Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Gap Between One Navi and the Next

I was learning through Yoreh Deah siman 273 the other day in Aruch haShulchan and I came across an interesting discussion and pesak halacha.

ערוך השולחן יורה דעה סימן רפג
ומניח בין חומש לחומש ד' שיטין וכבר בארנו פרטי דינים בזה בסי' רע"ג ע"ש ובין כל נביא ונביא ג' שיטין וכן בין נביא לנביא של תרי עשר כן כתבו הרמב"ם והטור והש"ע וכן מפורש במסכת סופרים פ"ב [ה"ד] ע"ש אבל גירסת רש"י בב"ב שם דרק בתרי עשר ג' שיטין אבל בכל הנביאים צריך ד' שיטין ריוח כמו בס"ת וכן משמע להדיא בירושלמי פ"ק דמגילה [ה"ט] שאומר בין ספר לספר ד' שיטין ובתרי עשר ג' שיטין ע"ש ומבואר להדיא דבין ספר לספר הוה אפילו בנביאים ובוודאי יש לעשות כדעת הרמב"ם והטוש"ע וכל זה לא לעיכובא כמ"ש שם בסי' רע"ג ע"ש:

The gemara, in Bava Basra 13b, discusses situations in which various chumashim are bound together into a sefer Torah, or where Torah, Neviim, and Ketuvim are bound in the same scroll, and so on and so forth. An interesting sugya in its own right, of whether, and why, one could do this.

But then, the gemara discusses how much of a gap needs to exist between one Chumash and the next in the same scroll, how much of a gap needs to exist between one Navi and the next in the same scroll, and finally how much of a gap needs to exist between one Navi and the next within Trei Asar, the Twelve Prophets, which are all extremely short and have been grouped into a single sefer of Navi.

The Aruch haShulchan makes note of the fact that there are multiple girsaot of the gemara: Rashi's girsa is:
  • Four lines between two chumashim.
  • Four lines between two Neviim.
  • Three lines between two Neviim within Trei Asar.
Meanwhile, the Rambam, Tur, and Shulchan Aruch (see siman 273 and 283) say differently, reflecting a different girsa:
  • Four lines between two chumashim.
  • Three lines between two Neviim.
  • Three lines between two Neviim within Trei Asar.
This girsa of Rambam, Tur and Shulchan Aruch is echoed in the second perek of Maseches Soferim, thus bolstering it. But, continues Aruch haShulchan, the text in Yerushalmi Megillah matches the conclusions one would draw if one had Rashi's girsa.

That is, Yerushalmi Megillah 12a reads:
וצריך שיהא משייר בין ספר לספר כמלא ארבע שיטין ובנביא של י"ב שלש וצריך שיהא גומר באמצע הדף ומתחיל באמצעיתו ובנביא גומר בסופו ומתחיל בראשו ובנביא של י"ב אסור

Therefore, concludes Aruch haShulchan, one should certainly rule like Rambam, Tur and Shulchan Aruch.

This surprised me, for I would have read all this and said the opposite, that one should certainly rule like Rashi.

This presumably is a difference in methodology. I can definitely see where Aruch haShulchan is coming from. To argue along his lines: After all, the standard halachic tracts -- Rambam, Tur, and Shulchan Aruch all rule this way. And this is a machlokes Bavli and Yerushalmi, so we should rule like Bavli. And we even have maseches Soferim bolstering the Bavli! Of course we should rule this way. The fact that Rashi has a girsa parallel to Yerushalmi should not matter, because major halachic words favor a different version of the Bavli, and there is masechet Sofrim to support this girsa.

My methodology is different, and so it can conceivably lead to a different conclusion. I would (initially) summarize the situation, and argue, as follows:

First of all, Aruch haShulchan does not cite another important Rishon who has the same girsa as Rashi. Namely, as Masoret haShas notes, Rif also has the same girsa as Rashi and the Yerushalmi:

רי"ף מסכת בבא בתרא דף ח עמוד ב
ומניח כדי לגול עמוד בתחלתו וכדי היקף בסופה ונותן בין כל חומש וחומש ארבע שיטין וכן בין כל נביא ונביא ובנביא של י"ב שלש שיטין ומתחיל מלמעלה ומסיים מלמטה שאם רצה לחתוך חותך

I tend to be partial to Rif's girsa in general, but a must put aside any favoritism.
However, now, within Rishonim we have another opinion favoring Rashi's girsa. So we have:

One one side: Girsat Rashi, Girsat Rif, Yerushalmi. Also the girsa in our gemara (which has bein navi leNavi rather than veNavi, which is effectively the same), but what they happened to print does not really impact the halachic conclusion. It is a girsa like any other.
On the other: Girsat Rambam, Tur, Shulchan Aruch, and Masechet Soferim.

These sources are not all equal. Specifically, the Shulchan Aruch from Rav Yosef Karo is relatively late. Perhaps we might say Tur's position reflects his father, so that we have Rambam and Rosh on one side and Rif (and Rashi) on the other, such that following Rav Yosef Karo's methodology we would rule in favor of the two of the triad over the Rif.

However, note that the Rosh has a general principle that when the Bavli is silent on some matter, and there is a machlokes between Maseches Soferim and Yerushalmi, we rule like the Yerushalmi. Why? Because Maseches Soferim is post-Talmudic, from the Savoraim. Thus, even though the Rosh is silent on this matter, and does not cite the gemara lehalacha at all, we might speak on his behalf the following extension: say that Maseches Soferim should not factor into this dispute of Bavli/Yerushalmi, since alone against the Yerushalmi, the Yerushalmi would win.

It is therefore a machlokes between one girsa of Bavli vs. a different girsa of Bavli with a Yerushalmi. That is, we should reckon and weight all the sources on the basis of their respective strengths. We still don't know what Rosh would say in such a situation, but I am just pointing out that this is not as straightforward as it may seem at first glance.

Another point to consider is that Rosh very often responds to, and builds off, the Rif. If Rif cites a specific gemara lehalacha, and Rosh thinks the girsa is or should be different, then he should not be silent. Perhaps we should say that his shtika is kehodaah.

Continuing my analysis: if Maseches Soferim says this, it is Savoraic and it presumably saying this on the basis of one girsa on the gemara that it has. So it is not an independent source, but rather a source which depends on the Bavli. It does give weight to that particular girsa, in that it shows this was a fairly early girsa, but still, it comes down to one girsa of Bavli.

But the other girsa of Bavli also has weight. The Rif has this girsa, and the Rif's girsa in general is an important factor to weigh.

And furthermore, Rashi does not just summarize or cite the gemara such that we may derive what his girsa is. Rather, he says hachi garsinan. That is, Rashi is absolutely aware that there are multiple girsaos available. He has seen them and is now deciding in favor of one girsa. We do not know that this is so for Rambam, who just states the halacha and does not list his sources which feed into the final decision. And we don't know this for Rambam and Tur. They just cite this, but do not attribute this text to be the text of the brayta. Perhaps it is thus not one girsa vs. another, but rather one girsa which happened to be before them vs. a girsa which was explicitly chosen as best by a Rishon.

Furthermore, we should factor in the odds of coming up with various girsaot.
That is, first assume that Rambam's girsa of Bavli is correct. Then, what happened is that there was an original machlokes between Bavli and Yerushalmi, and then somehow, through the random process of scribal error, the Bavli developed a variant girsa which just happened to be in line with the Yerushalmi, even though the Yerushalmi has different text.

Second, assume that Rashi and Rif's girsa is correct. Then what happened was that there was an original agreement between the Bavli and Yerushalmi, and then somehow, through the random process of scribal error, the Bavli developed a variant girsa which diverged from this semantic agreement with the Yerushalmi.

Obviously, I think that the latter is more probable than the former. In general, we would expect entropy to cause systems to go into a state of randomness rather than of order. (Aside from this, in general I believe that many of the purported disputes between Bavli and Yerushalmi are not in fact disputes. Rather, they are agreements but either through development of girsological differences, or through a reinterpretation by the setama digmara, a dispute develops.)

Because it is less likely for agreement to come about via scribal error than for disagreement to arise via the same process, I would say that the existence of this parallel Yerushalmi demonstrates which of the two Bavlis is correct and original. And so we should surely rule in favor of Rashi and Rif's girsa of Bavli.

However, there is an extra twist here, and that is Ritva's girsa of Rashi's girsa, and Ritva's interpretation of what Rashi is saying. That is, in Chiddushei haRitva on Bava Basra 13b, Ritva cites Rashi as saying וכן נביא של י"ב שלשה שיטין. (Or perhaps he does not. See below.) He explains that what the gemara is saying here according to Rashi is that there is no difference between a regular sefer of Navi and one of the Neviim in Trei Asar. One would think that since the Neviim in Trei Asar are so small, there would not need to be any gap. Ka Mashma Lan that there is no difference between a Navi one the one hand and a Navi in Trei Asar on this other hand -- both get a gap of 3 lines.

Thus, Ritva's girsa of Rashi, and his explanation of the intent of Rashi, accords with Rambam, Tur, and Shulchan Aruch, rather than Rif and Yerushalmi!

It is somewhat troubling that a variant girsa arises in a text whose very purpose is to establish the correct girsa. One would think that a sofer would take extra special care in this case! Yet it appears that there is this variant girsa in Rashi. Our Rashi has the וכן before the words בין כל נביא ונביא. Ritva's citation of Rashi begins after that phrase, so we are not sure exactly what full text he has of Rashi, or believes Rashi has. This also suggests that Ritva has, or knows of some other text, which is not like the text he attributes to Rashi.

It is also possible that Ritva is misquoting Rashi here. This would be strange since his intent is to explain Rashi's meaning, and so he would be careful here. Unless, he somehow thinks his citation of Rashi is good enough, that is, equal to the girsa as actually found in Rashi.

On the other hand, that was the text as printed in a specific printing of Ritva I have. In the Bar Ilan of the Ritva, we have: Girsat Rashi veChen [Bein] Navi leNavi UveNavi shel Shneim Asar Shelosha Shitin. And then the explanation. Note though how "bein" is in square brackets.

This made me start to think. Is it possible to read the girsa of Rashi and Rif in a way that accords with Rambam, Tur, et al? Certainly so.

Recall that the girsa according to our printed Rashi, and according to the Rif, would be approximately as we have in our printed Bavli:
בין חומש לחומש של תורה ארבעה שיטין וכן בין נביא לנביא ובנביא של שנים עשר שלש שיטין.

We can parse this in one of two ways:
בין חומש לחומש של תורה ארבעה שיטין וכן בין נביא לנביא
and then
ובנביא של שנים עשר שלש שיטין

This first parsing would mean that chumash is the same as navi in having 4 lines separating.

We could also parse this as:
בין חומש לחומש של תורה ארבעה שיטין
and then
וכן בין נביא לנביא ובנביא של שנים עשר שלש שיטין

The second parsing would mean that between chumashim there are four; and so too between Neviim, even between those of Trei Asar, there would be three.

Sefer HaEshkol has the following:
ספר האשכול (אלבק) הלכות ספר תורה דף נו עמוד ב
ובין חומש לחומש של תורה ארבעה שטין, וכן בין נביא לנביא [ובנביא של שנים עשר שלשה שטין] ש

Without the text in brackets, one would certainly read this as the first parsing. Once the text in brackets is put in, we suddenly are back to the possibly-ambiguous text of the gemara, such that both parsings are possible.

Then, the Meiri:
קרית ספר (למאירי) מאמר ג חלק א
ולדעתנו אפילו סיים בסוף הדף אינו מתחיל בספר האחר בתחילת הדף האחר אלא בהרחקת ד' שטין, וכן בין נביא לנביא ובנביאים של תרי עשר ג' שטין בין זה לזה.
This is basically the same as our gemara, but the commas, and perhaps the saving of בין זה לזה until the end, make the parsing semantically the same as Rambam, Tur, and company.

Elsewhere, Meiri writes
קרית ספר (למאירי) מאמר ג חלק א
ויש גורסין בין חומש לחומש ד' שטין ובין נביא לנביא של תרי עשר ג' ובין כל נביא ונביא מסיים מלמטה ומתחיל מלמעלה ופירושו בבין נביא לנביא לא דיו בהבדל ד' שטין אלא שלא יתחיל בדף שסיים בו. ועקר הדברים או כפי' הא' לשטתנו או כפי' אמצעי לשי' גדולי הרבנים.
This shows that there was an alternate girsa that established that for Neviim, there would have to be a start on a separate page, and a division of four (or even three) lines would not suffice. This, I think, tells us that what Rashi was doing with hachi garsinan was not to necessarily take away from a variant girsa which the Rambam had, but rather from this alternate girsa which the Meiri mentions. Which is why his hachi garsinan continues into the next text of umatchil.

See also haGahot Maimoniyot:
הגהות מיימוניות הלכות תפילין ומזוזה וספר תורה פרק ז
ומסיים למטה וכו' אנביאים דוקא קאי אבל בין חומש לחומש א"א לעשות כן ואפילו יניח ד' שיטין כדאמר בירושלמי פ"ק דמגילה וצריך שיהא גומר באמצע ומתחיל באמצעיתו ובנביאים גומר בסופו ומתחיל בראשו.

Kesef Mishna (=the Mechaber) talks about the girsa of Rambam and Tur:
כסף משנה הלכות תפילין ומזוזה וספר תורה פרק ז
ומ"ש ומניח וכו' ברייתא שם בין חומש לחומש של תורה ד' שיטין וכן בין כל נביא ונביא ובנביא של י"ב ג' שיטין כך היא גירסת ספרינו אבל גירסת רבינו ובין כל נביא ונביא ג' שיטין וכן בנביא של י"ב וכך היא גירסת הטור

Thus, he would understand the girsa as we have in our sefarim the same way as Aruch haShulchan, and in a way semantically equal to the Yerushalmi, but that Rambam who moves ג' שיטין to be before beNavi shel Trei Asar, it would mean 3 for both a regular Navi and a Navi in Trei Asar.

And so too a bit later:
בית יוסף יורה דעה סימן רפג
ולעולם מניח ד' שיטין ודוקא בין נביא לנביא אבל בין חומש לחומש לא יסיים מלמטה ויתחיל מלמעלה אפילו בהנחת ד' שיטין כדאמרינן בירושלמי פ"ק דמגילה (הל"ט) צריך שיהא גומר באמצע הדף ומתחיל באמצעיתו ובנביא מסיים בסופו ומתחיל בראשו ונראה לי הטעם דאין לו לסיים בסוף הדף אפילו יניח ד' שיטין משום שמא יבוא לחתוך אבל בין נביא לנביא שאם בא לחתוך חותך מסיים מלמטה עכ"ל

Let us turn to consider Masechet Sofrim. We have:
מסכתות קטנות מסכת סופרים הוספה ב פרק א
הלכה יח
בין חומש לחומש של תורה ארבעה שיטין, ובין נביא לנביא נותן ריוח לכל אחד ואחד, ומתחיל מלמעלה.

Here, in this hosafa, it omits mention of particularly 3 lines as opposed to 4. I wonder why.

In terms of the actual statement in Masechet Soferim, we see:
מסכתות קטנות מסכת סופרים פרק ב
הלכה ו
מניחין בין ספר לספר, בתורה ריוח ארבע שיטין, ובנביא של שנים עשר שלש שיטין.

Thus, we do not actually see mention of what to do for a regular Navi. I think that this claim made by Masoret haShas and of Aruch haShulchan is incorrect. Masechet Sofrim is not mechaven to the girsa of the Tur and Rambam. For there is no mention of what to do for a regular Navi.

It seems that the assumption is that one would put the sefarim in Torah together, so there is need for a specification of the separation. And similarly in Trei Asar, one must put them together. So, there is need for a specification of the separation. But there is no mention of between one Navi and Navi in general. And this would accord not with Rambam and Tur, but rather with the girsa which the Meiri brought down -- that for a regular Navi, one must begin at the next page, but no mere separation of a few lines would suffice.

I now think this it is quite possible that these were the only two girsaot, namely that of Rashi-Rif and our gemara, on the one hand, and that Meiri notes exists on the other. That Rambam and then Tur said otherwise, in what appears to be a third girsa, may not in fact be a third girsa. Rather, it may be a rephrasing of the gemara to make it clearer. Recall that our gemara is ambiguous, with two possible parsings. By slight rearrangement, it makes it clearer what is meant. It is certainly possible that such a girsa indeed exists, but I would suggest it may be subservient to and derived from our girsa, which encompasses both meanings.

If so, it is not a matter of whose girsa is correct, but rather we might cast it as which interpretation of the Bavli makes the most sense. And then, the Yerushalmi which uses sefer lesefer as opposed to ובנביא of Trei Asar could shed light on which interpretation is correct.

Now, what about the dispute between the girsaot as mentioned by Meiri?
We have on one side: Rashi, Rif, Rambam, Tur, Shulchan Aruch, and possibly the Yerushalmi.
And on the other side: Hagahot Maimoniyot, the Meiri's mention of it, and possibly the Yerushalmi.

I think we can add the Maseches Soferim to the second list, given that it does not mention "Ben Navi leNavi" except as within Trei Asar. But Masechet Soferim should have the same weight I argued in favor of earlier, that is, nil.

But what does the Yerushalmi really say? After all, the Yerushalmi weighed in on both sides of this dispute. How is this possible? To quote that Yerushalmi again:
וצריך שיהא משייר בין ספר לספר כמלא ארבע שיטין ובנביא של י"ב שלש וצריך שיהא גומר באמצע הדף ומתחיל באמצעיתו ובנביא גומר בסופו ומתחיל בראשו ובנביא של י"ב אסור

I agree with Aruch haShulchan that saying sefer rather than chumash implies also a regular sefer of navi, especially when the contrast is to navi shel Trei Asar. One could claim this only means chumash, but I am not convinced of the truth of this argument.

It then continues that one needs to end in the middle of the daf and begin in the middle, presumably by chumash, which will be bound together in a single sefer; that by (regular) Navi, he ends in the end of the page and begins at the beginning; and that by a Navi of Trei Asar, this is forbidden, but presumably one must end and begin in the middle of the page, just as by a chumash.

I would not read this like hagahot Maimoniyot, that this a requirement by a regular Navi, to end at the bottom of the page and begin at the beginning of the page. Rather, I would say this is something which is permitted, for one is allowed to separate one regular Navi from another. But if one does not, there would need to be a separation. And this should be the separation of four lines, as specified above as bein sefer leSefer.

Turning back to the girsa cited by the Meiri:
ויש גורסין בין חומש לחומש ד' שטין ובין נביא לנביא של תרי עשר ג' ובין כל נביא ונביא מסיים מלמטה ומתחיל מלמעלה ופירושו בבין נביא לנביא לא דיו בהבדל ד' שטין אלא שלא יתחיל בדף שסיים בו
This girsa could work out well even according to the parallel Yerushalmi according to my interpretation. That is, the Yerushalmi and this girsa of Bavli would say:
  1. Between one chumash and the next, four lines. This is required since one may not end in the middle. (Perhaps one can even parse this that this is not required. Examine both texts and see what I mean.)
  2. Between one navi in Trei Asar to the next, three lines. This is required since one may not end in the middle.
  3. Between one regular Navi and the next, four lines. This is not required since one could just end at the end of a page.
This would be an explanation different than that offered by Meiri, that בבין נביא לנביא לא דיו בהבדל ד' .שטין אלא שלא יתחיל בדף שסיים בו

And we can read the text as given by our gemara, and the Rif, the same way -- that next statement of ending at the end, if such occurs, is permitted. Or even that one can do this ab initio. But this is specifically for a regular Navi, not for a Navi within Trei Asar.

Thus, I would conclude that regardless of the choice between Rif's girsa and the girsa mentioned in Meiri, one can come to the same conclusion, and that it would work out well with the Yerushalmi. Even with Rif's girsa, we can still parse it according to Rambam and Tur's halachic ruling. However, I think that they are wrong in this parse, or else their girsa is wrong. I do not think that Masechet Soferim actually supports their parse or girsa, but rather that one cited by Meiri.

Therefore, I would conclude that 3 lines are not really sufficient as a division between one sefer and the next. Either four lines are required, or else starting on a new page. This because our girsa and understanding of the Bavli is much better if parallel to the Yerushalmi. I would favor first Meiri and Hagahot Maimoniot's girsa, then Rashi-Rif, and finally Rambam-Tur.

One thing that might help resolve all of this is to look at manuscripts or old scrolls which contained multiple Neviim, from different geographical locations from different times. We could then perhaps understand what Rashi meant, and what various girsaot meant.

All this quickly expanded past my original intent. This all needs reworking. Perhaps at some later date.

Also, my regular caveat: this is not intended as halacha leMaaseh.

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