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rashi and learning from English translations


Rabbi Ari Shvat

Adar 15, 5773
Rabbi Shvat Why in the commentary of Rashi there is this statement of out of the house of slaves when within the chumash there is this statement out of the house of slavery. What was Rashi trying to clarify?
Shalom. You are probably referring to Shmot (20, 2), and accordingly, your question is clearly based upon reading an English translation, rather than the original Hebrew. The Hebrew reads: “miBeit Avadim” which literally means: from the house of slaves, but the English translation which you probably read, already is suggesting a commentary when they say “house of slavery”. It’s very important to learn Hebrew, and this is just one of the many reasons why. No translation can include the multi-faceted wording of the Godly Torah, and what they inevitably do is choose one of the commentaries, and the innocent reader doesn’t even realize that he’s just seeing one fraction, and being "locked into" only one possible explanation. R. Moshe Feinstein, R. Y. E. Henkin, Nechama Lebovitz, and many others come out very strongly against learning from translations (yes, that includes Artscroll), and agree that it’s better to invest a couple of months on intensively learning Hebrew, and than you can learn properly for the rest of your life. For more reasons and sources about learning Torah in the original Hebrew, see my article on the topic from the Tchumin journal at:שבט&SearchSort=publish_year DESC&UserAction=record,&jump=38 With Love of Israel, Rav Ari Shvat
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