Emor: Language and Translation

Leviticus/Vayikra 23:32 in three translations:

It is a day of complete rest for you [shabbat shabbaton hu lachem] and you shall afflict yourselves; on the ninth of the month in the evening — from evening to evening — shall you rest on your rest day [tishb’tu shabbatechem].
— Stone*

An absolute sabbath it is for you , and you shall afflict yourselves on the ninth of the month in the evening, from evening to evening you shall keep your sabbath.
— Alter*

It is a Sabbath, a Sabbath-ceasing for you,
you are to afflict your selves;
on the ninth (day) after the New-Moon, at sunset,
from sunset to sunset, you are to make-a-ceasing of your ceasing!
— Fox*

Alter notes that the last phrase, “more literally,” means “you shall cease your cessation.” He also says — citing Baruch Levine/Anchor Bible — that Judaism’s system of counting days from evening to evening may not have been standard practice in biblical times.

The term [shabbat], which primarily denotes abolition, annulment, (compare Lamentations 5:15 “the Sabbath that used to be the joy of our hearts has turned in to mourning instead of dancing”). The word [tishb’tu], so closely related to the word [shabbat] means that just as on the Sabbath we abolish the concerns of the six work days preceding it, so through our repentance from one evening through to the next evening, we abolish the residue of our sins. All that is needed is our sincerity and and prayers.
— Levi Yitzchak, Kedushat Levi

* Please see Source Materials for full citations and additional information.

The “Opening the Book” series was originally presented in cooperation with the independent, cross-community Jewish Study Center and with Kol Isha, an open group that for many years pursued spirituality from a woman’s perspective at Temple Micah (Reform). “A Song Every Day” is an independent blog, however, and all views, mistakes, etc. are the author’s.

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Virginia hosts "Conversations Toward Repair" on We Act Radio, manages WeLuvBooks.org, blogs on general stuff a vspatz.net and more Jewish topics at songeveryday.org and Rereading4Liberation.com

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