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'Hesronoth Shas Definition

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'Hesronot Shas - (Hebrew) A small book that contains portions of the Talmud that were censored out by Catholic authorities.

In Christian countries, the Talmud and other Jewish law books were censored by Christian authorities, who believed that certain passages of those books contained insults to Christianity or Gentiles. The passages to be censored were compiled into a manuscript or manuscripts that also found their way as underground literature to Jews, known as Hesronot Shas (or Chesronot Shas). When it became possible to circulate unmutilated versions of the books, corrected editions were published. However, the older versions continue to exist and are reprinted. Therefore, the Hesronot Shas was published as a separate book to be used in conjunction with the censored versions of the books.

Examples of censored materials that appear in Hesronot Shas include:

  • A rabbinical observation that Jews cannot achieve full sanctity in the Diaspora because of their sufferings there was censored as insulting to gentiles, though obviously Jews did suffer in the Diaspora.

  • A curse on Nebuchadnezzar, king of the Babylonians was censored because the censors insisted it was a secret allusion to Christians, even though specific cities in Babylon were mentioned and the context was obvious.

  • If a person drinks something poisonous and could die, there is a ruling that he must spit out the poison, though it is rude, even in the presence of a king. The censor removed the word "king."

This is the sort of material in Hesronot Shas, described at racist Web sites as a secret and diabolical book containing plots of Jews against Christianity. It is not secret. Anyone can buy it, and its contents are harmless.


Synonyms and alternate spellings: Chesronoth Shas

Further Information:  The Jewish Religion and Jewish Law Books

Hebrew/Arabic pronunciation and transliteration conventions:

'H - ('het) a guttural sound made deep in the throat. To Western ears it may sound like the "ch" in loch. In Arabic there are several letters that have similar sounds. Examples: 'hanukah, 'hamas, 'haredi. Formerly, this sound was often represented by ch, especially in German transliterations of Hebrew. Thus, 'hanukah is often rendered as Chanuka for example.

ch - (chaf) a sound like "ch" in loch or the Russian Kh as in Khruschev or German Ach, made by putting the tongue against the roof of the mouth. In Hebrew, a chaf can never occur at the beginning of a word. At the beginning of a word, it has a dot in it and is pronounced "Kaf."

u - usually between oo as in spoon and u as in put.

a- sounded like a in arm

ah- used to represent an a sound made by the letter hey at the end of a word. It is the same sound as a. Haganah and Hagana are alternative acceptable transliterations.

'a-notation used for Hebrew and Arabic ayin, a guttural ah sound.

o - close to the French o as in homme.

th - (taf without a dot) - Th was formerly used to transliterate the Hebrew taf sound for taf without a dot. However in modern Hebrew there is no detectable difference in standard pronunciation of taf with or without a dot, and therefore Histadruth and Histadrut, Rehovoth and Rehovot are all acceptable.

q- (quf) - In transliteration of Hebrew and Arabic, it is best to consistently use the letter q for the quf, to avoid confusion with similar sounding words that might be spelled with a kaf, which should be transliterated as K. Thus, Hatiqva is preferable to Hatikva for example.

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This work is copyright 2005 by Ami Isseroff and Zionism and Israel Information Center and may not reproduced in any form without permission unless explicitly noted otherwise. Individual entries may be cited with credit to The Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Zionism and Israel


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