On the Original Position of the Book of Daniel in the Jewish Bible

by Rivka Raviv

In the Jewish Bible, the Book of Daniel is located in the Hagiographa, whereas in the LXX this book appears in the Prophets. The location of this book in the Bible has been discussed by numerous scholars, and this article attempts to demonstrate that the Book of Daniel was always located in the Hagiographa in the Jewish Bible.
Direct and indirect proof is offered that the Book of Daniel was considered  part of the Hagiographa by the end of the Second Temple period, and certainly by the time of the Mishnah. While there is evidence that the attitude of Babylonian rabbis to this book changed, this does not prove that the book was relocated from the Prophets to the Hagiographa. Rather, this change might be related to the beginnings of the differentiation between the status of the Hagiographa and that of the Prophets, a distinction that would be formulated explicitly only in the Middle Ages.

Rabbi Shimon ben Yohai in the Cave and Elijah in the Wilderness:
A Comparison between Talmudic and Biblical Narratives

by Ronit Shoshany

Rabbi Shimon ben Yohai is described in talmudic and midrashic sources, for the most part, as a righteous scholar and wonder-worker. The Babylonian version of the cave narrative (Shabbat 33b–34a), however, offers a more critical portrayal. This paper presents an analysis of the talmudic cave narrative and compares it with the Elijah biblical narrative in I Kings 19. There the prophet behaves like a zealot, abandoning his community and entering the wilderness due to his disappointment with human nature. Despite finding some individuals who are faithful to God, Elijah remains critical of his entire people. The central argument of this paper is that the Babylonian redactor fashioned the cave narrative as an analogy to the biblical narrative, with changes appropriate to the different time period and plot.

In the footsteps of the tradition about Solomon the magician
in the literature of the Sages.

by Gilad Sasson

A prevalent tradition about Solomon’s ability to control demons existed among Jews and non-Jews since the Second Temple period. This tradition had two components: Solomon’s being assisted by demons in building the Temple; and Solomon’s healing the sick by driving out demons. While the former is mentioned in sources written by the Sages, the latter appears only implicitly in the Baraitha about the concealing of The Book of Remedies and in the chapter in Tractate Gittin, “he who is obsessed by Kordiakos.” The Sages were familiar with this tradition, yet intentionally chose to disregard it. This disregard may be explained by the Sages’ desire to obscure any link between Solomon and Jesus, to whom the ability to drive out demons was also attributed.

Rashi’s Historiographical Concepts of the Babylonian Amoraim

by Barak S. Cohen

In more than seventy different instances in his commentary on the Babylonian Talmud, Rashi introduces different chronological considerations regarding Babylonian Amoraim. In many of these cases Rashi’s interpretation contradicts the chronological information we have in Seder Tannaim ve-Amoraim and/or in Iggeret Rav Sherira Ga’on, or demonstrates some other difficulty or constraints.
This phenomenon raises doubt regarding the common assumption that claims that Rashi was familiar with Iggeret Rav Sherira Ga’on and used it on a regular basis as the main source for his chronological data. In addition to noting the phenomenon, we argue that Rashi based his chronological knowledge solely on the Talmud, and not on Iggeret Rav Sherira Ga’on (or Seder Tannaim ve-Amoraim). The analysis then shifts its attention to reexamining the main proof that researchers use as the basis of this common assumption.  

“Just Weights” – Heavenly and Earthly Justice
A Study of the Laws of Weights and Measures in Rabbinic Literature

by Yitzhak Brand

The laws of weights and measures in rabbinic literature are characterized by rigorous – sometimes perfectionist – standards. The extraordinary nature of these standards becomes conspicuous in a comparison between these laws and, for example, the laws of ona’ah. The punctiliousness here is partly explained by the resemblance between the conduct of a merchant – measuring and weighing – and of a judge: the merchant, measuring out quantities and amounts, is obligated to avoid committing any injustice. His weights must be just, his measurements exact. Further study reveals that the image of the judge is, in fact, the earthly reflection of the image of Divine justice. At the center of this image are the tools of Divine judgment: just weights and measures. A person who weighs and measures is required to bear Divine justice in mind at all times, as he employs the tools of earthly justice. Now any distortion of measurement –beyond representing deceit and injustice – becomes a rebellion against God. One who measures falsely may be compared, as it were, to an idolater.

Mordechai’s Dream: From Addition to Derashah

by Arnon Atzmon

Examining the history of the story of Mordechai’s dream (MD) and its journey from one literary context to another over the ages may help illustrate the different approaches used by authors in different eras to adapt the text to their own particular literary frameworks.
In the Greek additions to the Esther scroll, MD serves as a kind of introduction. The dream, together with its interpretation, frames the plot, providing it with a new context. This would mean that the Second Temple-period scribes tampered with the biblical text, altering the very nature of its story.
The Hebrew reworking of MD recorded in Josippon is apparently based upon the Vulgate, where MD, located with other additions at the end of the scroll, lost its original context. Josippon’s composer reworked MD and inserted it into the plot sequence as a crucial link. Here the biblical text is illuminated via a medieval extra-biblical composition, in the form of rewritten Bible.
Midrash Esther Rabbah draws upon the MD version found in Josippon, and uses MD to gloss the verses illuminating their exegetical-midrashic aspects.

Rashi’s Corrections to his Commentary on the Pentateuch

by Jordan S. Penkower

MS Leipzig, Universitätsbibliothek B.H. fol. 1, a thirteenth century Ashkenzai manuscript of the Pentateuch with Onqelos and Rashi’s commentary (with Haftarot and Megillot with Rashi’s commentary), contains several additions to Rashi’s commentary on the Pentateuch; some originate with Makhir, the scribe of the manuscript, some with Rabbeinu Shemaya, Rashi’s student and scribe, and some with Rashi himself. This was first noted by F. Delitzsch in his 1838 catalogue of the Hebrew manuscripts in Leipzig. Later, in 1902, A. Berliner brought a selection of the R. Shemaya and Rashi notes (without distinguishing between them). More recently, in 1991 (and again in 1995) A. Grossman returned to this material, stressing its importance for the history of Rashi’s commentary. He noted that Berliner brought only about one quarter of the relevant notes. Grossman reviewed all the material and summarized the numerous R. Shemaya notes, but brought only seven (out of approximately 50, according to Grossman’s count) of  Rashi’s notes. He stressed the difficulty of reading the notes, which were on microfilm; Berliner also had stressed the difficulty of reading the notes, and in fact, someone else transcribed them for him.
In 2003 we went to Leipzig to study the manuscript itself. This study of Rashi’s additions to his commentary is a result of that research; we will not deal with the other notes, those of Makhir and of R. Shemaya. According to our enumeration, R. Shemaya brought all 82 additional notes in MS Leipzig that originate with Rashi. Almost all of these notes end with “R.” (= Rabi), or “M.R.” (= mepi Rabi), signifying that they stem from Rashi. Furthermore, Makhir added his own additional comment: “kakh katav Rabbeinu Shemaya,” to almost all of these notes, noting that these attributions (“R.”; “M.R.”) were from the hand of R. Shemaya. In fact, Makhir noted several times that he had before him the autographed copy of R. Shemaya; thus, the above additional comment. It should be stressed that the notes in the original manuscript are not particularly difficult to read, with the exception of a few.
Rashi’s additions can be divided into a number of types: (1) additions based on Rabbinic literature (חז"ל); (2) linguistic and lexicographic clarifications; (3) clarifications concerning the general tenor of the verse; (4) clarifications and expansions of his original comment; (5) additional French glosses for clarification; (6) additions concerning the borders of Erez Israel; (7) additions that are similar to, or are compatible with, Rashi’s comments elsewhere.
At the conclusion of this study, after bringing the numerous additions and the relevant sources, we summarize the spread of these additions in the manuscripts of Rashi’s commentary and in the early printed editions (nine incunabula and two sixteenth century editions). To study the manuscripts, we have chosen, in addition to MS Leipzig 1, a sample of 22 out of at least 241 manuscripts. The results show that the manuscripts and printed editions contain 25% of the additions, at most. Furthermore, in almost all cases, the attribution that the comment is an addition (“R.”, “M.R.”) has been omitted. Thus, today’s editions of Rashi’s commentary on the Pentateuch contain some of Rashi’s additions to his commentary, but they are not identified as such. Only with the help of MS Leipzig 1 are we able to identify Rashi’s additions to his commentary.

“We May Not Emend the Text”: Studies in the Textual Criticism of Nahmanides

by Shalem Yahalom

The text of the Talmud has been preserved in various MSS, and hence textual criticism of this work is of paramount importance for any critical and exegetical study of this work.
Nahmanides’ was familiar with different textual traditions of the Talmud. In his writings, he indicated which version of the Talmud he considered most accurate. Generally, he preferred the version of the Geonim and the Sephardic scholars to the French and Ashkenazic versions of the Talmud.
MS Hamburg 165 was copied in Gerona, where it was concluded in 1184, in spatial and chronological proximity to Nahmanides, and it appears that Nahmanides was well acquainted with this MS. Hence, this MS seems to be a good starting point for analyzing Nahmanides’ approach to textual analysis. This article accordingly presents a detailed analysis of Nahmanides’ text-critical comments in light of the readings of MS Hamburg 165, and concludes that Nahmanides did not invariably abide by fixed text-critical rules, despite his aforementioned preference for the version of the Geonim and the Sephardic scholars. Rather, he sometimes reached his text-critical conclusions on the basis of localized, “ad hoc” analysis of relevant textual variants.

The Commentaries of Rabbi Yehuda Almadari on Hilkhot Ha-Rif, Order Moed

by Yacov Fuchs

R. Yehuda Almadari’s commentaries on several tractates of Hilkhot Ha-Rif have been published in the past. That Almadari wrote commentaries on order Moed is clear from the testimony of R. Chaim Joseph David Azulai (Hida). To date, however, no manuscript has been found that was explicitly ascribed to Almadari. Nevertheless, over the years various anonymous texts have been attributed to this scholar because of their style and the sources they cite.
I have recently identified a large portion of Almadari’s commentary on the order of Moed in an Ashkenazic manuscript, where this commentary appears next to the Rif. The author’s identity can be established in light of three citations in Almadari’s name found in R. Johanan b. R. Reuven’s commentary on the Sheiltot and in the Hida’s writings.
In addition to providing us with Almadari’s commentary on many additional tractates, this discovery contributes to our knowledge about the geographical distribution of Almadari’s writings. Until recently, scholars thought that this material had not reached communities to the west of Italy. We now know that Almadari’s writings were studied and copied in Ashkenaz as well. This manuscript also sheds light on various issues addressed by previous scholars, such as the identity of some of the names mentioned in Almadari’s commentaries.

Miracles and Martyrdom:
The Theology of a Yiddish-Language Memorial Book of Hasidic Tales
in the Context of Earlier Hasidic Hagiography

by Justin Jaron Lewis 

This article focuses on the theological dimension of a topic neglected in the scholarship on Hasidism: the extensive literature of popular hagiographies in Yiddish. A post-Holocaust work, Seyfer Kedoyshim: Rebeyim oyf Kidesh-Hashem (Menahem Unger, 1967), is contrasted with a representative example of pre-World War II Hasidic hagiography, the anonymous Beys Tshernobl (1926). The article demonstrates that the theological differences are profound.  The “living father,” God, present in a story in the earlier compilation, is no longer accessible in the later work, where a moving story depicts a Rebbe calling, in vain, on his own dead father to save the Jews of Poland from destruction.  In the post-Holocaust context, the Hasidic Rebbe as legendary hero has been transformed from a superman, sharing divine power, to a representative Jew, suffering and dying with his people.




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Last Update:February 15, 2005