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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

ArtScroll's Assault on Truth

Mesorah's ArtScroll publications tend to elicit strong reactions.  Depending on your outlook, either their merits or their shortcomings will sway your opinion.  But content and quality notwithstanding, those who value truth and integrity -- regardless of communal affiliation -- must protest ArtScroll's latest transgression in a pattern of ideologically motivated editorial dishonesty. 

First, there was the misrepresentation of Rashi's commentary on Song of Songs.  Rashi takes a hybrid approach to Shir Ha-Shirim, interpreting the text both literally and allegorically.  ArtScroll truncates Rashi's introduction to his commentary, in which he clearly outlines this methodology, and ignores entirely the 
commentary's literal layer.  Anyone using the Stone Chumash for an English translation and commentary on the Song of Songs is a victim of ArtScroll's distortion of Rashi.

Then came the blatant censorship of R. Shlomo Yosef Zevin's Ha-Moadim Ba-Halakhah. Rabbi Zevin made an offhand remark expressing gratitude for the State of Israel.  The line was excised from ArtScroll's translation.

Most recently, in a shameless act of fraud and an insult to the intelligence and integrity of bnei Torah, ArtScroll has released a censored version of Rashbam's commentary on the Torah within their new punctuated edition of Mikraot Gedolot.  As Marc B. Shapiro has shown, ArtScroll concluded that parts of the commentary are unworthy of publication, no doubt for ideological reasons.  For example, they censored sections of the commentary to Gen. 1:4-5, in which Rashbam argues that night follows day in the plain reading of the verses.  No explanation was provided for the omissions.  

In the financial world, fraud results in regulatory fines, bans from the industry, and sometimes imprisonment.  Should we hold those who publish fraudulent versions of religious texts to a lower ethical standard?

Please contact ArtScroll to request an explanation and to demand that this fraud be corrected in the next printing.

Postscript:

ArtScroll responded to what must have been several complaints.  Here is Marc Shapiro's analysis of the response.