Page 52 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 33

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42
JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
Bahya ibn Pakuda, Simha Bunam, Tractate Kiddushin, Pesikta
d’Rav Cahana. There is no objection to the wide variety but the
average worshipper will find the ponderous paragraphs taken
from Buber and Maimonides too heavy. This is also true of the
reflection before the H in’ni in the Musaf service.
NEW TRANSLATIONS ARE AN IMPROVEMENT
The new translations of some of the great prayers of the liturgy
are indeed an improvement though opinions may differ regarding
specific words and phrases. For example, one is surprised by the
use of “loved” from the verb
“bachar”
in the first Haftarah bless­
ing. Similarly, the opening of the Rosh Hashanah evening service
for the second day contains an unusual translation of the first
line of Psalm 15;
Aclonai mi yagur
becomes, “Do we deserve to
enter God’s sanctuary?.” This is contrary to the spirit of
teshuvah
which is central to the
Yamim Noraim.
The same applies to
random passages from some of the
piyyutim
and the
H in’ni.
Still, these are minor flaws compared to the overwhelming im­
pression one gets of a truly readable
Mahzor.
Leah Goldberg
once quipped that “a translation should be like a woman, either
beautiful or loyal.” Essentially, the new
Mahzor
approximates
both, and that is good enough.
At times there are amazing imaginative bursts in dealing with
traditional material. In the
Ashamnu,
the editor abandoned the
Hebrew form and developed an acrostic conforming to the 26
letters of the English alphabet: “We abuse, we betray, we are
cruel___ ”
On Yom Kippur in the
Musaf
service, the worshipper reads
Eleh Ezkerah,
“These things I recall and pour my heart out. . .
The
Mahzor
includes a martyrology recording the
Asarah Ha-
rugei Melukhah,
the ten rabbis who died for the Sanctification
of God’s Name. Composed after the first Crusade (1096 C.E.),
the dirge reflects the theological confusion of an age seeking the
meaning of the slaughter of innocents. It cannot help but remind
us ofc our own helplessness to comprehend the enormity of the
tragedy of the six million dead of this century.
The new prayerbook brings this into perspective by including
a number of doleful, poignant passages from Hayyim Nahman
Bialik, Hillel Bavli, A. M. Klein, and Nelly Sachs. The Silverman