Monday, February 25, 2008

The Age of Trup -- part xxviii

Shadal continues his Vikuach al Chochmas HaKabbalah. (See previous segment.) He concludes that the Anshei haMasoret are not the same as the authors of the nikkud. Then he turns to the issue of the location the trup and nikkud was invented. He also discusses the type of dispute between Ben Naftali and Ben Asher.

The author: It is true that the early scribes, the Sages of the second Temple era, established the reading in all of Tanach with the vowels and the trup, and therefore its reading was called "mikra Soferim {the scribes}"; but from the days of the scribes until that days of the authors of the nikkud, many generations passed, and we have already seen beforehand, in the days of the Sages of the Mishna and the Talmud that many doubts were born and many disputes in the reading and in the separation of the trup, and in these the authors of the nikkud did not have a support or director except for their intellect and wisdom, and in these I see their impressive understanding and their extremely deep intellect.

The guest: You have spoken correctly.

And behold, it is made clear to us that the Anshei HaMasoret were one entity and the authors of the nikkud were a different entity. And if the Sages of Teveria were the Baalei HaMasoret, they were not those who brought out the nikkud.

And now, please listen to the investigation which I came up with, and judge upon it with your understanding.

Do we not know (and it is spelled out in sefer Tzemach David, 3118) that because of the sufferings, the Yeshivot were nullified in Eretz Yisrael, and the Nesiim {Princes} were nullified, after Hillel the son of Rabbi Yehuda Nesia, and those with semicha were nullified in Eretz Yisrael, and yet the closing of the Talmud was 150 years after that time. And at the time of the closing of the Talmud, and from then on, there were not Sages of renown in Eretz Yisrael, and the hand of the residents of Eretz Yisrael was not any more strong over the residents of the Diaspora, but rather all those in the Diaspora were subject to the the Sages of Bavel, since by them the yeshivot and Exilarches continues, and the Geonim, more than 500 years after the closing of the Talmud.

If so, how could it be that the nikkud was made in Eretz Yisrael? Amd who will believe that in those bad time, when the yeshivot and Princes were nullified, there was made in Eretz Yisrael a great work like the work of the nikkud, which requires clarity of thought, wondrous diligence, and deep investigation?

And even if it arises in the mind that there were already there a small number of men whose wisdom was great to perform such as this matter, how was it such that all of Israel agreed to rend their heads under these men, whose hand was not strong at all, and to accept upon all of themselves to read the Tanach as these particular men designated the nikkud, and to abandon at times also the words of the Talmud because of this nikkud?

And how was it that the Sages of Bavel did not arise against this new matter and against the reading which at times opposed the Talmud? And at the least, how did they not send out from under their hands a table of corrections and alternate readings? For even the difference of readings between those of the West and those of the East, all of them are in matters of the letters, and krei and ketiv, not in the matters of the nikkud and the trup, and all of them preceded the nikkud.

Also, Ben Asher and Ben Naftali never differed on the authors of the nikkud, but rather the dispute between this one and that one was in the matters of the makef and the meteg, and the other minor matters which do not impact the body of the reading of the words and the cutting up of the statements (*).

And behold, the work of the authors of the nikkud are always left with no dispute upon it -- no one opens his mouth to it and no one dares to speak out; what is not understandable at all if it was made in Eretz Yisrael at a time that there were not therein Princes and yeshivot of renown. And quite the opposite, the matter is much accepted by the intellect, if we say that not in Eretz Yisrael but rather in Bavel was the nikkud instituted, in a place that the great yeshivot whose dread was cast upon all of Israel in the four corners of the earth.

(*) Only one switch have I found between Ben Asher and Ben Naftali, which seems to touch on the body of the reading of the word and its meaning, and this is in the word תְּרָצְּחוּ כֻלְּכֶם (in Tehillim 62):
ד עַד-אָנָה, תְּהוֹתְתוּ עַל-אִישׁ-- תְּרָצְּחוּ כֻלְּכֶם:
כְּקִיר נָטוּי; גָּדֵר, הַדְּחוּיָה.
4 How long will ye set upon a man, that ye may slay him, all of you, {N}
as a leaning wall, a tottering fence?
see the Minchat Shai.
However, in my opinion (as I wrote in my book Prolegomeni folio 24) the matter is not as he thought it, but rather according to everyone the word is from the "poel" construction, like וְעַתָּה מְרַצְּחִים {in Yeshaya 1:21:
כא אֵיכָה הָיְתָה לְזוֹנָה, קִרְיָה נֶאֱמָנָה; מְלֵאֲתִי מִשְׁפָּט, צֶדֶק יָלִין בָּהּ--וְעַתָּה מְרַצְּחִים. 21 How is the faithful city become a harlot! She that was full of justice, righteousness lodged in her, but now murderers.
but rather the dagesh was removed from a letter which carries it, and specifically where the afterwards is a guttural letter {in this case the chet after the tzadi}, such as vayise`u {with the dagesh in the sin removed because of the aleph after it}, vayikechu {with the chet taking away the dagesh in the kuf}, vayise'u {the same, with a samech and ayin}. And so we find in a few manuscripts and old printings תרצחו without a dagesh in the tzadi.

And behold, in the opinion of Ben Naftali, the resh needs to have a patach in accordance with its rule, but Ben Asher made a distinction, so that it would be known that it {the sheva/the letter} is na even though there is no dagesh {chazak}, and so he put the nikkud of תרצחו with a kametz, and there is no doubt that he extended the kamatz with a meteg, so that it would be known that it is a broad kamatz {kametz rachav, as opposed to a kamatz katon, which would be a reduced cholam}. And in the pattern of this dispute, the nakdanim argued in the word מְאַסְפָיו (in Yeshaya 62:9)
ט כִּי מְאַסְפָיו יֹאכְלֻהוּ, וְהִלְלוּ אֶת-ה; וּמְקַבְּצָיו יִשְׁתֻּהוּ, בְּחַצְרוֹת קָדְשִׁי. {ס} 9 But they that have garnered it shall eat it, and praise the LORD, and they that have gathered it shall drink it in the courts of My sanctuary. {S}
that the samech is without a dagesh, and some place the nikkud of the aleph with a patach, and some with a kametz, and there is no doubt that this too is a kametz rachav.

The author: The matter is correct in my eyes.

And based on this, it is also understandable how the Anshei haMasoret were so much drawn, like slaves, after the authors of the nikkud and trup, to appoint all sorts of strangeness, without lifting a head to differ from them in a single matter, and even to indicate which way their thoughts leaned: All this is understandable if they were from Eretz Yisrael, at a time where there were no yeshivot and Sages of renown, and the nikkud came to them from Bavel which had great yeshivot, and Exilarches, and heads of yeshivot whose dominion was over the entire earth.

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