Monday, March 20, 2006

Comparison Between De'ah veDibur and Shafan haSofer

While I don't have the time to go through the entire Dei'ah veDibur article and demonstrate the extant of the copying, I will provide some of the more egreious examples.

Here is a quote from the Dei'ah veDibur article (in italics) with the orginal Hebrew intersperced and my commnets in bold. One should remember that the original article was written in first person.

The first manuscript that the Romm family obtained was Rabbenu Chananel's commentary which now appears alongside the gemora on many masechtos. The manuscript was kept in the Vatican archives but it had not been well preserved. The pages were very worn and were marked by rust stains, while the edges of the sheets had been eaten away. Moreover, the commentary was written in Latin characters, which made deciphering and copying it much harder.

כי הנה בראשית שמנו לבנו להעתיק כתב יד פירוש של רבנו חננאל בר חושיאל ז"ל על מסכת רבות מתלמוד בבלי שנמצו באוצר ספרים שבוואטיקאן ברומו והכתב באותיות רש"י בצורות איטאליאניות [נוסח איטלקי] אשר רוב ישראל בזמננו לא כהלין כתבא דא למקריה.


Now, the article continues on to explain who they found who was still able to read this script. The article discusses that the person, R. Mordechi Yakov Yosef, was in the midst of copyingfor Solomon Buber for his Midrash Tanchuma and worked with R. Raefal Nata Rabinowitz. As Buber was also a Maskil, this entire discussion is left out as is the name of the copyist.


Instead, we have the following which sums up this discussion without mentioning the "sorrid" details of who and what they were busy with.


Permission was also not granted to remove the manuscript from the Vatican, which necessitated bringing copyists in to do the work there. The few copyists in Rome who were sufficiently qualified to do the job, were fully occupied with other work and it seemed that things had reached an impasse. The copyists however, accorded great significance to the printing of the Shas and they agreed to interrupt their other work in order to devote their time to copying Rabbenu Chananel's commentary.

After several months of work, another problem loomed with the approach of the official holidays in Rome. The Vatican library would be completely closed for their duration; nobody at all had access to it at this time. A four-month stoppage of the work at that stage would prove very harmful to the printing house. Missing the deadline for the appearance of the first volumes might lead subscribers to cancel, wreaking havoc with the whole project.

ויהי בהגיענו להעתקת פירוש רבנו חננאל למסכת עירובין והנה עצרה חדשה קמה נגדה, כי הגיעו ימי הסגר האוצר בימי המנוחה בקיץ לארבעת חדשי השנה אשר לא יותן לאיש לבוא אל בית האוצר כל הימים ההם, ויצר לנו מאד, כי עצרת ההעתקה את פירוש רבנו חננאל לכמה מסכתות שבאוצר ההואתחבל את כל סדר הדפסת הש"ס וחלוקת חלקיו להחותמים על מקנתם בזמניהם אשר יעדנו להם


The members of the Romm family tried to reach every contact they had that might possibly be of assistance in this situation. They succeeded in obtaining special permission, contrary to the Vatican's laws, to open up the library during the recess for them alone, so that work could proceed on copying Rabbenu Chananel's commentary. The Romm family would have to pay the cost of a guard for the archives but otherwise, the place would be completely open to them, even during hours that it was usually closed to the public.

והנה שלח ה' מלאך מושיע לנו את הג"מ רפאל נטע ראבינאוויץ ז"ל אשר לו מודע הגענעראל-קאנסול במינכן לממלכת זאכסען, הוא השוע החכם הר, מאיר ווילמערסדארפער והוא השיג בעדו מכתב-מליצה מהנסיך האהענלאהע לאחיו הנסיך הקארדינאל האהענלאהע ברומו וגם הפרופיסור ג"ר שעג במינכען נתן לנו מכתב מליצה להקארדינאל הערגענרעהטער ושני הקארדינאלים הששתדלו לפתוח לו לבדו או לבא כוחו את שער האוצר לכל ימי הסגרו. והוא הושיב תחתיו את המעתיק הנ"ל לפירוש רבינו חננאל על הש"ס בעדנו ורק הוטל עלינו לשלם שכר שומר האוצר לזמן ההוא ועוד יותר הגדילו לעשות להעתקותינו, להפר בעדה עוד שני חוקים אשר לבית האוצר ההוא מעולם לסגרו אחר הצהריים וגם בימי חגיהם, ולהמעתיק שלנו הרשו לעשות בו גם אחרי צהרים וגם בימי חגיהם הקטנים

So this time the discusion with the detail regaring R. Rabinowitz and the cardinals has been compressed into "they tried to reach evey contact they had that might possibly be of assistance."


One of the workers on the project wrote, "Looking in retrospect, the Vatican had always been the source of deadly hatred of the Jewish nation and even more so of our literature, [hatred] that spread to every Christian land, often leading kings to level decrees of forced apostasy, slaughter, killing, destruction and harsh exile . . . Worst of all, they confiscated and burned Jewish books on many occasions, sometimes decreeing that the Jew be burned together with the holy books . . .

This unamed "worker" is of course Shafan haSofer והנה בהביטנו אחרינו אל הוואטיקאן הזה אשר ממנו ירדה מעולם

שנאת מות לישראל, וביותר לספרותנו, בכל ממלכות הנוצרים, ובעטיו גזרו מלכיהם על ישראל פעמים אין מספר גזירות שמד, הרג, חרב ואבדן וגלויות קשות עד. . . ! ועל כלם החרימו ושרפו את ספרי ישראל פעמים רבות גם גזרו לפעמים לשרוף באש את היהודי יחד עם הספר העברי


"Now, wonder of wonders, out of the very furnace into which they always threw Jewish books for burning, kindness and goodwill that are unparalleled even towards Christian rulers lehavdil are being extended towards those very same seforim. The only explanation is that the great merit of Rabbenu Chananel -- everything written by whom is faithful transmission -- is standing him and his commentary in good stead, so that his powerful light be thus revealed from the darkness to illuminate the Talmud, so that the eyes of its scholars be illuminated to see Torah's truth."

This quote is taken from Shafan haSofer.


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