Open Response to Itzhak Shapira

In response to my post “As Dawn Spread Over the Mountains” Itzhak Shapira posted a comment in an attempt to defend his original rendition of the Metzudat David. Here is my response to Shapira.


I have twice pointed out to you and to the public that you have mistranslated Joel 2:2 IN THE CONTEXT of the comment of the Metzudat David. In your video you quoted my first review but you labeled this objection as the “first one” and it is in my second review that this objection appears first (in my first review this objection is # 68). It is for this reason that I took the liberty of presenting the words from my second review. It is obvious to one and all (except perhaps to you) that in my second review I was elucidating the same objection that I had presented in my first review.

Nothing that you have said or written mitigates what I have written in either of my reviews. It is plain for all to see that in the context of misrepresenting the Metzudat David you have mistranslated a verse from the Bible. You have demonstrated to the public that you are incapable of understanding the simple words of Metzudat David.

In your defense you could have told the public that you made a mistake and you took the JPS translation and inserted it into the Metzudat David even though it is obvious that the Metzudat David was not following the JPS translation.

No, you couldn’t do that.

Instead you tried to defend yourself. In the process you tell the audience that you gave them a literal translation of the Metzudat David. What audacity!

Let’s do this word for word. (These are the Hebrew words of the Metzudat David followed by Shapira’s translation.)

Biz’richata – During the sunrise of the sun of righteousness

Yiheye – there will be

Lachem – ?

Refua – healing

V’taanug – and delight

V’dima – that will resemble

P’risat – ?

Ha’or – ?

Uz’richata – ?

Li’prisat – the spreading

K’nafayim – of wings

Ki – ?

Hashmesh – ?

Yifros – ?

Oro – ?

Al – ?

Ha’aretz -?

Ki’knafayim – ?

Ha’prusot – ?

V’chen – as it is

Ne’enmar – written

K’shachar – as blackness

Parus – spread

Al – over

He’harim – the mountains

So you fail to translate 12 out of 25 words and you call that a “literal” translation? And then you tell your audience that what I have done is “criminal”?

For those who cannot read Hebrew, the two phrases that Shapira has not translated read as follows: “the spreading of light and its shine,” and: “for the sun spreads its light over the earth like outspread wings.”

The entire point of the Metzudat David is that the metaphor of the sun spreading its wings that is found in Malachi is also found in Joel where it speaks of the dawn spreading over the mountains. To translate Joel 2:2 as if it spoke of blackness spreading over the mountains IN THE CONTEXT of the Metzudat David is to miss the entire point of the Metzudat David.

In your second attempt to defend yourself you put words in my mouth and then you attack those words. I never said that shachar has “nothing to do with blackness.” The fact that you spend your time refuting words I never said demonstrates that you have no response for the words that I did say.

What do YOU think the Metzudat David was trying to teach us when he compared Joel 2:2 to Malachi 3:20?

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Thank You

Yisroel C. Blumenthal

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25 Responses to Open Response to Itzhak Shapira

  1. Yehezqel Italqi says:

    In all respect Yisroel, one of your main points that you criticized Tzahi on was his “translation” from the pasuk in Yoel. In fact you wrote:

    “On page 191 Shapira presents a translation of Metzudat David. In this translation he mistranslates a verse from the Bible. Shapira renders Joel 2:2 as if it said “as blackness spread upon the mountains” when in fact it says “as dawn spread upon the mountains”.”

    While you argue that שַׁחַר does not refer to darkness/blackness, the Gemara in the Yerushalami (Berachos 5a-5b) disagrees with your position. As you know, when discussing what constitutes the Halakhic time for the light of dawn, the Gemara introduces what is called אַיֶּלֶת הַשַּׁחַר:

    “In Tehillim 22:1, Dovid HaMelech mentions the אַיֶּלֶת הַשַּׁחַר.’ R’ Yose the son of R’ Bun said: ‘Concerning the אַיֶּלֶת הַשַּׁחַר, one who says that it is Kochavata, i.e., the morning star (Venus) is mistaken, for the morning star sometimes rises earlier and sometimes rises later, whereas the time of אַיֶּלֶת הַשַּׁחַר is fixed.”

    According to the Gemara, the harbinger of dawn that Dovid calls אַיֶּלֶת הַשַּׁחַר (doe of the morning) must have a fixed time, for he would not have assigned such a specific term to an erratic event. The Gemara continues:

    “Rather, what is אַיֶּלֶת הַשַּׁחַר? It is somewhat like two horns of light that rise in the east and gradually broaden to illuminate the sky.”

    Here the Gemara refers to what is called the zodiacal lights, also known as false dawn. These are two faint beams of light that are visible in the east come time before dawn, in favorable atmospheric conditions. Unlike true dawn, which spreads across the horizon, the zodiacal lights shine upward from the point on the horizon where the sun will later rise. The Gemara continues:

    “R’ Chyia the Great and R’ Shimon ben Chalafta were walking in the plains of Arbeil in the darkness before morning (וְרָאוּ אַיֶּילֶת הַשַׁחַר שֶׁבָּקַע אוֹרָהּ), and they saw the light of אַיֶּלֶת הַשַּׁחַר break out. R’ Chyia the Great said to R’ Shimon ben Chalafta: ‘Eminent one! Thus is the redemption of Israel destined to unfold – initially, Israel will see small measures of salvation, but as the process of redemption progresses, it will constantly increases in intensity.’ What is the basis for this assertion? Scripture states: ‘though I sit in the darkness, HaShem will be a light unto me (כִּי-אֵשֵׁב בַּחֹשֶׁךְ יְהוָה אוֹר לִי – Micah 7:8).’ Darkness alludes to the exile and light to the redemption. Thus, our redemption from exile is likened to emergence from the darkness of night to the light of day, which occurs gradually but with steadily increasing intensity.”

    In retrospect, Tzahi’s main response to you was to FIRST address your attack on his use of the word שַׁחַר being used to refer to dark/dawn to which you said:

    “In this translation he mistranslates a verse from the Bible. Shapira renders Joel 2:2 as if it said “as blackness spread upon the mountains” when in fact it says “as dawn spread upon the mountains…”

    Just you are quick to note about how baffled you are by Tzahi’s “Hebrew”; I am more baffled by your so called expertise of the word שַׁחַר. As an Orthodox Rav you are telling this man that he is wrong for translating שַׁחַר as “blackness” but yet the Gemara tells us you are wrong for saying it does not mean “blackness”; when in fact it does, as the blackness it refers to is the early dawn when it still dark outside…


    Based on this small, elementary point, your credibility as a so called “Rabbi” has just gone out the window. Never mind the whole Metzudat Dovid argument. The fact you tried to undermine the true meaning of the word שַׁחַר exposes your credibility as a rabbi. If you cannot be honest in the translation of a word then the rest of your argument is empty.

    Just to prove my point, look at your concluding comment which you addressed to Tzahi above:

    “In your second attempt to defend yourself you put words in my mouth and then you attack those words. I never said that shachar has “nothing to do with blackness.””

    Now look at your original comment:

    “On page 191 Shapira presents a translation of Metzudat David. In this translation he mistranslates a verse from the Bible. Shapira renders Joel 2:2 as if it said “as blackness spread upon the mountains” when in fact it says “as dawn spread upon the mountains”.”

    Yes, you mention Metzudat Dovid but you STRESS: “In this translation he mistranslates a verse from the Bible, i.e. Joel 2:2.”

    You sir, have failed to proven yourself as a worthy teacher in Yisroel by undermining the simple meaning of the word שַׁחַר. Thus, your review is a mere source of cheap entertainment.

    Kol Hakavod!

    • Dina says:

      Mr. Italqi,

      I don’t have time to engage with you in debate at the moment, but I am smh-ing my head so hard I’ve got a crick in my neck! And the only way to relieve it is to point out the following:

      You first quote Rabbi Blumenthal as follows: “In your second attempt to defend yourself you put words in my mouth and then you attack those words. I never said that shachar has “nothing to do with blackness.”

      Then, to prove his lie, you quote him again: “On page 191 Shapira presents a translation of Metzudat David. In this translation he mistranslates a verse from the Bible. Shapira renders Joel 2:2 as if it said “as blackness spread upon the mountains” when in fact it says “as dawn spread upon the mountains.”

      I will leave it to the audience to discern who failed credibility test.

      Good luck and so long,
      Dina Bucholz

    • Annelise says:

      Hi Yehezqel.

      I wrote this in reply to something Itzhak said on FB, and I want to also put it here.

      “Tzahi I’m not willing to argue about all this, however I want to say one thing to your main point. I know Rabbi Yisroel quite well as a teacher and have observed his integrity with a critical eye and heart (as much as possible), when I was a Christian, and with more and more respect having got to know his way of speaking. I offer my personal feeling as a character witness. If Rabbi Yisroel says that in his two reviews he meant exactly the same thing (i.e. in ‘School of Matthew’ he was responding to how your translation showed a misunderstanding of Metzudat David)… then in light of all the other evidence I have at hand regarding his honesty, he should be given the benefit of the doubt on this point.


      In light of this… proving one thing or another about an ambiguous word like Shachar does not mean anything about a Rabbi’s credibility to be a teacher in the righteous remnant of observant Jews. As you slander Rabbi Yisroel’s response here, you slander them and all that they stand for.

      • Yehezqel Italqi says:

        Thank you for your response Annelise.

        I’m sure your rabbi is a lovely man just as much as Mr. Obama is a lovely man. My criticism of your rabbi is no different than my criticism of Mr. Obama. Just because I take an issue with with your rabbi does not constitute as slander, especially is light of slandering all observant Jews, chas v’shalom! It’s called tough love and accountability.

        I am an observant Jew. As I was “observing” Yisroel and Tzahi go back and forth, I notice Yisroel contradicted himself. Since Yisroel claims to have a higher level of samchus over Tzahi then his words are going to be held to higher level of scrutiny.

        Yisroel’s response came off very condescending. He treated Tzahi like it was child’s play. After all, in relation to the mesorah, he is the “legitimate” rav and Tzahi is the wanna-be, correct?

        If Yisroel is going to act like the head nassi in charge then my original post stands correct. Don’t harp on Tzahi’s so-called faulty translation of the word shachar and claim it is wrong when Chazal says its correct. This type of attitude comes off as condescending, and shows that by ignoring the Gemara, Yisroel assume Tzahi is a fool. Instead of confessing that the word shachar does mean blackness (as it refers to the blackness of dawn) Yisroel avoids this fact and accuses Tzahi for making an error that is not an error.

        If holding Yisroel accountable for this type of mistake is considered slander, then I guess the laws of shmiras halashon regarding l’toeles needs to be rewritten.

        I’m sorry Annelise. but in a court of law if you accuse a person of committing a crime and fail to show sufficient evidence of such a crime then the court will expose you as wrong. This does not constitute as slander. If anything, by accusing another person of a crime they did not commit is considered slander. How? By claiming a person did something that they did not do discredits that persons name. Yisroel accuses Tazhi of a translation crime. Yisroel’s accusation is proven wrong. Yisroel is guilty spreading slander.

        I’m not here to beat a dead horse on this subject so please refrain from trying to subject me to your personal definition of slander. The Torah commands us: צדק צדק תרדף. The last I check, accountability is about pursuing righteousness.

        • Annelise says:

          It’s good to observe.

          What I wrote didn’t mean those things. All I was saying was that if he claims that in his first shorter argument he was trying to get across exactly the same point as in his second expanded argument, I trust his ability to check himself before saying such things to the extend that I believe him. You don’t have to because you haven’t seen what I have, I’m just giving a character witness that supports what is to me anyway a very possible claim, and nothing more. To me it doesn’t even matter whether or not he explicitly thought about the multiple interpretation possibilities that we have later expanded upon, because both his comments were given in order to show misunderstanding and false application of the Metzudat David.

          However I have said far too much in this discussion, I will allow Rabbi Yisroel to speak for himself. Until Tzahi brings a point by point refutation of the objections one by one, they stand without even having been answered, and I do not think that such an engagement is ever actually going to happen.

          • Dina says:

            Mr. Italqi, here is another character witness for Rabbi Blumenthal.

            To lie means to say something you know to be untrue. Therefore, to accuse someone of lying is a serious charge. Rather than try to discredit a man in the eyes of those who actually know him to be honest–and thereby damaging your own credibility–focus instead on destroying his arguments. All of them.

            This little tiny tidbit from Shapira was a long time in coming. Let’s see him give us a little more substance.

          • blasater says:

            Annelise and Dina : Yehezqel is not an orthodox Jew. He is a messianic christian and a good friend of Tzahi’s. Here is a video of the two of them together abusing Pardes to shoehorn Jesus into Ps 22.

          • Jim says:


            Wow, one of the most absurd exchanges I’ve ever heard. “Have you ever seen a lion in Israel?” My question is whether they’ve read Tehillim. David mentions lions all the time. Not to mention that he told Saul he killed one while tending sheep. Italqi acts as if it would be bizarre to mention a lion in a place where they don’t exist, when clearly David mentions them rather frequently, including that same chapter two other times: “save me from the lion’s mouth” (v. 21).


          • Dina says:

            I can’t see why it seems strange to these fellows that large wild cats may have lived in say, the desert (like Midbar Yehuda) or in the mountains (mountain lions, anyone?).

        • Annelise says:

          “accountability is about pursuing righteousness” – that’s a beautiful way of putting it, thanks.

      • Dina says:

        Also, Yehezqel, just because someone disagrees with you doesn’t make him a liar.

  2. You got it Yehezqel , Yisrael is failing to understand that there is a LOT MORE coming his way to just show and expose his lies and slander. I dealt with the obvious one yet as his statement is just FALSE! Yisrael is no Hebrew Scholar and for him to try to teach me Hebrew is the ultimate Chutzpah as I asked him for a debate in Hebrew that will be public. As usual, he wants to twice, manipulate even his own objections. Take 40 Hebrew speakers and ask them if the word Shachar is related to Shachor, and see what they tell you. The main objection that we have not mentioned yet is related to Eli’s point btw , he claim (yep I have it in writing) that Mal. 3:20 is not even Messianic. R’ Blumenthal likes to pick things apart out of context, if you actually took the time and read the CHAPTER in CONTEXT about N’ehorah in the book, you would see how foolish your entire argument is!

    It is truly a waste of my precious time as your 80 “Incredible errors” are mount at the end of the day to a few typos and minor mistakes that do NOT touch the overwhelming evidence towards a Divine Jewish Messiah.

  3. Pingback: As the Sun Spreads its Wings | 1000 Verses

  4. junzey says:

    Shabbat Shalom, dear Rabbi Yisroel, What do YOU think the Metzudat David was trying to teach us when he compared Joel 2:2 to Malachi 3:20? (There are only 18 verses in Malachi 3)

    Joel 2:1, 2

    Blow the trumpet in Zion, 
And sound an alarm in My holy mountain!
Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble;
 For the day of the Lord is coming, 
For it is at hand:

    2 A day of darkness and gloominess,
 A day of clouds and thick darkness, 
Like the morning clouds spread over the mountains. 
A people come, great and strong,
 The like of whom has never been;
Nor will there ever be any such after them,
Even for many successive generations.

    Joel 2:11

    11The Lord gives voice before His army, For His camp is very great;
For strong is the One who executes His word.
For the day of the Lord is great and very terrible;
Who can endure it?

    Malachi 3

    3 “Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming,” says the Lord of hosts. 2 “But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. 3 He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to the Lord offerings in righteousness. 4 Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years.

    5 “Then I will draw near to you for judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers and against the adulterers and against those who swear falsely, and against those who oppress the wage earner in his wages, the (O)widow and the orphan, and those who turn aside the alien and do not fear Me,” says the Lord of hosts. 6 “For I, the Lord, do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed.

    7 “From the days of your fathers you have turned aside from My statutes and have not kept them. Return to Me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord of hosts. “But you say, ‘How shall we return?’

    You Have Robbed God

    8 “Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing Me! But you say, ‘How have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings. 9 You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing Me, the whole nation of you! 10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,” says the Lord of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows. 11 Then I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of the ground; nor will your vine in the field cast its grapes,” says the Lord of hosts. 12 “All the nations will call you blessed, for you shall be a delightful land,” says the Lord of hosts.

    13 “Your words have been arrogant against Me,” says the Lord. “Yet you say, ‘What have we spoken against You?’ 14 You have said, ‘It is vain to serve God; and what profit is it that we have kept His charge, and that we have walked in mourning before the Lord of hosts? 15 So now we call the arrogant blessed; not only are the doers of wickedness built up but they also test God and escape.’”

    The Book of Remembrance

    16 Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another, and the Lord gave attention and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the Lord and who esteem His name. 17 “They will be Mine,” says the Lord of hosts, “on the day that I prepare My (own possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him.” 18 So you will again distinguish between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him.

    The Day of The Lord is a terrible day … but He Will refine His people. He Will have a Messenger … and also a mighty army … and it will be a cleansing time for The Sons of Levi!!! The Holy One Is A Mighty God – El Gabor!

    With Respect & Blessings,


    • Annelise says:

      Hi there June,

      Just add together Malachi 3-4 in a Christian translation because in the Jewish numbering they are both part of chapter 3.

      Rabbi Yisroel already said what he thinks about this, quite simple. –The entire point of the Metzudat David is that the metaphor of the sun spreading its wings that is found in Malachi is also found in Joel where it speaks of the dawn spreading over the mountains.

      • Annelise says:

        About the verses you posted, you do know that they are part of the Orthodox Jewish tradition too? 🙂

        A plain understanding of Israel being refined means that it will be cleansed from the straying away from Torah, particularly in areas of justice for the vulnerable, and of keeping the ritual with a sincere heart of devotion to God. Anything else you hope for us to read in the texts you will have to explain, because it is not there in the texts on their own.

        Blessings xo

        • Annelise says:

          PS if you respond to either of these two comments I just wrote, please be specific. Otherwise it isn’t worth discussing if your only objection is that my eyes should be opened; I’m not trying to be proud and intellectual God willing, only responding to the words you presented.

          Be well, shavua tov

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