Scholars have contended for some time that the Bible and Talmud translations and commentaries by ArtScroll are flawed because they are composed to reflect the ideology of the extreme right-wing of Judaism. They point out that ArtScroll changes the meaning of Bible and Talmud words and inserts its own frequently incorrect summary of what Bible and Talmud commentators wrote about Bible and Talmud passages.

They recognize that ArtScroll certainly has a right to their view. However they should not distort Scripture and Talmuds to cause readers to believe that these works say what they, ArtScroll, believe. What is tragic, they say, is that many Orthodox synagogues use the ArtScroll siddur (prayer book) and many Jews who study the Talmud use the ArtScroll translations and commentaries to the Talmud because these books are artistically produced. Rabbis who know of the distortions think the problem is not so ubiquitous and harmful because they have failed to study how wide-spread the ArtScroll changes are and how contrary they are to the truth of the texts.

One of many methods ArtScroll uses to accomplish its ideological mission, beside the distortion of the texts and commentaries, is the deletion of views that it opposes. Dr. Marc B. Shapiro, a brilliant Orthodox scholar, has written an insightful discussion on the subject of ArtScroll’s deletion of a commentary by Rashbam (1085-1174), the grandson of Rashi, “ArtScroll’s Response and My Comments” in Seforim Blog:

Rashbam states that the simple meaning of the biblical text in Genesis chapter one is that in the early biblical period, if not until much later, the day began in the morning, not at sunset as is the practice today. The Torah describes God’s creative acts in chapter one, and after mentioning the acts of each day, Scripture states “there was evening and morning one day (later, the second day, etc.).” The Bible is saying that the day ended and began at daybreak. Rashbam does not discuss when the change was made in Judaism that the day starts at sunset.

Since current law is that the day begins at sunset and the onset of Sabbath is not Saturday morning, but Friday evening. ArtScroll apparently bothered that Rashbam’s interpretation contradicts the current “halakhah,” Jewish law, deleted Rashbam’s commentary from his work.

Because of its many kinds of distortions Koren Press issued new translations of the Siddur with commentaries by the prior Chief Rabbi of England and a translation and commentary of the Talmud by Adin Steinsaltz. People interested in the truth should use these books.