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December 2, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review 8 Teves

The Septuagint

By Rabbi Yonason Goldson


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Was the translation of the Torah into Greek a miracle or a catastrophe — or both?


http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Although secular historians question whether Alexander the Great ever entered Jerusalem, the Talmud records in striking detail the Jewish tradition of Alexander's arrival in the Holy City.


With his conquest of the Persian Empire, Alexander acquired dominion over Israel and its inhabitants. These included not only the Jews but the Samaritans, a mongrel people who had nursed an ideological grudge against the Jewish sages for generations. Seeing the current change of political fortunes as an opportunity to advance their own political agenda, the Samaritans presented themselves to Alexander proclaiming their loyalty and offering urgent warnings of Jewish treachery. "Crush the Jews and destroy their Temple," they beseeched Alexander," before they have an opportunity to rebel against you."


The High Priest at that time was Shimon the Righteous, the last surviving member of the Great Assembly of Sages that had led the Jewish people back from exile in Babylon. Military resistance against Alexander's army was unthinkable, and diplomacy seemed hopeless as well. Nevertheless, Shimon adorned himself in his priestly garments and set forth with a small entourage to greet the approaching conqueror.

THE TABLES TURN
When Shimon presented himself before Alexander, the Samaritan advisors were flabbergasted as they witnessed the mighty Emperor climb down from his chariot and prostrate himself upon the ground before this "insignificant" Jewish Priest. Alexander explained that on the eve of every battle, he had been visited in a dream by the vision of a man leading him to victory — and this was the man he had seen in his dream! In a sudden reversal of fortunes, Alexander received Shimon as a friend and ally, and ordered that the Samaritan advisors be dragged to their deaths by horses.


Alexander appeared in every way the model of a benevolent ruler. According to some, he studied Jewish philosophy with the sages, and may even have returned to teach his mentor, Aristotle, what he had learned among the Jews. But Alexander was too driven by ambition to stay long in one place. He soon embarked on his last campaign, to India, and subsequently died in Babylon at the age of 33.

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Having failed to make preparations for transfer of authority, Alexander left the door open for a power struggle among his officers. The Jews soon found themselves under the rule of Alexander's general Ptolemy, who had seized control of Egypt and the surrounding regions. A capable and authoritarian ruler, Ptolemy devoted most of his reign to military adventures in an effort to expand his kingdom. And although the Jews of Israel lived in relative physical security, the influence of Greek culture and philosophy seeped gradually and inexorably into the hearts and minds of a large minority of Jews. Jewish Hellenism began to blossom.


When Ptolemy II ascended the Egyptian throne in the year 3476, he at first appeared to be a far more benevolent ruler than his militant father. To a certain extent this was true: the young Ptolemy was an ardent scholar who managed a relatively peaceful kingdom where intellectual and cultural pursuits occupied much of society. Ptolemy even seems to have been a protector of the Jewish middle-class from the excesses and power-plays of the political elites.

A TROJAN HORSE FOR THE JEWS
According to the Talmud, it was Ptolemy II who, toward the end of his 40-year reign, commissioned the Septuagint, the "Translation of the Seventy." Ptolemy's love of literature might appear to have been his sole motivation in commanding the translation of the Torah, but his method of "commissioning" the project suggests a more sinister objective. Ptolemy summoned the 71 sages of the Sanhedrin and isolated each of them in a separate room, only then issuing his command that they translate the Torah into Greek.


Like a many-facetted diamond that acquires a singular appearance from every angle, the Torah possesses virtually endless levels of interpretation including the literal, the allegorical, the analytical, and the mystical. As a result, the translation of the Torah from the uniquely versatile language of Biblical Hebrew into another tongue offered the very real possibility that the 71 separate translations would differ significantly from one another.


Had Ptolemy discovered discrepancies between the sages' translations, he would then have found justification to denounce the Torah as a mere religious icon, open to subjective interpretation and therefore not binding based on its literal meaning. Such a claim would have been disastrous, legitimizing Hellenist ideology and discrediting the sages in their opposition to the influence of Greek culture.


Miraculously, all 71 sages produced identical translations, despite their emendation of ten separate passages subject to easy misinterpretation. Despite this undisguised miracle, the Talmud teaches that when the sages completed their translation, on the 8th day of the month of Teiveis, darkness descended upon the world and remained for 3 days, a tragedy commemorated by the fast of the 10th of Teiveis (which also commemorates the beginning of the siege of Jerusalem that resulted in the destruction of the First Temple).


Like the sun lost behind the pall of darkness, the brilliance of the Torah had become eclipsed to all those who would now depend upon its rendering in a foreign language, with all its levels of depth and meaning lost. The Torah had become "like a lion in cage," no longer the king of the beasts striking fear into all who heard its roar, now behind bars and stripped of its freedom and power; so too had the Septuagint reduced the Torah to just another cultural document.


The Jews of Egypt rejoiced that this translation would bring them respect and regard from the gentiles among whom the lived. The sages lamented that the translation would cause the Hebrew language to become forgotten among Egyptian Jews and hasten their assimilation. The crises of the next generations, leading to the spiritual darkness that preceded the miracle of Chanukah, proved that the sages' fears were not unfounded.


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JWR contributor Rabbi Yonason Goldson teaches at Block Yeshiva High School in St. Louis. Comment by clicking here.


Previously:

End of the Great Flood
First Day of Creation
Reprise at Sinai
Tu B'Av: Repentance and the foundations of love
Sin of the Golden Calf: Understanding the how and why and resulting Divine punishment
The day the sun stood still
Nemirov massacres and the Chmielnicki uprising
Independent Judea under Shimon HaMaccabee
The Great Revolt begins
Dedication of new walls of Jerusalem

© 2006, Rabbi Yonason Goldson