Growing up in Israel in a traditional Jewish environment where every Shabbat after lunch, my late father, a former Yeshiva bocher (lad) would teach me and discuss with me that week’s Parasha (Torah portion) and its corresponding Haftara,  I thought I would, unlike the average Israeli, be more careful and  accurate  when quoting our Jewish Scriptures.  Two days ago, I had an enlightening lesson, quite an eye opener.

 I guess one lives and learns.

It happened when I read a comment by one of my close and very wise friends, Michal Dar-El, to a thread I posted on Face Book. The thread addressed the accusatory remarks made by some Israelis towards other Jews in the aftermath of the previous weekend’s horrific events.  Part of her response was quoting this Hebrew verse "מִהֲרוּ בָּנָיִךְ, מְהָרְסַיִךְ וּמַחֲרִבַיִךְ מִמֵּךְ יֵצֵאוּ" (Isaiah 49: 17) which, incidentally, is part of this week’s Haftarah.  It roughly translates as, “Your destroyers and annihilators shall leave  you.”

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Another  brief Hebrew lesson, for the benefit of those who are not familiar with the unique nature of our beautiful Hebrew language,  is in order now.  The word  “מִמֵּךְ “ (mimech) can be translated as “out of you” and “from within you” thus lending itself to misinterpretation when taken out of context.

When I read Michal’s comment, I interpreted it as meaning “out of you,”  I was delighted to read what I mistakenly thought was her interpretation of a verse that so many of us here, in Israel, and for so long, have popularly interpreted as “from within you,” i.e. to describing the sad state of affairs in which our own people produces its own enemies. “Such a prophetic interpretation by her,” I decided,  “should be congratulated.”


Needless to say I was surprised when Michal insisted that it was not HER interpretation but rather the original intention of the prophet Isaiah for it was one of his prophecies of solace and support for the  bereaving and for our beloved Jerusalem.  Though Isaiah did not live through the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem and its captivity, he was able, through, inspiration, to offer words of comfort.  He was foretelling Jerusalem that in the future, in the process of her restoration and reconstruction, her enemies, those contributing to her destruction and those who wish to bring about her demise would leave her, would be heaved out of her.  It was with great delight that I accepted this newly acquired and important lesson into  my own internal understanding of Jewish Scriptures.

Unfortunately, not much seems to have changed in the history of Am Yisrael and the Jewish people.  We still have in our midst those who wish and hope for our destruction.  We can only hope that Isaiah’s words of comfort will soon become a reality and in our times.

This, however, is not the thought that I wish to convey through this article. It was just an example of it.

I wish to express a concern, a grave concern at how often many Jews and non Jews, alike, tend to mistranslate the Hebrew version of the Tanach, either innocently or through deliberate effort and in many cases, with disastrous consequences for us, Am Yisrael and the Jewish people.  Many tend to take the written Hebrew word out of context in order to serve their own agenda or their own wishful thinking.       These ongoing inaccuracies are done at the cost of causing great injustice to the creators and writers and above all to the intended (original) beneficiaries of these Scriptures, Am Yisrael and the Jewish people. They have been going  on for over two millennia.

So, if you do love the Am Yisrael and the Jewish people, if you do respect us and do support us, please be careful how you read, interpret and quote that which is so close to our heart and that which we so cherish and hold dear.


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