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Robert Holmstedt

Hi John,

Thanks for this post. I hadn't thought of looking for a Hebrew version. I think I'll use this in Hebrew class this year.

By the way, I think you should leave "yet" out of your translation of Subliminal's first verse. I think that "what is not yet" in Israeli Hebrew would be more like מה שׁעדיין לא. Note that you've put no qualifier on the parallel phrase in verse two, i.e., you don't have "strength to change what is already." I think what Subliminal has (or perhaps intended but didn't quite get right) is more powerful: "the serenity to accept what is not" (i.e., without the temporal qualifier).

Now, I think we should discuss whether Subliminal's change to "hope" makes any sense. Perhaps it does if we take it as you did, "hope in what is not yet," but then wouldn't you want to translate the next verse as "strength to change what is already"?

Even if we allowed this, I don't think "hope" works nearly as well in the prayer as "serenity." Thus, I think you've overrated Subliminal's version.

To push you a bit on the biblical aspect (which you brought in)t, it looks to me like תקוה is used theologically and non-theologically as "expectation." So, how would תקוה figure into any biblical context (prayer or otherwise) for the types of things that either Niebuhr or Subliminal ask for?

I'm quite open to correction here, since we've moved well beyond grammar and I'm already flopping around like the proverbial fish out of water.

Cheers,
Rob

JohnFH

Hi Rob,

I'm glad you find this of interest. I'll add links for the whole song and video with Subliminal. It's a catchy tune, he eats his words more than I might wish, like many hip-hoppers do, but still.

You are right that I remove some of the depth of the song by over-translating "not" with "not yet." That's the trouble with over-translation: it makes some aspect clear at the expense of obscuring others.

- I notice now, looking at the translation of the whole I just found, that "not" is interpreted as "what is no longer" = "the dead" of which the song speaks, and "hope" is interpreted as "strength." Interesting.

Why do I like Subliminal's prayer? Precisely because, with "hope" he made me think of Ezek 37, with its orientation to the future, whereas "serenity" makes me think of what one is hard put to find in the Psalms.

Robert Holmstedt

John,

This time I followed the link to the video of Subliminal's song and then read the lyrics.

A wave of nostalgia swept over me as I listened. There are certain ways that Israelis appropriate U.S. cultural phenomena that I often find odd and hard to describe but immediately easy to identify, if that makes any sense.

Anyway, I'm still chuckling from that bit of rap.

Good stuff. It'll make a nice balance to using David Broza in class! Ha, ha!

Rob

JohnFH

It's a good idea to mix high, middle, and low-brow examples of Hebrew for class.

There's low brow stuff in the Bible, too, when you think about it.

John,
not that it matters, but the version you linked to, at http://www.aahistory.com/prayer.html, has "ten BI et hashalwa" (pardon my pedestrian transliteration), while you write it out as "ten LI t'shalwa", right?

I'm pretty certain the version I've seen on the wall of the "Shalom" AA group in Jerusalem says "ten li et ha-shalwa" -- which I guess is closer to modern-day spoken Hebrew than "ten bi", although I presume both are still possible.

I have a copy of the Israeli version of the AA "Big Book" somewhere, just got to dig it out ...

JohnFH

Is that you, Randall?

Yes, I noticed "ten bi" but that sounded a bit odd to me so I made the change. It would be sweet if the AA group in Jerusalem has "ten li" as I would have expected.

I'll check next time I go there - which may be a while, as I don't live in J'lem any longer.

(No, it's not Randall, just thought in the spirit [!] of the thing, I'd maintain anonymity -- definitely no offense intended)

omer

Tikun is a powerfull and religious word hebrew. it is more than just mend. it's more like bring the world from it's wrong doing to where god has intended it to be back in the days before adam and eve left heaven. or something like that :-)

devyn armstrong

hi, i was wondering if you could give me the hebrew with vocalization for just the first line, God, grant me the serenity to accept the things i canot change.. ? please.

Alex

Hello, very interesting analysis! I didn't know about the existence of this Prayer at all, since I got here by googleing about Subliminal's song.

I'm just starting to learn hebrew, and the translation I have for his music has the following:

Ten li t'tikvah lekabel ma she'ein
תן לי ת'תקווה לקבל מה שאין
et hakoach leshanot ma sheken.
את הכח לשנות מה שכן

as
"Give me the hope to accept what there isn't
The strength to change what there is. "

I know that 'there'= sham, and that does not appear on the sentence... Would this be an overtranslated version? It looks more complete than only "Give me the hope to accept what is" though...

What do you think?

And one more thing I couldn't figure out, is there any difference between writing 'tikvah' with or without repeated consonant? Which one is more 'correct'? תקווה or תקוה ?

Thanks!

A Facebook User

hi, is it possible to translate serenity as התרגעות?

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