Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Berachot 31a: Shlish beMikra, and peshat in Daniel's prayer 'as he did aforetime'

Cross-posted to my Daf Yomi blog.

(The content directly related to the gemara in Berachot appears towards the end of this post. But I have an elaborate and interesting introduction first.)

Many people unfortunately think they learn all the Tanach by learning the gemara. After all, the gemara cites all these pesukim!

Such is the position of Tosafot. That is, there is a gemara in Kiddushim, 30a, which reads:
אמר רב ספרא משום ר' יהושע בן חנניא: מאי דכתיב (דברים ו, ז) "ו וְשִׁנַּנְתָּם לְבָנֶיךָ "? אל תקרי "ושננתם" אלא "ושלשתם" - לעולם ישלש אדם שנותיו: שליש במקרא שליש במשנה שליש בתלמוד. מי יודע כמה חיי? לא צריכא – ליומי.
"Rav Safra cited Rabbi Yehoshua ben Chanania: What is meant by 'veshinantam levanecha' {'and you shall teach them to your children'}? Read not veshinantam but veshilashtam. A person should always divide his learning / years (שנותיו -- perhaps this is the ambiguity?). A third in Scripture, a third in Mishna, and a third in Talmud. Who knows how long he will live? No, it is necessary. For each day."

Rashi there explains:
ליומי - ימי השבוע:
"For days: the days of the week."

That is, alternate days of the week, each day devoted to one such topic.

Tosafot there writes:
לא צריכא ליומי. פירש בקונטרס ימי השבת כלומר שני ימים מקרא ושני ימים משנה ושני ימים גמרא ולא נהירא דא"כ אכתי הוה מצי למיפרך מי ידע כמה חיי ונ"ל לפרש בכל יום ויום עצמו ישלש על כן תיקן בסדר רב עמרם גאון כמו שאנו נוהגים בכל יום קודם פסוקי דזמרה לומר מקרא ומשנה וגמרא ור"ת פי' שאנו סומכין אהא דאמרינן בסנהדרין (דף כד.) בבל בלולה במקרא במשנה ובגמרא דגמרת בבל בלול מכולם:
"No, it is necessary, for days. It is explained in the notebook [of Rashi] 'the days of the week'. That is to say, two days of Scripture, two days of Mishna, and two days of Gemara. And this is unconvincing, for if so, one could still ask, 'who knows how long he shall live'? And it appears to me to explain that within each day itself, one should divide into three. Therefore, it was instituted in the seder [siddur] of Rav Amram Gaon before Pesukei deZimra to say Mikra, Mishna, and Gemara. And Rabbenu Tam explained that we rely on that which we say in Sanhedrin (daf 24a) that Babel is mixed, in Mikra, Mishna, and Gemara; that the gemara of Bavel is mixed with all of them.

That gemara in Sanhedrin 24a reads:
What does [the name] Babel connote?30  — R. Johanan answered: [That the study of] Scripture, Mishnah and Talmud was intermingled [therein].31
I am not at all convinced by Tosafot's argument against Rashi. Yes, one does not know how many days he will live, but it does not need to be such a precise accounting. Where the gemara asked that a man does not know the days of his life, this was because one might devote 15 years to Mikra, then next 15 years to Mishna, and then never reach Gemara. Or only end up devoting 2 years to gemara.

But, if one devotes 10 years to Mikra, 10 years to Mishna, and 10 years minus 2 days to Gemara, then Rav Safra and Rabbi Yehohua ben Chanania would still consider this as shlish for each. To expect such precision seems a bit silly, and reminiscent of Rabbi Yirmiyah, who was kicked out of the bet midrash for such precise measurements.

Still, splitting each day into thirds is a rather plausible reading of the gemara as well. I dislike the proof but I do like the reading of the gemara.

In terms of the siddur of Rav Amram Gaon, is it really so clear that his purpose was this shlish in each field? If he said so, fine, but I always assumed that the basis was what we learned earlier in masechet Berachot, about whether Birchat HaTorah was necessary for each of the three, and if it is necessary later when one picks up the later field; this sets the stage at the start of the day, after the berachot, with a selection from each of the three.

But no, we are talking about a different selection from all three, namely the Korbanot ending with the hermeneutical rules of Rabbi Yishmael.

In terms of the gemara in Sanhedrin, here is what Tosafot says there:
בלולה במקרא ובמשנה וכו'. פירש רבינו תם דבתלמוד שלנו אנו פוטרין עצמנו ממה שאמרו חכמים (מסכת ע"ג דף יט.) לעולם ישלש אדם שנותיו שליש במקרא שליש במשנה שליש בש"ס אע"פ כן אנו קוראים בכל יום פרשת התמיד ושונים במשנת איזהו מקומן וגורסין רבי ישמעאל אומר בשלש עשרה מדות וכו':

Is Rabbi Yochanan, an early Amora from Eretz Yisrael, really talking about Talmud Bavli, which was closed and redacted well after his death? And why would he not say the same about Talmud Yerushalmi, which also encompasses all three?!

At any rate, now to our gemara, just to give a little taste of what one might be missing if one relies on learning gemara as one's only source of Mikra, which unfortunately many people do.

The gemara in Berachot 31a reads:
יכול יתפלל אדם כל היום כלו כבר מפורש על ידי דניאל (דניאל ו, יא) וזמנין תלתא וגו' יכול משבא לגולה הוחלה כבר נאמר (דניאל ו, יא) די הוא עבד מן קדמת דנא
Or, in English:
I might say that a man should pray the whole day? It has already been expressly stated by the hand of Daniel, And three times. etc.23  But perhaps [this practice] began only when he went into captivity? It is already said, As he did aforetime.24 
So, one would think that it is clear, on a peshat level, that the purpose of די הוא עבד מן קדמת דנא is to indicate that this was a practice of Daniel since before he went into galut. However, if we consider the context of the pasuk in sefer Daniel, we realize that:

1) this was not in the days of Nevuchadnezzar, but of Darius, a successor, which means that "aforetime" could have even been while in galut.

2) this was part of a plot in which certain people who were jealous of Daniel convinced the king to outlaw prayer to anyone but the king. Despite knowledge of this decree, Daniel continued his regular practice of prayer. The function of this statement of די הוא עבד מן קדמת דנא on a peshat level is to say that Daniel payed no heed to their conspiracies and to the king's decree, but continued his established practice of facing Yerushalayim and praying three times a day while bowing on his knees.

This is explicit in Daniel, perek 6:
א  וְדָרְיָוֶשׁ, מדיא (מָדָאָה), קַבֵּל, מַלְכוּתָא--כְּבַר שְׁנִין, שִׁתִּין וְתַרְתֵּין.1 And Darius the Mede received the kingdom, being about threescore and two years old.

and then:
ה  אֱדַיִן סָרְכַיָּא וַאֲחַשְׁדַּרְפְּנַיָּא, הֲווֹ בָעַיִן עִלָּה לְהַשְׁכָּחָה לְדָנִיֵּאל--מִצַּד מַלְכוּתָא; וְכָל-עִלָּה וּשְׁחִיתָה לָא-יָכְלִין לְהַשְׁכָּחָה, כָּל-קֳבֵל דִּי-מְהֵימַן הוּא, וְכָל-שָׁלוּ וּשְׁחִיתָה, לָא הִשְׁתְּכַחַת עֲלוֹהִי.5 Then the presidents and the satraps sought to find occasion against Daniel as touching the kingdom; but they could find no occasion nor fault; forasmuch as he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him.
ו  אֱדַיִן גֻּבְרַיָּא אִלֵּךְ, אָמְרִין, דִּי לָא נְהַשְׁכַּח לְדָנִיֵּאל דְּנָה, כָּל-עִלָּה; לָהֵן, הַשְׁכַּחְנָא עֲלוֹהִי בְּדָת אֱלָהֵהּ.  {ס}6 Then said these men: 'We shall not find any occasion against this Daniel, except we find it against him in the matter of the law of his God.' {S}
ז  אֱדַיִן סָרְכַיָּא וַאֲחַשְׁדַּרְפְּנַיָּא, אִלֵּן, הַרְגִּשׁוּ, עַל-מַלְכָּא; וְכֵן אָמְרִין לֵהּ, דָּרְיָוֶשׁ מַלְכָּא לְעָלְמִין חֱיִי.7 Then these presidents and satraps came tumultuously to the king, and said thus unto him: 'King Darius, live for ever!
ח  אִתְיָעַטוּ כֹּל סָרְכֵי מַלְכוּתָא, סִגְנַיָּא וַאֲחַשְׁדַּרְפְּנַיָּא הַדָּבְרַיָּא וּפַחֲוָתָא, לְקַיָּמָה קְיָם מַלְכָּא, וּלְתַקָּפָה אֱסָר:  דִּי כָל-דִּי-יִבְעֵא בָעוּ מִן-כָּל-אֱלָהּ וֶאֱנָשׁ עַד-יוֹמִין תְּלָתִין, לָהֵן מִנָּךְ מַלְכָּא--יִתְרְמֵא, לְגֹב אַרְיָוָתָא.8 All the presidents of the kingdom, the prefects and the satraps, the ministers and the governors, have consulted together that the king should establish a statute, and make a strong interdict, that whosoever shall ask a petition of any god or man for thirty days, save of thee, O king, he shall be cast into the den of lions.
ט  כְּעַן מַלְכָּא, תְּקִים אֱסָרָא וְתִרְשֻׁם כְּתָבָא:  דִּי לָא לְהַשְׁנָיָה כְּדָת-מָדַי וּפָרַס, דִּי-לָא תֶעְדֵּא.9 Now, O king, establish the interdict, and sign the writing, that it be not changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not.'
י  כָּל-קֳבֵל, דְּנָה--מַלְכָּא, דָּרְיָוֶשׁ, רְשַׁם כְּתָבָא, וֶאֱסָרָא.10 Wherefore king Darius signed the writing and the interdict.
יא  וְדָנִיֵּאל כְּדִי יְדַע דִּי-רְשִׁים כְּתָבָא, עַל לְבַיְתֵהּ, וְכַוִּין פְּתִיחָן לֵהּ בְּעִלִּיתֵהּ, נֶגֶד יְרוּשְׁלֶם; וְזִמְנִין תְּלָתָה בְיוֹמָא הוּא בָּרֵךְ עַל-בִּרְכוֹהִי, וּמְצַלֵּא וּמוֹדֵא קֳדָם אֱלָהֵהּ, כָּל-קֳבֵל דִּי-הֲוָא עָבֵד, מִן-קַדְמַת דְּנָה.  {ס}11 And when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house--now his windows were open in his upper chamber toward Jerusalem--and he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime. {S}
יב  אֱדַיִן גֻּבְרַיָּא אִלֵּךְ, הַרְגִּשׁוּ, וְהַשְׁכַּחוּ, לְדָנִיֵּאל--בָּעֵה וּמִתְחַנַּן, קֳדָם אֱלָהֵהּ.12 Then these men came tumultuously, and found Daniel making petition and supplication before his God.

I think it quite plausible that your typical student of Daf Yomi, or even yeshiva student learning this gemara somewhat be-iyun, would not realize the peshat intent of this pasuk of become aware of the background to this story.

Of course, the gemara is entitled to reinterpret the pasuk as it wishes, to show this as a prior practice of prayer from before churban bayis rishon. But people should not think that they are really getting their shlish bemikra such that they are now experts in Mikra.

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