But Will They Cut Spending?

Israel cuts product tariffs in bid to lower cost of living

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon announces a reduction in customs and purchase tax rates for consumers at a press conference in Jerusalem; December 11, 2017 (Finance Ministry spokesperson’s office)

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon announced Monday he was abolishing customs and purchase taxes for a total of NIS 800 million ($227 million) per year, a move the ministry hailed as the “largest tariff cancellation program to take place in the State of Israel since the 1990s.”

The plan will abolish about a quarter of the total industrial tariffs in Israel today on a wide range of products, including electronics, cosmetics and toys.

“Today we are announcing an additional NIS 800 million that will be returned to citizens as part of the plan,” Kahlon said at a press conference in Jerusalem. The cuts will join other steps, including cuts to value-added tax, income tax, and corporate tax that have been implemented by the government over the past two and a half years, he said.

“We will continue to lower taxes and customs, open the market to competition, and lower the cost of living for the public,” he said. Next year, he said, “will be the fourth consecutive year of tax cuts.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government has been under pressure to lower the cost of living and the prices of essential consumer goods since 2011, when thousands of protesters took to the streets to protest the high cost of living in Israel.

The new plan envisages cutting purchase taxes for a total of NIS 245 million a year on electronics. Consumers currently pay a purchase tax of between 10 percent and 30% on electronics and entertainment products. After what has been dubbed by the ministry the “Net Discounts” program, purchase taxes on TVs, speakers, display screens, VCRs, projectors, amplifiers, amplification systems, microphones, headsets, LCD monitors will be cut to zero.

In addition, customs payments will be cut to zero on a number of products, including electric and lighting products such as lamps and chandeliers, cosmetics, textile and toys, amounting to savings of NIS 568 million a year, the Finance Ministry said in a statement.

Today consumers pay a maximum of 12% on appliances. The new plan now envisages zero customs on refrigerators, heaters, water boilers, electric cookers, home freezers, food mixers, and juicers for fruits and vegetables. The cancellation of the customs on appliances will lead to savings of about NIS 60 million a year, the statement said.

Cosmetics will include shampoos, hair products, sunscreens and deodorants, on which a 12% customs duty is currently applied. Custom duties on textiles, on which a tariff of 6% was imposed, will cover all clothing items including coats, dresses, skirts, pants, shirts, belts, gloves, socks, scarves, jeans, sweaters and tank tops. There will also be no levies on video games, gymnastics equipment, home swimming pools and children’s pools, party products, and games.

Continue reading…

From Times of Israel, here.

שיר – הלוך להרגיעו ישראל

פרחי לונדון – אשירה להשם – כה אמר -מצא חן במדבר – london boys – ashira lashem – matza chen bamidbar

Published on Aug 24, 2016

מילים לשיר

“כה אמר השם מצא חן במדבר עם שרידי חרב הלוך להרגיעו ישראל”

אנחנו עמלים לעלות את כל התוכן שלנו הכולל מאות אלפי קבצי אודיו של מוזיקה ותכנים יהודים שצריך להפוך לווידאו מה שלוקח הרבה מאוד זמן.
אם יש לכם איזה שיר שלנו שאתם מחפשים תוכלו לרשום לנו הודעה ונעלה אותו בהקדם.. [email protected]
נשמח לקבל ממכם פידבק חיובי ע”י לייק ותגובות לשירים..

מאתר יוטיוב, כאן.

How ArtScroll Mistranslates Idiom

Figurative Language in Translation

Is there a right or wrong way to translate idioms and expressions?

The preface of the ArtScroll\Mesorah Machzor for Rosh Hashana states, “Where a choice had to be made, we generally preferred fidelity to the text over inaccurate simplicity, but occasionally, we had to stray from the literal translation in order to capture the essence of a phrase in an accessible English idiom.”

Loyal to the decision of “fidelity to the text”, the esteemed translator of the Machzor rendered the line from “The Foundation of Repentance” (by Rabbenu Yonah) —

 ועתה נשאני לבי כו’ לשוב אליך באמת כו’ ולהיות מודה ועוזב

“to return to you sincerely etc., to become one who confesses and forsakes [his sinful ways], etc.”

This while knowingly disregarding its origin from Proverbs (28:13) —

 “מכסה פשעיו לא יצליח ומודה ועזב ירחם”

 It could have been rephrased as: “to confess and forsake iniquity”, without parentheses and a stilted reading, but that’s his prerogative. As they say, “so far so good”…

The problem begins, when faithful to his method, he translates this phrase —

… בבקר בעת הקיצו משנתו יחשוב בדעתו כי ישוב ויפשפש במעשיו

הגיע עת האכל ויחפש ולא מצא את התרפים אז יהא מודה ומשבח לפני בוראו על אשר עזרו כו

If mealtime comes and one searches and has not found abominations, then let him thank and give praise before his Creator for having helped him etc.”

Here the translator has fallen into a trap of his own doing. Yes, the original “Teraphim” are indeed “abominations”, as per Genesis 31:35.

ותאמר אל אביה אל יחר בעיני אדני כי לוא אוכל לקום מפניך כי דרך נשים לי ויחפש ולא מצא את התרפים

 “She (Rachel) said to her father, “May my master not be angry that I am unable to rise before you, for I am menstruating”. He then searched and did not find the abominations (idols)”.

But basic logic and the entire context convey that the real meaning here is in fact ‘light’ sin, as opposed to the extreme “abominations”!

The immediately preceding paragraph reads (in ArtScroll translation), “When he raises this matter in his heart and spirit, then he will guard himself from sin. He will beware even of sin that is taken lightly etc., this refers to the sins and good deeds that a person crushes with his heels and considers to be meaningless”.

This tells us to have the Teraphim line translated instead as “…and upon examination has found no sin”, or at least “and one searches and has not found sins”.

By now, the translation is in actual error; the kind that puzzles the reader, and forces him to re-translate the text in the vernacular so it makes sense.

ArtScroll is basically the “Gold Standard” of Torah Hebrew-English translation, so I am definitely not trying to put them down. My own translation skills don’t even come close. What I am trying to do, is point out how even the best of us can arrive at such a situation.

What do we learn from this?

  1. Know your author. Rabbenu Yonah, like many Rishonim, frequently uses poetic expressions from Tanach (and often Chazal). Rabbenu Yonah simply relied on the reader’s acquaintance with Tanach and Chazal.
  2. Slowly read through the entire text you intend to translate, just to note all such examples. Include anything that seems suspiciously out of place or grammatically jarring. If you can’t quite place an expression, ask a friend. This job requires going and checking before jumping to the obvious translation.
  3. Still, not every borrowed terminology needs to be altered in translation. Numerous phrases in “The Foundation of Repentance” are idiomatic; yet don’t necessarily modify the meaning in translation (these are called “Transparent Idioms”).
  4. Follow some general rule. But whatever translation school you follow, consider breaking loose when things get out of hand.

Hopefully, aiming the kind of constructive self-criticism presented in this post will mean each successive generation of Torah Editors need not ‘reinvent the wheel’. “As a dwarf standing on the shoulders of a giant”, we can ever progress and improve, if we are open to learning.

P.S. I ought to write a future post on the difficulty of editing and publishing heavily lyrical works, such as Piyutim (liturgical poetry), the works of many Sephardic sages or Rabbi Yaakov Emden.

Yes, You Need a Rabbi!

I hesitated before writing this because it’s a bit esoteric, but after consideration, I do think it’s worth saying. If you don’t understand, kindly put it out of your mind

One always needs a teacher, no exceptions.

“What about Avraham Avinu?”, you ask. “He learned Torah by himself!”

Actually, no. Even before he arrived at Shem and Ever, he didn’t learn by himself. He learned from himself. There’s a difference.

Breishis Rabba 61:1:

כתיב אשרי האיש אשר לא הלך וגו’. אשר לא הלך בעצת רשעים, זה דור הפלגה. ובדרך חטאים לא עמד, אלו אנשי סדום שנאמר ואנשי סדום רעים וחטאים. ובמושב לצים לא ישב, זה אבימלך שנאמר הנה ארצי לפניך וגו’. כי אם בתורת ה’ חפצו, כי ידעתיו למען אשר יצוה. ובתורתו יהגה, אר”ש אב לא למדו ורב לא היה לו ומהיכן למד את התורה אלא זימן לו הקב”ה שתי כליותיו כמין שני רבנים והיו נובעות ומלמדות אותו תורה וחכמה הה”ד אברך את ה’ אשר יעצני אף לילות יסרוני כליותי והיה כעץ שתול ששתלו הקב”ה בארץ ישראל…

Idem 95:2/3:

ומהיכן למד אברהם את התורה? רבן שמעון אומר נעשו שתי כליותיו כשתי כדים של מים והיו נובעות תורה ומנין שכן הוא שנאמר אף לילות יסרוני וגו’ רבי לוי אמר מעצמו למד תורה שנאמר מדרכיו ישבע סוג לב ומעליו איש טוב ר’ יונתן שר הבירה אמר אפילו עירובי תבשילין היה אברהם יודע שנאמר עקב אשר שמע אברהם וגו’…