A Truly Wonderful Thing

30 05 2011

It has recently come to my attention (thanks to a post at Hirhurim) that the entire Soncino English translation of the Babylonian Talmud is now available online. It can be found at Halakhah.com¹, and comes complete with introductions by Rabbi Dr I. Epstein, as well as forwards by Maurice Simon and former Chief Rabbi Dr J.H. Hertz. For the quality of translation, I still prefer Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz’s monumental achievement, and am especially in awe of his ability to undertake it singlehandedly. If you are looking for a translation into English, however, the matter-of-fact and formally-equivalent Soncino translation runs rings around the overpriced, misleading and unfaithful translations by Artscroll.

Certainly, nothing can possibly take the place of the actual text, but for those who find translations a useful form of “commentary”, the DafYomi Advancement Forum constitutes an excellent supplement to one’s translation of choice. I cannot even estimate the number of times that I have consulted this incredible site in order to get the basic sense of a sugya and save myself three hours of frustration. I do miss having the time to sit and shteig, as they say, but for the moment it’s all about covering ground.

¹ Surprisingly, the considerably more apt domain name “halakha.com” appears to be available. Anybody interested?



3 responses

31 05 2011
John Hobbins

The ideal, as far as I’m concerned, would be a site that put the text of the Bavli, and one or more translations thereof, in parallel columns.

2 06 2011

How can you not have registered halakha.com already?

4 06 2011
Simon Holloway

Regrettably, it appears to have been taken after all. Cybersquatters, I think one calls them.

A site that compares different translations to each other (a sort of 21st century Hexapla) would be interesting, but I care less about the actual translations than I do about the text that they are translating. I find them a useful guide, by which I can ensure that I have the general sense of a sugya, but I’m less inclined to be wowed by their individual differences than I am by the differences between different Bible translations.

Not sure why that is, to be honest.

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