My Quarrel with "My Quarrel with Hersh Rasseyner"

How I came to translate one of the greatest stories in all of Yiddish literature, a work that I believe uniquely illuminates the debate at the very center of Jewish modernity.

Young Jewish men engaged in a lively talmudic discussion in the Ramayles yeshiva in Vilna in the 1930s. Taken by A. Sapir, courtesy YIVO.

Young Jewish men engaged in a lively talmudic discussion in the Ramayles yeshiva in Vilna in the 1930s. Taken by A. Sapir, courtesy YIVO.

Ruth R. Wisse
essay
Dec. 7 2020
About Ruth

Ruth R. Wisse is a Mosaic columnist, professor emerita of Yiddish and comparative literatures at Harvard and a distinguished senior fellow at the Tikvah Fund. Her memoir Free as a Jew: a Personal Memoir of National Self-Liberation, chapters of which appeared in Mosaic in somewhat different form, will be published in September.

This month, Mosaic is pleased to offer a seminal essay by Ruth R. Wisse on the great Yiddish writer Chaim Grade’s story “My Quarrel with Hersh Rasseyner.” Alongside this essay, we’re pleased to present Wisse’s original translation of the work, which is the first unabridged version of the story to be published in English. A printable PDF package containing both essay and translation is available here, and you can listen to Wisse’s essay below.—The Editors

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More about: Arts & Culture, Chaim Grade, History & Ideas, Holocaust, Yiddish literature