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    Donations in English – T’rumah

    beg charity poor homeless mendicant tzedakahThe name of the sidra means “donation”, “contribution” or “offering”.

    Of course most people define donations in terms of money. They are not wrong, since without monetary support the community and its institutions would soon stop running. But giving takes other forms too.

    Giving someone a smile is a highly valuable contribution which costs little or nothing. Doing a kind deed is a form of donation. Supporting someone who is at risk of falling is a donation. So is sharing an idea, explaining a complex issue, translating something into terms the other person can understand.

    That is what Rashi has in mind when he says on a verse in D’varim (27:8) that God commanded Israel to translate the Torah into seventy languages.

    Yet the sages said that the fast of 10 Tevet is partly because Ptolemy wanted the Jews to translate the Torah into Greek. So are translations a good or a bad idea?

    One answer is that it all depends on the motivation. If the Greek translation was for the purpose of adding to Greek culture it would be an evil day, but if it was for the sake of the Torah, to enable Greek-speaking Jews to understand their own tradition, it would be a mitzvah.

    These days there is an amazing range of translations of Torah literature into other languages, particularly English, and the translators make a contribution to the hearts, minds and lives of countless fellow Jews.

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