Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Post-yerushalmi shiur retrospective #1

I think the first yerushalmi shiur went well. I started with some show-and-tell of some editions of Yerushalmi I like (from Rav Kanievsky, and the Yedid Nefesh Yerushalmi from Rabbi Bar-Lev), talking a bit about the importance of having tzurat hadaf as well as having easy access to the various textual corrections.

I discussed how and perhaps why Yerushalmi is shorter and simpler than the Bavli.

(Also, in response to a question of what to do when Bavli argues with Yerushalmi, I brought up the Rif's explanation of why we should side like the Bavli. Why then learn Yerushalmi? Well, even with the Rif, Yerushalmi gives stereo vision. It can help us understand what is going on in the Bavli, ambiguous statements. We can see how other Amoraim dealt with the Tanaaitic sources. etc.)

I tried to cover the material in this post - and reached until the end of the Nedarim and Nazir material. This was essentially a bit of Aramaic grammar, and some dialectal differences between Babylonian and Galilean Aramaic. This led into the Nedarim, Nazir material, which is the subject of a post titled "Did a dialectal difference between Babylonian and Galilean Aramaic lead to a mistaken psak?" (Yechezkel Kutscher claims it did - I come to the conclusion that it did not.)

Afterwards, I mentioned the idea of ha'avara - a sugya which originates in one gemara and is carried over to another, sometimes with differences, and sometimes such that you must figure out what is part of the local sugya and what was carried over. To illustrate this, I first cited this gemara:

nazir 1a
דף א, א פרק א הלכה א גמרא
כתיב (במדבר ל) איש כי ידור נדר
מה תלמוד לומר נדר
אלא מיכן שכינויי נדרים כנדרים
(שם) או השבע
מה תלמוד לומר שבועה
אלא מיכן שכינוי שבועה כשבועה
גר"ש ראש"ה דנדרי"ם קדמית"א ע"ד דמט"י אשכח

The last line reads "it {the text of the gemara} is written in the beginning of the first perek of Nedarim until you reach {the word} Ashkach." Each word is marked with a quotation mark to make sure the reader knows this is not in fact the text of the gemara, but rather a scribe or printer who did not want to go to the trouble of copying the text again in Nazir, since after all the identical text may be found in the beginning of Nedarim. If you want to know what it says, look there! Thus, here the scribe was aware of the ha'avara and took advantage of it.

The second example, just to show the importance of comparative sugyology in instances of ha'avara is:

nazir 1b - importance of comparative sugyology

אמר ר' יוסי נראין דברים במקומות אחרים אבל במקום שקוראין לנזיר נזיק אנו אומרים נזיר פסילים אינו נזיר

The same text sugya occurs in Nedarim, except with slighly different language. In Nedarim, the text of the sugya teaches that using nicknames for Nedarim and Nazir is effective even in places where these nicknames are not in use, because for the Mishna to teach that they are effective in places where they are in use would be unneccessary - of course it would be good. Because, so would I say (=ask): would an attempt to become a Nazir from someone with a speech impediment (Greek psilos) not be good? {Of course it would be good.} In Nedarim, this is the explanation given by the two standard commentaries, the Korban HaEdah and the Penei Moshe.

In Nazir, we see the same girsa, more or less. The Penei Moshe gives no explanation on location, but says to look at his explanation in Nedarim. The Korban HaEda, though, is inconsistent, and offers a different explanation. Probably because of the slight difficulty inherent in reading the last portion as a question, and the strangeness of the greek word, he gives a different girsa. He changes the text to be:

אמר ר' יוסי נראין דברים במקום שקוראין לנזיר נזיק אבל במקומות אחרים אנו אומרים נזיר פסילים אינו נזיר

Thus, the Mishna only speaks about places where they have this specific dialect, but for other locations, we will assume it is a mocking, non-real language, and he is not a nazir.

Thus, with a slight change to the girsa, you have an entirely different conclusion. Locally, this is the only explanation you get because the Penei Moshe refers you elsewhere to see what he has to say. In the Yedid Nefesh Yerushalmi, he offers the emended text, and I did a double-take because I had learned the Nedarim gemara about two weeks earlier, and very similar words led to a completely different conclusion. That is why it is important to look at the tzurat hadaf, as well as the commentaries, and also to cover a lot of ground so you can recognize a duplicated sugya when you encounter it. Also, when Penei Moshe tells you to look at X, it may be worthwhile to check it out. {In this instance, I am convinced that the Nedarim explanation, which requires no emendation of the text, is the correct one.}

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