T h e   F r o n t   F a c e
2nd Revised Version Translation: August 20, 2002

Notes by Professor Eliezer Segal

  • On the Acrostic Style and Biblical Phrases: "This inscription is particularly elaborate and literary. Not only do individual lines make up acrostics, but the first letters of all the lines spell out the name as well. There is also a rhyme.The writer was very learned."
  • On the style of translation: I have introduced a few stylistic changes, identifications of biblical and other allusions (which I usually try to translate in a manner similar to the familiar King James Bible), etc.
  • On the name "Golda Sobel": The name "Golda Sobel" is certain --since line 21 is (as I did not previously mention) an acrostic on the name.
  • On the "attah" factor: I have translated the last segment (from line 18) with masculine pronouns. In Hebrew without vowels, most of it could just of easily have been feminine, addressed to Golda Sobel, which seems more appropriate to the context. However, the masculine pronoun "attah" appears unmistakably in two instances, and that is why I have treated the whole section as addressed to Bendit.


Comments from Kalman and the corresponding replies from Professor Segal:

  • One of the baffling items that has been resolved with respect to line 6 of Section-2, was with respect to the words "Nagy Karoli" that Professor Segal was positive in his translation. It turns out that if we put these two words together as "Nagykaroly" we get the Hungarian name for the Romanian town Carei where my grandfather lived.
       [Professor Segal, commenting on this, noted that "'Nagykaroly,' though apparently written as two Hebrew words, only counts as one letter in the acrostic, adding further support to your identification."]
  • Myself and my mother do not have a clue with respect to the name "Golda Sobel" as my mother's mother name was Regina.
       [Professor Segal, in response to this apparent mystery, noted that "the link to Golda Sobel is not explained, and might be clarified when I figure out the enigmatic abbreviation that precedes the name."]

To see the relevant correspondence with Professor Segal with respect to this translation, please click on the letter icon at left.

Following is the full 2nd version translation along with added Biblical phrases that are embedded in the verse. The Hebrew text is a fully rhymed poem with various types of acrostic, as indicated.

For those interested, the 1st version of this translation is also available. To see it, please click on the icon at left.






Here is buried:



(1) A man of precious spirit, a God-fearing person who "walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness" [see Psalms 15:2]
(2) Our teacher Rabbi B E N D I T   E L I M E L E C H  (peace unto him)
(3) the son of our teacher Rabbi Moses David Guttmann of blessed memory, from the children of Nyiregyhaza (which is a town in Hungary).
(4) He died with a good name (i.e., reputation) to the grief of his wife and children, his relatives and friends
(5) at the age of sixty-six to the days of his life, the [week of] Ki Tetze [the Torah reading beginning at Deuteronomy 21] 9 Elul 5706 [= 5 Sept. 1946]
(6) [The line is written so that the initial letters of the words spell out the name "BENDIT":]
In the community of the congregation Nagykároly [former Hungarian town now part of Romania and called Carei]
the word of the God-fearers you have cultivated [The line is written so that the initial letters of the words spell out the name "BENDIT"]
You have performed acts of kindness and justice, and were involved in communal affairs.
(8) You helped build the mikvah [=purification bath] and, You founded the burial society for the holy people.
(9) You listened to the opinions of the holy ones, and walked in the counsel of your teachers.
(10) You lovingly supported the pious ones and the students of Torah.
(11) You taught good judgment [cf. Psalms 119:65] and, You took hold of God's Torah.
(12) [This line is very difficult, and I am only guessing. The initial letters of the words spell out the name "ELIMELECH":]
[?] Your heart mourns bitterly, since the time that it was as bitterness for you.
(13) You could not be quiet because of the grief of the tragedy that occurred. [i.e., the Holocaust]
(14) The sucklings with men of gray hair [Deuteronomy 32:25] were burned in oppressive fire.
(15) Your brothers and sisters perished in a terrible death.
(16) For the fate as the surviving remnant that remained as a scattered sheep [Jeremiah 50:17]
17) your eyes were blinded by tears as you participated in their sorrow.

(1) In the sickness of your turbulent heart
(2) your soul expired in purity. [phrase from Talmud Sanhedrin 68a; see Rashi to Makkot 19b]
(3) [The words in the following line form an acrostic of the name "GOLDA":]
Your longing to go up to the land where your ancestors trod,
(4) [The words in the following line form an acrostic of the name "SOBEL":]
you expected to accomplish in purity within your lifetime.
(5) Suddenly death arose in our window.
(6) Woe that the crown is fallen from our head! [Lamentations 5:16]
(7) And thou shalt stand in thy lot at the end of the days. [Daniel 12:13]
(8) [?] [preceded by an abbreviation that I cannot translate] Golda Sobel [Probably here reference is made to his "Golden Wife" left behind]
(9) [Abbreviation:]
May her soul be bound in the bundle of life. [1 Samuel 25:29]


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