Sunday, February 08, 2015

Cappadocia, and the Authenticity of the Zohar

Bumped to the top, so that people can comment without my prior approval. Rabbi Miller has recently visited parshablog, and while I have his attention, I was hoping that he would consider and answer to the points raised here.

Summary: More debunking of debunkings, from an article by Rabbi Moshe Miller. Was Kapotkia in Israel or in Asia Minor? Previous posts in this series discuss Rabbi Yesa and Rabbi Abba, as mentioned in the Zohar.

Post: Continuing the list of purported debunkings from this five-part article, we have this:
Scholem (and his student Tishby) cites 18 places in the Zohar where a place called Kapotkia is mentioned. Scholem argues that no such place ever existed in Israel, and it was never mentioned in Talmudic or Midrashic sources as a place in Israel, but rather as a province named Kappadokia in Asia Minor. Yet, "there is absolutely no doubt that the Zohar did not intend to refer to Kappadokia in Asia Minor but (correctly or incorrectly) to a village or town in the Land of Israel, close to Lod, as mentioned several times in the Zohar." (She'elot Bikoret, Tzion p. 43.) 
The obvious conclusion is that "the author had never so much as set foot in Palestine and that his knowledge of the country was derived entirely from literary sources which he misunderstood!" (She'elot Bikoret, Tzion, ibid.)
The following is a list of sources where the place Kapotkia appears - in Targum Onkelos, Targum Yonatan, Mishnah, Babylonian Talmud and several Midrashim! An examination of these sources reveals that none other than Scholem and Tishby were either ignorant of basic sources… or attempted to deliberately mislead their readers. 
Targum Onkelos to Devarim 2:23; Targum Yonatan to Amos 9:1 ("the Philistines from Kapotkia" - the land of the Philistines is in the Gaza Strip area, not very far from Lod); Mishnah Ketubot 13:10, 11; Shabbat 26a, 134a; Yevamot 25b, 121a; Ketubot 10a, 110b; Bava Batra 58b; Chulin 47b; Yerushalmi Yevamot 38a; Shir Hashirim Rabba 7:5; Kohelet Rabba 11:1; Tanchuma Va'era 13; ibid. BeHa'alotecha 1. 
Also: Jerusalem Talmud Yevamot 38a tells about a trip from Casarea to Kapotkia (Caesarea was also in the Mediterranean coastal region. See #3 below).
Bolding, in this instance, is my own. An examination of these sources does NOT reveal Scholem and Tishby to be ignorant of basic sources. If we start looking through this list -- for this is what it is, a mere list -- we see support for Scholem and Tishby. Indeed, in such a way that either Rabbi Miller does not know how to learn, never bothered to carefully examine the sources, or is attempting to deliberately mislead his readers.

Let us begin with the Mishna in Ketubot 13:10, which we would find in Ketubot 110b. The relevant part of the Mishna reads:
That is, the Mishna is contrasting the land of Israel, and the currency of Israel, to that of Cappadocia. This would indicate that Cappadocia is not in the land of Israel!

The next source he cites to "prove" that Kapotkia is in Eretz Yisrael is Shabbat 26a:
[To turn to] the main text: R. Simeon b. Eleazar said: One may not kindle [the Sabbath lamp] with balsam. And thus did R. Simeon b. Eleazar say: Balsam [zari] is merely the sap of resinous trees. R. Ishmael said: All that proceeds from trees, one may not light. R. Ishmael b. Berokah said: One may light only with the produce of fruit.11  R. Tarfon said: One may light [the Sabbath lamp] with nought but olive oil. Thereupon R. Johanan b. Nuri rose to his feet and exclaimed, What shall the Babylonians do, who have only sesame oil? And what shall the Medeans do, who have only nut oil? And what shall the Alexandrians do, who have only radish oil? And what shall the people of Cappadocia12  do, who have neither the one nor the other, save naphtha?
There is certainly nothing here to indicate that that Cappadocia is in Eretz Yisrael. And indeed, Soncino puts a footnote there indicating that Cappadocia is a district in Asia Minor. And indeed, compare the list of nations and places -- the Babylonians, the Medeans, the Alexandrians, and the people of Cappadocia. Why should we suddenly take this as some town in Eretz Yisrael, given a context that indicates otherwise?

To add a further proof -- if Cappadocia is in Eretz Yisrael, why would they only have naphtha? Why can't they get the olive oil Rabbi Tarfon demands, and which is surely present in every other town in Eretz Yisrael. This is a proof against Rabbi Miller's position.

What in the world is Rabbi Miller doing with this list?! And to bring these sources to indicate that Scholem and Tishby were ignorant of basic sources! Yikes!

Rabbi Miller's next "proof" is from Yevamot daf 25b:
'I KILLED HIM' etc., 'WE KILLED HIM' … MAY MARRY etc. What is the practical difference between 'I killed him' and 'we killed him'?11  — Rab Judah said: [Our Mishnah speaks of the case] where he said, 'I was present together with his murderers' — 12 Has it not, however, been taught: They said to R. Judah, 'It once happened that a robber when led out to his execution in the Cappadocian Pass13  said to those present,14  "Go and tell the wife of Simeon b. Kohen that I killed her husband when I entered Lud" [others Say: When he entered Lud], and his wife was permitted to marry again'!15  He answered them: Is there any proof from there? [It was a case] where he said, 'I was present together with his murderers'.12  But it was stated, 'a robber'! — He was apprehended on account of robbery.16  But it was stated, 'led out to his execution'! — [He was sentenced by] a heathen court of law who executed without due investigation.17 
I suppose if one reads this gemara not so carefully, one could draw the conclusion that this Cappadocia is near Lud, and thus in Eretz Yisrael. But the Cappadocian Pass, or Ford, was only the place of execution. That does not mean that the murder took place in the same country!

His next proof is a mere mention of Cappadician coins. It is as if Rabbi Miller mistakenly believes that a mere mention of the place is enough to debunk that it is in Asia Minor! The gemara is Ketubot 10a:
We have [already] heard that R. Simeon the son of Gamaliel said that thekethubah is from the Bible, for we learnt: Rabban Simeon b. Gamaliel says: He22  gives her23  [the kethubah] in Cappadocian coins.24
Which Soncino explains means as opposed to the coins of Eretz Yisrael. So does Rashi:
נותן לה ממעות קפוטקיא - בפרק בתרא תנן נשא אשה בא"י וגירשה בקפוטקיא נותן לה ממעות א"י שהן קלות נשא אשה בקפוטקיא וגירשה בא"י נותן לה ממעות א"י מנין הכתוב בכתובה דאזלינן לקולא רשבג"א נותן לה ממעות קפוטקיא שנשתעבד בהן כשאר מלוה דקסבר כתובה דאורייתא:

This isn't so surprising, since it is, after all, a mere reference to the Mishna we saw above.

His next source is Ketubot 110b. But that is the Mishna we saw above, just giving the daf it appears on in the Bavli. It is almost as if he is trying to increase the number of sources! I could have advised him to give the daf in the Yerushalmi where this Mishna appears as well, and he would have had a third source!

Next up, he cites Bava Batra 58b:
Over the gateway of Kaputkia2  there was an inscription, Anpak, anbag, antal.3  And what is an 'antal'?4  It is the same as the 'fourth part in Jewish ritual measurements.5
This is Cappadocia. So? What is there to indicate where this Kaputkia is?!

His next proof is from Chullin 47b:
רבי נתן אומר פעם אחת הלכתי לכרכי הים באתה אשה אחת לפני שמלה בנה ראשון ומת שני ומת שלישי הביאתו לפני ראיתיו שהיה אדום אמרתי לה בתי המתיני לו עד שיבלע בו דמו המתינה לו ומלה אותו וחיה והיו קורין אותו נתן הבבלי על שמי ושוב פעם אחת הלכתי למדינת קפוטקיא באתה אשה לפני שמלה בנה ראשון ומת שני ומת שלישי הביאתו לפני ראיתיו שהיה ירוק הצצתי בו ולא היה בו דם ברית אמרתי לה בתי המתיני לו עד שיפול בו דמו המתינה לו ומלה אותו וחיה והיו קורין אותו נתן הבבלי על שמי
What proof, besides that he encountered a Jewish woman there, is there that the medina of Cappadocia (rather than the sea towns) is in Eretz Yisrael?

The next source (which he lists twice) is Yerushalmi Yevamot 38b:
תני אמר רבי נתן מעשה שהלכתי לקיסרין של קפוטקייא והיתה שם אשה אחת והיתה יולדת זכרים והיו נימולים ומתים.  ומלת את הראשון ומת שני ומת שלישי ומת.  רביעי הביאתו לפני נסתכלתי בו ולא ראיתי בו דם ברית.  אמרתי להם הניחוהו לאחר זמן והניחוהו ומלוהו ונמצא בן קיימא והיו קורין אותו נתן בשמי.

But this is an identical story to the one that appears immediately above, from Chullin 47b, of Rabbi Natan's travel to the medina of Cappadocia, gives halachic advice to a woman, such that the baby is named Natan HaBavli after him!

But this time, at least, Rabbi Miller explains why he thinks this is a proof, more than the mere mention:
Also: Jerusalem Talmud Yevamot 38a tells about a trip from Casarea to Kapotkia (Caesarea was also in the Mediterranean coastal region. See #3 below).
But the Yerushalmi does not tell "about a trip from Casarea to Kapotkia"! The words are מעשה שהלכתי לקיסרין של קפוטקייא, "there was an incident in which I traveled to Cesarea of Cappadocia"!

Apparently, Rabbi Miller is under the mistaken assumption that the Caesaria in Eretz Yisrael was the only one in the world. It is most assuredly NOT. To cite Wikipedia,
Caesarea, a city name derived from "Caesar", was the name of numerous cities and locations in the Roman Empire, many of which bear different names at present (or might have had alternate names also in the Roman period itself). Among them:

  • Caesarea Maritima/Caesarea Palaestina, Roman provincial capital of Palestine

  • Caesarea Philippi (Banias), in the Golan Heights

  • Caesarea Mazaca, city in Cappadocia, modern Kayseri, Turkey

  • Anazarbus, name of the city of Caesarea in Cilicia after the fall of the Roman Empire

  • Antioch, Pisidia, proper name of the city of Caesarea Antiochia, near modern Yalvaç, Turkey

  • Germanicopolis (Bithynia), the city of Caesarea Germanice in Bithynia

  • Cherchell, modern name of the city of Caesarea in Algeria

  • Shaizar (or Saijar), the proper name of the city of Caesarea Magna, in Syria

  • The island of Caesarea, modern Jersey, in the Channel Islands (the derivation of the island's name is disputed)

  • Caesarea, in Italy, was a disappeared city, forming a Pentapolis with RavennaForlìForlimpopoli and Classe

  • Thus, there is a Caesara in the medina of Cappadocia, and when Rabbi Natan said לקיסרין של קפוטקייא, it was a way of making sure you didn't confuse it, e.g., with the one in Eretz Yisrael. And Rabbi Miller has the chutzpa to call Scholem and Tishbi amaratzim?!

    Rabbi Miller's next source is Shir Hashirim Rabba 7:5. But this is the same incident with Rabbi Natan, where it is refered to as the Medina of Cappadocia!
    אמר רבי נתן:
    מעשה שבאתי למדינת קפוטקיא והיתה שם אשה אחת והיתה יולדת בנים זכרים ונמולים ומתים. מלה ראשון ומת, שני ומת, שלישי ומת, רביעי הביאתו לפני וראיתי בשרו ירוק נסתכלתי בו ולא מצאתי בו דם ברית.
    אמרו לי: מה אנו מולין אותו? 
    אמרתי להם: המתינו והניחו אותו, עד שיבא לו דם ברית.
    דתנינן תמן:
    הקטן החולה אין מולין אותו עד שיבריא והניחו אותו.
    מלו אותו ונמצא הבן של חיים והוציאו שמו נתן כשמי, הוי, כמו חלאים

    Rabbi Miller's next source is Kohelet Rabba 11:1:

    But this is Rabbi Akiva traveling at sea, seeing a ship sink, and then arriving at the medina, that is, country, of Cappadocia. Just as Rabbi Natan HaBavli!

    Rabbi Miller's next "proof" is from the Midrash Tanchuma on parashat Vaera.
    אמר רבי אליעזר:
    כל צר חסר שבמקרא, במלכות אדום הכתוב מדבר, שהיא מצירה לישראל.
    וכל צור מלא, בקפוטקייא הכתוב מדבר. מצרים לקו בדם, אף אדום כן. 
    The point is in disambiguating the two Tyres, Tzor. When it is chaser, it refers to the one of the kingdom of Edom, while is malei, it refers to that of Cappadocia. But what is there to show that this refers to Eretz Yisrael? Indeed, one might well be able to demonstrate this one way or another, by examining every instance of Tzor spelled malei in Tanach, and seeing which makes sense in context. I won't bother, because there is no reason yet given by Rabbi Miller for thinking there was a Cappadocia in Eretz Yisrael!

    His next "proof" is from Midrash Tanchuma on Behaalotecha, which is just another rehash of something already cited above. It is great how one can multiply these lists in this manner:
    רבי טרפון אומר:

    אין מדליקין אלא בשמן זית בלבד. 
    עמד רבי יהודה על רגליו ואמר ליה לרבי טרפון:
    מה יעשו אנשי מדי שאין להם אלא שמן אגוזים, מה יעשו אנשי אלכסנדריא שאין להם אלא שמן צנונות, ומה יעשו אנשי קפוטקיא שאין להם לא זה ולא זה? 
    This is about what sort of oil one may use to light. As I demonstrates above, this is actually a proof against Rabbi Miller's position.

    There was also the Targum Onkelos and Targum Yonatan. It has been a while since we've seen Rabbi Miller's words, so I'll give the relevant quote:
    Targum Onkelos to Devarim 2:23; Targum Yonatan to Amos 9:1 ("the Philistines from Kapotkia" - the land of the Philistines is in the Gaza Strip area, not very far from Lod)
    The pasuk in Devarim 2:23 reads:

    כג  וְהָעַוִּים הַיֹּשְׁבִים בַּחֲצֵרִים, עַד-עַזָּה--כַּפְתֹּרִים הַיֹּצְאִים מִכַּפְתֹּר, הִשְׁמִידֻם וַיֵּשְׁבוּ תַחְתָּם.23 and the Avvim, that dwelt in villages as far as Gaza, the Caphtorim, that came forth out of Caphtor, destroyed them, and dwelt in their stead.--

    So Caphtorim came from Caphtor, destroyed the Avim who lived in Gaza, and dwelt in their stead. Did these Caphtorim come from nearby or from far away? To be determined. But Onkelos writes:

    ב,כג וְהָעַוִּים הַיֹּשְׁבִים בַּחֲצֵרִים, עַד-עַזָּה--כַּפְתֹּרִים הַיֹּצְאִים מִכַּפְתֹּר, הִשְׁמִידֻם וַיֵּשְׁבוּ תַחְתָּם.וְעַוָּאֵי דְּיָתְבִין בִּרְפִיחַ, עַד עַזָּה--קְפֻטְקָאֵי דִּנְפַקוּ מִקְּפֻטְקְיָא, שֵׁיצִיאוּנוּן וִיתִיבוּ בַּאֲתַרְהוֹן.

    Thus, Caphtor = Keputkeya.

    The pasuk in Amos reads:

    א  רָאִיתִי אֶת-אֲדֹנָי נִצָּב עַל-הַמִּזְבֵּחַ, וַיֹּאמֶר הַךְ הַכַּפְתּוֹר וְיִרְעֲשׁוּ הַסִּפִּים וּבְצַעַם בְּרֹאשׁ כֻּלָּם, וְאַחֲרִיתָם, בַּחֶרֶב אֶהֱרֹג:  לֹא-יָנוּס לָהֶם נָס, וְלֹא-יִמָּלֵט לָהֶם פָּלִיט.1 I saw the Lord standing beside the altar; and He said: Smite the capitals, that the posts may shake; and break them in pieces on the head of all of them; and I will slay the residue of them with the sword; there shall not one of them flee away, and there shall not one of them escape.

    where "smite the capitals" is smite the Kaphtor in Hebrew. The Targum takes this as a reference to the Kaphtorites, or at least the Plishtim who were initially in Kaphtor. I don't see it inside this Targum, but perhaps I'm looking in the wrong place. Maybe there is some other Targum of this pasuk somewhere.

    So, where did they come from. Where is the Biblical Caphtor? Where did the Plishtim initially come from? Well, read this:
    This fits with the idea that the Plishtim originated among the "sea peoples"
    and read up on Caphtor:
    "The Septuagint translates the name as "Kappadokias" and the Vulgate similarly renders it as "Cappadocia". The seventeenth-century scholar Samuel Bochart[5] understood this as a reference to Cappadocia in Anatolia but this was not the understanding of the Jewish targumists who rendered this name in Aramaic as "Caphutkia" meaning the town of Pelusium at the eastern edge of the Nile delta. This identification is also made by the tenth century commentator Saadia Gaon and Benjamin of Tudela, the twelfth-century Jewish traveller from Navarre, who both wrote that "Damiata" (Arabic Dumyat), the name for the region of Pelusium in their day, was the biblical Caphtor. "
    So this is not the only source that puts it as Cappadocia. Either one of these Cappadocias -- meaning, even the one at Pelusium, is not in Eretz Yisrael. So why take this mere reference to the city or country as evidence that it is in Eretz Yisrael. Certainly others put Caphtor as Cappadocia and yet located this place outside of Eretz Yisrael.

    What gets me upset about this piece is that it is written in such an erudite style that the reader is just astonished at how much the writer knows and how little Scholem and Tishby know. Hardly any reader will bother to look up the sources, and discover the truth. And that truth is that Scholem and Tishby likely looked up these very sources, and this was what led them to the conclusion that Kapotkia is not in Eretz Yisrael, but is in Asia Minor.

    The copious errors in this article might give us insight into what misled Rav Moshe de Leon, or whoever the late author of the Zohar was. For example, he might have seen the Yerushalmi mention Ceasaria of Cappodocia, and thought that Caesaria is in Eretz Yisrael, though attributing such amaratzus to Rav Moshe de Leon seems unlikely. But he might have simply seen the Onkelos in parashat Devarim and assumed that the Philistines conquered from nearby. Or seen that Rabbi Akiva arrived in Kapodkia, and for some reason assumed that it is a place in Eretz Yisrael.


    Wolf2191 said...

    R. margoliyos has an article on this subject as well. (rebublished in Pninim U Margoliyos 210). He cites Yevamos 25 b as well.

    He has some other sources and calculations to prove the existence of a village Kaputkiya near Lud

    joshwaxman said...

    well, of all these sources, Yevamot 25b is the closest one can come to a proof, though it does not seem definitive; and, at the least, if the Zohar was authored late and there is no Kaputkia in Eretz Yisrael, I would attribute R' Moshe de Leon's mistake to this gemara. i'll see if i can track down that article.

    it certainly isn't an impossibility.


    S. said...

    Nice post. It's incredible to me that he considers the mere mention of the place to be proof that it was in Eretz Yisrael. The alternative of course is worse.

    I doubt R. Margoliyos attacked Scholem and Tisby as unaware of these sources.

    Anonymous said...

    Thank you for the sources, but showing how the Zohar lists a city (or district) that may or may not be located in Eretz Yisrael doesn't answer up to the Zohar's authenticity. The Zohar like many Kabblistic literature is filled analogous statements and metaphoric concepts. Trying to read the Zohar as a literalistic sefer is a mistaken way to look at it. By the way many can do the same in the Talmud, where amorayim are having a discussion, yet they are never would have met in real life. Yet we still learn and study the Talmud.

    joshwaxman said...

    this may or may not be a good answer for this particular irregularity in the Zohar. but I'll say what I said on the Rabbi Abba post. the aim of this particular post is to analyze the particular answers put forth in the article by Rabbi Moshe Miller, put up on, that more than a few people thought was erudite and demonstrated extreme amaratzus of Scholem and Tishby. Do you agree that the argument put forth by this article fails miserably? I plan on demonstrating the same for other points, point after point in the article.

    If I've shown this for Cappadocia, then I have accomplished my goal for this post. No more than that.

    Can you please provide me an example of Amoraim having an anachronistic, back and forth discussion. Not something like "amar lecha Rabbi Yannai," rabbi Yannai would say to you. And do you really have statements like "Amora X and Amora Y were traveling on the road", when they did not live in each other's lifetimes, in the gemara.

    Of course, allegory and metaphor are always ready answers. Whether they are convincing, especially when put up alongside other examples which cannot be attributed to allegory (e.g. using the word "Esnoga", which is a Spanish/Ladino word for synagogue only in use in the time and place of R' Moshe de Leon; and using "tzahivin" to mean yellow, which is not the usage in the sefarim of Chazal but only in late Rabbinic usage; and using "kedein" as "az" as a *joiner* of two parts of a sentence, as is typical of Rabbinic Hebrew, and not the Aramaic of Chazal, etc., etc.), and you might well arrive at the conclusion that if the Zohar makes the assumption that Cappadocia is town near Lud, while there is a gemara that can be misinterpreted to say the same thing (while a survey of other sources reveals otherwise), that it was an error on R' Moshe de Leon's part, since he did not actually live in Eretz Yisrael.

    It is the convergence of evidence, rather than any one point.

    kol tuv,

    joshwaxman said...

    Hi Rabbi Miller,

    I was hoping that, since you are commenting on these posts, you would also do us the favor of responding to these points.

    You asserted that
    The following is a list of sources where the place Kapotkia appears - in Targum Onkelos, Targum Yonatan, Mishnah, Babylonian Talmud and several Midrashim! An examination of these sources reveals that none other than Scholem and Tishby were either ignorant of basic sources… or attempted to deliberately mislead their readers.

    Please read through the discussion of the sources. Show me, for instance, how the fact that the Mishna Ketubot 13:10 mentioned Cappodecia, in contrast to Eretz Yisrael, is evidence that Cappodecia is in Eretz Yisrael. And please explain to me how this shows that Scholem and Tishby were ignorant of this basic source, or were trying to deliberately mislead their readers.

    And the same for the other sources.


    Anonymous said...

    Dear Josh Waxman
    I wanted to suggest a discussion about machatzit handheld, in view of current paramount.

    Anonymous said...

    Machatzit hashekel

    Joel said...

    Likely, by the mediaeval times, yhe original meaning had been lost and Kapotica/Kaftor had come to be equated with Damieta (also see Ramban and Barterura on Kesubot 13:11) and Moses De Leon was working with that. In Roman times, they would have known it to be Capodica as in Moed Kattan about Sappur's massacre of Keiseri.

    Anonymous said...

    Thanks for this interesting post!
    I don't really understand the different possibilities.
    Let's say that the zohar Was "compiled" by rav Moshe di leon is one possibility. What are the other possibility? That it was.totally "compeled" by tanaim? Amoraim?


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