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Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Lost in Translation

So yesterday, my 13 year-old and 10 year-old sons packed into cars with the rest of their classes, and drove down to Chicago to see a big Rabbi from Israel. The left just after 12, and didn't get back until close to 8pm. They spent about 6 hours in traffic, and came home tired and hungry.

According to my older son, the Rabbi spoke exclusively in Yiddish.

Was it worth it?

3 comments:

Shira Salamone said...

That depends on whether or not your children are learning Yiddish in yeshiva, or whether they're expected to know it from home. If neither of the above is the case, then all your sons learned is that it's okay for a rabbi show a lack of derech eretz to those who come to listen to him. For anyone to give a talk in a language that s/he can't expect his/her listeners to understand shows a lack of derech eretz.

PsychoToddler said...

No they don't learn Yiddish in school (although earlier my son was paired up with a chevrusah who insisted in translating the gemorah only into yiddish, which neither kid understood--I switched chevrusahs).

Someone apparently did do a "recap" of what the Rabbi said afterwards (come to think of it, my son didn't say what language THAT was in).

It's possible the Rabbi doesn't speak English. In that case, I wonder what they wanted the kids to get out of it, or if they knew about the language issues.

Maybe they just wanted them to see a "Tzadik", something they don't see everyday (yes, even living with me).

Shira Salamone said...

Granted, it is quite possible that the Rabbi doesn't speak English, but that's what interpreters are for. I'm not impressed. I still say the rabbi showed little derech eretz/consideration for his listeners. It sounds to me more like a rabbinical ego trip than an attempt at actual teaching.

On the other hand, surely the rabbi speaks Hebrew, and surely the students at your friendly local yeshiva are learning Hebrew. So maybe I'm asking the wrong question. Let me try this one, instead: At the risk of having my head handed to me on the proverbial silver platter for being either offensive, naive in the matter of Jewish religious politics, or both, why is a rabbi from Israel speaking in Yiddish, not Hebrew? Lashon haKodesh isn't holy enough for him?