[For this translation, I used] two translations of Laments, [and] the book of mourning poems read on Tish’a B’Av. Chapters 1, 2, 4 and 5 were translated by Rabbi David Mevorach Seidenberg, with attention to the principles of the Buber-Rosenzweig Bible. This translation strives to be “concordant” by translating related Hebrew words with related English words, and by following the order and syntax of the Hebrew as much as possible. In some cases alternate translations are given, indicated by a slash. This translation also focuses on the more physical, earthy meaning of words, drawing the reader from modern thought patterns towards more ancient ways of seeing and feeling. Chapter 3 is partly retranslated from James Moffat’s 1922 translation. Moffat followed the principles of “idiomatic” translation, recasting the Hebrew according to the word order, meaning, and sense of everyday English. Moffat, more than most idiomatic translators, evokes the emotional depth of the Hebrew. For brief essays on the theology of Eikhah and links to songs, see the end of this booklet. . . .
Miqra `al pi ha-Mesorah is a new experimental edition of the Tanakh in digital online format, now available as a carefully corrected draft of the entire Tanakh. Two features make this edition of the Tanakh unique: Full editorial documentation and a free content license. Full editorial documentation: Various editions of the Torah or Tanakh in Hebrew may seem identical to the untrained eye, but the truth is that each and every edition—from Koren to Breuer and from Artscroll to JPS—makes numerous important editorial decisions. In most editions these decisions are not transparent, and the student of Torah therefore relies upon the good judgment of the editor. But in Miqra `al pi ha-Mesorah the entire editorial process and the reasoning behind it are fully described in all of their details: Every stylistic alteration and every textual decision made regarding every letter, niqqud, and ta`am in the entire Tanakh is documented. . . .
The 1985 JPS may be on the Amazon best seller list but it won’t be until 2080 before its contents enter the Public Domain. Thankfully an excellent English translation of the TaNaKh already exists that we can use, modify, and importantly, update: The Holy Scriptures According to the Masoretic Text: A New Translation with the . . .
The idea that tragedy and disaster are punishment for our sins is alien to most most modern Jews. The author(s) of Eikhah believed that what happened to Zion was divine punishment. (This is one reason why it is hard to connect the Holocaust with what we mourn on Tish’a B’av.) Besides the obvious consolation of believing that the tragedy had meaning, the reader might also consider that for the ancients, the two choices were to believe that the destruction was punishment, or that God simply had no interest in them. It is easy to imagine why people would choose the image of a punishing God over the complete absence of God – though the latter possibility is suggested in the very last line of the text, before we go back to repeat the more comforting line “Turn us…” . . .
The Open Siddur Project is pleased to offer the world the first freely licensed Seder Megillat Esther. We would like to thank our contributors: the Jewish Publication Society for sharing an authoritative digital edition of their 1917 English Translation of the TaNaKh (The Holy Scriptures According to the Masoretic Text), Christopher Kimball and the Westminster Leningrad Codex digitzation project for an authoritative digital text of the TaNaKh. We would also like to thank Rabbi Rallis Wiesenthal for his contribution of the Siddur Bnei Ashkenaz, Shmueli Gonzales for his transcriptions of siddurim witnessing the Nusach Ha-Ari, and Aharon Varady, the editor of opensiddur.org and founder of the Open Siddur Project. If you have any free licensed resources representing other nuschaot and minhagim, please share them. . . .