Wednesday, February 06, 2008

The Age of Trup -- part xxii

Shadal's Vikuach al Chochmat haKabbalah continues. (See previous segment.) Here, Shadal interprets a gemara to mean that children spent a full five years, from the age of 5 until 10, just memorizing the trup on verses. My objections are inserted in {}s. He also gives the now-famous proof from Rabbi Chanina ben Teradyon, who pronounced the Divine Name with its letters. I will give my objection to this proof in another post.

The author: The matters appears so, that the nikkud was brought out new after the closing of the Talmud, as a time that the sufferings and the scatterings brought about the need to write in a book that which had previously been Oral; and that before this, they would read in books without nikkud points, either because of their knowledge of the ways of language, or because they learned by their teachers the reading of Scriptures from beginning to end, just as is apparent from that which we learn "from 5 years old to Scriptures; from 10 years old to Mishna," which implies that they were engages for 5 years in Scripture. And the Scripture which they spoke of, its intent was not the explanation of the Scripture, for this is what they called by the name midrash. Rather, it is the separation of the cantillation, as they say in Nedarim: "One who vows off benefit from his friend may not teach him Scripture, but he may teach him midrash, halachot and aggadot." And they said that the reason is that it is forbidden to accept wages for teaching Torah, but they may accept for teaching Scriptures. And they say "what is the reason?" Rav said: Wages for watching, that is to say that since those who learn Scripture are young lads, the one who teaches them is able to accept wages for the aspect of what he guarded them from harm, if not from the aspect of what he taught them. And Shmuel {J: actually, Rabbi Yochanan. Shmuel does not subscribe to this, and presumably learns the exemption of mikra and Targum from a gezeirat hakatuv, as is laid out explicitly in the parallel Yerushalmi} said the wages for the divisions of the trup, which {Shadal elaborates} is something which is not from the main of the Torah {J: at least according to Rabbi Yochanan, but quite possibly not according to Rav, as is perhaps evident from the gemara}.

And behold it is evident that those who taught did not do anything with their students from the age of 5 until 10, except watch them and teach them the divisions of the trup. {J: This is not evident to me. Rather, just as Rav held that they could be paid for that aspect of watching, Rabbi Yochanan held that they could be paid for that aspect of teaching trup. But that does not mean that they did not also learn the meaning of the Mikra and so on, just that this was not the excuse for payment.}

And how could they have engaged in this for 5 years, if not that they learned the vowels and the trup of all of Scriptures by heart?

However, with all this,, I do not see entirely that the nekudot were not known also by the early ones {kadmonim}, such that they could make use of them when it was necessary.

The guest: Incline your ear and listen. In masechet Avodah Zarah daf 18, they said that Rabbi Chanina ben Teradyon was punished to die by burning, because he pronounced the Divine Name with its letters. And they asked how he could have done this, when they learn {tnan}, "Abba Shaul says, 'Also one who pronounces the Divine Name, he has no portion in the World to Come?'" And the answered that he did this in order to teach this.

And behold, Rashi explained "pronounced the Divine Name with its letters" as "he expounded it with its 42 letters and did with it {=practical wonders} that which he desired." But Tosafot and all the {other} commentators explained that he would read it out, pronouncing the letters of the Unique Name{= shem hameyuchad, =YKVK} like the letters of other words, and they have already said, "Not as I am written am I read"; And in truth, the language of "pronouncing the Name with its letters" implies "with its four letters" with which it is written, and if it were like the words of Rashi, they would have said "with 42 letters" and not "with its letters," for the name of 42 letters is not the Unique Name, and its letters are not the letters of the Name; besides for the fact that if he expounded with 42 letters and did with it that which he desired, how did the fire rule over him {when he was burned}? Does it make sense that he would not desire to be saved, if he were able via the expounding of the name with 42 letters?

And that which they said "he did it to be taught it," its intent is not to teach to himself, but rather so that others would be taught it, just as they said (Yoma 37), "they write a megillah for a child {tinnok} to be taught from it -- such that the child would be taught from it. And so too (Sanhedrin 68), "to be taught is different," the intent is to say that Rabbi Eliezer did this so that Rabbi Akiva would be taught it. And so too (Gittin 24) "scribes who learning to write," the intent is to teach to students. And so too (Rosh haShana 24), "he did it to educate," the intent is to teach to the witnesses. And like this in this language thet spoke about a piece fit to be honored, not that they honor the piece, but rather that the one who gives it as a gift it honored.

{In other words, he is saying that this is not reflexive, but rather a sort of transitive.}

The author: And what comes out from all these careful analyses {of language}?

The guest: That Rabbi Chanina ben Tradion did not know the nikkud {orthography} at all, and since he did not find some trick to teach to his students the way of reading the Honored and Awesome Name, without uttering it with his lips; and how did he not choose to write the Name with its nikkud points?

And if he did not wish to write it, lest the paper be lost, or lest is come to the hands of the corrupt people, or because Oral matters you are not permitted to state them in writing; is it not possible for him to say to them that the vowel points of the Name are the same of the vowel point of some other known word, such as leOlam, tzedaka, ahava, or yir`ah, and the like; Or that he would say to them: The yud has the vowel such-and-such; and the heh with the vowel such-and-such.

Should he not have taken the trouble to do like this or that, before he violated the prohibition of lo tisa, which is so grievous that Abba Shaul said that one who violates it does not have a share in the World to Come, and they said that the entire world shook at the time it was said at Sinai?

The author: This appears in my eyes to be a complete proof.

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