Monday, February 04, 2008

The Age of Trup -- part xx

Shadal's Vikuach al Chochmat haKabbalah continues. In the previous segment, the guest mentioned that various doubts that Chazal had in parsing demonstrate that Chazal did not have cantillation symbols. In this segment, the author objects with some doubts Chazal had which were clearly orthographic. The guest replies that this a specific type of doubt which arises from scribes placing words too close together, or letters too far apart. This, he claims, is the cause for the final letters manatzpach, and he gives examples of such errors in word division. Then, he turns to places where the Chachmei Teveria give nikkud or trup at odds with what Chazal have in the gemara, and claims this is because the Chachmei Teveria felt that this was subject to error, and felt free to propose their own:

The author: When it comes down to it, do you not see (in Pesachim 117) that they were divided about Halleluyah and kesyah, and Yedidyah and Merchavyah, if they were a single word of two; and is this not something dependent upon the writing? And even so they were divided! If so, there is no escape from admitting that the sefarim were mangled by them.

The guest: Chalila to say so, that the sefarim developed errors. Rather, without the sefarim being spoiled, it is easy for a scribe to bring close or bring distant a single letter from her fellow, until it is not distinguishable if it is a single word or two; which therefore, according to my opinion, the tzofim {=prophets} needed to establish menatzpach {=the final letters, mem nun tzaddi peh chaf sofit}, so that it would be recognizable that the place was one of the end of a word -- for they saw that the scribes were not careful with distancing a one word from another, or with keeping the letters of a single word close, one to the other, as was fitting (*).

(*) From this also came about that which is written in Hoshea 6:5:
ה עַל-כֵּן, חָצַבְתִּי בַּנְּבִיאִים--הֲרַגְתִּים, בְּאִמְרֵי-פִי; וּמִשְׁפָּטֶיךָ, אוֹר יֵצֵא. 5 Therefore have I hewed them by the prophets, I have slain them by the words of My mouth; and thy judgment goeth forth as the light.
וּמִשְׁפָּטֶיךָ אוֹר יֵצֵא instead of umishpatay kaOr yetzei {as per the JPS translation, and as they translate in Targum Yonatan, in the Greek translation {LXX=the Septuagint}, and the Syriac translation {=the Peshitta}.

{Note: Judaica Press follows Rashi's explanation of it as a question, based on the word division we do have, and translates "now will your verdicts come out to the light?"}

And also that which is written in Micha 7:4:

ד טוֹבָם כְּחֵדֶק, יָשָׁר מִמְּסוּכָה; יוֹם מְצַפֶּיךָ פְּקֻדָּתְךָ בָאָה, עַתָּה תִהְיֶה מְבוּכָתָם. 4 The best of them is as a brier; the most upright is worse than a thorn hedge; the day of thy watchmen, even thy visitation, is come; now shall be their perplexity.
טוֹבָם כְּחֵדֶק יָשָׁר מִמְּסוּכָה is only an error; and it is fitting to read yesharam, "the most upright of them is as a mesucha {thorn hedge}", just as טוֹבָם כְּחֵדֶק.

{Both JPS and Judaica Press write the word "than," thus considering the first mem of mimesucha to be part of the word, and write "the most upright" rather than "their most upright."}

However, besides this, and besides for the plene and deficient spellings, there was not found a dispute in Israel in the matter of the writing of the Holy Books.

And besides all of this, if Ezra instituted the nikkud {orthography}, behold all that Chazal said in the matter of the vowels and the trup without dispute, there is no doubt that such was written in their sefarim from the days of Ezra, and that no error or mangling fell into their sefarim at all; and if so, when the Chachmei Teveria came afterwards, how did they send forth their hands to change also that which was accepted by our Sages?

Do you not see that in Kiddushin 30, they say: The Sages learnt {in a brayta}: 5,888 pesukim is how a sefer Torah is divided into pesukim. And with all this, the Sages of Teveria only placed in the Torah 5,845. Behold they are missing 43 from what our Sages said. And are Sages stated this plainly, without dispute amongst them.

And so our Sages say (Shabbat 30b): And what is meant that it {Kohelet} is internally contradictory? It is written {Kohelet 7:3}
ג טוֹב כַּעַס, מִשְּׂחוֹק: כִּי-בְרֹעַ פָּנִים, יִיטַב לֵב. 3 Vexation is better than laughter; for by the sadness of the countenance the heart may be gladdened.
and it is written {Kohelet 2:2}:
ב לִשְׂחוֹק, אָמַרְתִּי מְהוֹלָל; וּלְשִׂמְחָה, מַה-זֹּה עֹשָׂה. 2 I said of laughter: 'It is mad'; and of mirth: 'What doth it accomplish?'
Thus, they read it mehulal {that it is praiseworthy, and so is clear from reading the resolution given in the gemara}, and the Sages of Teveria paid no heed to their words, and they put the nikkud as meholal.

And so too in Pesachim (31), and in other places, it would seem that they read {in Bemidbar 5:7} וְנָתַן לַאֲשֶׁר אָשָׁם לוֹ with a kametz under the shin, such that they made it a noun, "to he to whom the guilt is," and the Sages of Teveria made it a verb.

{putting a patach under the shin:
ז וְהִתְוַדּוּ, אֶת-חַטָּאתָם אֲשֶׁר עָשׂוּ, וְהֵשִׁיב אֶת-אֲשָׁמוֹ בְּרֹאשׁוֹ, וַחֲמִישִׁתוֹ יֹסֵף עָלָיו; וְנָתַן, לַאֲשֶׁר אָשַׁם לוֹ. 7 then they shall confess their sin which they have done; and he shall make restitution for his guilt in full, and add unto it the fifth part thereof, and give it unto him in respect of whom he hath been guilty.

And so too upon {Shemot 30:23, in Ki Tisa}:
כג וְאַתָּה קַח-לְךָ, בְּשָׂמִים רֹאשׁ, מָר-דְּרוֹר חֲמֵשׁ מֵאוֹת, וְקִנְּמָן-בֶּשֶׂם מַחֲצִיתוֹ חֲמִשִּׁים וּמָאתָיִם; וּקְנֵה-בֹשֶׂם, חֲמִשִּׁים וּמָאתָיִם. 23 'Take thou also unto thee the chief spices, of flowing myrrh five hundred shekels, and of sweet cinnamon half so much, even two hundred and fifty, and of sweet calamus two hundred and fifty,
they said (Nedarim 10 and Keritut 5) that half of its bringing shall be 250, and the Sages of Teveria placed the trup in such a way that its implication is that the cinnamon's measure should be half the measure of the flowing myrrh, that is to say 250, which is half of 500, as is explained in Netivot haShalom.

Behold that there is no doubt that the Sages of Teveriah did not believe that the reading which was to our Rabbis, of blessed memory, was in their hands in written form from Ezra, for if so, they would not have argued upon it in a place where there was not to Razal any dispute in it {J: unless they did so from ignorance, or felt they could argue on Ezra and Chazal}; However, the believed, and they know, just as is the truth, that the reading did not reach out Sages except Orally, and because of this, it was possible that it was corrupted over a length of time. Therefore, they did not heed it in every place that it appeared to them that it did not rest well, according to the simple meaning of the Scriptures.

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