlightening replies and clarification, too.

I will reply later in detail.

Suffice to say, we Rabbinic Jews believe in the lofty concept of איתהפכא, transformation, or in Hebrew, התהפכות, as to transform להפך something into something else.

Hence, when a Shomer Shabbat/Shomer Kashrut tzaddik (כל ישראל צדיקים) takes something good from a typeface design, and transforms it into a new design, this is praiseworthy, as the Talmud (tractate Sukkah, ch. 3) says regarding a שינוי שם ושנוי מעשה can transform even an undesireble act.

Do you have completed sample artwork or even sketches of E. Koren's 100s of typeface designs. If so, publish them. I will digitize them all for no upfront fee, provided www.GoHebrew will offer them.

gohebrew's picture

>> But I don't understand your comment of a kosher source?

As you know, I am involved with the creation of a new updated version of the Talmud (www.GoTalmud.com), called the "Schneersohn Talmud", named after the late seventh Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneersohn.

Mr. Menachem Vagshall of Moznayim Publishers (New York and Jerusalem) has been a dominant force in the Talmud market for years. He recently published a totally new typeset edition of the Talmud.

As he knows me as a design savvy typographer, Menachem asked my opinion of his Talmud.

I eyed it for a moment. and exclaimed: "It's beautiful". Then, I pointed to the main Talmudic text in the center of the page. It's a shame your typesetter used this font. "Why," Menachem asked.

"It's not Shomer Shabbat!" I replied. "Fonts made in Fontographer on the Apple Macintosh computer have a creation date. The Israeli who created this font violated the Sabbath."

"You mean that my Talmud is not Shomer Shabbat?"

Menachem looked like a kid in the candy store, and then being told by his mommy that it's all not kosher.

By the way, all Chaim's backward fonts for Quark were based based on stolen materials. Did you work in Quark or InDesign ME when you made some of his chumashim?

gohebrew's picture

> 1. Only in recent history has rabbinic judaism separated itself from karaite judaism.

Please cite a source and date?

gohebrew's picture

>> 2. Many hebrew typefaces, heck, ALL hebrew typefaces have in someway been influenced by non-Jewish sources. There is nothing wrong with that in Judaism despite what you may believe. Your comment is a ridiculous as, an early Grey's Anatomy TV episode depicting a strictly orthodox girl not accepting a pig's heart to save her life. If the producer had checked with his local orthodox rabbi, he would have known that it's okay to put a pig's heart in your body, as long as you don't eat the heart (putting aside the fact that if it's to save a life, you can eat pork too!)

Remember, these are all your assumptions about me, or projections.

I am in part named after an uncle who was told this very heter about eating pork in the US Army in World War II.

In the concentration camps, many Jews refused to eat non-kosher food, and died of starvation (as if they weren't staving already). No one has the right to say they sinned.

When the Slavita brothers printed the Talmud in Poland (the one before Vilna), they immersed the plates in a mikveh because unpure hands punchcut the letters.

I don't throw stones, Raphael.

quadibloc's picture

What hasn't been settled yet, despite the prominence of the Aleppo Codex, is whether the particular distinguishing features of the Koren typeface which it also reflects are not also found elsewhere. Obviously, if there are other sources for this writing style, the fact that it was used by someone who might have been a Karaite would be less significant.

Since you seem to have noted earlier that you felt that it was a mistake on the part of some in the Orthodox community to be hostile to the Vilna style of face because of Gentile use of it, am I to understand that your issue with Koren in this respect is not that the Orthodox should avoid a Tanakh printed with it, but rather that they are likely to avoid such a Tanakh, and thus it would be more respectful to them to use something else?

quadibloc's picture

Also, I would generally agree that it is not a sin to be more observant than one has to be, even at some personal sacrifice.

Of course, other things do complicate matters. After all, it is also agreed that suicide is a sin. But where to draw the line between suicide and self-sacrifice?

I come from a Roman Catholic religious background. While some might claim it unfair to say that Catholicism has a particular horror of abortion because its victims have had no chance to be baptized yet, and of suicide because those who commit it can't go to confession afterwards, if one looks at the Catholicism of what ordinary Catholics are taught by the nuns in school rather than what the theologians and cardinals, it's not a stereotype without basis in fact.

So from that perspective, suicide is like eating pork - especially wrong as a betrayal of one's faith, not merely wrong because of how it is wrong in itself, and that moves the boundary in cases like that. So I would be no judge of where this boundary would lie for people in another faith.

gohebrew's picture

E. Koren beautiful distinctive Bible gimel seems unique. His siddur very ugly aleph also seem unique. He seemed to want to leave a traceable mark.

Regarding the undesirable and non-based in authentic sources non-Jewish square letter never was acceptable to me.

I think a good Jewish Bible and Siddur should be very readable and conducive to עיון, concentrated reading, as Rabbi Akiva Eiger zatzal wrote in his endorsement of Romm Vilna over holy Slavita Square letters. If you compare Bodoni-like Romm Vilna, there is no square letter like it.

David and John, do you agree?

raphaelfreeman's picture

Do you have completed sample artwork or even sketches of E. Koren's 100s of typeface designs. If so, publish them. I will digitize them all for no upfront fee, provided www.GoHebrew will offer them.

That's a very sweet offer. if you notice, I didn't say that he designed 100s, but rather less than 10. We currently have a business arrangement that we are very happy with, but I'll bear your offer in mind.

gohebrew's picture

>> Of course, other things do complicate matters. After all, it is also agreed that suicide is a sin. But where to draw the line between suicide and self-sacrifice?

What those martyrs in the Holocaust, or those at the last days before the Roman conquest at Mount Masadadid, was not suicide.

The Gerer Chassidim who formed a circle and danced with fervent joy, before entering their certain deaths in the Nazi gas chambers, also was not suicide.

Rather, it was an act of קידוש השם, kiddush Hashem, like when Rabbi Akiva was brutally murdered, as we recite in the prayers of Yom Kippur (to evoke G-d's forgiveness.

It's not a fine line.

raphaelfreeman's picture

I don't throw stones, Raphael.

not physical ones no, but verbal ones?

You declared that all Artscroll books featuring the Hadasa font (ie all siddurim, chumashim, talmud etc) should be burned because the font was by somebody who is no longer religious. Personally I think that is rather inciteful. I wonder what Artscroll would think of this comment of yours.

gohebrew's picture

Judaism forbades suicide, except in the case of matyrdom.

Judaism permits abortion in the case to save the mother. Real life precedes unborn life.

Judaism makes distinctions.

gohebrew's picture

>> You declared that all Artscroll books featuring the Hadasa font (ie all siddurim, chumashim, talmud etc) should be burned because the font was by somebody who is no longer religious. Personally I think that is rather inciteful. I wonder what Artscroll would think of this comment of yours.

No, there are a few Hadasa-like typeface software fonts.

ArtScroll's first was made by Bedford Software, by a non-Jew. Hence, it's OK; not non-kosher. There new font for Macintosh was made by an Israeli חילוני. Not Sabbath observant.

ArtScroll doesn't care. That is why their Shotenstein Talmud is print on the cheapest dyed white paper, against Rabbi Akiva Eiger's edict.

gohebrew's picture

>> I wonder what Artscroll would think of this comment of yours.

Ask Meyer Zlatowitz, the principal owner of ArtScroll? Do דברי צדיקים קיימים לעד? Do צדיקים גוזר ןהקדוש ברוך הוא מקיים?

Maybe, they cared in the early 80's, but no more.

quadibloc's picture

It isn't the Bodoni-like "Drugulin" style of typeface that I would favor.

I hope that you have success in finding typefaces that combine good readability and the authenticity you seek.

gohebrew's picture

I think a modified version of Romm Vilna, where the very thin strokes are much thicker, and the wider characters, like shin (in 'm' ans 'w' in Times, or 'shin' in Lino Nine - Did Mathew Carter draw them for Linotype?) are drawn so the vertical strokes have larger spaces between them, and the left bottom 'foot' of the aleph, and the right base of the gimel, are both lifted a bit. Then, these areas where readability is hampered have greater white space.

This is what Bodoni's students would have done if they had a second round of punch-cutting the designs for Mr. Menachem Mann Romm, if we believe Frederick Goudy's account of what happened around the beginning of the 19th century.

Scott-Martin Kesofsky, author, typesetter, and type designer (like Goudy) says Goudy's account can be used to wash hogs. :)

gohebrew's picture

correction:

Scott-Martin Kosofsky, author, typesetter, and type designer (like Goudy), says Goudy's account can be used to wash hogs. :)

Background:

Goudy reports that Romm came to Bodoni's students in Italy to create the famous Romm typefaces for the Talmud. Kosofsky says that the tale is tall.

gohebrew's picture

Raphael,

>> ... but rather less than 10.

1. (Koren) Tanach Bold - all derivatives or similar
2. Koren Siddur -
3.-4. 2 Rashis - can I see a posting of the artwork to see if they are similar to the four out there, or contain his creativity?
5. A sans

What are the 5 others?
Can you post samples?

gohebrew's picture

Raphael,

>> ... You declared that all Artscroll books featuring the Hadasa font (ie all siddurim, chumashim, talmud etc) should be burned because the font was by somebody who is no longer religious.

I never said that.

Rather, we are talking about a work created with a product that involved chilul Shabbat. There are specific laws in the Codes of Jewish Law regarding a work created with a product that involved chilul Shabbat. Just like we abide by such laws regarding kosher food, we adhere to these laws.

By non-holy works, we are lenient, and say that such a person did not know better. However, by holy works, we don't rely upon loopholes.

That pertains to a person raised not as an Observant educated Jew. By a person who raised and educated as an Observant Jew, and later goes away from his or her observance, there are no loopholes.

Was Tzvika frum?

gohebrew's picture

Why is Frankruhl so popular all these years? Why did it replace the position held previously by Romm Vilna, the classic square letter design? Why did Eliyahu Koren's Tanach Bold become an Israel standard Bible typeface design?

Let's look at what FrankRuhl and Koren did different than what was in Romm Vilna.

Basically, the very thick elements and contrasting thin elements were removed.

How would Romm Vilna look as a modified text typeface design?

gohebrew's picture

I made a draft of a text version of Romm Vilna, called Romm Text.

Some characters look odd when viewed at larger sizes. I am incorporated design aspects to enhance legibility and readability that I learned from Linotype which they used in creating Times-Roman at different sizes, which they also implemented in creating their version of Frankrul at various sizes, from accounts of advice given to Eliyahu Koren for his standard Bible typeface design, and from conversations with Scott-Martin Kosofsky regarding punching-cutting and modifying a typeface design for printing.

Romm Text 1.0

raphaelfreeman's picture

>> ... You declared that all Artscroll books featuring the Hadasa font (ie all siddurim, chumashim, talmud etc) should be burned because the font was by somebody who is no longer religious.

I never said that.

yes you most certainly did.

gohebrew's picture

In my own critique, I see the Tet, Ayin, and Tzaddi(k) must be widened in accommodate dagesh dots, with sufficient white space around them.

Please provide feedback.

raphaelfreeman's picture

there are many many problems with this first draft. But the first couple to sort out is that the Ayin and Tzadi look much much heavier than the rest of the font. Your second problem is that the final mem and samekh look too similar.

Apart from that, the tet doesn't fit with the rest of the font. I think the short tail of the gimmel is also going to cause problems and the closeness of the tail of the kuf to the long stem also. It bothers me that none of the letters seem to be part of the font. There is no consistency. Look at the bet and feh, and then compare the feh with the final feh.

All in all, seems to be lots of room for improvement here.

gohebrew's picture

Raphael,

I never discussed a person "who is no longer religious". You likely thought this for some reason.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe said that such a person is the classic 'baal teshuva' or potential bt, if he or she does teshuva.

My attitude towards most chilunim, or people who grew up not yet religious, is in accord with Maimonides' ruling in his Codes of Jewish Law, "Mishnah Torah", laws of Mamerim, by a 'tinuk sh'nish' - children kidnapped by non-Jews as children, and raised as Christians, which unfortunately happened frequently.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe said that bts today are more similar to gerim, righteous coverts.

If a particular set of books was typeset in typeface software created by one who mocks Judaism, why should we condone his or her behavior by making our holy books from that typeface software, when there is different typeface software of the same design which is not blemished in this way.

Take your Koren Bible or Siddur, for example. No wonder the heredim avoid it.

gohebrew's picture

Raphael,

Thank you for your useful feedback.

Please elaborate on the short right leg of the gimmel. This was inherited from the Romm Talmud, which at very small type, you might not have noticed. Also the base of the reish is above the baseline.

Linotype also lift the left foot of the aleph, as it the foot is lifted at the heel. This helps eye movement.

raphaelfreeman's picture

Take your Koren Bible or Siddur, for example. No wonder the heredim avoid it.

I think that Haredim probably don’t buy our siddur because of it’s very zionistic angle (saying Hallel on Yom HaAtzma’ut for example).

However, Haredim buy our Tanakh and the Haredi cheder system buy and use our "Torah" volume in huge numbers. So I’m not sure why you make such a strange and unbased comment.

gohebrew's picture

Does the Koren Tanakh have Rashi and Onkelos?
Which Heredi school network buys in large numbers?

gohebrew's picture

Chabad is pro-Zionist, but doesn't say Hallel on Israel Independence Day.

Chabad is pro-land, pro-people, and pro-IDF. It says that just the government sucks.

raphaelfreeman's picture

No, the Koren Tanakh is just the Tanakh. It doesn’t have commentary. I appreciate that most people that use a "chumash" (using that word in the colloquial sense), would expect at least rashi and onkelus, but that wasn’t Eliyahu Koren’s aim. You must put things into the perspective of history. As for our plans for the future, watch this space :-)

Many Haredi (not Heredi) schools buy it. I’m not sure that it’s common practice for private companies to reveal their clientele list on public forums so I’m going to ignore this question.

When, I used the word "zionist", I was using it in a religious context.

gohebrew's picture

Raphael,

I believe that our sages obm warn us against a Tanach without a commentary such as Rashi or Onkelos.

When Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan a"h produced his breakthrough "Living Torah" for Moznayim Publishers, he included notes to avoid this issue.

With all due respect, I don't believe any heredi school purchases the Koren Tanakh. I may be wrong. Please email me their names. No business or sales figures. Email is not a public forum.

I'm sure that the Koren Tanakh is nice, and pleasant to look at, if you made it. But its either for chilunim or the kipa-seruga crowd - not heredim.

raphaelfreeman's picture

Please can you quote a source where our sages warn against a Tanakh with commentary? I've never heard of such a thing. What did they do before Rashi? Or did Judaism only start when Rashi wrote his commentary. Really, you do have the most interesting of opinions.

You don't need to believe me. I'm not trying to prove a point. You are the one that said that no Haredi would buy our product. The onus is on you to back up your wild accusations. I think that my word, as a director in the company should be enough. Why on earth should I make it up? You have an incredible amount of chutzpa of basically accusing me of a liar on a public forum, then making me back up my "claims" to refute nonsense that you pull out of thin air.

Really, a little derekh eretz please.

gohebrew's picture

Raphael,

Judaism began when Adam taught the animals, birds etc. to sing praises to G-d as each of us chant on Friday night. You do pay attention to want you read in the Koren Siddur?

Commentary or Targum is not limited to Rashi. Onkelos I believe was a descendant of Romans, if I am not mistaken. He of course preceded Rashi, who lived in medieval times. Prior to Rashi most of us learned Onkelos, who offers much more than an Aramaic translation. There have been many other great commentaries over the past 2000 years.

I don't think that it is an issur, but I'll look since you ask. It's an established Jewish tradition.

I think that this argument about Heredim buying or not buying a Koren Bible is stupid. Ask any Heredi. They're in Jerusalem you know. Here we have Chassidim, Sephardim, Litvich etc. Heredim is an Israeli invention, like Kipa-Serugotniks.

Clearly, you are nogaah bedavar, and a good sales representative of your company.

I'm sorry that you got angry, and lost your cool. In modern psychology that is as they say in Talmudic language a "modeh b'miktzat".

quadibloc's picture

I have been poking around on the Internet to get some background to this.

One reference noted that a distinctive feature of the Haredim is that unlike more secular but still believing Jews, they place the Oral Law, the Mishnah and the Talmud which contains the Mishnah and commentaries on it, in a central role, as containing the authoritative interpretation of the Written Law.

When it comes to a Tanakh with commentary, though, it isn't the Talmud, or even the Mishnah that is in the margins; instead, it is the Targums that are in the margins.

The Talmud notes that only Targum Onkelos and Targum Jonathen ben Uzziel are authoritative. But the Rabbinic Bible, and similar works, also include other Targums as well.

Of course, Wikipedia may be misleading; it seems to use a different definition of Haredim, which lumps the Hasidim in as a kind of Haredim.

gohebrew's picture

from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_commentaries_on_the_Bible

Who was Onkelos?

Onkelos wrote the most literal translation of the Bible.[5] with a few exceptions. Figurative language, is usually not translated literally but is explained (e.g., Gen. 49:25; Ex. 15:3, 8, 10; 29:35). Geographical names are often replaced by those current at a later time (e.g., Gen. 10:10; Deut. 3:17).
According to the Talmud,[6] the Torah and its translation into Aramaic were given to Moses on Mount Sinai, because Egyptian slaves spoke Aramaic. After the Babylonian exile, the Targum was completely forgotten. Onkelos, a Roman convert to Judaism, was able to reconstruct the original Aramaic. Saadiah Gaon disagrees and says the Aramaic of Onkelos was never a spoken language. He believed that Onkelos's Aramaic was an artificial construct, i.e. it was a combination of Eastern and Western dialects of Aramaic.[7]
[edit]

gohebrew's picture

Without asking my experts, I recall as a yeshiva bachur young man in rabbinical studies that it was forbidden to study either a Biblical text by itself, or even the main body of the Talmud, known as the Gemara.

For example, Shir HaShirim by King Solomon is, according to Rashi, a beautiful dialogue between G-d and His People. Yet, without a commentary, it could be understood a mere love song between a man and a woman.

Similarly, the surface meaning of words is deceiving. In the case of King David's affair with Batsheva, many non-Orthodox Jewish people insist that this episodes shows that King David sinned.

Yet, the Talmud argues that this isn't so. "Anyone who says that David sinned is mistaken", says the Talmud.

In fact, Psalm 51 was included in "Seder Kriat Shmah Al HaMitah", "the prayers to recited before going to bed", in order to guide us to do teshuva.

This is why Scripture with Commentary is misleading.

quadibloc's picture

I now see that I was wading in much too deep in my ignorance of these matters; a Mikraot Gedolot does not have a bunch of other Targumim in it; instead, it has other things to which the Haredim would not object, even though they would not give them the same authority; they don't object to Rashi.

gohebrew's picture

>> ... Haredim, which lumps the Hasidim in as a kind of Haredim.

This is accurate. Heredim is a generic term for an "ultra-Orthodox" Jew. Heredi literally refers to a person is very devouut or scrupulous in his or her observance.

Hasidim, or Chassidim, are simply those who follow in the pathways and according to the teachings of Rabbi Israel, the Baal Shem Tov.

These teachings have filtered far and wide, and have seeped into the modern psyche. The teachings of the Baal Shem Tov have become the foundations for modern psychology and modern physics, the ways we define how people react and how we perceive the universe.

gohebrew's picture

>> I now see that I was wading in much too deep in my ignorance of these matters; a Mikraot Gedolot does not have a bunch of other Targumim in it; instead, it has other things to which the Haredim would not object, even though they would not give them the same authority; they don't object to Rashi.

Mikraot Gedolot normally refers to a great collection of commentaries, centered around Scriptures. There are multiple Targumim, as well interpretors like Rashi, Ibn Ezra etc. There is an old Jewish custom to review the Weekly Portion, together with Targum Onkelos and Rashi. Other people study much more, and review these points at the Friday evening Sabbath meal, admidst singing of Sabbath songs, known as Zemerot and Niggunim, songs and melodies.

raphaelfreeman's picture

There is a distinction as to how a person should learn Torah and how it should be printed. For example, originally, when the Torah was taught (before there were books), a Sefer Torah would be brought down do the lecture hall and Torah was taught. Obviously, in the holy scroll, there were no commentaries written, but just the 5 books of Moses.

Today, a wide variety of different sources are available to be learned and not all of them can fit into one volume. For this reason, it is traditional to own a Tanakh WITH NO COMMENTARY and then this can be used either as a base text or as a reference. For example, the Talmud scholar may want to look up a quoted text to see the context that the Talmud is trying to explain from that one fragment.

We at Koren have a very nice project underway (details will be available in about 5.5 years hopefully) which will provide a very compelling volume, but for that Talmud scholar, he won't want a huge volume to look up one pasuk.

I find in my work at Koren, that I'm constantly referencing the Tanakh. I like to use a large volume (fortunately we have lots at my work :-) ), but I just need the pasuk, not the Rashi or the Onkelus or anything else.

It should also be noted that in Israel where learning Tanakh is compulsory for all students, that a Tanakh with any sort of commentary is not allowed. Also in the Haredi (not an "e" but an "a") cheder system, they teach the kids with a separate volume for Torah and then different volumes for the various mefarshim. It's their system of learning which is NOT the same as the general Israeli curriculum. I know you don't believe me, but it's still true nevertheless :-)

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