BOOK REVIEW BY RABBI DOVID KAPLAN
THE MALBIM ON IYOV: THE SEARCH FOR FAITH AND MEANING
AN ENGLISH TRANSLATION OF THE MALBIM’S CLASSIC COMMENTARY ON THE BOOK OF JOB
Translated by Herbert Weisberg and Yosef Y. Kazarnovsky
Rav Moshe Sherer, z”l, was known for his efficiency and precision in just about all areas of life. He once noticed that a form of some sort had been left in the wrong place in the office, and he reacted with a touch of irritation. One of the office workers asked him why something so slight bothered him to such a degree.
He said, “If this isn’t right, what else isn’t right?”
Carelessness in one area indicates that carelessness exists elsewhere, with the result that things are not as they should be. Eventually the whole enterprise falls apart.
When a new book comes into my hands, the first thing I notice—without even making a conscious effort to do so—is the degree of professionalism. There is an old saying that says, “You can’t judge a book by its cover.” Well, those in the know say, “Anyone who says you can’t judge a book by its cover has never been in the publishing industry.”
The resplendent cover of The Malbim on Iyov, published by Brand Name Publishing, is an indication that a professional and conscientious job follows between the covers of the book. One who spends time looking through this work will find that it is indeed a superb piece of workmanship.
The translators’ preface grabs you and kindles your interest. The layout incorporating the Hebrew and English translation of the entire sefer of Iyov is top-notch. But most important, of course, is the translation itself. The translators clearly chose their words carefully in order to facilitate clarity in understanding the thickly obscure language and concepts of Iyov and the profound commentary of the Malbim.
When the translation of a Torah text comes out, the reaction of many is, “This is absolutely meant for beginners and novices.” However, this is not at all accurate. As the Novominsker Rebbe, shlita, wrote in his approbation to the Hebrew edition of the Schottenstein Shas, “A translation is an entryway for one to gain the basics and then be able to delve deeper.” This translation of the Malbim’s commentary on Iyov, while certainly indispensable for a novice, is just as beneficial for a veteran Torah scholar. When learning the Hebrew original of Iyov and the Malbim’s commentary, one certainly comes away with an understanding of what the Malbim wants to convey. However, seeing it in one’s “mama loshen”—in this case, English—can trigger a new depth of thought that comes from the subtleties of a finer understanding. Everyone at every level can gain from this exceptional work.
In any translation, one must strike a balance between literal translation and flowing readability at the expense of accuracy. This is a difficult challenge—especially so regarding the book of Iyov and its commentaries—but the translators succeeded to an impressive degree. All that is left is for the reader to take advantage of this outstanding work.
Brand Name Publishing, under the direction of Rabbi Hershel and Suri Brand, has once again lived up to the high standards that has come to be expected of them.
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