Sunday, September 28, 2008

In defense of Artscroll - on the translation of Shir HaShirim

A good while back, my friend S. had a post entitled "Revising Shir HaShirim" in which he wrote:

How then could they [Artscroll -W.] say that because Chazal and the meforshim take Shir Ha-shirim to be an allegory that "the literal meaning of the words is so far from their meaning that it is false"? Uhm, en mikra yotzi me-dei peshuto anyone?

In their defense, I found the following statement in Rav Poalim, V 1 YD, 56:

The rest of the Teshuva - it concerns a translation of the Idros into Arabic - is also very much worth seeing.
[R' Baruch Epstein writes in his Gishmei Bracha - that the reason it is called Shir HaShirim is because all of the other Shirim (eg Az Yoshir) have both in inner (holy) and outer (plain) meaning whereas Shir HaShirim cannot possibly be understood except according to its "inner" meaning so it is therefore greater then the other Shirim.]


Anonymous said...

Note that Akeidas Yitzhak takes the diametrically opposite view; he begins his commentary with a lengthy (ten pages, in the standard edition) explanation of the Mashal, i.e. the evolution of the romance between the low-born shepherdess and her royal lover, and only after that does he proceed with an explanation of the Nimshal:

ומעתה נבאר המגלה הזאת לפי חמר המשל כי הוא דבר ראוי ונאות ואחר כך נבא אל הנמשל ...

שיר השירים

שיר השירים אמר כי נערה אחת אינה מזרע המלוכה ומן הפרתמים כי רועה היא נכנסה חשקת אהבת המלך שלמה בלבה והנה באהבתה אותו וחשק לבה עשתה לו שירים הרבה. והנה היה השיר הזה המשובח שבהם או שייסדו שלמה דודה לשמה. ...

Anonymous said...

I don't understand. Did they not know of the Tafsir in Iraq? It seems pretty literal to me.

Mississippi Fred MacDowell said...

The truth is, it wasn't the most well thought out post.

At another date I commented or posted somewhere that the real avla is not that it violates en mikra, but that you can't call it an allegory on the one hand, and then deny that there is are two meanings, the literal and the figurative. If all of Aesop's fables left out the foxes and the rivers and went straight to the moral of the story, then they wouldn't be fables. They'd be morals and maxims.

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