Thursday, March 06, 2008

The Authenticity of the Zohar -- pt iv

Shadal continues his Vikuach al Chochmat haKabbalah. (See previous segment.) The guest now argues why he believes authentic the testimony that Rabbi Moshe de Leon forged the Zohar, rather than basing himself on some existing text. Then, he begins a different proof - that the language of the Zohar reveals it to be a forgery, as it is not the same as the various languages Chazal spoke, but rather a ridiculous admixture of them, of the type one would come up with if he learned a little smidgen of Talmud, and wished to write in the language of the Talmud:

The guest: Know, my friend, that this incident is only found in the first printing of sefer Yuchsin, for in printings afterwards it is entirely removed. And also the first printer, who was Shmuel Shulam wrote by it a gloss, and he hurled words against one who brought out slander of forgery on the sefer haZohar. If so, this first printer's mind was not settled about this incident. If so, if it was not clear to him that this was indeed from sefer haYochasin, and if he had to himself any doubt that the matter was added in sefer haYuchsin, there is no doubt that he would not have printed it, but rather he would have left it out, as the others who came after him did. If so, this story is in truth that of the author of the sefer haYuchsin. And if such is so, do you not admit to me that the author of the sefer haYuchsin was not a gullible person who believed everything? For he was yet a great sage, both in Torah and in outside wisdoms, and also the wise people of nations mention him in praise on his knowledge of the wisdom of astronomy, and since a man such as he brings this story in his book, there is no doubt that its truth was made clear to him.

The author: This is no proof at all, for with all this, he already revealed his opinion in another place, and said that Rabbi Shimon {ben Yochai} was in truth the author of the Zohar. Behold that he did not lend credence {/worry} at all to that story of Rabbi Yitzchak of Akko.

The guest: Perhaps he did not say this except in accordance with the opinion of the general populace, and when he arrived at Rabbi Moshe de Lion he related the truth. Do you not see that he does not say a word against the truth of this story. And if he did not believe it, why did he bring it and not nullify it?

And let us set aside the testimony of the sefer haYuchsin. Does not the sefer haZohar's language testify about it that it is a forged sefer, for in truth it is not Biblical Hebrew, nor Mishnaic Hebrew, nor the language of Daniel and Ezra {=Biblical Aramaic}, nor the language of Onkelos and Yonatan {=Bablylonian Aramaic}, nor the language of Targum Yerushalmi {= Galilean Aramaic}, nor the language of the Talmud Bavli, nor the language of the Talmud Yerushalmi, nor the language of the midrashim, nor the language of the Geonim, nor the language of the mefarshim {medieval Biblical commentators}, nor the language of the poskim {decisors of Jewish law}, nor the language of the philosophers, but rather a ridiculous language, mixed from all the aforementioned languages, and this is the language which comes of its own accord on the lips of anyone who desires to write in the language of Talmud and does not engage in it as much as is required.

And I know in truth a certain man who learned a little smidgen of Talmud, and wished to write in the language of the Talmud, and the only thing which arose in his hand was the language of the Zohar.

And why was the Zohar not written in the holy tongue {=Hebrew}?

Because it is extremely difficult to write in the language of the the Mishna and the Brayta, and most of those who read it would recognize the forgery, but not many are wise in the Aramaic language to recognize and to distinguish what is the language of the Sages of the Talmud and what is a forged language which models itself after it, but is not really like it.

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