Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Age of Trup -- part xvi

We continue Shadal's Vikuach al Chochmat haKabbalah. Shadal just finished discussing the late date of some midrashim, such that their references to trup or nikkud does not prove an early date to the orthography of the same. Now, he turns to the the age of masorah and the baalei masorah. The author continues speaking:

However, it appears to me that before we increase in investigations of how early nikkud is, it is fitting that we investigate how early the masoret is; since the world all say that it is the work of the Men of the Great Assembly, and if the matter is so, it is clear that the nikkud is as early as the Men of the Great Assembly, and even more {old} than them.

The guest: Also to all the things they say do not give over your heart, for behold I will bring before you three greats of the world who will testify with one mouth that the masoret was only written after the closing of the Talmud.

And now, take please for me the sefer Chovat haLevavot.

And I took the safer, and he found written in it, in the introduction, words like this, saying:
I delved into the sefarim of the early ones {kadmonim} who were after the Men of the Great Assembly, who composed in the matter of the commandments compositions to establish from them based on the wisdom of the hidden matter, and I saw that all that the intended to explain and to elucidate does not go out of the realm of three matters: The first of them is to explain the sefer Torah and the Prophet, and this via two ways: either to explain the meaning of the words and the concepts, as Rabbenu Saadia z"l did for most of the books of Scripture; or to explain matters of language, dikduk and usage to all it passes to and from all its sides, and to fix its words, like the books of Ibn Janach and the masters of the masoret, and those who follow in their ways.

And the man {=the guest} said to me: Here for you is a single witness that the masters of the masoret were after the Men of the Great Assembly.

And now, take for me the sefer Moznayim, to Rabbi Avraham Ibn Ezra, and hear a second witness.

And I took sefer Moznayim, and he found written in it, in its beginning, and this is its language:

And after the exile of our ancestors from the Holy City, Hashem awakens his Divine Inspiration, and at their head was Rabbenu HaKadosh, to compose an impression in true writing of the commandments of our God, and this is the Mishna, upon it one should not add and from it one should not subtract; also after them came the holy officers, and these are the men of the Talmud, and they went in their circuit, and they cleared the highways of teuda {??documentation??}, and the removed every stone and obstacle from the paths of Hashem, and one who veers from off the path which they set encounters twisting and crookedness.

And after this, there arose in Israel, by the good hand of God upon us, two great todot {?}: One is the guards of the walls of the Temple, the stronghold instituted by the hand of our God, so that a stranger should not be able to destroy it. And this Temple is the holy books {of TaNaCH}, and the men of the toda are the men of the Masoret, that they separated any admixture from the holy, and they counted in the Temples from the age of two until the age of eleven (*), so that no stranger should enter the gates of righteousness.

{Explaining the mashal:}
(*) The words found in Tanach do not have in them less than two letters, nor more than eleven, such as in the word והאחשדרפנים {in Esther 9:3}, and it is not a Hebrew word. And in the Holy tongue one can say ולמשפחותיכם, and also with 12 letters ולמשפחותיכנה.


Anonymous said...

Can you explain the trup on לא תעשון אתו אלהי כסף ואלהי זהב לא תעשו לכם?
(here or in a separate post)

joshwaxman said...

My attempt at an answer to this question here.

Kol Tuv,


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