About this edition of the Torah



Rewritten manually from the 19th century originals.
Available as an e-book, an audiobook and in traditional printed form.

  • About this edition of the Torah



    HOW DID THIS EDITION OF THE TORAH COME INTO BEING?

    By Mirek Sopek, the author of this edition and owner of the WWE Publishing House (this fragment comes from the introduction to the printed version):

    The history of this edition begins in 2004 in the Łódź-based Club of the Ronald S. Lauder Foundation. There I discovered copies of Izaak Cylkow’s Torah published xerographically as photocopies (created from microfilms). The editions from Austeria were not yet available at the time. From the very beginning I was fascinated by the extraordinary, archaic but also beautiful language of the translation. I decided to contribute and the only way I could do so would be to publish Cylkow’s Torah in electronic form – that is as an e-book and an audiobook. However, I began systematic work as late as in 2008. A bit of clarification here – my main activities revolve around business and scientific projects, hence I had very little time available for something that initially was just a hobby. That is when I decided to solve the problem of limited time by employing the only method that came to my mind – that is one of systematic and regular work, never exceeding 15 minutes a day, but done each and every day…

    MANUAL REWRITING…

    … and that is how I began rewriting the text of the Torah.
    This task was not an easy one… First of all, the text contained a Polish diacritical mark – é – missing from the modern Polish language. In order to introduce this mark, I needed to modify the computer keyboard software that I used for writing. Moreover, already envisioning different electronic editions of Cylkow’s Torah, I needed to choose a format that would allow for easy electronic processing of its text. I chose the “Zefania XML” format.
    Writing the text of the Torah this way took me nearly 3 years. I always noted down the places in which I wrote the text, and these now include: Aleksandrów Łódzki, where my parents live, Europe’s major cities, Jerusalem and the imposing cities of the United States and Canada. However, when adding the last verses of the Torah (on December 31st, 2010 in the Remuh Synagogue in Cracow), I did not realize the importance of the next step which would be to proofread the text…

  • About this edition of the Torah



    ERRORS AND MISTAKES…

    Since the entire text was written manually, and the process itself took so long, the most natural source of errors was… the writing itself. Common typos, mixed with subconscious divergences towards modern Polish (e.g. the persistent usage of “siedzemdziesiąt” instead of “siedmdziesiąt” – the word “seventy”) resulted in the need to reread the text may times – in the original Zefania format, in HTML on the previous website cylkow.pl, and finally in print. A huge number of minor mistakes was detected during the recording of the audiobook version of the Torah. And when finally, using my own software (written in Python), I analyzed and indexed all words of the entire Torah – still several errors showed up!
    I felt a bit better about this when it turned out that even the original edition of Cylkow’s Torah contained errors!

    In total, I found and then – having confirmed the correctness (both according to the Hebrew original, as well as English and other Polish editions) – I corrected four fairly significant errors in Cylkow’s original edition (the list of errors and corrections is available in the footnotes of the audiobook and eBook editions).

    Striving to remain true to Cylkow’s original, excluding completely obvious errors, was the most important motive behind my work. This helped me realize how extraordinary was the work of generations of Jewish scribes, who for centuries took care of each individual character, word or even length of space in Torah scrolls. Considering the fact that today we use computers and are still prone to errors, we may only imagine and appreciate the effort behind preserving complete fidelity to the original text of the Torah.

  • About this edition of the Torah



    DIVISION INTO PARSHAS

    The only significant change in this edition of Cylkow’s Torah in relation to the Polish text of the original 19th century edition is the indication of places which divide the entire text into sections known as Parshas (in Aramaic, Parsha is known as Sidra, which stands for “order”). The division of the Torah unto Parshas originates from the traditional Masoretic version of Judaism’s holy books. A Parsha is the basic unit of the week-based division of the Torah, which allows to read its entire text during the full liturgical year, which, according to the moon-sun calendar (which is the basis for the Jewish calendar) contains 54 weeks. My decision was motivated by the fact that introducing such a division does not violate the original text of Cylkow’s Torah in any way. In short notes at the beginning of each Parsha I only added its location within the entire Torah, and when it should be read, trying to avoid any sort of commentary – to which I have absolutely not felt authorized. This way, the Torah in this edition contains, at the same time, the Jewish division (Parshas) and the later one, originating from the Middle Ages – the popular Christian division (unto chapters and verses).

    It is worth mentioning here that the majority of fundamental commentary works in Judaism assume Parshas as uniformly commented wholes. In modern times, one of the most interesting efforts of this kind was the adaptation of the teachings of rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson („Lubavitcher Rebbe”) done by the Chief Rabbi of Great Britain, Jonathan Sacks. In present-day Poland, we have interesting commentary by Konstanty Gebert and Stanisław Krajewski.