As written in the post How to Avoid Getting Lost in Translation, I don’t usually go for English translations because of all the inherent problems involved.
But this is probably the first English translation of any classic work that is nearly flawless in capturing the true intent and meaning of the original Hebrew without sacrificing English eloquence and readability.
Oftentimes, translators must sacrifice either clarity and accuracy for smoother and less “clunky” reading experience, or sacrifice smoother reading for clarity and accuracy—but Rabbi Levine maintains both without sacrificing either.
And I have no idea how he managed to pull that off.
But the result is that you can just sit down and read through it, although Rabbi Levine himself humbly insists that the English rendering is only meant to be an aid to the Hebrew (which I suppose is why he refers to his work as “rendered” into English” and not “translated”).
Furthermore, the layout of the book is just wonderful.
Both the English and Hebrew typefaces and fonts are perfect for easy and pleasant reading.
Even the paper used is of higher-quality and strength.
The book is footnoted well, but not annoyingly so. Rabbi Levine provides the necessary sources for all the Kli Yakar’s references, magically intuiting when a simple citation of chapter and verse will suffice—or when the reader needs more explanation.
I really needed this because my Aramaic is so poor and I didn’t always understand the connection between the Kli Yakar’s ideas and the source he referenced.
The entire work is incredible and I’ve never seen anything quite like it.
Finally, I very much agree with Rabbi Beryl Wein’s opinion as expressed in the Foreword:
…if the translator does not become a piece of the author himself, so to speak, the translation ultimately fails.
This is what makes Elihu Levine’s work so important and significant.
He has truly captured the spirit and essence of the goals and ideas of [the Kli Yakar].