Thursday, March 3, 2011

It's a Negative Mitzvah to Not What?

Concise Book of Mitzvoth (The Torah Classics Library) (English and Hebrew Edition)There are a lot of really horribly written and poorly edited pieces of Judaica out there. I've kvetched about plenty, including one that was required reading for my conversion that was more confusing than it was worth (don't use your oven on Shabbos! okay, you can use it, but only in this way! did we mention NEVER to use your oven?). But this one, folks, takes the cake for ridiculousness.

The book? The Concise Book of Mitzvoth.

The translation on this is horrible. Horrible to the point of being absolutely blasphemous. The problem? In Hebrew, double-negatives are the norm. For example, to say "No one was there," you would say אף אחד לא היו שם. Translate that into English literally and you end up with "No one wasn't there," which means people were there. Thus, well, just ... look at this.

No! That doesn't give you right to start oppressing me, just because a book compiled by The Chafetz Chayim says so. But reading all of the negative commandments gave me a huge laugh. If a non-Jew picked up this book, they'd probably have some serious material to work with (of course, until they read the Hebrew, which is clear as day). I'll leave you with this one, which is just downright disturbing.
This is when literal translation goes wrong, wrong, SO wrong. Oy.