Monday, March 24, 2008

Tanakh Yom Iyun 2008: Parshanut Hamikra

DISCLAIMER: These notes are unofficial and unedited. Any and all mistakes are mine. Any misquotations are mine. Any concept which offends or gives pause is probably due to my having mistranscribed something.

Simcha Gross, Yehuda Bernstein and Stu Halpern put together an incredible Tanakh Yom Iyun that took place on March 23, 2008. It was absolutely amazing and they deserve an enormous amount of credit. There were many breakout sessions (you can see the options here.) I attended shiurim given by Rabbi Jeremy Wieder, Dr. Lawrence Schiffman, Dr. Mordechai Cohen and Rabbi Menachem Leibtag, in that order. This mainly entailed my staying in Furst 501 for the duration of the event. Source sheets are attached in this post underneath the name and title of the speaker and the shiur. Audio recordings of all the lectures are currently online at

Robert Shur

Welcome- We understand that it’s a busy time before Pesach and certainly a beautiful pasuk that we just read in the megillah that the jews were kimu v’kiblu- my name is Robert Shur- any comments/ suggestions, please feel free to bring them to me- love to hear your suggestions. Feel free to approach anyone with a name badge who is here today staffing the event- I’d like to make public mention of the two students who originally initiated this project, Yehuda Bernstein and Simcha Gross- without them I don’t believe this program would have gotten off the ground- in general the CJF, RIETS, SOY and the Office of Student Affairs- we certainly appreciate that initiative and excitement.

Thank the many Rabbanim who give of their time- dedicate this to the victims of Mercaz HaRav [lists all the victims.]

Recordings of today’s shiurim will be available shortly afterwards at Wonderful resource- and after our first opening presentation by Rabbi Schwartz, the program is going to continue in various locations in this building [lists locations.] So please make sure to check that schedule for all the results- please come to me or anyone else wearing a name badge- mincha afterwards. Please turn off your cell phones until the end of the program- hold off all questions till the end of the shiur- begin with our first shiur now.

Rabbi Schwartz has served as the Rabbi of ____- Masters in Bible, Halakha from YU, continues to work on his doctoral thesis- currently holds ____ Chair in Jewish Studies in Yeshiva University- his topic will be "A Book for the Ages: How Tanakh has been Studied Throughout History."


Rabbi Allen Schwartz
A Book for the Ages: How the Tanach has been Studied Throughout History

Source Sheet 1

Great debt of gratitude to YU and the OU who joined together Jews at such an auspicious time right after kimu v’kiblu to learn from so many different directions- to discuss how tanakh has been studied over the ages- to begin with perhaps our earliest source for how and when- chamisha l’mishna- reish lakish’s 3 year old boy did not yet reach malachi when r’ yochanan asked him and said if I were just a little older I would have known malachi- wouldn’t have to rely on your rebbe- even at the time of the gemara our young ones were fully steeped in this- lament from r’ shimshon Raphael Hirsch who writes in 18th/ 19th letter- complains of very sorry state of study of tanakh in this time- average yeshiva bochur who maybe knows a piee of tanakh from tosfos- he blames it on Rabbeinu Tam [laughter].

It’s Rabbeinu Tam’s fault- 800 years ago he established a study of tanakh which is at fault for the sorry state of things today in the yeshiva world- what did rabbeinu tam do that was so wrong? Rabbein Tam’s older rother Shmuel himself laments for the sorry state of the study of tanakh in his own time- everyone is such a chassid that he only studies the Talmud- what was rabbeinu tam’s statement? The Gemara says we should divide our day of study into 3- one third tanakh, one third mishna and one third gemara and rabbeinu tam commenting on the gemara that says why is the Talmud bavli called the Talmud bavli- everyone in this room would say it comes from bavel- omes from “lashon balal” – bavel is a mixture- so Talmud bavli is a mixture of Talmud, mishna and tanakh- it quotes mishnayos all over the place, quotes pesukim all over the place- because of this gemara we can fulfill our obligation of this one- third of each by just learning Talmud bavli- fulfill your obligation of learning as much tanakh/ mishna as was said.

So R’ Hirsch places the blame on Rabbeinu Tam- but with full respect for this- shita that appears actually in chazal- appears in bereishis rabbah, koheles rabbah- all of the tributaries go to one particular place- to the sea- and chazal learn from there all the study of jewish literature can be found in that one sea of Talmud. So we already have in our traditional sources that we don’t study tanakh as much as we need to- it’s all there in the Talmud- this is cited by the machzor vitri, by others well before rabeinu tam- doesn’t matter who said it and I turn your attention please to the first source on this page- where rabbi eliezer on a bed giving advice to his talmidim- a number of gemaras in shas have a very ill rabbi eliezer giving advice- when they came to visit him they asked for parting words and among those we find what appears on the back of many rabbis/ arons – “da mi lifnei atah moed” and he says “keep your sons away from higayon.” this definition higayon appears in a number of places in shas- end of mesechtes Sanhedrin- is widely described in many different ways- naftali wieder in his sefer on kareism and the dead sea scrolls renders 30 different interpretations- in addition to approximately this many interpretations of what we find in the kumran text in the sefer hegyah. what is sefer hegyah? why were the dead sea scrolls so interested in sefer hegyah? he suggests a few that are more appropriate than others- he claims simply from the pasuk that sefer hegyah “higid laylah” that it is Tanakh.

So Rashi is interpreting this- the man who revolutionized the study of tanakh for us understands this gemara- not sophistry as some say, not greek philosophy as some say- word higayon I believe in modern Hebrew means logic- keep your sons too much away from the mikra- m’shum d’mashcha- this thing will drive them away. drive them away from what? so I quote to you r’ tzemakh gaon- keep your children away from biblical texts that will draw you to heresy- well there’s a whole book in chazal where they say- noteh l’minus- vayikrah rabbah in perek yud- could draw you in this direction-

picks on chapter 12 in yirmiyahu- “madua derech reshaim tzalecha” – why do the wicked thrive in this world- questions whether the children should be studying such a text or whether yirmiyahu gives an answer to this question- perhaps ths is how we can read rashi as well- might drive you away from the more important study or chas veshalom maybe drive one to heresy- this gemara is actually cited ‘mnu atzmachem”- keep yourselves, not your sons, who may be impressionable and not know the right/ wrong way to read perek yud beis in yirmiyahu- the terminology “meshum d’mascha” ought to concern us- what do we mean by that?

I turn you to two gemaras- one in Yuma 18, the other in Shabbos- stay up the whole night before yom kippur- not allowed to sleep (by the kohen gadol) – the gemara tells us stories of how they maintained this awakened state for the kohen gadol- one goes on to say “I would have to teach him Daniel.” Rashi explains that Daniel is “mascha”- an exciting story- others say Daniel because they were such am haaratzim that they didn’t understand Hebrew, but only Aramaic- this is moshech, an exciting story- Daniel in the lion’s den- this is exciting! not that it will drive you to heresy- but it will drive you away from the time you need for other stories- every shul always has a shiur leading into mincha- want to teach them sources that are moshech- moshe according to tradition died in this time- so read stories that are moshech l’torah- jews come back to shul to hear appealing stories that are moshech-

rambam tells us in perek aleph of ______- true divide day into 3- once you reach a certain stage of your wisdom, you don’t have to learn tanakh any longer- then you should just put your mind to sevara- learn things davar m’toch davar- other higher cognitive levels of learning than just learning tanakh. if I were not married at 18, same mishna tells me I should be married, I have not therefore fulfilled my obligation- the rambam is assuming by the time you reach the age of 10, you’ve completed your tanakh studies- there are programs that actually teach the students this way- only tanakh from 5-10, only mishna from 10-15- today everyone wants to makes sure their children are studying gemara in the early grades- that comes from the rambam- so we have our understanding of how rashi sees the word higayon- understanding of what mashcha means-

now I turn to the aruch- r’nosson explains higayon means “patron pasuk k’tzuraso”- which we might understand as peshat- so I take you to a gemara in mesechtes kiddushin daf mem-tes- remember in the time of the gemara we didn’t court- so we would build certain conditions into the kiddushin- you are betrothed to me on the condition that either you/ I have something about ourselves- mackhlokes in the rishonim as to whether this itself is kiddushin or built on top of it- “harei at mekudehses li al menas sheani korin”- you enjoy so much being married to a ba’al korei that _____. as soon as the gemara says he reads three pesukim publically, she agrees. others say not so fast- from here we see anyone who reads torah ought to understand what he was saying- not just leining and not knowing what you’re saying- if you want to be called a karyana you have to be able to translate these 3 pesukim! it can’t just be that you translate it any way you want- rashi understands to mean that you’d be so sure of yourself “I know how to translate torah”- and if you wanto add to what you think the pitron hapasuk is- if you add to the meaning of the pasuk on your own you may god forbid be cursing- so what does he mean “ad sh’yikrah u’metargeim”- he says he means our Targum, Targum Onkeles- you better know how to read it with Onkeles! Rashi volunteers this information- rashi in mesechtes nedarim seems to contradict what he’s writing here in mesechtes kiddushin-

Here he says that it’s so important for this would-be married man to read this because onkeles was given at har Sinai together with the torah- so it’s me’har Sinai. but we may not veer off and explain the pasuk any which way we like. we must stick to the translation of the torah. and rashi volunteers an example from mishpatim- “lo sa’aneh al riv” which is taken to mean by Sanhedrin 17/ Onkeles that maybe this is based on yeish/ ein mesorah sort of dereash-reish bet, the yud is missing- to say that when you vote in the Sanhedrin you vote in a tzad- don’t’ argue on the head of the Sanhedrin- on Rav. Do not argue with your Rabbi.

So Rashi cites this as the Targum Onkeles and he writes “and if this would-be-karyana would translate these 3 words according to his own opinions- she is not mekudeshes to him- she is not married because he dared give his own interpretation”

you’re itching to say- rashi- how many times he disagrees with onkeles- or better yet on this pasuk in his peirush on the torah he cites this peirush of onkeles and disagrees with it. there are some really wide differences of onkeles from peshat where rashi could have cited it where he agrees- rashi in one example agrees that the word shadayim is an Aramaic word which means to throw- agreeing with onkeles! why don’t you give that example, rashi? why did rashi volunteer this explanation in kiddushin 49? because this is the way rashi learned tanakh- and I give one additional example before I make my point-

Sanhedrin 90- every jew guaranteed place in world to come- and these are the people who forfeit their place in the world to come- not enough that you believe in techiyas ha’meisim- we want you to believe in it from these derashos that the gemara brings- one of which is hashem telling moshe you are going to die and rise. this is the proof of techiyas ha’meisim. rashi says you must agree with all of these- and yet there are places where rashi seems to explicitly disagree with this- so what’s going on here?

I place before you the following proposition- does “lo sa’aneh al riv” teach not to disagree with the head of the Sanhedrin- rashi would say yes! Why? because onkeles says so? but do you think the peshat of that teaches what I just said- he would say no- that’s why he doesn’t put it into his peirush- the answer is that dereash is what the pasuk teaches, while peshat is what the pasuk says- 70 ways of interepreting the torah- some of which you might call shalashudos torah- have to be a nazir 30 days either because nezir elokim yihiyeh or because the word nezer appears 29 times in the torah- so that’s how they’ll get it- 3 pages trying to approve which of these 2 opinions is correct- maybe it’s just a mesorah- the answer is that if the gemara has a discussion of it, this is what the pausk teaches! you can learn the whole mesechte- 90% of what we learn in terms of how to bring the sacrifical order is determined by derash- if you read through the derash you’ll get the statement _____midei peshuto 2 times and ______ 5 times. outside of that some places where others are more sensitive to peshat from others- gemara in beginning of gittin where a rabbi says I can darshen anything! how about this? gives name of 3 cities yehoshua conquered- what it means “if someone has reason to be jealous of another person and yet he is silent, the everlasting god will give him his reward!” what is he doing here- these are names of cities! what’s happening here?!

many different things we learn from the pages of the Talmud- comes to derashos such as this- I’ll find you pages of rishonim/ meiri/ yerushalmi in mesechtes peah- “ain makshim b’aggadah”- you find in sefer Eshkol- many rishonim who say that when these statements appear on an aggadic level- could be “somech lomdin” if want to teach a nice message- rav and abbaye are arguing over whether we bring this pasuk to teach 9 people punch a man and 10th man punches him just as hard and the 10th man kills him- who is the murderer in such a case? the Talmud brings a proof in both positions from the same pasuk- pasuk in parshas emor- differences in opinions on how to darshen certain pesukim- draw toward conclusion from Yerushalmi in Mesechtes Maasros- Rabbi Zeira is complaining about people who are reading books of sorcerers- he’s talking to rabbis who are freely interpreting pesukim just the way they want- he says he’s speaking against those who make up interpretations according to their own whim- pasuk talking about refers to this world and the next-

Look at last source on this page- where rabbi ovahu praises rabbi safra in eyes of what seems to be Christians who allowed him to go 13 years without paying taxes because he was allegedly steeped in tanakh- so they give him a test- a pasuk in amos- quite polemical in nature about why god punishes the jews more than any other nation- and he refused to explain what the pasuk meant. so they went back to rabbi ovahu says “he doesn’t live amongst you- I do- I have to be steeped in tanakh and he doesn’t!”

our rabbis in the Talmud were not always so steeped in learning tanakh- the proof of this that they bring, and I want to get back to the sifrei kismei- because sifrei kosmim is something we find in the Talmud especially when discussing heretics whose shekhita should not count because they carry books of sorcery- people who explain biblical pesukim according to their own whim. I would like to suggest toyou that this meant Christian interpretation to the tanakh- especially in light- I know you may have heard rabbi lamm or others refer to this- whenever they wanted to say something negative about Christianity or its founder, they applied it to bilam- who is also called Bilam haKosem- died at 34 etc- this is what tehilim 22 means- they had to come down hard on these whimsical interpretations- but if your interpretation is to enhance your yiras shamayim- chazal is filled with these interpretations- starts off as hashem’s torah and then when you m’chadesh something it’s your torah- what’s the difference between sifrei kodesh- this is what it seems what rashi is aying- I may disagree within my peshat- but each of us should feel the great chiddush of interpreting something and saying this is my star-

Berachos- god begged Moshe to ask for gold/ silver from the Egyptians- daber na- meaning please, that’s unusual- since when does god beg/ ask please? And what kind of reasoning is this- that he shouldn’t be seen as being hypocritical per Abraham?

So the Maharsha and Meforshim to Rashi ask why he has to keep his promises for thease reasons- so there is a ts eirutz based on the Ibn Ezra that they left with Torah- that rechush gadol means Torah- (nafkamina in the end of Bava Basra- so this would be a good Raayah)- Avraham thought I meant torah but for the others who didn’t/ who read it as being gold and silver, but person said this with yiras shamayim- so therefore fulfilling this promise to them-

Thank you to your melamdim, mechanchim.


Dr. Lawrence Schiffman
Halachic Midrash in the Dead Sea Scrolls and Chazal

Source Sheet 1
Source Sheet 2
Source Sheet 3

Let me first tell you what we’re not doing. We’re not doing Dead Sea Scrolls 101. Dead Sea Scrolls competing parallel system to the system of Chazal- the Saducee point of view representing an alternative approach –now, the assumption of today is that despite the fact that this is a competing system, it interplays with the ideas of Chazal in various ways. It’s as if these systems are interacting with Chazal- and while as we go on we are going to have some conclusions about the specifics- basically, we’re in the same ballpark- Jews in second-Temple times, the majority of whom were observant- were arguing about how to put the Torah into effect, and hence the same exegetical effects concerned them. Now let’s jump into the specifics which is the real fun- what I liked about this presentation is that we are going to look at the Kumran Sabbath Code today- Hilchot Shabbat according to Dead Sea Scroll Sectarians- _____ Schachter who became president of dead sea scroll- not only down the street but also down the street ideologically- he published in 1907- sent the press some Genizah fragments that were actually the earliest Halakhic work from the dead sea scrolls- abbreviated cd. Existed in the Genizah manuscripts and then there were a whole variety of the manuscripts from Kumran- there are manuscripts from Kumran that have broken texts from the very same material-

We’re not going to read all of the text- but those sections of the text that pertain to the interpretation of some very specific pesukim- we could do that with the whole thing but not because of the time we have- we don’t really have an opportunity to go through the whole thing- whole chapter of hilchot Shabbat- subject of my first book- now, either one of these books could be gotten by anyone who wanted to- now, excuse that advertisement but I have to give the bibliography- now look at line 14 here- now I’m going to give you a very, very important conclusion- you know according to our understanding of the mishna, the mishna developed after halakha was being studied according to the biblical order. apparently the way we understand it in terms of the mishna itself is that the process begins with rabbi akiva, then rabbi _____, rabbi yehuda, rabbi chia and others continue it until finishing off the job- and this finishes off shas.

What we need to know is that the Dead Sea Scroll sects had this- halakhic material that we are looking at today- notice that it is already in subject order, probably from 120 BCE- long before Rabbi Akiva- of this era- hundreds of years before, the Dead Sea Scroll sectarians were putting a title on, which is like a mesechta name, and putting it into a concrete order. But here’s the fundamental difference- whereas terminology by mishna is mostly of post- biblical Hebrew- discover pesukim that undermine halakha. funny that in study of Shabbat, first mishna in Shabbat is the classic exception in chazal. a pasuk to which we will return in a few minutes- classic exception as the meforshim all point out- hotza’ot ha’shabbat- why he uses biblical Hebrew there- okay, for example, “me’amatai korim shma”- not “ma’amati shomim”- don’t use biblical Hebrew in the mishna, but in these laws you do use biblical Hebrew!

let’s jump into the first law- now if you look at that little bracketed part- he began to make a mistake- the old way of doing erasure was to put dots above and below- he started to write the word “melacha” early- so don’t do any work from the time the orb of the sun is distant from the gate (either the horizon or the city gate)- you know this idea of course from tefillah- the heavenly gates through which various heavently bodies can shine- word for horizon- whenever sun is distance from it, from its own diameter- why did we do this? because this is what it says in the pasuk- observe the Sabbath day to sanctify it. okay- now, this is the first law that’s given here- in this code, only the first and last laws- only these two have pesukim. all the other laws do have pesukim underneath them but not given in the same way- see underneath an interesting fact- shamor version of ten commandments and the zachor version, the one that we say in Kiddush (by the way, this whole shiur is practically going to be about things that people say in Kiddush- soon going to get to yeshaya, which is what the Sephardim say in Kiddush)- we could have called this Shabbos Morning Kiddush. Okay, start observing Shabbat from time absolutely said- now let’s upset everyone you by remininding that not allowed to start observing Shabbat one minute before Shabbos (story by R’ Feinstein who got out of car one minute before Shabbos- said I know, I’ll never do it again- also shows what a great man he is; that he didn’t write a teshuva saying how he was right- said he was wrong)- really you’re supposed to stop doing melacha sometime before Shabbos- considered by Chazal to be d’rabbanan. Just been told in this text right here that it’s from the Torah. Important point to notice: One difference between halakha of dead sea scrolls, jubilees, all texts that have halakha from hashmoneans and before- they do not have the distinction between torah and d’rabbanan- either it is or it isn’t. Someone who rides on a beast before ____ Jubilees is actually violating a death penalty kind of offense. By Chazal, not the case- d’rabbanan.

What this has in common with interpretation of very same pseukim in chazal- go over to source 4- you will see a statement that is well known to you- “zachor v’shamor b’dibur echad.” I hope you know you say this every single Friday night- one God commanded us simultaneously two things at once- well, in the regular course of interpretation there are a whole lot of understandings we have of this. One is the idea of one being the positive and the other the negative- hence zachor for men, shamor for the women. We need the two together to give us the full picture of Shabbos. Fundamnetal question which underlies these things- when you say shamor and zachor, don’t really mean those, mean full pesukim- fundamental problem that you have when you look at the two versions of the commandments, is that they both have Motive Clauses- and the reasons are not the same! One tells you that the reason is because God created the world in seven days- and the second one says no, the Social Motif- we have to observe this idea of Shabbos in order to give employees, animals the chance to rest- and we do this because we were slaves in Egypt. Now before we go further have to know about an absolutely phenomenal Kumran text- for a while in Seattle and San Diego they had this manuscript on exhibit- there’s going to be an exhitibt at Jewish Museum in September, not large exhitibt but everybody should go!

Now, the problem of zachor v’shamor also bothered the Dead Sea Scrolls sect. Here it is in a text called Deuteronmy Ant/ Add . Not really tanakh qua tanakh- anyhow, this manuscript said listen to the ten commandments- so they didn’t bother to translate the part that’s important- the rest of it is plain and simple, Deuteornomy’s ten commandments. Earliest versions are here- also the ones by the Tefillin- start with Shema, the Ten Commandments is right above it- papyrus probably from Egypt BCE- these are the earliest Ten Commandments versions. Anyway, look at this- completely amazing!

Theoretically we have a text of Devarim- it’s not on your handout, I’m sorry- it’s almost like the one from Shemot, but not entirely. This is the Devarim one about not having to work- you were slaves in Egypt- God took us out with an outstretched arm- “l’shmor es yom ha’Shabbat l’kadsho.” Now- okay that’s great! So almost exactly the same as Devarim. Listen to what happens next- God created the world in six days- vayanuach (instead of vayanach) and what’s going on here is as follows- this text which is not really a Bible has done something genius- he has put shamor v’zachor b’dibur echad into one dibur. So the notion expressed by Chazal in Text 4 (the two of them being said at once)- there are certain things in the bible that appear to contradict but they are really instantaneous one revelation of God- total of two things is what God is telling us- that notion is the notion of this Dead Sea Scroll text exactly- That’s what we see from this text of Deuteronomy Ant/ Add- you already see a very important difference:

In Chazal, there must always be a distinction made between the words of God and the words of humans- or to put it more accurately, the words of the Divine-Human partnership. We know there’s a little human side, but mostly the divine side. And then we have this other thing called Torah She’baal Peh- this is where the human element is much, much greater- other opinions on Torah She’baal Peh. A partnership- not just pure divine. Can’t take the divine word and monkey around with them to say what I want- I’ve got my midrash, tanakh, etc- so no one should accidentally get it into the text.

Now, the Dead Sea Scrolls don’t agree with that- the Genesis apocrypha (Professor Bernstein has made so many contributions to this)- so the author has rewritten the Torah to get his aggadic/ halakhic views into the text. That’s only possible with Kumran. But a Perushi cannot invade the written Torah in that manner- so what we have in this little Ten Commandments example is invading the text- give him a ten commandments that’s “fixed up!” You know the joke about the guys in a mental institution- well why didn’t you laugh, you didn’t tell it right- This guy in Eastern Europe translated Shakespeare into Yiddish- “Shteisin v’Verbessin”- Translated and Approved- so that’s what he did with the Torah- made a new Torah, what do you need to look at Rashi for!

That’s something you can do in the dead sea scroll system- so now in the second paragraph, the specifics are given- mention something before and observe it afterwards! So they explain “From this they said”- this means there’s an existing halakha which is being tied in the medrish halakah to a pasuk- from this you can see we have to add from that part which is profane or secular- profane is a bad word; it sounds like something off color- non-sacred- take and add from this thing which is non-sacred and ____- imagine like a wolf- _____ word means to stamp- legs dig in front and in back of it and digging a bigger space than it occupies (there it extends forwards and backwards.) Kiddush Havdalah, the notion that you are supposed to think about Shabbos all week- now looking at Tosefet Shabbat- and if that’s the case, then what we see here is that Shamor refers specifically to the time of Tosefet Shabbat afterwards in Chazal- Tosefet Shabbat not on the end, but in the beginning- bottom line is our Kumran text is learning Mesechet Shabbat from the same text- little diyukim difference.

So can show you now Medirsh called Mechilta d’Rashi- shamur/ zachur b’chnisita and yetziata- our text has shamur for beginning of shabbos and zachur for end of shabbos. Another little quotation here- medrish put together from various quotations – Midrash HaGadol- time of the Mishna from other texts- zachur= before it enters, add to it from the beginning- and shamor- add something when it goes out. These Sectarians- maybe if they were standing with chazal members they would argue and say, no you’re wrong- that zachur doesn’t refer to the Tosefet at the beginning- okay, so what- agree you have to add, they quote a pasuk- now here’s one problem; I told you our guys quote a pasuk and now just showed me Chazal quoting a pasuk- how do you know that it’s d’rabbanan by Chazal? Well, there’s an argument among Chazal about whether it’s d’rabbanan or doraisa- ends up being d’rabbanan. But the Gemara concludes that it’s d’rabbanan.

Once you realize this, you can see what I mean when I say to you that it’s in the same kind of a ball park- let me now go on back to the handout (first page of it) and continue with the next- “u’vyom hashabbat-“ and on Shabbat- when the Mikdash was chareiv [laughter] batlu bis- so and so was batel. The Ultimate Yinglish, you know. “Vayedaber ish davar naval v’reik”- a person should not speak on Shabbos anything which is either- maybe naval is better translated as nasty- or reik, emptiness- boy, what problems what we would have. All shuls would be quiet-“ Work they’re going to do on the next day. Allowed to speak about on Shabbos- but take a look at Yeshayahu 58:13 and follow it- now these are pesukim which are very well known to anyone who is a Sephardi who says Kiddush on Shabbos morning and recites these words- “im tashiv m’shabbat raglecha”- if you will turn aside your foot on Shabbat (this is going to be taken to mean you can’t go certain places on Shabbos for certain reasons)- but rather “v’karata l’shabbat oneg”- you should call/ announce/ pronounce for this Shabbos an oneg- “l’dosh hashem m’chubad”- that as holy to the Lord it has been honored- “v’chibato” and how do you honor it? by not doing your business or perhaps not going on your way, not going on your trip- rather than finding/ doing/ detaining your own business. Put in paranthesis (And the other thing you’re not allowed to do is) “daber daver”- speak a word (which isn’t appropriate on Shabbat.) What’s that? Business- now, I don’t know what people would talk about without business (tells story of women who go to lashon harah lecture, after that there’s coffee and cake- room is dead silent.) Also not allowed to talk about things which are considered inappropriate- nibul peh- some type of thing which is considered really inappropriate- maybe profane- maybe includes gossip- if you go back to the text here which we’ve read so far. Daber Davar- not allowed to speak improper words.

Not allowed to talk about the melacha you’re going to do the next day- now, even though this next thing is going to take us into a whole other set of pesukim- I want to just point out to you that in the next law we have again the same words of cheftzo- ha’shabbat is by Yom HaShabbat. A person is not allowed to walk into the field to do his business- and don’t go out to discuss the business you’re going to do on the next day- all this stuff that you’re reading right now is derived from Yeshayahu- another basic principle of Dead Sea Scrolls halakha- no rule of deriving ____ from Neviim. Kabbalah- look in Jastrow and says don’t learn divrei torah from words of neviim. We call that divrei Kabbalah. Jastrow points out possibly Kivvilah- Complaint. A prophet is one who complains about this- either way, nothing to do with mysticisim. Yalaf has nothing to do with ____, but rather has to do with making a gezerias shava- license, all kinds of ideological and even procedural behavior, so Chazal tended not to use _____. Level of min HaTorah because the words of Neviim say you’re not allowed to do these things.

Now go to the handout- starting in 5 you have a whole section in the Gemara that is based on exactly the same stuff- here it is- now notice that we have a mishna- a person is not allowed to make business arrangments/ to hire workers on Shabbat. And of course you can’t have your friend do it for you/ less than daf yomi style speed of explaining this gemara- so please don’t go out and say he didn’t discuss this, etc. But we won’t talk for an hour now. There’s Mishna here- you cannot wait until dark/ hang out till dark at the Shabbos boundary- go out and hire people or bring in fruits – but wait a second, if you want to go out to guard your fruits, since you would have been permitted to guard your fruits on Shabbat, you’re allowed to wait near shabbos boundary and guard the fruits, then come back and bring some back. R’ _____ made general statement that anything I’m allowed to talk about/ ask someone to do on Shabbos, then I can go right before Shabbos, hang out by Shabbos boundary and go after Shabbos to do it.

Talking about a non-Jew- the hava mina in the Gemara is that the whole reason to discuss a friend- not even allowed to discuss a non-Jew. Everyone knows you can’t tell a non-Jew to do something we can’t do on Shabbos! Better answer- could even say the friend we’re talking about here is a Jew- a guy can’t tell his friend- right after Shabbos, I want you to go hire me some workers. But you know what you can do? You can hint! You can say, “Would you like to come see me in the evening, maybe?” He knows what it means. A guy walking around at Kiddush and says to fourteen-year old girl, “Are you doing anything tonight?” I hope you’re not asking for a date, but he’s looking for a babysitter! Not the time for it now but someone should write a sefer on the laws of babysitting.

A person shouldn’t say “Will a person be able to see me this night?” R ____ Karcha says yes- Six workers for his restaurant- don’t know how to make pizza; we don’t want you. R’ Yochanan- so the question is okay, how can this be permitted to go do something after Shabbos- m’mitzo cheftzecha- for getting what you are looking for in your business- dibur assur, hirhur muttar- assur to speak explicitly about doing business but if it’s hirhur- just thinking it then it’s permissible. Now, what has happened here is that our very same text in Yeshayahu has been interpreted the opposite way- according to R’ Yehoshua ben Karcha has been interprted to mean you CAN do this because it only assures speaking explicitly. The Kumran Text is holding the view as the Stam view (anonymous view) in this Tosefta/ Beraita. So if you’re a Kumran Sectarian, don’t hire that babysitter on Shabbos morning.

Continues- says wait a minute- source 6- how do you know it’s forbidden to speak explicitly about this? Gemara’s going to quote us a whole bunch of things that if l’sheim mitzvah you can do it, but then concludes no! Only l’sheim mitzvah can you do it. What’s assur is to discuss business for YOURSELF- chaftzecha but if it’s for others- any time it’s chaftzei mitzvah- you’re allowed to do that! Chafatzecha assurim- gam lachshov cheshbonos/ hirhurim mutarim u’lshadech habanot. But it’s completely mutar if you want to make an engagement to marry someone off- set up for the kid to go to school (don’t ask me what lamnatzeach l’meginot means because sometimes throw words into zemirot…I think it means to teach children to read Torah with the trop- okay? Now you really learned something. If you say this at a Shabbat lunch, people are going to think- oh boy, how did you know that! This Kumran stuff…meh.) The view of R’ Yehoshua ben Korcha is opposite to Kumran. Same pesukim from the Torah interpreted from both. Stam/ Meforash- according to Chazal, if it’s Stam, it’s okay- only if it’s Meforash that’s the problem. The babysitter knows what she’s talking about! She even knows how much she’ll get paid! But as long as not said explicitly, fine-

So Chazal admits this is a compromise- that’s how we got what we got- because unable to stop people from speaking this way entirely/ completely.

In the first element of the handout, the text continues with a very strange thing. It says in line 21 “al yekalei chutz l’karo”- and then “al elef amah”- a person cannot walk outside the techum Shabbat- cannot walk outside the limits of the settled area more than 1000 cubits. Now jump down to line 5 of second column- person cannot go following an animal in order to shepherd it- except for 2000 cubits. What is this alpayim b’aamah? If you were trying to buy a rope in Israel and the guy said to you I’ll give you so much for “asarah b’meter”- so question is why saying “b’meter?” The only place that I know where it says alpayim b’aamah is in Bamidbar, Chapter 35- whole idea that we are talking about is learned from 35:2-5 there. There it says- give the Leviim places to live- and they should have fields for their animals and for their stuff- and what’s the size of these fields- around the wall of the city and outside- and you should measure from outside on east/ (each?) side alpayim b’amim. Yarech ben yomo followed by the karnei faras only one I know. It says here “alpayim b’ammah.” And then continues that way- and the cities in the middle- this is the fields. Now based on this all the Shabbos limits were created- take a look now at the last item on the handout-

This is a mishna in Sotah- one small point- we call this thing Midrash Halakha- in Chazal, Midrash Halakha is the mishna, tosefta, everywhere we go is midrash halakha- zemirot- on that day rabbi akiva was explaining- on the day that rabbi gamliel was kicked out of _____- but anyhow, it says in Bamidbar 35 should measure from outside of city on the East- have 2000 and have 1000- the scrolls and Chazal both have to explain the process- there’s 2000 and 1000. What are you going to do with them? They didn’t do the same thing. So R’ Akiva says- “Can’t say 1000- it says 2000! But you can’t say 2000- it says 1000!” Rather the first thousand is an empty field area that makes the city look beautiful- trees, shrubbery, etc- but you have another one thousand you end up with a total of two thousands- first thousand empty, the second thousand is until you hit the Techum Shabbat. According to this idea, the Techum Shabbat is Min HaTorah- probably agrees with the Sectarians (who view everything is from the Torah.)

Other (Rabbi Eliezer says) rather the first thousand is the empty area, but then we give them the rest until two thousand for them to have their agricultural stuff- their fields- so according to him no pasuk in Bamidbar that tells you Techum Shabbat.

Our Sectarian guys have learned first that we have two numbers here (by two and three witnesses- according to these people, also has to work. Two witnesses is for non-capital and three is for capital.) Both of them are the Shabbos limit- if stam going vs. if you have an animal. The Sectarians used both numbers- now, two more points and we’re done on time-

I printed at the bottom a number of pieces of fragmentary texts that were only published after whole revelation of the scrolls. 4Q264a- 4 Qumran Text 264a- have a piece of this text that is fragmentary. Carrying on Shabbos is assur even if you’re doing it for purpose of the Beis Hamikdash- interesting law not allowed to _____ a Sefer Torah on Shabbos- then go to line 7- don’t speak anything “ki im l’diber divrei kodesh kachok-“ and a person should speak to bless God. Your human needs you can speak about, but the rest should be divrei Kedushah- move over to the second one- miscellaneous rules-

Look back on the first handout and go to line 7 on the second column on the first page- “al yotzi ish m’habayit hachutz” or from the chutz to the bayit- don’t carry anything in and out. You see you have the same issurim on carrying that we’re used to- we don’t have time for it today but starts from al yotzi ish is al yotzei ish- and they have the exact same issurim- they hold that they are min hatorah- and in this particular aspect they are exactly like Chazal except they didn’t have Eiruv. The reason is simple- everything is assur from the Torah-

Sof Davar- Seminary- what we’ve got here is same ballpark, same exegetical issues answered sometimes in same way, sometimes different way, but clearly in common way- common Judaism operating here even among people who disagree- tremendous amount you can learn from studying one in the light of the other- when some of the arguments were being put forth by Chazal, not being put forth in a vacumm, but put forth in an environment where others were putting forward similar but not necessarily the same approach.


Rabbi Dr. Mordechai Cohen
Ha-peshatot ha-mithadeshim be-khol yom: Exciting New Developments in the Scholarly Study of Parshanut ha-Miqra

Source Sheet 1
Source Sheet 2
Source Sheet 3

Welcome everybody- my name is Mordechai Cohen and I think I’m being recorded here so I’ll be careful what I say- or I’ll try anyway. I’d like to welcome everyone to the Yom Iyun that has been organized by- I see a lot of your students here- so I can say by your colleagues. The notion that Am Yisrael received the Torah from Har Sinai by Moshe Rabbeinu and then received it again willingly in the time of Achashveirosh- that shows you the imporantce of constant renewal and constant joy in receiving the Torah- and that shows you that students, like the students that initiated this- Yehuda Bernstein and Simcha Gross and Stu Halpern- wonderful indication of the interest in serious Limud Torah and Tankah- the subject that I chose and the title that I chose was taken from Rashbam- “ha’pshatot ha’mechadshim b’chol yom-“ a difficult phrase to translate into English- to become ever-new, to become new every day. Peshat becomes new every day. So you guys can try to figure out how to translate that- there’s a professor in Israel who I will mention, who wrote a book- Elazar Tuito- the title for his book is “HaPeshatot HaMechadshim B’Chol Yom”- the problem is that in Israel they like you to have an English title, don’t think it did justice to Tuito or to Rashbam so won't mention it.

Always innovation in parshanut hamikra- in tanakh. I’d like to speak about today something which you might think is something of an oxymoron- new interpretations in tanakh by which I do not mean the new interpretations that are given every day. I’m sure other people in this program are doing that, and I think that is something very important, but my own research/ interest is on the history of Parshanut HaMikra- looking at the meforshim that we have and had have for centuries within this. That is one of the components in the traditional/ Orthodox study of Tanakh- not to say that you cannot have new components- you will see that that’s actually what happened in eleventh and twelfth centuries- new innovations. But why would we say that that’s new? We’ve had Rashi for 900 years- Rashbam as well- in the past 30 years we have a much better perception of who the Mefarshim were- how did they interact- something that recent scholarship has revealed in many ways- just a small sample of some of that scholarship which is very new and very vibrant and is continuing to this day- benefit here is that all of you sitting in this room have an appreciation of Ibn Ezra, Rashbam, Rashi- but I think that there’s much more scholarship that we can appreciate these parshanim in a greater light- and just to encapsulate that I’d like to quote a story by Rav Soloveitchik- z’l- R’ Soloveitchik’s spirit certainly looms large as he influenced generations of students within these walls-

R’ Soloveitchik describes how when he gave shiur he felt as though, while he was giving shiur- that the door would open up and sometimes it was a student who came late- he felt as though it was Rabbeinu Tam walking into the room and taking a seat next to one of the students, or Rambam- and during shiur, Rabbeinu Tam would say to the Rambam, “You know, this student has a good question on you”- the Rishonim themselves walked into the room and were part of the discussion because the Torah came alive- the mefarshim came alive- they weren’t just words on the page, wasn’t dead letters- very mystical concept- techiyas hameisim, gilgul neshamos- as I’ve been teaching for a number of years in Yeshiva College and Stern College- certainly I see that that’s true- a lot of that has to do with the new scholarship that gives us a much better picture of the medieval milieu within which these parshanim works/

First thing we have to get over is the Mikraos Gedolos- many people get the Mikraos Gedolos for bar mitzvah/ bat mitzvah- canonized- kind of like the tzurat hadaf- till recently was really one format of the mikdraos gedolos- rashi to us is in Rashi script- we imagine rashi in that mindset- Ibn Ezra, we know where he is on the page- Ramban also- although I use usually the Torah Chayim edition- however one of the criticisms is you can’t tell which is which because it’s all the same font- but the way people usually imagine them is that they have Mikraos Gedolos- so much so that Rashi when he was Bar Mitzvah, he got a Mikraos Gedolos but had a space for him to write his commentary! [laughter] Question of which meforshim Rashi had at his behest- scholarly question in terms of the Ramban- whom did the Ramban have- how did these meforshim learn TAnakh- this is what is coming alive now-

So I’d like to just share a little bit of this very exciting world of Parshanut HaMikrah. I’ve given out two pages- one is a chart that I think is very helpful to sort of orient us- sometimes it’s helpful if you have a map with it, but I didn’t do that for whatever reason- you can see the dates are very important, but there are fundamentally two traditions of parshanut- if you look at the Rambam on the bottom of the left-hand column, his dates are 1135 (way people assume) but now scholars decided it’s 1138- give and take a few years- Rambam one of the few people we know exact dates for- till 1204. Rambam is born in Muslim Spain which was under Muslim domination- on Western edge of Muslim empire- left Spain because of persecution as a young man- went to North Africa and then to Egypt- he might mention Rabbeinu Tam- says Rabbeinu Yaakov in one of his letters- but really Rambam’s connection ot the Northern French tradition was really limited. The Rambam mentions two great parshanim- who were they? R’ Moshe Ibn Jacquatila in the 11th century in Muslim Spain and R’ Yehudah Ibn Balam, whom I don’t even have here- and those were the great meforshim for the Rambam, and they were for Ibn Ezra as well. Who were these meforshim- they are not household names for us. They were lost because they wrote in Arabic. They were not translated. However, recently these texts have been found and now scholars in Israel are translating some of – Ibn Jacquatila is very fragmentary, but Ibn Balam- some of his were found in Cairo Geniza, published for the first time- just to give you a sense of this tradition, R’ Saadiah Gaon is a very important name. R’ Saadiah Gaon was born in Egypt- lived in Bahgdad, very vibrant intellectual center of the time and wrote extensive commenaties on Tanakh. R’ Saadiah Gaon refers to Ibn Ezra as “Rosh Hamedabrim b’khol Makom”- the First of the Speakers on everything. But if wanted to learn his commenatires- on Iyov, Mishna, Megillot- had to go to manuscripts in Arabic- those were translated in the 70s by R’ Kafach z’l- I still remember when I was in college in 1984 that R’ Saadiah Gaon’s commentary on Bereishit came out- translated by Moshe Zucker- now I know when I speak to some of my students, they are not so impressed- 1984 isn’t so recent. When I was a kid growing up, there was a book called 1984 about the future- I was telling my kids when I was a child we watced “Lost In Space” which was set way in the future, in 1999. I remember when I was giving a course in Stern College in 2000, Rashbam’s commentary on Job- Rashbam, who was Rashi’s grandson as many of you know- Rashbam’s commentary was published by very important scholar nowadays in Israel- Sarah Yafet. Sara Yafet has devoted much of her scholarship to Rashbam- in 1985 she published his commentary on Kohelet – and now she’s working on Rashbam for Shir Hashirim (published in the dissertation)- but I think you get a sense of the importance of the texts that are now becoming available- that’s a very important aspect, the publication of new texts is very important- but also in terms of the study of the Parshanim themselves- the words that we’ve read over the centuries are seen in a new light.

Rashi’s perception of “peshuto shel mikrah”- many of these are based on a comment by Rashi which is very famous- Rashi has a very famous program on his parshanut- “yeish midrashei aggadah rabim”- chazal have many midarshim on the various sifrei tanakh- “va’ani lo bati elah l’peshuto shel mikrah”- and much ink has been spilled on this because anyone who has read Rashi’s commentary knows that much of Rashi is based on midrash, a reworking of midrash, and is very valuable for that purpose but how does that match that program of peshuto shel mikah- and the reality is if you look in Ibn Ezra- Ibn Ezra writes in one of his grammatical works, “Sefer Safah Berurah”- gives you his response to Rashi. Before we read this important to understand the cultural background- Avraham Ibn Ezra is a very important/ pivotal figure, I think (look at left-hand side of chart.) He was born in Spain – not clear if Christian or Muslim, culturally very similar- he was immersed in the culture that is sometimes called the Babylonian/ Niberian culture- sometimes called Sephard culture, but Sephard is really only Spain- strong connection between the ______- easier to get Spain to Bavel than from Spain to Northern France. Ibn Ezra grew up in Muslim Spain- born in 1089- makes him 35, I’m sorry, 50 years younger than Rashi. However, Ibn Ezra probably did not read Rashi when he was a youth growing up. The commentaries he quotes extensively are on the left side of this chart- R’ Saadiah Gaon- also Yehuda Hayyuj- some regarded him as the founder of Hebrew grammar because he discovered the idea of the shoresh having three levels. Rashi did not have Hayyuj’s grammar- he had Dunash and Menachem- different grammatical system- shorashim with two letters or one letter, which is hard for us to remember. Ibn Ezra had Hayyuj, whom he translated into _____, and also very importantly he had Ibn Janah- father of Hebrew grammar. [Lists people who used that system]

Ibn Ezra is very important among other things because he wrote commenatires in Hebrew- essentially he crystallized what earlier Parshanim had done but wrote it in Hebrew. Why did he do that? Because at age 50 Ibn Ezra had a midlife crisis which was a real crisis- not just that he decided he was bored with his first career- but had to leave Spain. Now, Ibn Ezra until age 50 was not a parshan. He wrote no peirushim. His profession was to write poetry. Interestingly, look two lines above Avraham Ibn Ezra, you see Moshe Ibn Ezra- one of the great poets in Muslim Spain, no relationship to Avraham Ibn Ezra. Moshe Ibn Ezra’s protégé was R’ Yehuda HaLevi- Moshe Ibn Ezra wrote, in addition to his poetry, also wrote a book on Hebrew poetics- how to write Hebrew poetry- considered golden age of Hebrew poetry/ Hebrew literature. According to rules of Arabic poetics- very well defined and so on- now lest you think that the Jews were just embracing something entirely foreign, Moshe Ibn Ezra says if you look at Tanakh itself you find precedence for this. As part of his survey of Hebrew literature, (very fascinating- kind of snapshot of who were the big names/ important parshanim in his time- contemporary of Rashi 1055-1138, 15 years younger but essentially during his time- never mentions Rashi because living in Muslim Spain)- who was the great Talmudis 2 generations before the Rambam? The Rif. The Rif was very important. R’ Yitzchak Ibn Giat also important- I think he may mention the Ri Migash (don’t remember now)- I know R’ Yehudah Halevi writes a eulogy for the Ri Migash- but interestingly he mentions two up and coming young poets in Muslim Spain- R’ Yehudah HaLevi and Abraham Ibn Ezra. He did not know about Abraham Ibn Ezra as a parshan- Ibn Ezra in 1140 had to leave Spain; he moved to Italy and in Italy, which was a Christian land obviously, in Rome, he became aware of Rashi’s commentaries. Rashi’s commentaries spread like wildfire in Christian lands. Took a long time to get to Muslim lands. And you see in Source 1 his reaction to Rashi.

Ibn Ezra, I imagine, had a culture shock- because he comes to Christian lands- the Jews there could not read Arabic. So he asked people there how they studied Tanakh- so he read Rashi, looked like Rashi- he says here Rashi thinks that he’s doing peshat. R’ Shlomo Zal pireish ha’tanach al derech derash- most of Rashi was derash. And he thinks that it’s peshat! Because he didn’t have all of the great parshanim in the Sephardic tradition- so that might be a little bit too much- sanctify tradition of thousands of years- Rashi did not loom as large for Ibn Ezra as he does for us. What Ibn Ezra set out to do for next 25 years or so, I think he died in 1164 (approximation) is he traveled from town to town in Italy, etc- he wrote all the commenatires that we have (and we have extensive commenatires by Ibn Ezra) and that’s how he popularized the approaches of Ibn Gikatilla, etc that others have.

Ibn Ezra is only one approach. What I’ve given you here in source 2 is Rashbam’s take on what Rashi did. Rashbam here takes a long view of the study of Torah- parshanut hamikrah in northern france- quotes the ma’amar chazal “ein mikrah yotzei midei peshuto”- which was Rashi’s motto, so why did Rashi do so much midrash? Rashi set his heart to the peshat- but Rashi could not do it all himself. Rashbam says you have to understand that when Rashi started out there was no peshat in Northern France- Rashi only had Midrashim and Rashbam says that’s all that they studied. They studied TAnakh only with Midrash, only with Gemara. Rashi’s chiddush was to do peshat- still enormous chiddush. Rashbam says I’m going to complete what Rashi started- Ibn Ezra too machmir- that 1 in 1000 is peshat- let’s say 10% is peshat. Rashi, what Rashbam is saying, a little bit differently from Ibn Ezra- Rashi went from zero to ten- goes from ten to 100% (Rashbam.) What’s the greater chiddush- 0 to 10! That you’re doing something “yeish m’ayain”- something completely new!

Very important- look at Mikraos Gedolos- first meforash people look at is Rashi, and then you look at Ibn Ezra- questions on it, very radical, very rationalist- people look at Ibn Ezra- tremendous radical iconoclast. And it’s exactly the opposite. Ibn Ezra was following a very clear delineated tradition from R’ Saadiah Gaon. Ibn Ezra was purely tradition the Gaonic and Andalusian tradition. Rashi was completely innovative. Rashi was a mechadesh. And that’s what Rashbam says here. Rashbam says here that Rashi wrote commentaries according to a new methodology- before then, it was only Midrash. That spirit of innovation continued into the next generation. Rashbam says at the end of the paragraph- “nitvachakit imo u’lefanav”- I argued with him/ debated with him and Rashi acknowledged if he would have had an opportunity, he would have to write new commentaries according to the new/ ever-new peshat interpretations (Tuito’s translation here is the exegesis in perpetual motion- very, very strange translation- but can’t translate it literally- so you figure out how to translate that- but you get the idea)- there’s a spirit of innovation here.

This is a passage that has gotten a lot of attention from scholar in Israel, Elazar Tuito- that was a time when he was publishing his really seminal and revolutionary works about the Northern French ____ of Parshnaut- “HaPeshutot SheMechadshim B’Chol Yom” and in that book he describes how that spirit of innovation came about. This is Tuito’s real chiddush I think- his origin is Algerian, what we would call Sephardi- and yet devoted his life/ scholarship to Rashi- Rashbam- in Algeria, the education they got was in French- but he spent a good deal of time in France studying Latin and the way that the Latin learning developed in the 12th century- and what he began to see and then publish his articles was the fascinating parallels between the Renaissance of Latin Learning (scholars of Latin learning have discussed this as well) where there was a new emphasis on the study of history and science and grammar and litearuate as there never was before- separate from the Church, very different. Until 12th century, mode of learning was what is called monastic learning- Church fathers and the Bible according to the rule of St. Benedict- teachers would teach, students would write the notes and there was an emphasis on tradition. In the 12th century, we begin to see emergence of scholastic learning- dialectic- debates where teacher would come into class and students and teachers would debate- Tuito says that phrase- “nitvakachit imo u’lefanav”- that is a symptom of the scholastic method of learning- desire to learn the text in a new light and a new way- what began to happen was this dialectic. And the ability to learn the ancient texts in a way that was different- historically, grammatically aside from the tradition of the Church.

It’s his chiddush- in the scholarship of the latin study/ Christian study – all of a sudden interest in the literal sense of the text, which was always what they accused the Jews of doing. You know what- let’s look at the Hebrew text- Tuito said can’t be an accident this happened at same time in Beit Midrash of Rashi and in surrounding commentaries of Christians- spirit of something new in the air- in his book shows a number of parallels- Rashbam begins to think of the text historically, scientifically and grammatically. That’s how peshatot hamitchadshim b’chol yom- this new spirit- doing something completely innovative- not just in the learning of Tanakah and this is something Tuito wrote in his book in 2003- much new work being done now on the Baalei HaTosfos (Talmudic Study) especially Rabbeinu Tam (Rashbam’s younger brother) speak of new methods of learning Talmud. There’s a new method- and the emphasis on chiddush is something that is characteristic of the Ba’alei HaTosfos. Ibn Ezra never once calls his peirush a chiddush- but he does have innovations. But he doesn’t see himself as being revolutionary because he wasn’t- his greatness was that he crystallized that tradition. Rabbeinu Tam in Talmud and Rashbam in Parshanut HaMikrah- R’ Yosef Karo (not to be confused with R’ Yosef Cairo) was a Talmid Chaver of Rashi- indicated that here on righthand side of the chart as well- some other important scholars within this tradition as well- Rabbeinu Tam did write a commentary on Iyov (recently found and recently published.)

Let me give some examples of what this new methodology entailed- Rashi on pasuk from Az Yashir- difficulty in this pasuk- why does it have to say yimincha twice?

Rashi: God’s Right Hand but the second Yimincha is really the Smoel= Left. Your right hand is glorious in strength and your left hand destroys your enemies. So why call the left hand your right hand? Midas hadin becomes midas harachamim. The right hand midas harachamim is to save Israel at the time of Keriat Yam Suf and the left hand is destroying the enemy- Rashi of course got this from the Midrash – he will quote a Midrash if there is a difficulty in the pasuk.

Now, before I go on in Rashi, and you’ll see why I’m interrupting, Professor Tuito’s second very important innovation- most scholars happy to make one big mark on history, idea of connection between Rashbam and Rashi’s beit midrash and what is going on in society is a very important idea- shows how sometimes what Rashbam is saying is Teshuvat haMinim- writing Christian commentators- puts Rashbam within his environment very clearly. That is of phenomenal importance in terms of appreciating the tradition of parshanut.

The other very important innovation he had in parshanut- one of the things that he did was he studied the manuscripts of Rashi’s commentaries- many of those are still in France but really many libraries all over the world- found something amazing- the amount of disparity that there is in the various manuscripts of Rashi is very different from any other texts we have. The diversity is very striking- often happens that- we’re very used to idea of daver achier in Rashi- sometimes have 3/ 4 commentaries within a single Rashi. Tuito showed that in many manuscripts – one generation and then later there are comments in margin, next generation of commentary becomes part of commentary itself- Tuito wrote a groundbreaking study- “Al Gilgulei Ha______” – The Various Lives of Rashi’s Commentary and what he pointed out was that those notes on the sides that came into the text of Rashi were by Rashi’s students- some manuscripts where they actually give their names- now subsequent to that, there’s another scholar in Isarel by name of Avraham Grossman who published a number of articles in 1999 that thinks that Rashi himself told his scribe/ secretary, Rabbi Shmaya to add those comments into the text. So Grossman says Rashi added himself.

I would say this. Very little nafkamina between Tuito and Grossman about this. Say Rashi originally wrote one peirush on this pasuk- Rashi says that this is part of the style, poetic style of Tanakh- you have peshuto shel mikrah next to midrasho- based on the stylistic tendencies within Tanakh itself.

If you look in Rashbam’s commentary here, you see exact same commentary to this. What Tuito said was that this was not originally Rashi’s commentary- this was Rashbam’scommentary. So Grossman said- well, he told him to put it in. You know what? That’s probably true. Tosfot al Hatorah in Source 4- comments on side in margins of Rashi- this idea is idea of Rabbeinu Shmuel (who is Rashbam) and when Rabbeinu Shlomo (Rashi’s grandfather)- Rashbam had this chiddush and Rashi liked it- said it was pesukei Shmuel. Even if Rashi put it into his commentary, it was Rashbam’s idea- what does this show you? Rashi did not write a commentary that was a sealed work- he was a mechadesh-

Running out of time, but one or two other thoughts. Moses Ibn Ezra- in Source 5, 20 poetic techniques. Anaphera- in Arabic it’s called tardi- essentially what Moses Ibn Ezra does is say that this is one of the stylistic tendencies of Tanakh- Moshe Ibn Ezra already had that in his annals. Anecdote: Spoke about Moshe Ibn Ezra’s sense of poetics, and Sara Yafet raised her hand and said what about Rashbam’s literary sense? I said to her/ audience- we all know that Sara Yafet published her book and there she shows his great literary sense. Rashbam was probably smarter than Moshe Ibn Ezra- why was he smarter? Because Moshe Ibn Ezra was a trained poet/ studied poetics based on Arabic works on poetry- and then looks at Tanakh and defines it-real sense of his literary perception of Tanakh- (he’s normally not viewed as parshan, but argument I try to work)- he was not brilliant- just applying something that was already developed. Rashbam discovered this without poetics- he discovered it all by himself/ all alone- shows tremendous brilliance. But while Rashbam was smarter, imagine going to a doctor who didn’t go to medical school but discovered new medicine- someone discovers aspirin- knows only one medicine. Person who is less brilliant will probably be a better doctor because sees big picture- Moses Ibn Ezra sees big picture of poetics- subsequent to that exchange, I described difference between Moses Ibn Ezra and Rashbam’s poetics. There is a lot more to do here but I’m finishing off on this point- last 3 sources have to do with Shir Hashirim- leave that for another opportunity- get a bit of a sense here of 2 traditions at work- what were the influences, what were they thinking- all part of parshanut shel yom- continue.

Thank you for sharing with me this exposure to various parshanim.


Rabbi Menachem Leibtag
The Underlying Logic Behind "Ein Mukdam u'M'uchar ba'Torah"

Source Sheet 1
Source Sheet 2

They’re making more copies- we won’t need it in the beginning anyhow. I’ll explain the title and then we’ll get to work-

The title is about “Ein Mukdam u’Meuchar B’Torah”- most of us remember that title/ answer when we were studying Chumash in high school. You were studying and you asked a question- something didn’t make sense and what answer did the teacher tell you- “Ein Mudkam u’Meuchar B’Torah,” which I call the Joker card- which means “Stop thinking.” Which is okay! The Torah doesn’t have to be in order.

What I want to show you is that “Ein Mukdam u’Meuchar B’Torah” means start thinking- the order of Chumash is not necessarily chronological- trying to understand what that means and why. I’m going to use two words for an introduction and we’ll take it from there- Chronicle Composition- Chronicle is to explain, like when we write something like a history book. If you’re a stenographer taking notes at a meeting, your job is to be a chronicler- your goal is to describe the events as they happen, which we call history. Composition- remember in school what we say in class and called composition- (meh) Exactly! [laughter] The difference is, when someone writes a composition, the goal is to make a point- in your composition, you can bring tons of proofs from history. Big diference- if author is writing as chronicler or editorial page, which is composition. When you’re reading an editorial, you’re assuming someone is coming to give you his opinion- there are some newspapers that combine the two together (the Jewish ones) [laughter]. The goal is to form your opinion- I think they call that yellow journalism- I want to mention some examples but won’t- most students when reading Chumash, the assumption is they are reading chronicles- here’s the story how they went out of Egypt, get to Israel and the same thing continues in Neviim. My contention is- that’s not why Torah was written- Chumash was written by God- coming to give the Jewish people a message from God. Not to let the reader know what happened but rather to give a message from God- many times that message from God is given over through history. The primary goal- author’s intent is to give the reader a message- talking about in Sefer Bereishit- almost anyone understands not to let us know how the forefathers were born/ how they grew up. How and why God chose a nation and his relationship with that nation- the reason why we hear about the flood and the Tower of Babel is why was it that we are that nation- story of Abraham- why Isaac was chosen, why Jacob, why Twelve Tribes were chosen- we know who the Jewish nation is. In light of that, when we read Sefer Bereishit- very different. How God fulfilled his covenenatn- story of that will be in Sefer Shmot. In Neviim Rishonim you see the same idea- if Chumash were nice and organized, we wouldn’t have 5 books but 2 books. One would be a Storybook- creation, going through desert, etc and the other one would be the Lawbook. Instead we have covenant, Am Yisrael agrees to the Covenant- what should happen at that point in Chumash? We should get all the laws! We get laws in 40 days- logical order should be to get all those laws that Moshe received at Har Sinai. But what we don’t have- story of the laws that he received.

The end of Parshat Mishpatim- end of Perek 24- I want to begin with the story of what happens after the 10 Commandments- God chooses a nation- plants the seed of a nation- he clones a nation. He picks the father, picks certain seed, refines it, he plants it in the womb in Egypt and finally he gives birth to Egypt, will be programmed at Har Sinai and will be given its land/ become that nation in Israel. But on the way God makes a covenant at Har Sinai. Then question of why we have 613 and they have 7. First we enter a covenant- idea behind it is simple- we come to Har Sinai and Bnei Yisrael tells Moshe- “Mamlechet kohanim v’goy kadosh.” And we answer- accepts to be a nation representing God. But how do we become that nation- we don’t know yet? We agree to become that nation without giving any details. Chazal compared it to a marriage. Without having any idea of what we are getting into- after we accept the covenant, God tells us the first 10- but that’s only 10 and there’s 603 to go. Then what happens? The people get scared and they don’t want to hear directly from God. Then we get Mishpatim- 50 some laws. Then we make a Covenant. First we accept covenant blindly and then ratify the agreement and say “Na’aseh v’nishma”- beautiful explanation of Yitro to Mishpatim to another covenant by end of Mishpatim and they sprinkle a blood and have a Kiddush- Ramban at beginning of Mishpatim is a beauty. After we ratify the Covenant, then comes the Mishkan. What’s beautiful is its being a process- after we have an idea of what we’re getting into, we have an official agreement- we make an official ceremony- and then we get more laws. And that’s what we are going to read now. We signed. It’s a Catholic marriage (you’ve heard that before, no?) No, seriously- we hold that Judaism is a Catholic marriage. No possibility of divorce- but they hold that it’s a Protestant marriage [major peals of laughter] Isn’t that funny? God can’t break out- we can’t break out.

At the end of Parshat Mishpatim, Chapter 24, we just finished the covenant of “Na’aseh v’nishma”- we have the first laws- I’m going to give you luchot ha’even- Luchot Ha’Brit- the Symbol of the Covenant- why is Moshe going up for 40 days? To get the rest of the days. He should get the rest of Taryag Mitzvot- that would make sense. Moshe’s in for 40 days and 40 nights. What happens in Parshat Mishpatim? If you read Chumash in order, what’s it look like? It looks like from Sefer Shmos that it’s the first set/ only set of laws that Moshe gets. If I followed Sefer Shmot in order, that’s what I’d get- Moshe comes down in the middle of Ki Tzitsa- in the meantime God has told him the laws of the Mishkan- but if I look only in Sefer Shmot- it looks like the only laws Moshe gets for those 40 days is that- but look elsewhere/ Rashi says he gets everything *except* the Mishkan. He gets all the laws of the Torah except the Mishkan and after Cheit Ha’Egel then he gets the laws of the Mishkan. So why does the Torah invert this/ what Chumash records? So Rashi explains “Ein Mukdam u’Meuchar B’Torah.” But that doesn’t mean there’s no reason to it- there’s a beautiful reason for it!

In the meantime Moshe Rabbeinu goes out, asks forgiveness, renegotiate the covenant- we know that story- what should happen- second luchot, gets the laws of the mishkan- what should Moshe do? He should teach the laws- end of Parshat Ki Tisa- next source. Michelangelo- not the Ninja Turtle, but the Sculptor Guy- this is at the end of parshat Ki Tisa- the Luchot /Midat HaRachamim are all included- Moshe didn’t know that his face either had horns or was shining. Want to see what the mistake was based on? Not just the word keren. They were afraid of him. Why? So what could be one of the reasons they were afraid him- because he had horns! Translators make mistake. Now Moshe’s replaced God and now they are afraid of him. Who is going to break the ice? Moshe is the teacher- same thing God did for him (remember Vayikra?) Moshe calls on the people, breaks the ice- what happens? The people finally come and talk to him- everything that God commanded him upon Har Sinai. I don’t know how many days that took. Remember the whole thing with the mask? It’s a little complicated- how Moshe Rabbeinu taught the laws to Bnei Yisrael- has a lot of laws to teach. Only thing that Sefer Shmot talks about afterwards is how he gathers the people to collect money- Parshat Vayakhel- Pekudei- and the only thing that Sefer Shmot talks about is going to be the symbol of Ma’amad Har Sinai- but would talk about the laws we get at Har Sinai- we don’t hear about the laws he got the first 40 days. The only thing we hear about is laws he got on the second time up on the mountain or a repeat (separate shiur.) Now, where are the laws that Moshe Rabbeinu received at Har Sinai- they’re not in Shemot- so where are they going to be? Are they in Vayikra? But Parshat Vayikra was given to Moshe in the Ohel Moed. Parshat Behar for sure- Parshat Tzav- “Zos hatorah…” Ramban disagrees a little bit but it seems like those laws were given on Har Sinai- “Kedoshim tihiyu” didn’t say but good reason to think given at Har Sinai. But that’s not all the laws. There’s another book. In college they call it D, but we call it Sefer Devarim. The book of Devarim are laws we have in Mishpatim.

Moshe gathers everyone together- teaching all the laws one last time- saying these laws are part of the Covenant- the reason I am teaching you these laws is because you got all scared when God tried to teach you face to face. So Moshe now teaches these laws to them on behalf of God. That’s why story of Ten Commandments again- introduction to the story of Devarim. Read perek hey in Devarim- there is the story- the story we are missing in Sefer Shemot. Ramban even brings it down in Shmot. The laws that we see in Devarim were first given at Har Sinai- Moshe taught these laws to the Jews, but Chumash doesn’t record them in Shemot. For good reason! Because these laws require constant repetitiont- taught them when came down from Har Sinai, taught them during 11 day journey, teaching them one last time in 40th year. That’s opening line to Devarim per Ibn Ezra/ Ramban and Chumash. Before he gives that speech, he has an Intro speech as to why it was 40 years- the goal of Sefer Devarim- teach them to you one last time- write them in stone- parshat ki tavo. Covenant again and we’re going to have a warning and we’re going to sing about them later on. Hakhel- read them again. Teaches them one last time in Sefer Devarim- instead of recording them when they were first given to Moshe Rabbeinu, Chumash prefers to record them for posterity the last time he gives them. The reader of Chumash never heard them yet- the people heard them over and over. The last time- always going to be better, because he’s polished already! Also, he gives rebuke and boy, does he give rebuke! Half of his speech is called shtuch in modern English- he throws in a lot of one liners reminding people- rebuke may be new- the laws are 40 years old. Had it not been for Chet Ha’Egel, would not have been a need for permanent Mishkan- talking about ideal in the last speech, so talking about the laws of he got in the first 40 days.

Some are in Vayikra for thematic reasons, some in Devarim, some in Bamidbar for thematic reasons- it could be certain things happened on the way to the desert- maybe then we got the laws of tzitzis- it could be that there was this woman’s Daughters of Tzelafachad- and they came up with this idea and the Rabbis listened to them- they were mechadesh halacha (it wouldn’t get by nowadays) [laughter]. Pesach Sheni- was that God’s original intention or was it only because we were begging for them? Machloket- great machloket- whole deep understanding of how Torah works b’chlal. How powerful Torah she’Baal Peh is. Now we’re going to read a beautiful Chizkuni- going to explain how Chumash came about- most people think- how did we get chumash like we have it today- it doesn’t say that in chumash- it says the opposite and chazal says the opposite- end of devarim, we don’t read it. Chumash, in its final form was given to us in the 40th year- the laws we received earlier- but the organization of those laws was given before then- even though we got those laws over 40 years before then- to publish chumash in the 40th year- want chizkuni to explain-

The Chizkuni on the page I gave you- I’ll read quickly- he’s commenting on pasuk 32. How long were we at Har Sinai for? Those who know, don’t say. You know the answer- you don’t realize you know the answer. We make a covenant- the reason we know Torah was given on 6th/ 7th of Sivan is because we work backwards from Yom Kippur- gathers people together and gives them – when did we put the Mishkan together- on the first of Nisan. We built a Mishkan- what should we do when the Mishkan is built- where should we be going? Teaneck wasn’t built yet. They’re supposed to go to Israel, shouldn’t they! It’s in Kiddush- I heard a joke- there’s a joke- there’s two reasons people come to shul, for Kaddish and for Kiddush [laughter] That’s what you’re going to remember from the whole shiur [more laughter]. The Kiddush- the fleishig Kiddush- ul’zevach hashelamim- that’s Kiddush, that’s fleishigs. Why did we go away after Pesach is over? Some people were tamei- what did God say? Wait a month. Didn’t he? So we wait till when- till Pesach sheni? When did we finally leave Har Sinai- 20th of Iyar. You know what that’s based on? Language called Hebrew and pasuk in Behaatlotscha- Rashi doesn’t bring it down- if Rashi brought it down we’d all know it.

We leave on 20th of Iyar- a year less 11th year- cute Devarim “ached aser mi choreiv”- Chizkuni’s going to say that during that year Har Sinai- the next stop should be the land of Israel. We weren’t supposed to sit in the desert. That’s what he’s going to explain-

All the commandments that Bnei Yisrael received- Parshat HaChodesh- “ad esrim”- till 20th of Iyar in the second year. Chizkuni’s making a bold statement. During that year, all the laws we need to become God’s nation should be given in that time. When Moshe Rabbeinu received these laws- got them in a Megillah- little Megillah, like mezuzos- and he taught from that. And now he explains how- every single law that Moshe received he would write in a separate megillah. And so for 40 years he had this big library- everything that was worth writing down he wrote down in megillot. 40 years later and what does he have? library of megillot. but we don’t have chumash yet. now what happenes? Chizkuni says something amazing here- it came time for Moshe to die. What does God tell Moshe Rabbeinu to die a month before he dies? “Publish and Perish.” It’s time to die- before you die, put it all together- publish something. And therefore Moshe is now mandated by God to take all the mitzvoth that God gave him and put them together. But based on what order? If Yekki/ a librarian, he’d look at the dates on each one and put it in chronological order. If the Rambam, he’d use categories. A lot of logical ways you could put them together. All stories/ laws in two different books. But that’s not what Moshe Rabbeinu does. Hakadosh Baruch Hu Moshe Rabbeinu Incorporated- how it happened is an important question, but it’s technical. But God told Moshe Rabbeinu to publish and tells him how to publish it. Based on what criteria did Moshe publish the laws?

Based on what criteria does he put them together? Based on thematic order/ juxtaposition. That’s the key to understanding Chumash. The reader’s assumption is that Moshe Rabbeinu is mandated to put together Torah in final form- put it in this order/ that order- based on what logic is he putting them together? It’s precoded and purposely we’re going to put things out of chronological/ logical order so that we ask how come this is there. Chumash wants us to notice the irregularities there- we call that juxtaposition- when Chumash is out of order it’s on purpose- and Chazal understand it that way. It’s precoded with Halakhic messages/ Machshava messages. It’s a matrix. And there’s not one reason for every justaposition- multiple reasons. Shulchan Aruch- study one halakha at a time. Why is Shavuos following Pesach- it makes sense? But in Chumash I have laws of Eved ____ right next door to Amalek- what’s the connection? There’s a beautiful connection. If you look in Devarim or Mishpatim we just jump back and forth- and therefore when you’re studying Chumash, you don’t only learn from its content, you learn from its structure as well- what’s chazal’s job when they study- to decode?

How do you decode/ who has the license to decode – arguing that for ages.

Rabbi Yishmael has 13 hermeneutical principles- assumes the Chumash is precoded and that’s why we derive laws- every Parshan will tell you- why is Korach next to Tzitzit- we learn from all that. I call this the Peshat Ha’Derash. This is the reason- there’s a logical reason why- it’s a matrix- there’s intentional ambiguity and a lot of juxtapositions- it’s Chazal’s job to interpret it. There’s a theme in Chumash- the pasuk has to fit in the rubric of what the Chumash is about- about a nation representing God. Peshat of the simple pasuk- why does it appear to be a little bit different? Purposely changes zachor and shamor- that’s intentional- message between zachor and shamor- all the apparent contradictions they are intentional. R’ Mordechai Breuer’s biggest chiddush- it’s not multiple authors and someone pasting it all together, but done on purpose by Hakadosh Baruch Hu Moshe Rabbeinu Inc to learn from the contrasts/ ideas. That’s Chazal’s approach to study- so when you’re studying something like story of Mishkan, and it didn’t happen then, happened 40 days later- when you understand what Chizkuni’s saying- purposely out of order to teach you lessons (what those lessons are is a whole other shiur.)

I need a Temple to perpetuate/ remember Har Sinai. Had it not been for the sin of Chet Ha’Egel, wouldn’t need a Temple- now I can’t need Har Sinai until I do some Rehab- now I need a temporary Temple- the need for a temporary Temple (Mishkan) is because of Chet Ha’Egel, the Beis Hamikdash is for Maamad Har Sinai. Wouldn’t realize I need the Mishkan to perpetuate Ma’amad Har Sinai? So that’s why take laws from 40 days later and put them next to Mishkan (Ramban’s explanation) even though temporary temple- idea actually later.

Na’aseh v’nishma – put it later for thematic reasons. Each book has its thing. What’s in each book? Sefer Shemot doesn’t tell me the laws, does it. The relationship between God and its people- the Ten Commandments are Luchot HaBrit- the laws of Parshat Mishpatim and then symbol of that covenant called the Mishkan- whole relationship solidified by Har Sinai is in crisis- as a result of that crisis- symbol that that contract is working- therefore our relationship comes back together again- the laws themselves (3 more books for them.) Now that God’s presence is in our midst- now that we have this Covenant, that’s going to change how we live.

The example I like to give- some big Rabbi coming to your house- what’s going to happen to your house? How people dress/ act/ talk will all be different- so Sefer Vayikra- now there’s Kedusha- you can visit God, can’t just walk right in (tahar/ tumah)- what do you bring to say hi? Korbanot. How do you act because representing God? Kedoshim T’hiyu. When do you visit? Moadim.

Because God’s in our midst- that’s the result of that. How about the basics- how do I become a nation representing God? What kind of economic system/ how do I celebrate my holidays- that’s the laws of Sefer Devarim? Core laws that make us a nation representing God. Laws of a political system/ how we go to war/ when we go to war/ what we do when someone dies and we don’t know whose responsible- those are practical day-to-day laws. I oversimplified it but each book has its theme.

Last thing I want to show you on the back page/ flip side- best example of this is the book of Bamidbar (we’re not going to do this now but when you come back)- if I divided the book between narrative and laws- how we get ready. When we’re ready, we should be going to Israel- middle section is what went wrong/ why we don’t make it. Then we get 40th day and ready to go forward again- divides beautifully into 3 sections. If I strip the book of all its laws and doros. We interrupt that story with laws from Har Sinai- interrupts a natural flow of story- I think laws really belong in Sefer Vayikra- and I intersperse them in the middle of the narrative, commercials- for what reason? God tells Moshe to interrupt the narrative with special laws- question is why is this law interrupting this narrative? Why the laws of _____ (wheat of land) right next to Meraglim (which is where we don’t want the land?) Lots of laws that for very beautiful thematic reasons are justaposed.

That’s pretty much life. Narrative and halakhot joined together- this is a little shalash shudosy- we live our lives in middle of the day- but we have to try to find connection between mitzvos we are keeping and life we are living- again, schmaltzy, but I think there’s something to it. Ein mukdam is start thinking- have to assume chumash might be out of order- at least appreciate the reasons that people hundreds of years ago thought of- the concept Ein Mukdam is basic to the way in which Chumash was given/ arranged.

Thank everyone for coming and hope we can have these again in the future and Chag Kosher v’Sameach 30 days before Pesach.


Avi-Gil said...

Looking forward to reading these when I have some time. I attended R' Wieder and Dr. Schiffman as well but then went to R' Yaakov Jaffe and Ms. Miryam Brand. My notes (though probably not as complete as yours) are at

Anonymous said...

Great notes as usual.
I particularly liked Rabbi Dr M. Cohen's presentation-very unusual and insightful!

Thank you so much.

Anonymous said...


Thanks for doing this. I was upset that I had to miss these shiurim, and am very grateful to at see this. Thanks!

Holy Hyrax said...

Great job Chana. Seriously. Though i wish you caught Jeremy Weider on this pathetic accuse for apologetics.

Prophecy, or lack thereof, is one of the a priori non-rational premises of the academy.

Thus for example a prophecy claiming to predict the future in advance must have been written after the events- in interpreting the passage of “V’eilah ha’melachim” the academic begins with an a priori that if these kings lived time of _____ constitutes post- facto scholarship. the Ibn ezra believes that we do not write history in advance- so we don’t assume automatically that it was written after the facts. there is absolutely no proof for the academic’s assumption of non-belief in prophecy- the academy starts with an assumption that is simply non-compatible with our worldview-

J. "יהוא בן יהושפט בן נמשי" Izrael said...

Off the mark, but...

IIRC you;re into literature. If not, it's just as good...

Check out Kipling's "The Withe Seal" and "The Miracle Of Purun Bhagat". Seems Jew syndrome is inherent in humanity. Kipling saw what most are incapable or unwilling to see... and how ahead of his time he was!

Chana said...

Hey Everyone,

Thanks for all the kind words.

Avi-gil, your link doesn't seem to be working for me (I am not sure why.)

YU student,
Just out of curiosity, do I know you? You always leave such nice comments.

You're very welcome.

Holy Hyrax,
I think you may have misunderstood what I wrote. Rabbi Wieder was saying that this is the academic's assumption- that the text was written afterwards, not that this is what we as Jews could believe.

Thanks- I'll look into it!

Avi-Gil said...

I don't know why it's not working. Try this one, or just try copying and pasting the address into your browser.

Anonymous said...

Chana,I've heard wonderful things about you and saw you once or twice in the library. I don't believe you know me.

Love your stories/notes and etc.

Holy Hyrax said...

Chana, I realize that. My problem is his response. Don't you think its a bit of a copout? Any serious question about text could simply be responded with "it was nevuah."

I mean, wouldn't the first readers of his torah find it a bit odd that he is telling them already from the beginning that they WILL have a king?

I am sure others see this issue and thats why some commentators say Moshe was the first king.

Avi-Gil said...


Which king portion are you referring to? Why is it different than "כי יביאך אל הארץ" or "המקום אשר יבחר לשכן שמו שם"? Are those problems too?

R' Wieder, in his answer to a question at the end, emphasized that yes, we do come in with the assumption that nevua really happened. But I don't see why that's a cop-out. The way I understand it, we're looking at everything through a different lens than those who don't believe in nevua or in Torah miSinai.

Holy Hyrax said...

so why are we picking and choosing. Why didn't moshe call what would become Jerusalem...Jerusalem. Why not give other very specific facts before they came to pass as well? Why not call the dan territory Tel Aviv?

The examples you give in no way have predicted the future. Only stated what God WILL do eventually.

What are the first Israelites supposed to make out of the pasuk that says "These are the kings that ruled before there ruled a king of Israel?"

That pasuk would only make sense from someone writing it down when a king actually existed.

Prophecy is prophecy, but this would not make sence to the first readers. It's kind of like if an American in 1700 were to read a book saying "these are kings of britain that ruled over the colonies before George Washington became first president"

Avi-Gil said...

I think it's more like, "These are kings of Britain that ruled over the colonies before the colonies had their own leader." And it's more like the 1776 than 1700 - they already have gained independence (by leaving Egypt), they just haven't formed their own government yet (because they haven't gotten to Israel).

Holy Hyrax said...

If only it were that easy. So again, why is he choosing to prophesies at this point and already tell the Israelites that they WILL have a king no matter what? It sounds awfully suspicious and anachronistic from an objective reading. The Torah seldom, if ever foresees the future and tells the Jews specifically what they will do.

Avi-Gil said...

a) Nowhere does it say they will have a king no matter what.

b) Even if it did, wouldn't any independent nation with its own land have a king (in that era)? What's anachronistic about that?