Friday, January 09, 2009

How the Zohar mentions Yishtabach and uses the expression Ta Chazei

So while scouring the Zohar parshat Vayakhel the other day in search of the Zohar which misused the term "parsha" to mean sidra, I chanced across an interesting one which mentions Pesukei deZimra (קנב) and then one which mentions Yishtabach (קנג).

Now, the gemara does discuss saying Hallel every day, which is interpreted to mean Pesukei deZimra, but it had the status of a reshut. But then, what seems to be post-Talmudically, they established it as part of davening, and put a blessing beforehand (Baruch sheAmar) and after it (Yishtabach). As no Mishna or gemara mentions these blessings, and they seem to surface in the time of the Geonim, it is "weird" for this purportedly Tannaitic source to discuss Yishtabach. Of course, by the time of Rav Moshe de Leon, Yishtabach was already firmly in place. (On the other hand, if the Zohar is indeed entirely an early source, it undermines the argument in my linked-to post. But there are other features of that post that make me believe it to be true.)

Another interesting feature I noticed while skimming through Zohar was the repeated use of תא חזי to introduce statements. Now, this is the Yerushalmi equivalent of תא שמע. (Ta chamei, with a mem, is equivalent.) And it is indeed used over and over again to introduce some brayta, and thus a Tannaitic source. The problem is that in Bavli and Yerushalmi, these are used only in answering a question. Thus, a question is posed by an Amora or by the gemara itself, and various braytot are mustered in support of one side or the other, introduced with ta shema. Yet the way the Zohar is using it is "weird" - just as an introduction of purportedly Tannaitic statements. I know Rashbi was much earlier than the gemara, such that this might be a change in usage with the passage of time, but this does not seem so convincing to me.

Is there any convincing explanation of this phenomenon? Has anyone addressed it?


Anonymous said...

"Is there any convincing explanation of this phenomenon? Has anyone addressed it?"

Are you kidding? Being sarcastic? Being a concern troll?

You are strange.

joshwaxman said...

thank you.

*has* anyone addressed this particular point of the language of ta chazei, and attempted to explain it? If so, is it as I suggested they would explain it? I have *not* read all the back and forth literature in detail. Perhaps you can point out where it is discussed. (I know broadly of certain linguistic concerns, and some particulars.)

Also, I would prefer (as you may see in the note) that people not Anonymously comment snarkily here. Please pick a pseudonym and still to it. (Even though your "strange" comment is almost like a sig.)


Rabbi Joshua Maroof said...

It is not inconceivable that Baruch Sheamar and Yishtabah date from the Talmudic Era. If memory serves, don't several sources state that the Hazal received the text of Baruch She-amar min hashamayim in a miraculous way? This doesn't undercut the premise of a late date for the Zohar, I am just making an observation.

joshwaxman said...

i don't know. here is the discussion of that basis:

That is, even the miraculous note-getting, if taken at its word, is not necessarily referring to the Anshei Knesset haGedolah.

AFAIK, Rav Moshe Gaon is the earliest known source for Baruch sheAmar, but he treats it as existing text, leading some scholars to treat it as Savoraic.

still, the simple reading of the Mishna and gemara leads one (at least me) to regard psukei deZimra as optional, which would then be less likely to attract before and after brachot. and there is no mention of these brachot as established, in the gemara, while we do hear of the blessings of Shema. I know absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, but shouldn't we expect to see some discussion of it. E.g. whether one may be mafsik in between baruch sheAmar and Yishtabach.

Unless there is a separate reference to Yishtabach, somehow earlier than Baruch sheAmar?


pc said...

Some thoughts..

- According to a mekubal I once spoke with - ta chazei (come and see) is used instead of ta shema (come and hear) becuase the hasagos of the zohar are all penimius - inner perception - they do not relate to a description of external artefacts or rules. You have to prepare yourself to see them and cannot hear them.

- kabbalat shabbat and lechah dodi were composed and initially only said by mekubalim - maybe the same for baruch she'amar and yishtabach. It was said by a small group and then found it's way into mainstream tefillah?

pc :-)

pc said...

Ta chazei becuase the yediot of the zohar are penimiut and have to be seen

Kabbalat shabbat and shir ha'yichud started with the mekubalim and then became mainstream.

pc :-)

pc said...

Hi Josh,

Ta chazei - come and see - is used in the Zohar instead of ta shema - come and hear - becuase the concepts presented are inner knowledge and do not relate to extenal artefacts.

Lechah dodi also started with the mukablim and then became integrated into mainstream prayer service.

pc :-)

joshwaxman said...

so why does yerushalmi, which is nigleh, make use of the term?

pc said...

Although the Talmudim uses the expression a certain way doesn't mean that that's the only way it is ever used. Every author has his own style.

Maybe ta chazi itself is not kabbalistic insomuch as the usage of the term even not in answer to a question.

pc :-)

joshwaxman said...

"Although the Talmudim uses the expression a certain way doesn't mean that that's the only way it is ever used. Every author has his own style."

true enough. but chazal is chazal, who are purportedly the author. and known things from tanaim, and amoraim, don't match. one *could* posit all sorts of stylistic answers.

but my guess is that it is, instead, the most straightforward, and results in the same conclusion that many other investigations have arrived at. namely: the Zohar was a late forgery, by somewhat who was not a master of Aramaic. that is why it misuses several terms, such as parsha, tapuach, accidentally using halvaah (lending) for levaya, and makes an error in the word mechilan. The author tried to make use to Aramaic, and Talmudic-sounding words and phrases, but misuses them embarrassingly.

Look at people who make Purim masechtot who don't know Talmudic Aramaic well, even those who learn gemara regularly, and you will spot such irregularities and embarrassing errors.

My guess is that Rav Moshe de Leon used Ta Chamei to give it the "flavor" of Chazal, so as to make the forgery more convincing. But by misusing the phrase, he betrayed the Zohar's true origins.

kol tuv,


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