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I hope this is not a stupid question. But, I've seen countless Hebrew works that have yet to be translated into English (I don't know about other languages, like German, French, etc. because I'm not consistently exposed to those languages). These works could be grammars, philosophy, midrashim, etc.

Why are there so many Hebrew works that have yet to be translated into English?

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There are also many English books not translated into Hebrew. –  b a Jan 14 '13 at 4:55
    
So, basically, just incentive, motivation, and/ or time? Also, some of these Hebrew books are more than a millennium old. In comparison, English is a relatively new language. So, I understand your point, but there's still a bit of a disparity there. –  H3br3wHamm3r81 Jan 14 '13 at 5:01
    
There are no stupid questions. –  Seth J Jan 14 '13 at 5:36
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2 Answers 2

up vote 6 down vote accepted

I'm not sure it is universally considered valuable to translate every (I also assume you mean old) Hebrew work into English.

First of all, not every Jew speaks English.

Second, virtually every Jew who might have more than a passing interest in such works is trained (or can get some degree of training) in Hebrew.

Third, not every (old) Hebrew work is all that important.

Most essential (old) Hebrew works have been translated into English.

English translations exist of the following (not exhaustive):

The Torah
Prophets
Writings (parts of which actually aren't in Hebrew)
Mishnah
Midrash
Talmud Yerushalmi (not Hebrew, in any case)
Talmud Bavli (not Hebrew)
Mishneh Torah
Rashi on the Torah
Ramban on the Torah
R' Hirsch on the Torah
Works of Mussar
Works of Halachah
Moreh Nevuchim (as Double AA pointed out, this was translated to Hebrew first, from Arabic)
Works of history
Works of philosophy (many are not originally in Hebrew)
Many others (originally from Hebrew and other languages, including Arabic, Ladino, and Yiddish)

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Worth noting that the Moreh Nevuchim (chosen from your list) was originally written in Arabic anyway. –  Double AA Jan 14 '13 at 5:19
    
That's true. I deleted Me'am Lo'ez from my answer before posting it. I should have deleted that, too. –  Seth J Jan 14 '13 at 5:24
    
Although, to be fair, T"Y and T"B aren't Hebrew either. –  Seth J Jan 14 '13 at 5:26
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Good enough for me. (Note: Of course, I meant a Jew who spoke both Hebrew and English.) ;) Also, say, one major work of which I am not familiar with an English translation is the Yalkut Shimoni. Correct? –  H3br3wHamm3r81 Jan 14 '13 at 5:26
    
@H3br3wHamm3r81 Yalut Shim'oni is basically just a collection of midrashim, most of which have been translated. –  b a Jan 14 '13 at 6:00
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A very simple supplementary answer to Seth's is that translation takes money. Booksellers have to be able to guarantee a market for a translated book of Jewish learning sufficient to cover the expenses of translating, printing and distribution. Often that can't be done. The Mesorah Foundation helps underwrite the original scholarly books and translations produced by Art Scroll, and while they've done amazing things, they don't have enough funds to do all of the great things they want to do. If you want to see more books translated, you can contribute small amounts, or sponsor an entire book or series, as the Schottenstein family, for example has done.

Also, there is a pressing need to find and republish lost books of learning still in Hebrew, and money is needed for that.

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