Page 119 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 51

Basic HTML Version

BILIK /
TSENE-RENE.
A YIDDISH LITERARY SUCCESS
1 1 1
much more exegetical commentary than the 1622 original, that
it leaves out the grisly but colorful reference to Haran’s intes­
tines shriveling in the fire and that it emphasizes Terah ’s idol­
atry and ignores Haran’s opportunism and equivocation. How­
ever, my purpose in pointing out these changes is to indicate
how they reflect perceptions about the audience on the part
of translators and publishers. The introduction to the Masorah
edition concludes: “It is still the best work available of its kind.
Without in any way detracting from the value of existing trans­
lations, commentaries and anthologies, these typically demand
an investment of time and concentration which is not always
readily forthcoming. The freely-flowing passages of this unpre­
tentious classic, however, can be relied upon—almost at one
sitting— to fascinate regular readers of all ranks and back­
grounds with an unsurpassed variety of information and in­
sights on the weekly portion of the Torah.”38The populism of
Yankev ben Yitskhok is clearly manifest in the Orthodox com­
munity. Sadly, the efforts to reach out to the less educated no
longer includes those ordinary Yiddish-speaking Jews who have
read the
Tsene-rene
for centuries. The threads of the hasidic
style that Shmeruk delineated may indeed be ascertained among
the
droshes
and the sermons of the
rebes,
but the written word
is more likely to be Hebrew and English. The
Tsene-rene
survives,
deconstructed back into its source language and reconstructed
into yet another vernacular.39
38. Meir Holder, Mesorah, xiv.
39. The publisher informs me that yet another edition is planned particularly
for those who have not been brought up in the “Jewish tradition.”