4 Elul 5766
The Significance of Learning the Torah in Hebrew
I’ve learned that one of the reasons we fast on Shiva Asar b’Tamuz or Asara b’Teves (I don’t remember exactly) is that the Torah was translatted into greek, and the reasons behind why this was so tragic. But this year I realized that in parshas devarim in one of the first rashi’s it says that Moshe translatted the Torah into every language so that we know in galus whereever we are we will still learn it (and other reasons) This seems to me to be a contradiction. If Moshe translated the Torah into 70 languages why was it so horrible that it was done later during the roman times. If you can help clarify this I would really appreciate it.
Thank you for your excellent question.
Perhaps the answer is that, when translating the Torah, you are removing the Torah Shel Baal Peh from it, as the clues and keys to the Torah are only accessible in the Hebrew language. When Moshe translated the Torah, it was clear to all that it was merely a translation of the Hebrew, and was side by side with Hebrew and all of the other languages- to make it accessible to all, with the goal being to study it in the Hebrew language, so that the entire Torah could truly be accessed by all. When it was translated into Greek in the times of Ptolemy, his goal was to have a “Greek Torah”- which is truly a tragedy. There is no way that Torah can be studied in another language and make sense. From the Hebrew choice of words we are able to peel away the layers and layers of meaning and truly access the entire Torah.
I have found a website that deals with this question from a different perspective, based on the teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe Zatz”l, who apparently was bothered by your question as well.
Rabbi Aaron Tendler