Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Brothers and Others

A topical muse, Mr. Kaufman, as just last week in Rabbi London’s Friday morning Torah class there was much discussion about Potiphar’s role in Pharoah’s house (Genesis 39.) Was he a courtier, chief steward or chamberlain? And what did these mean? And did it make a difference?

In daily life, some of us are more sensitive to words than others. But Torah study seems to make us all word-sensitive, which, from where I sit, is never a bad thing.

On the other hand, it's easy to get bogged down in words. So, just for fun (and because this blog program makes it so easy) I underwent a short experiment. I found images of brothers, partners, comrades and a pair. I wondered what lining them up together would look like? Would the essence of the words filter through? What else would we see?

So with thanks to Google images and apologies for the

inartful layout, I offer them here. Can you match the photo with the words? What connects these images?




A Pair



Larry Kaufman said...

I'll go with the musicians as the partners, the soldiers as the comrades, the three lads at the Kotel as the brothers, the two men in the middle picture as a pair. That leaves the two costumed figures at the bottom as Other -- especially since they look as if they could also be sisters.

If the matches you made are different from mine, does that say anything about you, about me, or about the pictures? I start, in my word sensitivity, in wondering whether or if the Orthodox reading of Art Scroll will be different from the feminist reading of the Women's Commentary or the Reform reading in Plaut. In your Potiphar example, I accept your suggestion that if might not make a difference how we translate an ambiguous title. But there's no ambiguity inherent in my Simeon/Levi example -- the ambiguity was totally introduced by the contemporary translators.

Anyway, I'm sorry I had to miss the discussion last Friday, but I hope to be at Torah class this week, armed again with Art Scroll.

Ellen Blum Barish said...

Interestingly, I made different matches.
I had the two men in the middle (who happen to be Ben and Jerry, the ice cream mavens) as Partners, the costumed figures as the Pair and the musicians as Other. We saw the three lads and soldiers in the same way.
I'm not sure what that says about us as individuals, but it does remind me that we all see differently, which certainly impacts how we might translate words, especially over centuries!