Tuesday, July 30, 2013

New Book Announcement - Seder Olam by Prof. Chaim Milikowsky


New Book Announcement
 Eliezer Brodt

סדר עולם: מהדורה מדעית, פירוש ומבוא מאת חיים מיליקובסקי, מכון יצחק בן צבי, שני חלקים, 326+711 עמודים.

 I am very happy to announce the publication of an important work which numerous people (myself included) have been eagerly waiting for quite some time, Professor Chaim Milikowsky of the Bar Ilan Talmud department's critical edition of the Seder Olam. Professor Milikowsky began working on the Seder Olam over thirty years ago and completed his PhD dissertation 'Seder Olam : A Rabbinic Chronography' in Yale University 1981 (550 pp.) with Professor Shnayer Zalman Leiman serving as his thesis advisor. This version included an English Translation of the Seder Olam. Since then Professor Milikowsky has authored numerous articles, many of which, amongst many other topics, are related to the Seder Olam.

This edition was just printed by the Yad Ben Zvi Press and is comprised of two large volumes. Volume one contains a two hundred and fourteen page general introduction about the Seder Olam, along with the one hundred and seven page critical, synopsis edition of the Seder Olam, based on numerous manuscripts and Genizah fragments. Volume two contains a seven hundred and eleven page(!) commentary, and is thoroughly indexed. This work is incredible on all fronts; in depth and breadth, touching upon anything related to the Seder Olam. It appears that literally every letter of this Tannaitic work has been dealt with. In addition to the scholarly acumen invested in the introduction and commentary, this work serves as an excellent model for preparing critical editions of works of Chazal.

For a Table of Contents or more information about purchasing this work, feel free to contact me at Eliezerbrodtatgmail.com. Copies of this work will be arriving at Biegeleisen shortly.



Wednesday, July 24, 2013

What is wrong with Artscroll?


What is wrong with Artscroll?

by Eliezer Miller

A better question would be is what is right?

The latest work produced by Artscroll in the Milstein Series is Isaiah[1]. Written by Rabbi Nosson Scherman, the general editor of Artsrtscroll himself, it is the inaugural volume of the interpretation of the Later Prophets.

Firstly, one must praise Artscroll for a completely new typesetting of the Rashi, Radak, Metzuadas David and Metzudas Zion. But to what purpose?  If was to give us a clear text, has not a clearly superior work of this kind has been done by Keter? They, at least, addition, edited these works using ancient manuscripts.  If, then, they are printed in this series is to help us with the translation and commentary – is that not the very purpose of Artscroll’s English translation and commentary? Perhaps, then, they are included to keep the tradition of Mikraos Gedolos?  If so why are many other parts of Mikraos Gedolos commentators like Gr’a and Toldos Aharon missing?  The space taken by these commentaries could have surely been used for a lengthier, more comprehensive, English commentary.

Secondly, one can understand why the editors ignored the extensive archeological work that has been done in the past few years. Archeology in the City of David and Samaria shed much light on the realia that is part of the prophecy[2].

The discovery of the Dead Sea scrolls has changed the whole of the study of Isaiah.  The Isaiah scrolls are the only complete text of a sefer in Tanach from that time. They have revealed multiple variants and commentaries. 

However, to include these studies in the sefer would have negated the principles on which “Mesorah” publication stands, that of strict adherence to the received tradition.

Similarly, the incredible amount that has been learnt from etymological studies by Semitic language scholars is hard to ignore. Because non-traditional scholars do this work, they are ignored by Rabbi Scherman - to his, and to his readers, loss.

Thirdly, one could also understand the “bowlderisation”[3] involved in the translation.  The great poetic masterpiece that was achieved by the Revised Authorized Version has inspired myriads of readers; the majestic language gave, at least faint echoes of Isaiah’s monumental use of his imagery and metaphors.  That translation surely has Christological inferences and counter-Halachic tendencies.[4] Their exclusion is understandable.

On the other hand, Artscroll’s awkward phraseology, mistranslations, and incorrect insertions make one, literally, cringe.  Their translation has managed to change one the worlds greatest literary work into a children’s eighth-grade reader, unworthy of the text.


Lastly, one must feel that Rabbi Scherman is forced to ignore the obvious parallels to the rebuilding of Zion in our days. The Return to Israel, the re-establishment of the State of Israel and the foretold “footsteps of the Messiah” are apparent to any reader of the prophecy. This omission is so enormous, that it is difficult for the modern reader to swallow.  Has the orthodox world been so influenced by the rejectionist in the Satmar- Neture Karta – Brisk axis, that they have accepted the absurd notion that that the State of Israel has no theological significance?

Given all the above critiques, and understanding the reasons, the real problem is internal. The real problem of this work is that it contradicts the very basis of the credo of Mesorah Publications. 

There are a number of examples as how Mesorah publications has disregarded their mandate. 

1) The Prophecy of Isaiah was a focal point in the Talmud and Midrash.  There is hardly a Pasuk that is not quoted and explicated in the classical sources.  One would venture to say, that percentage wise, in the Talmud and Medrash, many more pasukim from Isaiah are mentioned than pasukim from Chumash[5].  Indeed works that cite these sources are widely available.[6] Yet these citations are few and far between in the commentary[7].  When they are cited, the accompanying commentaries by the Rishonim are rarely mentioned.

This lacuna is distressing.  Did Rabbi Scherman not make an effort to use them, or was he oblivious to their existence?

A few random examples:

i) 42:5 ….Who gives a soul to the people upon it, and a spirit to those who walk upon it
 Artscroll pg.  323:     He gives a soul equally to all the people on earth (Radak)
A spirit of sanctity (or prophecy- Abarbanel) to those who walk in his ways.

Yet:
Yerushalmi[8]:            Rashbal in the name of Bar Kapra:  The land on which I placed life first, will be the first for the coming of the Messiah.  What is the reason “He gives a soul to the people upon it.   Thus the Rabbis of Babylon have lost.  Rabbi Simai said:  The Almighty makes the land slippery in front of them and thus they slide like bottles.  When they reach the land of Israel their souls are with them….


ii) 27:13 ….It shall be on that day a great shofar will be blown…
Artscroll pg. 209:            On that great day of ingathering, all the exiles will be gathered together (as if –Radak) by the blast of a great shofar Abarbanel, R’ Hirsch
Yet:
Talmud[9]:  The ten tribes have no place in the world to come… these are the words of Rabbi Akiva.  …Rabbi Simon said: if their actions are (still) like today, they will not return.  If not, they will return.  Rebbi said: They will come to the world to come as it said “On that day a great shofar will be sounded”.

(One feels that these random examples, among many, are teaching fundamentals of Jewish thought. Why were they not mentioned?  In their place Artscroll quotes two Chassidic Vortlach!)


2) There are comparatively few extant works by the Rishonim on Isaiah.  One would suppose that the Christian censors either cut them severely[10] or discouraged their publication. However, a few such works have been found and published.[11]  In these sefarim are important ideas that have not found their way into Artscroll, once again to its, and our loss.


A few random examples;
i) On that day (people) will sing about (Israel), “A vineyard of fine wine”. I am Hashem who guards it: I water it frequently, lest it be held account against it, night and day I will guard it.

Artscroll pg.203: From the cup of punishment I shall pour on them only a little at a time, because if I were to deliver the full of retribution all at once, they would not survive it. (Rashi)

Yet:
Ibn Ganach:  It comes to tell us that Israel will not be included in the punishment, that is to say; I will revisit their sins on the nations, but I will not revisit (Israel’s) sin

ii) 52:2 Formerly he grew like a sapling ….

Artscroll (pg. 401): Before the redemption raises Israel to its new eminence, the nations will regard it with contempt…

Yet:
Rambam: The quality of the ascent (of the Messiah) is that not that we will know at all before his ascent whether he is or not the Messiah, even if it is said of him that he is the son of so-and-so from so-and-so’s family.   Rather an unknown man shall rise before his identity is revealed, with signs and miracles, which we will see that it is he that performs them.  This will prove the truth of his claims and the truth of his patrimony.


(Again One feels that these are basic to our beliefs, and are puzzled by their omission)


3) The truth that even a casual reader will note that there are at least two different styles of commentaries of Isaiah in this work.  The first 40 or so chapters were written in one style, and the last chapters by a different commentator.  (Perhaps the same author wrote them at different times of his life.) 

The first Chapters are basically a summary of the classical commentators.  These summaries are widely available[12], albeit in Hebrew[13]. If he wished to improve on these works, one wonders why Rabbi Scherman ignored Rav Eliezer MiBalgantzi, Rabbi Yishaya Mitrani, Ibn Kaspi and Ayin Hamesorah (published from manuscripts in Keter).


Remarkably, the style of commentaries in the second part of the Sefer are completely different.  No longer only the classical commentaries are mentioned. Mari K’ra, Orchos Chaim, Shem Shmuel, Artscroll’s own edition of Rav Schwab, and many other commentaries suddenly make an appearance.  Rabinowitz masterful Daas Sofrim[14] and Hirsch’s Essays are mentioned.

One, however, wonders how Rabbi Scherman chose whom to exclude.  Rav Schwab’s, somewhat idiocentric ideas are often quoted while Sorotzkin’s Rinat Yitchak[15], Rav Dovid Cohen’s many works [16]are ignored.  One understands (but does not condone) the omission of Mossad Harav Kook’s Daas Mikra[17] because of its “modern” leaning, but what could be wrong with Hatorah Hatemimah[18]? Emek Hanetziv is Kosher (pg. 385) but the G’ra does not make the cut[19]!  Additionally there are many commentaries of the Haftorahs, which are similarly ignored



A few random examples:

i) 41:2 Who inspired (the one) from the East, at whose  (every) footstep righteousness attended….

Artscroll pg.311: This is a reference to Abraham, who came from Aram, which is east of Eretz Israel…

Yet:
Rinat Yitzchak[20] explains this verse as the dispute between Rashi and the Gr’a.  In Shabbat 156a uses this verse to prove that there is no Mazal (Astrology) for Israel. Rashi explains that prayer and repentance can change the mazal.  The G’ra explains that Mazal only applies to the nations, whereas Israel is above the stars and independent of Mazal.

ii) 28:7 …the kohen and the (false) prophet have erred because of liquor and corrupted by wine, they have strayed because of liquor, erred in vision.

Artscroll pg. 211: Rather than refer to the drunkenness and hedonism of the people, Isaiah refers to the drunkenness and the hedonism of the leadership, the Kohen and the prophet.

Yet:
Rabinowiz[21]: To claim that this refers to the kohanim in the beis hamikdash and to the prophets, contradicts all accepted opinions.  …. Nowhere does Isaiah mention false prophets, for no one would dare to call himself a prophet in the days of Isaiah…. It is unlikely that Isaiah would refer to the priests of Baal as Kohanim.  It is certain that Isaiah was referring to himself.  He was not able to communicate with people that were immersed in wealth and success, indulging in feasts and parties.  It is unlikely that he speaks of gross drunkenness.


4) Perhaps the most important criticism is that, as in many of Artscrolls biblical works, there is the tendency to trivialize Judaism.  In the Schottensten Talmud, (especially the Jerusalem Talmud) Artscroll has shown that they are able to do extensive research, and to explicate almost all fundamentals[22].
Not so in the Artscroll Tanach series. There is little attempt to explain the fundamental concepts of Judaism.  Instead we are fed homilies, “Vortlach”, Hassidic Meiselach and childish moralisms.  We miss the scholarly discussions, the Machlokes and textual variations that are so beautifully presented in the Schottenstein Talmud.

Yishayahu speaks to the generations.  To portray him as a medieval sermonizer is, to sat the least, disrespectful and trite.  The Milstein Series could, and must, do a better job.  They owe this to modern reader.


Artscroll’s job is to sell books.  Apparently, in their eyes, the public is not interested in serious scholarship, nor keen to hear Isaiah’s biting criticism of the hypocrisies of institutions. They perhaps feel that to try to sell a sefer that practically tells the buyer that Hashem does not support these institutions would make no sense.  One hopes that this is not true.

But at least let Rabbi Sherman fulfill his mandate by presenting us with a traditional comprehensive commentary equal to the Schottensten scholarly commentaries on the Talmuds.






[1] The Later Prophets: Isaiah, Mesorah Publications 2013
[2] We can see the upper pool and the lower pool, etc.
[3] To modify by abridging, simplifying, or distorting in style or content
[4] “Unto us a child is given.”Etc.
[5] In an unscientific count in Ayn Hamesorah, about 30% of Chumash pasukim are cited compared to 98% of Isaiah’s pasukim.
[6] Stern, Menachem: Torah SheB’al Peh, Jerusalem 2001. Neusner, Jacob: Isaiah in The Babylonian Talmud and Medrash, , NY 2007.
[7] A cursory reading counts only a few dozen citations.
[8] Kesubos 12:3
[9] San: 110b 
[10] See Neubauer’s edition of the  ‘hine yaskil avdi”
[11] Kovetz Perushim Lesefer Yishayahu, Jerusalem 5731.  Tafsir Saadia Gaon, S. Ratzabi Bnei Brak 2004
[12] Laniado Shlomo: Keli Paz, , 1637, Reprinted Jerusalem 5731
[13] An adequate work by Rosenberg, A. J.: Mikraos Gedolos, The Judaica Press, 1992 has long been available
[14] Rabinowitz, Chaim Dov, Daas Sofrim, Jerusalem 1980
[15] Rinat Yitzchak, Yitzchak Sorotzkin, Wikliff 1998
[16] Cohen, David: Ohel David,  1998 -
[17] Chacham, Amos: Daat Mikra, Jerusalem 1988
[18] Stern, Yechiel Michal: Hatorah Hatemimah, Jerusalem 5732
[19] Katzenelenbogen, S.:Biur Hagr’a Neviim, Jerusalem 2002
[20] ibid pg. 144
[21] Ibid
[22] See however: Our Torah, your Torah and their Torah: An evaluation of the Artscroll phenomenon by B. Barry Levy and Tradition 19(1)(Spring 1981): 89-95 and an exchange of letters in Tradition 1982;20:370-375.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Publication of New Book, Kana’uteh de-Pinhas, by Seforim Blog Contributor, R. Bezalel Naor


Publication of New Book, Kana’uteh de-Pinhas, by Seforim Blog Contributor, R. Bezalel Naor

RABBI PINHAS HAKOHEN LINTOP (1852-1924)




Pinhas Hakohen Lintop, Rabbi of the Habad community of Birzh, Lithuania, was an intimate friend and colleague of Rabbi Abraham Isaac Hakohen Kook. Their friendship began when Rabbi Kook served as Rabbi of Zoimel, Lithuania and later Boisk, Latvia, and continued even after Rav Kook immigrated to Erets Israel.

What Rabbis Kook and Lintop shared in common, was the belief that the knowledge of the “inwardness of Torah” (“penimiyut ha-torah”) contained the medicine for the spiritual malady of the generation. Both men attempted, each in his own way, to disseminate Kabbalah to the masses. For this, they came under criticism from their rabbinic peers.

Rabbi Lintop was unique in that he was one of only three major Lithuanian kabbalists in that country at the beginning of the 20th century: Solomon Elyashev, Abraham Isaac Hakohen Kook, and Pinhas Hakohen Lintop.

The present book, Kana’uteh de-Pinhas (The Zeal of Pinhas) pivots on a hitherto unpublished letter of Rabbi Lintop to Rabbi Kook, then serving as Rabbi of Jaffa, Erets Israel. The lengthy letter consists of a detailed critique of the recent work of Rabbi Solomon Elyashev of Shavel (1841-1926), Hakdamot u-She’arim (Piotrkow, 1908), the first part of Rabbi Elyashev’s encyclopedic work of Kabbalah, Leshem Shevo ve-Ahlamah.

While Rav Kook hailed Hakdamot u-She’arim as a supreme contribution to the wisdom of Kabbalah, Rabbi Lintop opposed the worldview contained therein, which as he pointed out, ran counter to both the teachings of Ramhal (acronym of Rabbi Moses Hayyim Luzzatto) and Habad (acronym of Hokhmah, Binah, Da’at, the school of Hasidism founded by Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi).

Much of the present work is an attempt to unpack Rabbi Lintop’s specific criticisms of Hakdamot u-She’arim, while in the process sharpening our understanding of the ideological touchstones that set apart the respective teachings of these three great kabbalists, Rabbis Elyashev, Kook and Lintop.

The book, in Hebrew with an abstract of a few pages in English, is replete with a photo of Rabbi Lintop, his final repose in Birzh, and facsimiles of the titles of his works and some of his manuscript letters, which are of historic interest for their description of conditions in Lithuanian Jewry in the first quarter of the twentieth century (especially their vivid description of the rapid acceleration of the process of secularization and decline of rabbinic authority in the aftermath of World War I). An appendix of the book discusses Rabbi Lintop’s critique of Maimonides’ Thirteen Principles of Faith, a controversial topic which of late has been the focus of several rabbinic and academic studies. (Of especial note is Marc B. Shapiro’s The Limits of Orthodox Theology: Maimonides’ Thirteen Principles Reappraised.)

Another appendix of the book is devoted to Rabbi Solomon E. Jaffe (1858-1923), Chief Rabbi of New York after the demise of Rabbi Jacob Joseph, and to the short-lived Rabbinical Seminary (Yeshivah la-Rabbanim) that Rabbi Jaffe headed in New York (1909-1910) during the temporary closure of Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS), today the rabbinical seminary of Yeshiva University. Rabbis Jaffe and Lintop overlapped in the rabbinate of Vabolnik, Lithuania circa 1888 and maintained cordial relations even after Rabbi Jaffe relocated to the United States.

Kana’uteh de-Pinhas is available at Bigeleisen and also from R. Naor’s website, www.orot.com.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Plagiarism, Halakhic Paradox, and the Malbim on Kohelet


Plagiarism, Halakhic Paradox, and the Malbim on Kohelet
by
Marc B. Shapiro

1. A story recently appeared alleging plagiarism in the writings of R. Yonah Metzger.[1] Such accusations are nothing new and the topic of plagiarism in rabbinic history is of great interest to me. Many of the scholars of Jewish bibliography have also written about the phenomenon,[2] and a good deal on the topic has appeared on the Seforim Blog.[3] Suffice it to say that every generation has had problems in this regard, and we see even see apparent instances of it in the Talmud.[4] The examples range from taking another’s ideas (including one’s teacher[5]), to copying sections of another work, to reprinting an entire book and changing the title page.[6] It is interesting that R. Moses Sofer, unlike others, is reported not to have been troubled by people plagiarizing from him. As he put it, he doesn’t mind if they attach his hiddushim to their names, as long as they don’t attribute their own hiddushim to him.[7]

R. Isaac Sternhell, in the introduction to his Kokhvei Yitzhak, vol. 1, gives a good illustration of how widespread the problem of plagiarism has been in explaining why R. Joseph Karo and R. Moses Isserles don’t mention anything in the Shulhan Arukh about the obligation to repeat a Torah teaching in the name of one who said it (itself of great importance, not to mention the geneivat da’at involved if one doesn’t give proper credit [8]). R. Sternhell states that that since so many people plagiarize, including תלמידי חכמים שיראתם קודמת לחכמתם, therefore, just like it is a mitzvah to say that which people will listen to, so too it is best to be quiet about something they won’t pay attention to [9]. R. Sternhell reports that this reason was actually given by R. Yissachar Dov Rokeah of Belz in explanation of why there is nothing in the Shulhan Arukh about the prohibition of leshon hara.[10]

והם מתוך שחששו מלהביא קטרוג על כלל ישראל התעלמו מדינים אלה בפסקי הלכה והשמיטום. ובכך קיימו דברי הנביא עמוס (ה' ג') והמשכיל בעת ההיא ידום


R. Sternhell then lists a few books that plagiarized, and the books from which they stole. The problem is that he only identifies the plagiarizing books by their initials, which makes identifying them quite hard.

Today we have Otzar ha-Hokhmah which makes spotting plagiarism easier. Let me share with you one example. I am a long time reader of the journal Or Torah, which is where so many of R. Meir Mazuz’s writings have been published. In Tamuz 5758 an article appeared by a certain R. Daniel Weitzman. Here are the first two pages. On the second page there is something suspicious, which I don’t know if anyone other than me would take notice of. He cites R. Weinberg’s famous responsum on abortion but instead of citing it from Seridei Esh, he refers to an earlier appearance in Ha-Pardes. This sort of thing immediately sets off bells for me, since how would a rabbi in Israel in the pre-hebrewbooks.org and pre-Otzar ha-Hokhmah era have access to a thirty-year-old issue of Ha-Pardes? How would he ever come to that? In fact, if you look at the article, it seems that he doesn’t even know what Ha-Pardes is, referring to it as Pardes. The title he gives to R. Weinberg's article is also not correct and is taken from the source he plagiarized from.

 
Now compare what Weitzman wrote with what appears in R. Shmuel Hayyim Katz’s Devar Shmuel (Los Angeles, 1986).




Weitzman has not just plagiarized, but he has copied word for word from Katz. Needless to say, I was quite distressed when I saw this. Since it is rare that someone plagiarizes only once, I decided to check Weitzman’s other articles that appeared in Or Torah.

Here is an article from Tamuz 5757 (first page, but here is a link to the complete article).



This article is also plagiarized from R. Katz’s Devar Shmuel.


And here Weitzman’s article from Or Torah, Av 5758, and it too is plagiarized from R. Katz’s Devar Shmuel.

  


Here are the pages from Devar Shmuel:









With the aid of Otzar ha-Hokhmah I was able to find the following. Here is the first page of Weitzman’s article that appears in Or Torah, Heshvan 5761.


It is taken almost word for word from R. Mordechai Friedman’s Pores Mapah (Brooklyn, 1997).

 

Pores Mapah is not a well-known book (although it has much to recommend it), and having been published in the U.S. was probably hard to come by in Israel. This is the perfect sort of book for an Israeli to plagiarize from, and years ago it would have been virtually impossible for anyone to realize what had happened. Yet with Otzar ha-Hokhmah I was able to locate the plagiarism in a matter of seconds.

I think the explanation for plagiarisms like this is simply because people are greedy. They not only want that which they can achieve, but want to take from others as well. To once again cite the Gaon R. Mizrach-Etz, “a man’s got to know his limitations.”



Yet I must also note are cases of men who plagiarized in their early years but later became great Torah scholars, showing that a youthful error need not determine the course of one’s subsequent development.[11]
Sometimes, what appears to be a plagiarism has a much simpler explanation.[12] Here is a page from R. Moses Teitlebaum’s Heshiv Moshe, no. 87.


Compare this responsum with what appears in R. Abraham Bornstein, Avnei NezerHoshen MishpatLikutei Teshuvot no. 101. The responsa are basically identical except for the dates and addressee.


What is going on here? I think it is obvious that R. Bornstein had a handwritten copy of the responsum, which he presumably copied out of Heshiv Moshe, a work published in 1866. After his death the one who put together his responsa did not realize that this was a responsum of R. Moses Teitelbaum, so he published it adding Bornstein’s signature and a new date. He also assumed that when the original responsum referred to the questioner as ש"נ it meant שינאווי when in fact it means שיאיר נרו or שיחיה נצח. Furthermore, in the original responsum it states דבר זה מתורת משה ילמדני which is an allusion to the one being asked the question, R. Moses Teitelbaum. Yet this was overlooked when the responsum was included in the Avnei Nezer.

Here is another example of what has been alleged to be plagiarism.[13] It is a passage from the Beur Halakhah, 494, s.v. מבחודש השלישי.

 
Now look at the Shulhan Arukh ha-Rav, 494:8-11, and you can see that it has been copied word for word, even though at the end of the Beur Halakhah it states: זהו תמצית דברי האחרונים

 

What to make of this? One of the commenters on the site that calls attention to this text sees here an indication that the Hafetz Hayyim’s son was also involved in the writing of the Mishnah Berurah (as he claimed), since the Hafetz Hayyim himself would not do such a thing. Yet matters are more complicated than this, as there are also other places where the Mishnah Berurah copies word for word from the Shulhan Arukh ha-Rav (and presumably from others sources as well).[14] Are we to assume that these were all inserted by his son?

It appears that the Hafetz Hayyim’s conception of what was proper in using earlier sources differed from what is accepted today, much like standards were also different in medieval times. Furthermore, since the Hafetz Hayyim writes זהו תמצית דברי האחרונים, even from a contemporary perspective we are not dealing with plagiarism. But the question is – and I don’t have the answer – why in some places the Hafetz Hayyim did not indicate when he was taking material from the Shulhan Arukh ha-Rav. He does mention in the introduction that the Shulhan Arukh ha-Rav is one of the sources from which his own commentary derives its material, and he constantly refers to it, so why in this case is there no indication of his source? Maybe one of the readers can answer if the Shulhan Arukh ha-Rav is unusual in this regard, or if this is done with other sources as well. As far as I know, we don’t yet have an edition of the Mishnah Berurah that provides all the sources used in the text.

2. In Ha-Ma’ayan, Tishrei 5771 and Tevet 5771 there are articles on the idea of “Halakhic Paradox” by R. Michael Avraham and R. Meir Bareli. You can see Ha-Ma’ayan online here.

Here is another halakhic paradox that I found in the journal Ohel Yitzhak, Sivan 5668, p. 4b. Take a look at R. Menahem Ratner’s second question. I tried to actually put what he is asking into English but was unsuccessful as my mind kept going in circles. As with all such cases, and one immediately thinks of Zeno’s paradoxes, the problem is to determine if we are indeed dealing with a real paradox or if the paradox is only apparent. So I ask those readers who want to try to get their head around what Ratner is saying, is this a real paradox or is he missing something?




3. In the past few years there were many topics I wanted to get to, but simply didn’t have the time. These matters are not much in the news now so I won’t discuss them in detail as I had originally hoped to. However, I will make a few comments as I think readers will still find the topics of interest.

Let’s start with the commentary of the Malbim on Kohelet that was published in 2008. Here is the title page.



Understandably, there was much excitement when this book appeared since it is quite an event when an unknown commentary of such a major figure is discovered. However, the excitement was short-lived, as it soon became known that the commentary was not by the Malbim but by a nineteenth-century maskil, Jonah Bardah. Even more embarrassing for the publisher, Machon Oz ve-Hadar, is that Bardah’s commentary even appeared in print in 1850. Here are the title pages.


 

This would be bad no matter who the publisher was, but the fact that Machon Oz ve-Hadar is from New Square, which is as far removed from Haskalah imaginable, makes the mistake drip with irony.

How did such a blunder happen? Today, it seems that everyone is looking for unknown material to publish. There are a number of journals that devote a good deal of space to this, and I often wonder what will happen when we run out of unpublished documents. With this mindset you can imagine how excited the publisher was when he was informed that someone had located a previously unknown commentary by the Malbim. The assumption that this was the Malbim’s text was due to the similarity between the method of commentary in the newly discovered work and other commentaries of the Malbim. Without careful examination, the Kohelet commentary was published and this would in turn lead to great embarrassment, not to mention a lot of wasted time and money.

The story of this mistake is found in a document entitled Sheker Soferim. Here is the title page.


(A softened version of this article appeared in Yeshurun 25 [2011], pp. 724ff., and there the author’s name is revealed: R. Avraham Yeshaya Zecharish.[15]) This is really a damning document as it shows that the publisher had already been told that the handwriting of the commentary was not that of Malbim. I am not going to say that the publisher knowingly printed a fraud in order to profit by the Malbim’s name. But I think it is obvious that that the publisher’s great desire to publish the work caused him ignore what he had been told and to instead rely on his own “experts.” Whoever edited the work also showed his (their?) ignorance, since when the commentary referred to רמבמ"ן , not knowing that this referred to Mendelssohn the text was “corrected” to read רמב"ן!

Despite my sense that there was no intentional fraudulence in this publication, I don’t entirely discount the possibility that the publisher knew the commentary was not by Malbim but printed it anyway. I say this because as shown in Sheker Soferim there is one passage in the commentary where the “Malbim” claims that there is a mistake in the biblical text. The editors censored this passage, and this to be expected as from a haredi perspective such a comment is heretical. But if so, could the publisher actually believe that the Malbim wrote that which was censored?

Lest people think that things like this don’t have real effects in the world, let me just note that, as pointed out by Eliezer Brodt, an entire chapter of a doctoral dissertation is devoted to the false Malbim commentary on Kohelet.[16] Just think of how many hours were devoted to this dissertation chapter, all of which were wasted.

While Zecharish points to various “problematic” elements of the commentary that the publisher should have been aware of, he misses one right on the first page.


The notes at the bottom of the page are found in the original manuscript and publication. Here is the page.


In the commentary to the first verse the “Malbim” explains how the beginning of biblical books, where the author is introduced, is written by a later person.

.ואדמה כי לא יטעה כל משכיל לחשוב אשר המחבר בעצמו דיבר אלה הדברים

In the note the “Malbim” adds:

.עיין בהראב"ע בהתחלת ספר דברים

The beginning of Deuteronomy states: “These are the words which Moses spoke unto all Israel beyond the Jordan.” Upon these words Ibn Ezra introduces his “secret of the twelve” which focuses on post-Mosaic additions to the Torah. It is incredible that while the "Malbim's" intention is crystal clear, namely, that the beginning of Deuteronomy was written after Moses, the editors didn’t catch this and see anything problematic in the comment, a comment that would never have been made by the Malbim.[17]

------

[1] See here. For former French Chief Rabbi Gilles Bernheim’s plagiarism, see the statement in First Things available here.

I think this sentence, from the article, is particularly apt:
One of the perversions of our era is to make a god of intellectual property. Most commentators described Bernheim as “stealing” words and sentences. This is wrongheaded. Plagiarism is a sin against truth, not property. It’s first and foremost a kind of lying, not a kind of stealing. He violated our trust by speaking in a voice that was not his own, which is why in this and other cases of plagiarism the writer loses intellectual and moral authority broadly.
The importance of our spiritual leaders speaking the truth cannot be stressed enough. R. Kook writes about how forces of heresy were strengthened when people saw unethical behavior among בעלי תורה ואמונה. See Eder ha-Yekar, p. 43.

R. Joseph Ibn Caspi explains at length how a prophet, who models himself on God who is called א-ל האמת, always speaks the truth, even when speaking to his wife and children (!). See Shulhan ha-Kesef, ed. Kasher (Jerusalem, 1996), pp. 146, 163. This is so important to Ibn Caspi that he deals with a number of biblical examples where it appears that a prophet did not speak truthfully, and he argues that the meaning is not what appears at first glance. The one case where he acknowledges that we are dealing with a lie is Jacob telling Isaac, “I am Esau your firstborn” (Gen 27:19). Yet this does not affect Ibn Caspi’s thesis because he claims, p. 150, that when Jacob told this lie he was not yet a prophet.

.הנה כחש אבל עדין לא הגיע למדרגת הנבואה עד היותו בדרך חרן וראה הסולם

After his discussion about prophets and how they were always truthful, Ibn Caspi concludes, p. 163, that this is also how a חכם should behave. Our rabbis now stand in place of the prophets of old, thus they too much be paragons of truth.

With regard to Ibn Caspi’s Shulhan ha-Kesef, I would like to make one further point. In a previous post, see here, I discussed how, according to Ibn Caspi, the Torah contains statements that are not actually true, but were believed as such by the ancients. We see another example of this in Shulhan Kesef, p. 147, where he writes, in seeking to explain an example where it appears a prophet lied:

.כי הנביא שם משותף וכבר הרחיב הכתוב ואמר "חנניה הנביא" בסתם

What Ibn Caspi is saying is that even though the Bible refers to someone as a prophet, this doesn’t mean he was really a prophet. It could be that he is referred to as such because this is what the people believed, even though the people were incorrect. In other words, the Bible incorporates the incorrect view of the people in its narrative. The proof he brings is from Jeremiah 28 where Hananiah is referred to as a prophet but in reality he was a fraud.
[2] See most recently Shmuel Ashkenazi, “Ha-Gonev min ha-Sefer,” Yeshurun 25 (2011), pp. 675-690.
[3] See here.
[4] See e.g., Bekhorot 31b, Menahot 93b; R. Moses Zweig, Ohel Moshe, vol. 1, no. 41. The fact that the Sages had this problem in their own day is probably also why they stressed the importance of proper attribution. This is pointed out by R. Nathan Neta Olevski, Hayei Olam Nata (Jerusalem,1995), p. 241:

מזה נראה כי גם בימיהם כבר פשתה המספחת להתגדר בגנבי גנובי את תורת אחרים ולכן ראו חז"ל להגדיל ערך המשתמר מזה ולחשוב דבר זה בין המ"ח דברים שהתורה נקנית בהן

[5] See e.g., R. Yekutiel Yehudah Greenwald, Mekorot le-Korot Yisrael (n.p., 1934), p. 48.
[6] See e.g., Nahum Rakover, Zekhut ha-Yotzrim bi-Mekorot ha-Yehudi’im (Jerusalem, 1991), pp. 38ff.
[7] Otzrot ha-Sofer 14 (5764), p. 91:

.זה אני מוחל לכם אם אתם אומרים חידושיי בשמכם, אבל אם אתם אומרים חידושים שלכם בשמי זה אינני מוחל לכם

For a communal rabbi, who was expected to prepare his own derashot, it was unacceptable to inform his listeners that he was using material from others. However, R. Asher Anshel Yehudah Miller, Olamo shel Abba (Jerusalem, 1984), p. 187, reported one tongue-in-cheek justification of this practice if due to circumstances beyond his control the rabbi was unable to properly prepare for his Shabbat ha-Gadol derashah. Since the Talmud, Pesahim 6a, states שואלין ודורשין בהלכות פסח, one can derive from this that מותר "לשאול" מאחרים בשעת הדחק ולדרוש בהלכות פסח
[8] I mention geneivat da’at, yet according to some one who plagiarizes actually violates the prohibition against actual geneivah. See R. Yaakov Avraham Cohen, Emek ha-Mishpat, vol. 4, nos. 2, 24; R. Yaakov Hayyim Sofer, Hadar Yaakov, vol. 5, no. 38. R. Isaiah Horowitz, Shenei Luhot ha-BeritMasekhet Shevuot, no. 71, writes about plagiarism:  יותר גזילה מגזילת ממון

R. Eleazar Kalir states that the plagiarizer violates a positive commandment. See Havot Yair (Vilna, 1912; printed as the second part of the Malbim’s Eretz Hemdah), p. 26a:

ואומרים חידושי תורה מה שלא עמלו בו רק מפי השמועה שמעו ואומרים משמיה דנפשם ועוברים על עשה . . . שכך אמרו כל האומר דבר בשם אומרו מביא גאולה לעולם

See also the very harsh comments of R. Joseph Hayyim David Azulai in his Berit Olam to Sefer Hasidim, no. 224, which should be enough to scare away at least some of the plagiarizers:

אם כותב ספר וגנב תורת אחרים . . . בחצי ימיו יעזבנו ואחריתו יבא בגלגול אחר ויהיה נבל ויהיה מזולזל כי נבל הוא ונבלה עמו. רחמנא ליצלן

[9] Robert Klein called my attention to the final part of R. Solomon Ephraim Luntshitz’s introduction to his Keli Yekar, where he suspects that some of the commentators who preceded him were guilty of plagiarism. See also his Olelot Ephraim, at the end of the introduction, where he claims that all the plagiarisms are delaying the arrival of the Messiah. He plays on the verse עשות ספרים הרבה אין קץ  and explains that since so many new books are full of plagiarisms, עשיית ספרים הרבה גורם איחור קץ הימים.

R. Solomon Alkabetz, Manot ha-Levi (Lvov, 1911), p. 91b, also refers to the plagiarizers of his day. I called attention to R. Eliyahu Schlesinger’s plagiarism in my review of Avi Sagi’s and Zvi Zohar’s book on conversion, available here. See p. 9 n. 29. See also my post from June 25, 2010, available here, where I cite another case of plagiarism from Schlesinger. I found these examples by chance, and I am sure that if I were to carefully examine the latter’s writings I would come up with more. Yet there doesn’t seem to be much point in doing so, since in the haredi world there simply is no accountability in matters like this.

A number of scholars have discussed plagiarism with regard to Abarbanel, and I hope to return to this. For now, let me just note the following. In his introduction to Trei Asar, p. 13, Abarbanel explicitly denies that he plagiarized, while at the same time accusing R. David Kimhi of doing so.

שהמובחרים והטובים מהפירושים שזכר רבי דוד קמחי מדבר [!] הראב"ע לקחה [!], עם היות שלא זכרם בשמו ואני איחס כל דבר לאומרו פן אהיה ממגנבי דברים

At the end of his commentary to Amos, he repeats the accusation:

ומה שפירש עוד בהלא כבני כושיים בשם אביו הנה הוא לקוח מדברי הרב רבי אברהם בן עזרא ומה לו לגנוב דברים

See R. Dovberish Tursch, Moznei Tzedek (Warsaw, 1905), p. 195; Abraham Lipshitz, Pirkei Iyun be-Mishnat Rabbi Avraham Ibn Ezra (Jerusalem, 1982), p. 131.
[10] It is hard to take this explanation seriously. Talking during the repetition of the Amidah has always been common, yet rather than omit mention of this matter, the Shulhan ArukhOrah Hayyim 124:6, writes:

לא ישיח שיחת חולין בשעה שש"צ חוזר התפלה ואם שח הוא חוטא וגדול עונו מנשוא וגוערים בו

R. Zvi Yehudah Kook reported that his grandfather, R. Shlomo Zalman Kook, once strongly rebuked someone for talking during the repetition of the Amidah. When it was pointed out to him that דברי חכמים בנחת נשמעים, he replied that the Shulhan Arukh uses the word גוערים and that does not mean a gentle suggestion but a sharp rebuke. See R. Yair Uriel, Be-Shipulei ha-Gelimah (n.p., 2012), p. 32. (The story immediately following this one is also of interest. It records that R. Zvi Yehudah opposed the common practice [at least in America] of singing אשמנו בגדנו:

יש לומר את הדברים ברצינות, בצער ובכאב, ולא מתאימה לזה שירה 

It seems that R. Abraham Isaac Kook followed in the path of his father. See ibid., pp. 58-59, for the famous story of how R. Kook, while rav in Bausk, once slapped a “macher” in the face when he insulted R. Zelig Reuven Bengis. (The story is told in great detail in R. Moshe Zvi Neriyah, Sihot ha-Re’iyah [Tel Aviv, 1979], ch. 22.) R. Kook later explained that he did not slap the man in a fit of anger, but was of completely sound mind and did it in order to follow the Sages’ prescription of how to respond to one who degrades a Torah scholar:

"וכך אמר: "דינא הכי, מי ששומע זילותא של צורבא מרבנן צריך למחות

All I would say is that one must be careful with who one slaps. R. Yekutiel Yehudah Greenwald, Li-Felagot Yisrael be-Ungaryah (Deva, 1929), p. 25, records a story from mid-eighteenth-century Hungary where in the synagogue and in front of the congregation the head of the community slapped the rabbi in the face. This was the last straw for the rabbi (who was really a phony), and he, his wife, and children converted to Christianity.

R. Naphtali Zvi Judah Berlin would occasionally slap a student in the face. On one occasion it even led to a noisy protest by the students. Because the students refused to back down, the Netziv unable able to deliver his shiur. This led to him making a public apology to the students, which they happily accepted. See M. Eisenstadt, “Revolutzyah bi-‘Yeshivah,’” Ha-Tzefirah, June 2, 1916, pp. 1-2 (referred to by Shaul Stampfer, Lithuanian Yeshivas of the Ninteenth Century [Oxford, 2012], p. 113).

Since we are on the subject of slapping in the face, and since I mentioned R. Yitzhak Zilberstein in my last post, here is something else from his Hashukei Hemed on Bava Kamma, pp. 492-493.

 

I think it is quite interesting that he takes it as a given that policemen in Israel will beat thieves until they confess. Is there any truth to this at all? He himself thinks it is good that thieves be given a good slap in the face.

There are many more examples I could cite of people being slapped in the face, including by rabbis. One thing that is clear is that face-slapping has gone out of style.. It is like fainting, which was common in old movies. But when was the last time you saw a woman faint? It just doesn’t happen anymore.

Returning to R. Bengis, it is noteworthy that he and R. Kook were great friends from their days in Volozhin.  See the booklet Or Reuven (Jerusalem, 2011), which is devoted to their relationship R. Bengis’ letters to R. Kook in Iggerot la-Rei’yah show that he regarded R. Kook as rav of Jerusalem and chief rabbi of the Land of Israel. Only after R. Kook’s death did R. Bengis become Rosh Av Beit Din of the Edah Haredit in Jerusalem. His life-long admiration for R. Kook, even in his new position with the Edah Haredit, is, of course, not usually mentioned in haredi discussions of him. Since in the past I have criticized Yeshurun for its conscious distortions (all in the service of the haredi cause), let me now praise it for including the following in vol. 12 (2003), p. 156 n. 35.


Rabbi Nathan Kamenetsky, Making of a Godol, pp. 305-306, reports in the name of R. Yosef Buxbaum that R. Bengis knew the poetry of Pushkin. (He also quotes a report that R. Bengis did not know Russian and when tested by a government official to ensure that secular studies were being taught in Volozhin, he just repeated the page of Pushkin from memory which he had prepared ahead of time by having another student read it for him. This strikes me as an apologetic attempt to “kasher” R. Bengis, as followers of the Edah Haredit will not take kindly to the knowledge that R. Bengis knew Russian poetry.)

For a recent discussion of R. Bengis and his brother, who went by the name of “Ben Da’at”, see here.

According to an unpublished collection of Brisker stories in my possession, R. Velvel Soloveitchik said about R. Bengis that just because one is a great talmid hakham does not mean that he is also a leader. Perhaps R. Velvel had this view of R. Bengis because the latter’s extremist credentials left something to be desired.
[11] Marvin J. Heller, Studies in the Making of the Early Hebrew Book (Leiden and Boston, 2008), p. 204, writes as follows about R. David Lida: “I would suggest, and this is highly speculative and certainly not a justification, that Lida’s acts of literary piracy were youthful improprieties, albeit of a most serious nature. A young man, inexperienced, perhaps immature, from whom much was expected, hoping to impress others and to further a burgeoning career, erred and claimed authorship of works he had not written, but rather discovered in manuscript.”
[12] The following example, with some of the explanations I give, is found here.
[13] This too was noted here.
[14] In a comment to my last post, someone wrote:
"The part about Anshei Keneset ha-Gedolah requiring the Amidah to be recited twice a day and that women are also obligated in this is not from Nahmanides. This is the Mishnah Berurah speaking.”
Actually, these are the words of the Shulchan Aruch HaRav (או"ח קו,ב), quoted here verbatim.
This practice of the MB citing whole paragraphs from the SAH - without attributing the author - is common throughout the his work, in leads many times to run-on sentences and disambiguation such as the one at hand.
[15] See also the online discussion here.
[16] “Ha-Sinonomyah bi-Leshon ha-Mikra al Pi Shitat Malbim,” (unpublished doctoral dissertation, Bar Ilan University, 2009).
[17] See here where I mention how R. Yosef Reinman also didn’t know anything about Ibn Ezra’s “critical” views. In the post I also discuss the controversy regarding Reinman co-authoring a book with a Reform rabbi. In the introduction to his Avir Yosef (Lakewood, 2008), Reinman defends himself.

Monday, July 01, 2013

ביקורת ספרים: מסורת התורה שבעל פה, הרב פרופ' שלמה זלמן הבלין


ביקורת ספרים: מסורת התורה שבעל פה, הרב פרופ' שלמה זלמן הבלין

מאת: רב צעיר


הספר "מסורת התורה שבעל פה – יסודותיה, עקרונותיה והגדרותיה" שהוציא לאור לפני כשנה הרב פרופ' שלמה זלמן הבלין, בהוצאת מכללת אורות-ישראל, עוסק בהיבטים שונים של אחד הנושאים שמעסיקים ביותר את חיי היהודי המאמין, התורה שבעל פה. הספר מכיל חמישה עשר פרקים, חמשה מתוכם רואים אור לראשונה בספר זה, והעשרה הנותרים ראו אור בכתבי עת שונים במהלך השנים. בתור לקט כזה, הספר אינו אחיד. ישנם פרקים הכתובים בצורה אינציקלופדית (כך למשל פרק י"א שהוא למעשה הערך "תלמוד בבלי" מהאנציקלופדיה העברית), וישנם פרקים המכילים חידושים מפליגים. ישנם פרקים בעלי אופי יותר בית-מדרשי, ישנם בעלי אופי יותר עממי, וישנם בעלי אופי מאד אקדמאי. ישנם פרקים עם ריבוי הפניות והערות שוליים וישנם עם מעט מאד.
ככלל, המחבר משתדל לעסוק בכל מה שקשור להגדרת ולהבנת מהותה של התורה שבעל פה. אני מניח שכל מי שנושא התורה שבעל פה מעסיק אותו, בין אם זה בעל-בית שלומד דף יומי, או אברך שלומד בכולל או חוקר תלמוד באוניברסיטה, ימצא בספר זה דברים מרתקים.
עוד חידוש שישנו בספר זה הוא שמצורף אליו תקליטור ובו כל הספר, זאת על מנת להקל על הלומד לחפש בספר וכדי לחסוך את הצורך בהכנת מפתח מפורט לספר. הספר הוא באורך כ600 עמודים ברוטו ונטו, כאמור, ללא מפתח וללא ביבליוגרפיה.
אני מבקש להתייחס ולסקור שני נושאים משני פרקים מתוך הספר שאני מצאתי בהם חידוש.
בפרק ד' בספר, תחת הכותרת "להבנת יסודות דרכי הלימוד של חז"ל", עוסק המחבר במדרש הידוע בתלמוד הבבלי מסכת מנחות (דף כט עמוד ב):
"אמר רב יהודה אמר רב: בשעה שעלה משה למרום, מצאו להקב"ה שיושב וקושר כתרים לאותיות, אמר לפניו: רבש"ע, מי מעכב על ידך? אמר לו: אדם אחד יש שעתיד להיות בסוף כמה דורות ועקיבא בן יוסף שמו, שעתיד לדרוש על כל קוץ וקוץ תילין תילין של הלכות."
המחבר מעיר על כל שינויי הנוסח שישנם על טקסט סיפורי זה על פי כתבי יד, דפוסים ישנים וראשונים, לאחר מכן הוא נדרש לתוכן הסיפור:
-          מה פירוש "קושר כתרים לאותיות"?
-          מה פירוש "על כל קוץ וקוץ"?
-          היכן הם אותם "תילין תילין של הלכות"? הייתכן וכולם נאבדו מאיתנו?
לאחרונה שמעתי בשיעור ברשת את הרב הרשל שכטר מסביר שהפשט במימרא זו זה שרבי עקיבא היה עוצר אחרי כל נקודה ונקודה בספר התורה ודורש הלכות. כלומר, ההלכות לא נדרשו מהתגים או הקוצים, אלא שהקוצים באים לבטא שלאחר כל אות שרבי עקיבא היה עובר, לומד ומלמד הוא היה דורש. עוד הוסיף הרב שכטר שהדרשנים אומרים שעל כל ניסיון לפגיעה במסורת היהודית (כל קוץ וקוץ) יש להוסיף עוד ועוד הלכות כדי לגדור את גדרה.
כשמספרים סיפור זה לילדים מתארים להם שהקב"ה, בסיפור, מוסיף את התגין לאותיות שעטנ"ז ג"ץ, ואולי גם את קוצו של יו"ד. אך מעיר הרב הבלין בצדק שלא מצינו בשום מקום בחז"ל שהתגין המוכרים לנו מכונים "קוצים". גם לא מצינו שהם נקראים "כתרים". לא רק זה, אלא שגם לא מצינו שחז"ל קוראים להם "תגים", כפי שהם מכונים בלשונינו, כך שגם אם נרצה לטעון שתגים הרי הם כתרים (כבלשון המשנה "דאשתמש בתגא חלף"), לא מצינו את המינוח תגים בלשון חז"ל כמשמש לקישוטי האותיות, כפי שאנו מכנים אותם. 
לעומת זאת, מראה המחבר, שחז"ל קוראים "תגים" לחלקי האותיות עצמם. כך מצאנו בגמרא בשבת (קד ע"ב):
"כגון שנטלו לתגו של דל"ת ועשאו רי"ש"
וכבר הזכרנו גם את "קוצו של יוד", חלק מהגוף האות יו"ד.
המחבר הולך עוד צעד בחידושו ואת הביטוי "קושר כתרים" מפרש המחבר בתור "ממליך", הקב"ה "ממליך" את האותיות, מעניק חשיבות לכל אחת ואחת מהן. וכך מסביר הקב"ה למשה שעתיד לקום רבי עקיבא והוא ידרוש כל קוץ וקוץ, זאת אומרת יחפש משמעות לכל אות ואות. רבי עקיבא, בניגוד לשיטת רבי ישמעאל שסבר שדברה תורה כלשון בני אדם, ראה צורך לדייק ולדרוש כל אות ואות, כפי שאנו מוצאים בגמרא במסכת סנהדרין (דף נא עמוד ב):
"אמר ליה רבי עקיבא: ישמעאל אחי (ויקרא כ"א) בת ובת אני דורש. - אמר ליה: וכי מפני שאתה דורש בת ובת נוציא זו לשריפה?"
המחבר מבסס את דבריו ומביא להם סימוכין ממחברים שונים ואף ממשיך ומבאר את המשך המדרש לאור דברים אלו.
בפרק ו', הרואה אור לראשונה בספר זה, תחת הכותרת "דרשת חז"ל על 'לא תסור ... ימין ושמאל'", דן המחבר בסתירה בין מדרשי הלכה.
הספרי על הפסוק "לא תסור מן הדבר אשר יגידו לך ימין ושמאל" (דברים יז יא), המובא גם ברש"י שם, כותב:
"על פי התורה אשר יורוך, על דברי תורה חייבים מיתה ואין חייבים מיתה על דברי סופרים. ועל המשפט אשר יאמרו לך תעשה, מצות עשה. לא תסור מן התורה אשר יגידו לך, מצות לא תעשה, ימין ושמאל, אפילו מראים בעיניך על ימין שהוא שמאל ועל שמאל שהוא ימין שמע להם סליק פיסקא"
בתלמוד הירושלמי (מסכת הוריות פרק א), לעומת זאת, מופיע דרשה הפוכה לחלוטין:
"יכול אם יאמרו לך על ימין שהיא שמאל ועל שמאל שהיא ימין תשמע להם ת"ל ללכת ימין ושמאל שיאמרו לך על ימין שהוא ימין ועל שמאל שהיא שמאל."
המחבר מקשה ששתי הדרשות אינן מובנות: וכי המדרש בספרי אינו מקבל את זה שייתכן ובית הדין טועה? וכי הגמרא בירושלמי מעוניין שכל אחד יחליט לעצמו מתי לשמוע לבית הדין ומתי לא?
לכן, מנסה המחבר לפשר בין שני המדרשים. לצורך זה מביא המחבר 8 (!) דרכים, ממחברים שונים, כיצד ניתן לפשר בין שני המדרשים. לאחר מכן מציע המחבר אפשרות תשיעית, משלו.
לדבריו, הדרך לפשר בין שני המדרשים מונח במילה אחת הנראית לא במקומה בדברי הירושלמי. המילה "ללכת". מילה זו, אינה מופיעה בפסוק שאותו לכאורה דורשים: "לא תסור מן הדבר אשר יגידו לך ימין ושמאל", אך כן מופיעה משום מה בדברי הירושלמי: "ת"ל ללכת ימין ושמאל". לכן מסיק המחבר, שהירושלמי בכלל דורש פסוק אחר מספר דברים (כח יד):
"ולא תסור מכל הדברים אשר אנכי מצוה אתכם היום ימין ושמאל ללכת אחרי אלהים אחרים לעבדם"
כלומר, הספרי מדבר על הוראות חכמים "הדבר אשר יגידו לך", ואלו הירושלמי עוסק בפסוק המדבר אודות ציווי הקב"ה בתורה "אשר אנכי מצוה אתכם". על הראשון אומרת הספרי שגם אם בית הדין טעה בהוראתו חייבים לשמוע לו. אך הירושלמי מסייג זאת, שזהו כל עוד בית הדין לא הורו לעבור על דבר המפורש בתורה, כי על דבר המפורש בתורה יש לשמוע לבית הדין רק אם יאמרו על ימין שהוא ימין ועל שמאל שהוא שמאל.
לא ניתן, לדעתי, לומר שפתרון זה של המחבר חף מדוחק, שהרי גם בפסוק בפרק כח לא נאמר "ללכת ימין ושמאל", אלא "ימין ושמאל ללכת וכו'", אך הכיוון הוא בהחלט מחודש ומרענן.
יש עוד הרבה פרטים ודיונים בספר עב כרס זה. נזכיר רק עוד דיון אחד שמצאתי בו עניין מיוחד. בנספח לפרק ח' "היחס לשאלות נוסח בספרי חז"ל", מנתח המחבר את מעמד הבחינה המתואר בספרו של חיים פוטוק "ההבטחה" (The Promise). לדבריו, מעמד הבחינה של גיבור הספר, המתואר שם, הוא למעשה תיאור בחינה בישיבה-אוניברסיטה בניו-יורק בפני הרב יוסף דב סולובייצ'יק, הרב ירוחם גורעליק וד"ר שמואל בלקין. בחן רב, המחבר מגלה לנו לאיזה סוגיא רומז חיים פוטוק והוא מנתח ומבקר את התשובות שענה הנבחן.
יותר ממה שכתבתי בפניכם יש בספר זה. אוהבי ספר ומחקר תלמודי בודאי ימצאו בו דברים אהובים.

*ברצוני להודות לרב ד"ר משה רחימי שהמציא לי את הספר ולמו"ח פרופ' דניאל י. לסקר שעבר על דברי. 

Print post

You might also like

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...