Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Authenticity of the Zohar -- pt vii

Shadal continues his Vikuach al Chochmat haKabbalah. (See previous segment.) Here, the guest proves that the Zohar refers to the same Rav Hamnuna, and therefore is anachronistic. And continues with a linguistic argument, that mechilan as used as a Aramaic word for middot is an error.

The author: But it is possible to say that this was a different Rav Hamnuna.

The guest: And he is not mentioned in all of the Talmud?!

And further, if there were two, the Sages of the Talmud would not have call "the elder" to the second child of who came after him a long time later, for so was there way to designate by the name "zaken" he who was earlier in time, such as Rabban Gamliel haZakein. Amd all this is besides the mixing up of the places, for Rav was from Bavel and Rabbi was from Eretz Yisrael, and if Rav Hamnuna the elder had come to dwell in Eretz Yisrael by Rabbi Eleazar, he would have immediately been called "Rabbi" {rather than "Rav" Hamnuna}, just as Rabbi Zera who was from Bavel and came to Eretz Yisrael.

The author: And who said to you that Rav Hamnuna the elder was in Eretz Yisrael? Is it not that they only spoke to his soul?

The guest: But there is no number to the places that the sefer haZohar mentions Rav Hamnuna in the company of the Tannaim.

And so too in the uplifting meeting {?? אדרא דנשא -- a kabbalistic meeting} Rabbi Chizkiya bar Rav was with Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, that which the ear is unable to hear.

Will you admit to me, and to the Gaon Yabetz {=Rav Yaakov Emden} that these statements are added?

And so too, in every place that you find 13 mechilan {=middot} of Mercy, it is a total error and clear ignorance. For the word mechilan is from the matter of "and all in a third," and it is the Targum of the first definition of the word "midda," that is to say a vessel to measure with. But the name "midda" has a second definition in the language of the Sages, when they say "this is the 'midda' of Sodom." And then the intent is not an actual "middah" but rather rule and custom, and in this matter they never say in any place "mechilta" {=equivalent of "mechilan"}. But rather, the Targum of this {second} "middah" is ארח {as in "way"}, such as {Shemot 33:13}
יג וְעַתָּה אִם-נָא מָצָאתִי חֵן בְּעֵינֶיךָ, הוֹדִעֵנִי נָא אֶת-דְּרָכֶךָ, וְאֵדָעֲךָ, לְמַעַן אֶמְצָא-חֵן בְּעֵינֶיךָ; וּרְאֵה, כִּי עַמְּךָ הַגּוֹי הַזֶּה. 13 Now therefore, I pray Thee, if I have found grace in Thy sight, show me now Thy ways, that I may know Thee, to the end that I may find grace in Thy sight; and consider that this nation is Thy people.'
its Targum is ארח טובך. And so did our Rabbis say "this one in his way {archeih} and this one in his way," and they never said "this one in his mechilteih and this one in his mechilteih."

And behold, the idiom of 13 mechiltin of Mercy is only a mess-up.

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