Why the Talmud Considered the Translation of Scripture a Reason to Mourn

Dec. 13 2021

Tomorrow is the tenth day of the Hebrew month of Tevet, a fast day that commemorates the beginning of the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem in 587 BCE. Originally, the two preceding days were also days of fasting. While the reasons for the fast of 9 Tevet are shrouded in mystery, the fast of 8 Tevet (in Yiddish, khes Teyves) mourns the composition of the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible produced in the 3rd or 2nd century BCE—according to legend, by a group of 70 Jewish elders. In the ancient world, the Septuagint made the Tanakh accessible to Greek-speaking Jews, such as the Alexandrian philosopher Philo, as well as to Gentiles—early Christians among them.

The fast of 8 Tevet was a subject of particular fascination to Rabbi Moses Schreiber (a/k/a the Chasam Sofer), a sage of tremendous erudition and an early pioneer of Orthodoxy, who spent much effort combating the early phases of Reform Judaism and the inroads of modernity. Elli Fischer—a translator of Hebrew books by profession—discusses the history of this day, and why it held such attraction to Schreiber. (Audio, 46 minutes.)

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Read more at Down the Rabbi Hole

More about: Hebrew Bible, Moses Schreiber, Septuagint, Tenth of Tevet, Translation

Will Costco Go to Israel?

Social-media users have mocked this week new Israeli finance minister Bezalel Smotrich for a poorly translated letter. But far more interesting than the finance minister’s use of Google Translate (or some such technology) is what the letter reveals about the Jewish state. In it, Smotrich asks none other than Costco to consider opening stores in Israel.

Why?

Israel, reports Sharon Wrobel, has one of the highest costs of living of any country in the 38-member Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

This

has been generally attributed to a lack of competition among local importers and manufacturers. The top three local supermarket chains account for over half of the food retail market, limiting competition and putting upward pressure on prices. Meanwhile, import tariffs, value-added tax costs and kosher restrictions have been keeping out international retail chains.

Is the move likely to happen?

“We do see a recent trend of international retailers entering the Israeli market as some barriers to food imports from abroad have been eased,” Chen Herzog, chief economist at BDO Israel accounting firm, told The Times of Israel. “The purchasing power and technology used by big global retailers for logistics and in the area of online sales where Israel has been lagging behind could lead to a potential shift in the market and more competitive prices.”

Still, the same economist noted that in Israel “the cost of real estate and other costs such as the VAT on fruit and vegetables means that big retailers such as Costco may not be able to offer the same competitive prices than in other places.”

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Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Costco, Israel & Zionism