Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Should It Be *Rov* HaHodaot or *Kel* HaHodaot?

I'm going to start by asking a bunch of vicious questions of the gemara, in order to break it down, in order to be able to build it up again. As we say in the beginning of Yirmiyahu:
ט וַיִּשְׁלַח יְהוָה אֶת-יָדוֹ, וַיַּגַּע עַל-פִּי; וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֵלַי, הִנֵּה נָתַתִּי דְבָרַי בְּפִיךָ. 9 Then the LORD put forth His hand, and touched my mouth; and the LORD said unto me: Behold, I have put My words in thy mouth;
י רְאֵה הִפְקַדְתִּיךָ הַיּוֹם הַזֶּה, עַל-הַגּוֹיִם וְעַל-הַמַּמְלָכוֹת, לִנְתוֹשׁ וְלִנְתוֹץ, וּלְהַאֲבִיד וְלַהֲרוֹס--לִבְנוֹת, וְלִנְטוֹעַ. {פ} 10 See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out and to pull down, and to destroy and to overthrow; to build, and to plant.
I - Girsaot of the Gemara

The gemara in question is as regards the closing of the blessing on rain.
Berachot 59b, also Taanit 6b-7a:
מה מברכים?
אמר רב יהודה: מודים אנחנו לך על כל טפה וטפה שהורדת לנו,
ורבי יוחנן מסיים בה הכי: אילו פינו מלא שירה כים... אין אנו מספיקין להודות לך ה' אלהינו... תשתחוה, ברוך אתה ה' רוב ההודאות.
רוב ההודאות ולא כל ההודאות? - אמר רבא: אימא האל ההודאות.
אמר רב פפא: הלכך נימרינהו לתרוייהו רוב ההודאות והאל ההודאות

We find a slightly different girsa of this cited by the Rif in Taanit (Rif Taanit 2a):
א"ר אבהו מאימתי מברכין על הגשמים משיצא חתן לקראת כלה
מאי מברך
אמר רב יהודה מודים אנחנו לך על כל טיפה וטיפה שהורדת לנו
ר' יוחנן מסיים בה הכי ואילו פינו מלא שירה כים עד הן הם יודו ויברכו את שמך מלכנו וכו' ברוך רוב ההודאות
רוב ההודאות ולא כל ההודאות
אלא אימא אל ההודאות
אמר רב פפא הילכך נימרינהו לתרוייהו ברוך רוב ההודאות ואל ההודאות:
My translation of the Rif:
Rabbi Abahu said: From when do we bless on the rains? When the groom goes out to greet the bride.
What does he bless? Rav Yehuda said {Bach: cited Rav}: We are thankful to You for each and every drop which you cause to descend for us.
Rabbi Yochanan would conclude it as follows: And if our mouths were as full of song as the sea ... they would praise and bless Your Name, our King ... Blessed is the with the Majority/Multitude of Praises.
{The stama:} The majority of praises and not all the praises? Rather, say "God of Praises."

{Taanit 7a}
Rav Pappa said: Therefore, we should say both of there. Baruch *Rov* HaHodaot and *Kel* HaHodaot.
The major difference between these two girsaot is that in the first one, it is Rava who states אימא האל ההודאות. In the Rif's version of this, it is introduced with אלא אימא, and thus is a continuation of the setama digmara.

This makes a big difference, in terms of who is answering the question posed by the setama digmara. (In general, we assume that the setama digmara is post-Ravina/Rav Ashi, which means well post-Rava and well post-Rav Pappa.) It also makes a difference in whether we looking at an emendation or an argument with Rabbi Yochanan's position.

II - The First Girsa

According to the first version, Rabbi Yochanan says we end Baruch Rov HaHodaot, which is understood to mean "Blessed with the Majority of Praises." The setama digmara then objects: How can we say that God is Blessed with the Majority, which implies not all! This consideration apparently inspires the earlier Rava to give a different nusach, Kel HaHodaot, "God of Praises." Which means that this particular setama is either not as late as we thought, or else is elaborating Rava's thought process in giving this alternate nusach.

Rav Pappa then sees these two different nuschaot, and suggests the nusach kilayim, a hybrid of the two nuschaot. Say both Rov HaHodaot and Kel HaHodaot.

Say what?!?!

How in the world does this fix anything? If Rava, or the setama, is truly bothered by Rov implying the Majority but not All, then mentioning the word Rov would be objectionable even in the presence of Kel HaHodaot! Kel was proposed as an alternative to, not as a supplement to Rov!

It is hard to see what Rav Pappa is accomplishing here.

III - The Second Girsa

We are faced with a similar problem with the second girsa, that of the Rif. According to this second version, Rabbi Yochanan says we end Baruch Rov HaHodaot, which is understood to mean "Blessed with the Majority of Praises." The setama digmara then objects: How can we say that God is Blessed with the Majority, which implies not all! Therefore, the setama digmara (rather than Rava) concludes that we should rather say Kel HaHodaot.

As is typical of setama digmara suggestions, it would seem that they are saying that Rabbi Yochanan must not have said Rov HaHodaot, but rather, in reporting his statement, we should say that Rabbi Yochanan said we should say Kel HaHodaot. (We do not have the issue of Rava dealing with the setama.)

Rav Pappa then sees both nuschaot and says, "therefore we should say both Rov haHodaot and Kel haHodaot. How can Rav Pappa deal with the setama. This is an issue here, but in many many other sugyot as well. Rav Pappa consistently deals with the setama, and so this interaction, or perhaps the identity of this Rav Pappa, is a standard issue. We might actually get a resolution in this analysis (so stay tuned).

But once again, Say What?!?!?

If the setama's objection was that Rov implies the Majority and not All, and even emended the text of Rabbi Yochanan's statement, or else suggested its own alternative, how can Rav Pappa propose to treat it as a supplement? If Rov is objectionable, it is objectionable! Indeed, it almost seems as if Rav Pappa did not read, or react to, this objection. (Hint, hint.)

IV - Which Girsa Is Preferable?
My first inclination is to choose the Rif's girsa over the standard gemara, as it is often the girsa of the geonim. Furthermore, the אלא אימא is what I would expect rather than אמר רבא אימא. And Rav Pappa's interaction with the setama is what I would prefer.

Yet Rava as the one offering a different nusach, rather than the setama offering a different version of Rabbi Yochanan's statement, makes slightly more sense in terms of Rav Pappa harmonizing the two nuschaot (of two different, earlier Amoraim). Though of course we have the objection that a harmonious girsa would not resolve the setama's objections.

At this point, I favor the Rif's girsa, but perhaps that will change.

V - The Problem With The Setama's Objection
There is a major problem with the setama's objection that Rov implies the Majority and not All. This is a misunderstanding of the word Rov. Rov can either mean "myriad, multitude," or else it can mean "majority." In all likelihood, Rabbi Yochanan meant it in the former sense rather than the latter sense, and that is why he was not troubled by the issue.

Then, if this is what is bothering Rava, then Rava is only bothered because he misunderstood the word. If it is the setama digmara who makes this emendation, then he is explicitly bothered by, and emends Rabbi Yochanan's statement (or proposes his own version) on the basis of a misunderstanding of the word. We need not concern ourselves at the moment with how Rav Pappa understood this word, since his nusach is a harmonious nusach.

Indeed, we see a similar happenstance in the nusach of Nishmat. As I wrote here in this post on parshablog, regarding lectio difficilior:
In Nishmat, which we say on Shabbat and Yom Tov after Az Yashir, there are two versions of the text. One has HaMehulal BeRov HaTishbachot {Who is extolled through a multitude of praises}, and the other has HaMehulal BeChol HaTishbachot {Who is extolled through all of the praises}. Of the two, which is the more original, and thus, more likely correct?

There is a principle often used to determine this called lectio difficilior - the difficult word. That is, the seemingly more difficult word is the more original. This is because one would have an inclination to emend the text to correct it from a more difficult reading to an easier one, but one would not have an inclination in the opposite direction.

Probably, what happened here is that the original was HaMehulal BeRov HaTishbachot. Someone objected, saying: How can you say that Hashem is extolled only through the majority of praises. He is God, so he should be praised through all praises. To say otherwise is heresy! As a result, they corrected the text to HaMehulal BeChol HaTishbachot.

In answer to why Hashem is only praised with the majority of praises, He is actually praised with the multitude of praises.
(In that same post, I give the example from the end of Megillat Esther, וְרָצוּי לְרֹב אֶחָיו, "and accepted of the multitude of his brethren;")

Now we see what inspired this. It is, after all, the exact same objection as brought up by the setama digmara!

Of course, some proof that this is the intended meaning of Rov in this instance would be nice. I shall present this in the next section.

VI - Evidence That Rov Means Multitude/Myriad Rather Than Majority

Rabbi Yochanan is an Amora from Eretz Yisrael, so we might find evidence as to the intended meaning of Rov in the Talmud Yerushalmi. Indeed, there is a parallel gemara there:

The Yerushalmi:
רבי יהודה בר יחזקאל אמר אבא מברך על ירידת גשמים יתגדל ויתקדש ויתברך ויתרומם שמך מלכינו על כל טיפה וטיפה שאת מוריד לנו שאת ממניען זו מזו.
רבי יוסי בר יעקב סלק מבקרא רבי יודן מגדליא. עד דהוא תמן נחת מיטרא ושמע קליה אמר אלף אלפין וריבי ריבוון חייבין להודות לשמך מלכינו על כל טיפה וטיפה שאת מוריד לנו שאת גומל טובה לחייבים. אמר ליה הדא מנא לך. אמר ליה הכין הוה רבי סימון מברך על ירידת גשמים.

To translate the portion above marked in red, as part of the nusach of the blessing, he said: "A thousand thousands (= 1 million) and a myriad (=10 thousand) myriads (=100 million) are we obligated to praise Your Name, our King, on each and every drop that you cause to descend for us..."

Note that the word myriad used here is Rov, multitude. And this is the nusach of the blessing. And it refers to the number of praises. It makes a lot of sense that when Rabbi Yochanan closed the blessing, "Blessed with Rov Praises," he meant this myriad of praises, as mentioned in Talmud Yerushalmi.

VI - Apparent Halachic Fallout

If we were to stop here, then we would have to consider the appropriate halachic fallout. Should it matter that the impetus was a mistaken understanding of the word Rov? Should we say that the Savoraim were Batrai, later, yet part of the gemara, and so we rule in accordance with them, even if we are convinced that they are wrong? Or does correctness matter? Do we say that Ravina/Rav Ashi were sof horaah, and the Savoraim were after that, so we can rule in accordance with the Amoraim over the Savoraim? What about Rav Pappa? He is Batrai, after both Rabbi Yochanan and Rava (if Rava indeed occurs in the gemara), and he is an Amora, so we should rule in accordance with him. But does he base himself on the same objection of the setama? We might assume so, but on the other hand, what are we to make of his harmonizing nusach, which does not work to resolve the setama's objection. Furthermore, which girsa should we chose - the one in which the setama makes the suggestion, or the one with Rava?

I could say what my inclinations are here (that the girsa without Rava is correct, and that we should rule only like Rabbi Yochanan's original nusach, discarding the usual klalei horaah), but it is irrelevant, because the analysis is not over. There are two further things to point out that will change the battlefield topology entirely.

VII - Rava Argues, But For A Different Reason
One thing to realize when dealing with the setama digmara is that even though it sometimes is situated in the text before some statement, chronologically it may well have been added later.

If so, it is useful to strip out all setamas, and see what the gemara looks like beforehand, and then see what the setama added. In this analysis, we assume the first girsa of the gemara, in which Rava suggests Kel HaHodaot, rather than the girsa of the Rif.

מה מברכים?
אמר רב יהודה: מודים אנחנו לך על כל טפה וטפה שהורדת לנו,
ורבי יוחנן מסיים בה הכי: אילו פינו מלא שירה כים... אין אנו מספיקין להודות לך ה' אלהינו... תשתחוה, ברוך אתה ה' רוב ההודאות.
אמר רבא: אימא האל ההודאות.
אמר רב פפא: הלכך נימרינהו לתרוייהו רוב ההודאות והאל ההודאות

Thus, the objection that Rov implies Majority rather than All is not initially present in the gemara. What else can account for the dispute between Rava and Rabbi Yochanan?

A straightforward answer would be geography. Rabbi Yochanan was an Amora from Eretz Yisrael while Rava was from Bavel. Each area would naturally develop its own customs and own nusach. Thus, the gemara records nusach Eretz Yisrael and nusach Bavel.

Rav Pappa then adds what he adds elsewhere in Shas - the hybrid nusach. In other instances, when faced with two nuschaot, Rav Pappa says to say both. And this is just what he says here.

Thus, the problem was never that Rov implied Majority rather than All. It was a nusach that differed by area, and Rav Pappa suggested to combine the nuschaot. Then, the setama digmara wanted to supplement the gemara. It assumed that Rava actively rejected Rabbi Yochanan's nusach for a specific reason. It searched for a reason and came up with the implication of Majority vs. All, and inserted that explanation into the text of the gemara. This caused two problems - first, this was not the reason for the difference in nusach, and second, is rendered Rav Pappa's harmonization opinion nonsensical, for Rov would still be present in the nusach.

If this is so, there is no problem maintaining Rav Pappa's nusach.

VIII - Perhaps Rav Pappa Never Said It
The other thing to point out is that it is quite possible that Rav Pappa never actually suggested this hybrid nusach. This will work out both with the standard girsa and the Rif's girsa.

When a segment of gemara occurs in more than one sugya, it is usually safe to assume that it originated in one of the two locations. In this instance, I believe it originated in masechet Berachot and was transferred over to masechet Taanit.

So let us turn to Berachot, and see what Rav Pappa says there. Something to realize is that "Therefore let us say both" is an extremely Pappaitic statement, and those words, followed by the hybrid nusach or practice occurs elsewhere in Shas. Indeed, in its immediate proximity in masechet Brachot, we see Rav Pappa say just this several times.

In Berachot 60b {text drawn from my translation and commentary on Rif Berachot 44a}:
On entering a privy one should say: Be honoured, ye honoured and holy ones that minister to the Most High. Give honour to the God of Israel. Preserve me, preserve me, help me, help me, support me, support me, till I have entered and come forth, for this is the way of human beings.
{This is a combined saying, as per the usual suggestion of Rav Pappa.}

When he comes out he says: Blessed is He who has formed man in wisdom and created in him many orifices and many cavities. It is fully known before the throne of Thy glory that if one of them should be [improperly] opened or one of them closed it would be impossible for a man to stand before Thee, even one hour. Blessed are You, Hashem, Who healest all flesh and doest wonderfully.
{again, the conclusion is a combined saying, due to Rav Pappa.}
In each case, Rav Pappa created a hybrid nusach, but Rif just cites the hybrid nusach rather than the nusach in development as well.

In Berachot 59a {again drawing from my translation, Rif Berachot 43b}:
Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said: One who sees the rainbow in the clouds should say 'Blessed is He who remembers the Covenant.'
{our gemara: One who sees the rainbow in the clouds should fall on his face... what blessing does he say? 'Blessed is He who remembers the Covenant.'}
In a brayta they taught: {he should say} Who is faithful with his Covenant and fulfils his word.

Rav Papa said: Therefore let us say both: Blessed is He who remembers the Covenant, Who is faithful with his Covenant and fulfils his word.
Another example is in Megillah 21b, though of course this is not local to Berachot.

מאי מברך רב ששת מקטרזיא איקלע לקמיה דרב אשי ובריך מנ"ח לאחריה מאי מברך ברוך אתה ה' אלהינו מלך העולם <האל> הרב את ריבנו והדן את דיננו והנוקם את נקמתנו והנפרע לנו מצרינו והמשלם גמול לכל אויבי נפשנו ברוך אתה ה' הנפרע לישראל מכל צריהם רבא אמר האל המושיע אמר רב פפא הלכך נימרינהו לתרוייהו ברוך אתה ה' הנפרע לישראל מכל צריהם האל המושיע

Interestingly enough, here we have Rav Pappa's harmonization, and the latter of the two being harmonized is Rava saying HaKel ha-X, in this case haMoshia'. This brings credence to the idea that the standard girsa, with Rava offering the alternate nusach, is the correct one.

This is then Rav Pappa being consistent in his position, Rav Pappa leshitato.

The possibility exists, though, that this is a known Pappaitic statement, and the setama is just applying Rav Pappa's statement, which occurs often enough in close proximity, to this statement in the Berachot--Taanit gemara as well (detailing, as is always done, what the hybrid nusach would be), even though a hybrid nusach does not in fact solve the problem raised by the setama and possibly motivating Rava. The order in which this would occur is up in the air.

IX - Conclusion
If so, it is quite possible that Rava (and not the setama) said to say this nusach, but not for the reason given by the gemara. And it is possible that I was wrong in my analysis, and the setama's objection is in fact a valid objection. And it is possible that Rav Pappa said to say this hybrid nusach, lishitato, whatever Rava's reason was. And even if Rav Pappa did not say here to say a hybrid nusach, both initial nuschaot were extant, and we might consider the hybrid to be matbea' shetav'u bah Chachamim. Further, this has become the accepted nusach.

(Perhaps. See this post at Yeranen Yaakov about the correct nusach, and the issue of whether we should say anything nowadays (which he links to).

He notes that the Chief Rabbinate of Israel is telling people to say this blessing. He notes that the article he links to has the nusach:

"ברוך אתה ה' קל ההודאות".

which is Rava/initial stama, omitting the word rov.

that the Chief Rabbinate's nusach is actually different:

"ברוך אתה ה' קל רוב ההודאות".

which is in turn different from that of our gemara:

רוב ההודאות והאל ההודאות

which is in turn different than Rambam (who presumably had a different girsa of the gemara:

ברוך אתה ה', רוב ההודיות אל התושבחות

Please note: This is not intended as a discussion halacha lemaaseh. Ask your local orthodox rabbi.


yaak said...

1) Interesting analysis.
2) Thanks for the link.
3) I love the new word "Pappaitic"!
4) Rav Pappa was a Talmid of Rava, so if we assume a) that Rav Pappa said it, and b) that Rava said what he said, then it could be that Rav Pappa doesn't hold that "Rov" means "majority" - it mean abundance, but he didn't want to totally argue with his Rebbe - Rava, so he instituted the hybrid.

joshwaxman said...

i think your suggestion - that he disagreed but wished to be makayem the nusach of his teacher - is plausible for this case, and for the case Megilla as well. the slight issue with this, though, is that the ikkar is chaser from the sefer. we don't see anywhere that Rav Pappa disagreed. and indeed, it seems that the general Pappaitic tendency (in all the other examples) is to create a hybrid nusach where there was previously machloket, not delving into the reason of each and coming up with a conclusion. which is why I lean most towards what I laid out in section VII - that Rabbi Yochanan, Rava (rather than setama), and Rav Pappa said what they said, and the reason was a helpful addition by the setama. Which has the added benefit of having Rava, the Amora, not misunderstand the implication of Rov (though of course one could say he understood it but disliked the additional, negative connotation.)


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