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Tuesday
May122015

SPREADING THE WORD OF THE KING IN ENGLISH

Beis Moshiach Magazine recently sat with Rabbi Eliyahu Yonah Benyaminson to discuss his work in translating the sichos of D’var Malchus 5751-5752 into English.

Tell us a bit about how this project started.

It all began on a subway ride back to Crown Heights in 5761. My uncle, who knew that I enjoy learning Gemara, suggested that I learn the sicha about “Halachos Shel Torah…” (The Halachos of the Oral Torah That Will Never Be Nullified). He gave me a copy, and with G-d’s help, I learned it on the train.

I was amazed by its content, and this encouraged me to continue to learn more of these sichos. During that year, I made a point to try and study the sichos of D’var Malchus more thoroughly. As a result, I quickly understood that this is the message the Rebbe, Melech HaMoshiach, wants to spread throughout the world. I also realized that the English-speaking public faced a hurdle in accessing these sichos: As clear as these sichos are, they were published in Hebrew and Yiddish – not in English. Due to a lack of familiarity with the background material, much confusion had been created over its correct meaning. I therefore looked into whether these sichos could be accurately translated into English. After some research, I realized that this would be a very costly project, as professional translators would justifiably demand a fair hourly rate for their services. Furthermore, it would not be so easy to find a qualified and experienced person to do it, as this would be no simple feat.

What are some of the challenges in translating D’var Malchus that make it different from translating other texts?

First of all, translating sichos is generally a very challenging task, since they are comprehensive elucidations that assume the reader has extensive background in studying Chassidic philosophy. Moreover, when a person translates something, he has to try as much as possible to understand what the author intends to convey. In our case, we’re talking about the leader of our generation – and we have to determine what he thinks! More specifically, regarding the sichos of D’var Malchus, there are a number of additional challenges: Some of these sichos have innovative concepts that have never been revealed before, and there’s very little material with which to compare them. There are also many powerful statements regarding Moshiach that a person can unintentionally mistranslate or misinterpret due to their great profundity and depth.

How much has been translated so far?

There are about sixty sichos, and about twenty-eight of them have been translated to date. We have completed the first half of the weekly Torah portions from Seifer D’varim and all the sichos of Seifer Shmos. I am currently working on publishing the sichos from the second half of Seifer BaMidbar and B’ezras Hashem will soon resume work on the second half of Seifer D’varim.

Is there a reason for the order in which you are printing the Sichos?

I chose to start with the sichos from Shoftim, Yisro, and Korach, as these are very fundamental in establishing the fact that the Rebbe is Melech HaMoshiach and chai v’kayam. After that, I started going more in order for the purpose of completing a volume.

Do you do this work alone or are there others involved?

With G-d’s help, the work has largely been done by me so far. There are, however, a number of people who have helped this project proceed on a number of fronts.

I did get a rough draft translation of several sichos, which was a good starting point from where I could begin editing. Since I wrote many of the translations in longhand, I eventually dictated them to people who produced clear printed copies. The flow of the translations required a considerable amount of constructive criticism from those who reviewed them and gave their comments, especially the initial translation of the sicha from Parshas Shoftim 5751, which I had reviewed twice. This served as the primary basis for how the next group of sichos would be translated. Some of the first translations were printed as individual booklets and distributed in Crown Heights and other Chabad communities. I received a number of comments from readers, and this proved most helpful in producing the clearest possible text for English speakers.

The project also needed considerable funding and perseverance. I would like to take this opportunity to thank those people who have given their financial assistance to this project and especially those who were the driving force in getting the first sichos translated and printed.

What are some of your goals?

This project consists of three stages:

A synopsis of all the D’var Malchus sichos in one volume, printed two years ago in honor of Hey Teves. Much thanks goes to my wife for this compilation, entitled “Open Your Eyes: Moshiach!”

A complete free translation, not an adaptation, of these sichos. The first three volumes of this series, entitled “Royal Words,” have been printed thus far. With G-d’s help, the full set will include a total of ten volumes.

A printing of the sicha of Parshas Shoftim as a linear translation with explanations, something similar to “Lessons in Tanya.” This is a truly extensive team project. The title: “Moshiach: Our Living Leader and Prophet.”

Where are the books available for purchase?

After delving into all the D’var Malchus sichos, is there one common thread or point that you see coming across?

The D’var Malchus sichos represent an in-depth analysis of the topic of Moshiach and the Redemption, how this relates to us today in a more practical sense, and the high level of Avodas Hashem it demands – all presented from a very positive perspective.

Can you share some of the miraculous experiences you have had relating to this project?

By Divine Providence, as I was working on the first translation, I came across a volume of the first edition of the English translation of Tanya’s Igeres HaKodesh. The opening pages included a key for all the common abbreviations, and this assisted greatly in creating the footnotes for the translations.

Another story is, after we had almost completed the first five sichos from Seifer D’varim, the laptop computer that was the only place where these translations were saved was accidentally misplaced in the Miami airport. We simply weren’t able to track down where the laptop was. It miraculously ended up in the lost and found department in an airport somewhere in Texas. It was eventually shipped back to Miami, where we successfully retrieved it.

Yasher Ko’ach for your holy work in spreading the words of the Rebbe MH”M and thank you for sharing information about this project.

May we soon merit the Rebbe’s imminent revelation at the True and Complete Redemption, mamash – NOW!

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