Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Age of Trup -- part xxvi

Shadal continues his Vikuach al Chochmas HaKabbalah. (See previous segment.) Here, Shadal decides on a time for the introduction of nikkud and trup, namely the time of the Savoraim.

The author: If so, what do you wish to learn from this, that we see that the masters of nikkud argued with Chazal?

The guest: It appears to me that this is a proof that the authors of nikkud were not much later than Chazal; for if it was a long time after the closing of the Talmud, the would not have filled their hearts {=dared} to argue upon it. And even if you find to say that they did dare to do this, all of Israel would not have set aside the Talmud and agreed to read in the Torah and Neviim based on the masters of nikkud. And behold, it is clear to us that the time of the beginning of the nikkud is close to the time of the closing of the Talmud, in the days of the Savoraic Sages, in approximately the year 4260.

The author: This is also the position of Rabbi Elijah Bachur, even though he erred in the calculation, and wrote "3989 years to the Creation, which is 436 years after the destruction of the second Temple." And in truth, 436 years after the destruction is only the year 4264, and the two calculations he mentions are distant from one another 275 years!! And yet, the fact that nikkud was started close to the time of the closing of the Talmud seems to be correct and compelling. And not like a few of the wise one of the nations of make its date late, unyil the year 4500. And the bordering of the time of the beginning of nikkud close to the closing of the Talmud arises as well to find an answer to two great questions.

For the first one there is to ask: How is it that such a great and new matter like the bringing out of the nikkud and the trup did not leave its mention explicit in one of the books, to say, "in year such-and-such in place such-and-such, the Torah was pointed {with nikkud}.

For behold, if this was in the days of our Rabbis the Savoraim, one need not wonder at this, from from that time we do not have a single sefer.

And the second there is to ask: If the nikkud was brought out anew, how did the Karaites accept it and did not reject it? For behold, the sect of the Karaites began about 200 years after the closing of the Talmud, and within this was already lost (in the many days and the lack of books) the memory of the beginning of nikkud, and the populace though that the Holy Books had nikkud from the beginning of their existence, and therefore the nikkud was accepted by the Karaites.

And still, what is to be said about the place of the beginning of nikkud? Behold, the opinion of Rabbi Elijah is that they were innovated in Tiberias, and yet the great grammarian the Razah, om sefer Binyan Shlomo (page 32) he brings a proof against this position, from that which we know (Michlol, page 108 and 109) that the men of Teveriah had their resh by them of the doubled letters which accept plosives and fricatives {that is, they had beged kaparet, rather than beged kefet} and the opposite of this are the baalei nikkud, who placed the resh among the letters which do not accept a dagesh {even a dagesh chazak - thus among the gutturals}. Behold it is clear that the nikkud is not from the Sages of Teveriah.

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