Week after week, Jewish men are “maavir sidrah,” reading the text of the weekly parashah twice, and the text of Targum Onkelos once. This obligation is so important that the Gemara tells us that one who does so merits to have his days and years lengthened.
Yet most men, even those with a thorough knowledge of Chumash, read through the Targum with very little understanding of the words.
And they are missing so much.
“Targum Onkelos is not just a translation, it’s a peirush,” says one of the editors of ArtScroll’s new and exciting project, the Zichron Meir Edition Onkelos. “So many ideas and concepts that we take for granted originated in Targum Onkelos, and Rashi’s commentary to Chumash is largely based on Onkelos.”
And yet the riches of this commentary are generally hidden, even as we recite the words.
With the publication of the Zichron Meir Edition Onkelos, Targum Onkelos has finally become accessible.
“We put in great effort to make this easy to use, to make being maavir sidrah a pleasurable experience, and to open up Targum Onkelos to anyone who wants to understand it,” the editor explains.
The Zichron Meir Edition Onkelos combines many features to make that happen.
- Each word of Targum appears directly below the corresponding Hebrew word in an interlinear format, so readers can immediately see the connection between the words of the Chumash and their Aramaic translation. When Onkelos deviates from the literal translation, the Aramaic word or phrase of the Targum appears in bold print.
- The elucidation of the Targum follows the familiar ArtScroll style, with a phrase-by-phrase translation and elucidation. SMALL CAPITALS indicate where Onkelos translates in a different way than Rashi.
- An English translation of the Chumash appears next to the elucidation. This translation is based on Rashi as well as on the literal meaning of the Hebrew words, and conveys how the Chumash is read without Targum Onkelos. By having the two translations side-by side, we can clearly see what Onkelos is adding to the literal meaning.
- Notes, based on dozens of commentaries that have been written on Onkelos as well as other classical sources, bring in more fascinating information.
If it sounds a little complicated – it’s not. Just open the page and see how everything is highlighted, and how learning (yes, learning, not merely reciting) Targum Onkelos every week will enrich your understanding of the precious words of Chumash.