Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Marc Shapiro on Kol Isha

Marc Shapiro on Artscroll misrepresentations and Kol Isha...

Here's a taste:
Eccl. 2:8 states: .עשיתי לי שרים ושרות

What does this mean? The simple explanation is that the author, traditionally Solomon, is telling us about all the wonderful things he amassed with which to enjoy himself, and among them are “men singers and women singers.” Artscroll translates the passage as “I provided myself with various musical instruments.” Now this might be an apologetic translation, but if so, it is not Artscroll that is to be too criticized, but the Talmud, Gittin 68a, since according to Rashi this is how the Talmud explains the words.[11] Artscroll is obviously within its rights to adopt this understanding, even if one assumes that this explanation is not in accord with the simple sense of the verse.

The problem comes with the next passage in the Artscroll commentary which states: “Rav Yosef Kara, Alshich, Metzudas Zion and others translate ‘singers.’” I will get to Kara and Alshich shortly, but let’s begin with Metzudat Tziyon, since this is easiest for most people to access as it appears in the Mikraot Gedolot. He writes as follows:

שרים: משוררים זכרים. ושרות: משוררות נקבות

So now I ask my fair-minded readers: Is Artscroll’s statement that Metzudat Tziyon translates שרים ושרות as “singers” accurate? I think the answer is clearly “no”. Metzudat Tziyon translates the words in question as “male singers and female singers,” and yet—don’t tell me you are surprised—in Artscroll this morphs into “singers”. Why would Artscroll fudge the translation? The answer is obvious. They don’t want people to think that Solomon would have listened to women singing.
Read the whole thing! Fascinating stuff.