Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Greatest Story in the Annals of Jewish Book Collecting

The Greatest Story in the Annals of Jewish Book Collecting
 By Jeremy Brown
Jeremy Brown is the author of New Heavens and a New Earth; The Jewish Reception of Copernican Thought. He writes on science, medicine and the Talmud at Talmudology.com 
As we approach the end of Masechet Yevamot in the Daf Yomi cycle, it seems appropriate to reflect on a legendary story in the annals of Jewish bibliography. This story involves King Henry VIII, the laws of Yevamot, and the greatest private Jewish library in the world.

About thirty years ago, while a medical student in London, I had the good fortune of visiting the Valmadonna Trust Library, that greatest of private Jewish libraries. (How I got there is another story for another time). And while there, I held the Talmud that certainly once belonged to Westminster Abbey. It may also have been owned by Henry VIII, who had brought a Bomberg Talmud from Venice in order to help him end his marriage to Catherineof Aragon, the first of his many wives. The story of Henry VIII's purchase of the Bomberg Talmud - the first complete printed Talmud - actually hinges on Yevamot, and whether the rules of levirate marriage, or yibum, applied to him. 

Catherine of Aragon was actually a widow, having first been married to Henry's younger brother Arthur. About six months after Catherine married Arthur he died childless, and in 1509 his older brother Prince Henry married his widow.  One more thing to know: Catherine claimed that her marriage to Arthur had never been consummated; this is important later in the story. (And here is an interesting historic footnote: it was Catherine's parents, Ferdinand and Isabella who had expelled the Jews from Spain.)

By 1525, Prince Henry had become King Henry VIII, and has had one daughter with Catherine. He wanted a son, and now wished to marry Ann Boleyn. There was, however, a problem:  what was he to do with Catherine, his existing wife?  Divorce, remember, was tricky for this Catholic King. And here is where the Talmud comes in.  

Henry argued that his marriage to Catherine should be dissolved since it was biblically forbidden for a man to marry his sister-in-law. (Henry claimed years earlier that he could marry her because the marriage to his brother had not been consummated. See, I told you that was important information...)

But as we from Masechet Yevamot, the Bible commands a man to marry his widowed sister-in-law if his brother died without children. Since Arthur died childless, it could be argued that Henry was now fulfilling the biblical requirement of levirate marriage - known as yibum. If that was the case, the marriage was kosher and could not be dissolved

How was this conundrum to be resolved? Let's have Jack Lunzer, the custodian of the library, tell the story. (You can also see the video here. Sorry about the ads. They are beyond our control.) 


As Lunzer tells us, the Talmud was obtained from Venice to help King Henry VIII find a way to divorce his wife (and former sister-in-law) Catherine, and so be free to marry Ann Boleyn. In fact, it's a little bit more complicated than that. Behind the scenes were Christian scholars who struggled to reconcile the injunction against a man marrying his sister-in-law found in one part of the Bible, with the command to do so under specific circumstances, found in another. In fact the legality of Henry's marriage had been in doubt for many years, which is why Henry had obtained the Pope's special permission to marry.

John Stokesley, who later became Bishop of London, argued that the Pope had no authority to override the word of God that forbade a man from marrying his brother's wife. As a result the dispensation the Pope had given was meaningless, and Henry's marriage was null and void. In this way, Henry was free to marry.  But what did Stokesley do with the passages in Deuteronomy that require yibum?  He differentiated between them.  The laws in Leviticus, he claimed, were both the word of God and founded on natural reason. In this way they were moral laws; hence they applied to both Jew and Christian.  In contrast, the laws found in Deuteronomy, were judicial laws, which were ordained by God to govern (and punish) the Jews - and the Jews alone. They were never intended to apply to any other people, and so Henry's Christian levirate marriage to Catherine was of no legal standing. There was therefore no impediment for Henry to marry Ann. As you can imagine, this rather pleased the king.

It remains unclear whether the Valmadonna Library Bomberg Talmud is indeed the very same one that Henry had imported from Venice. According to Sotheby's and at least one academic, it actually came from the library of an Oxford professor of Hebrew, who bequeathed it to the Abbey. In any event, a Bomberg Talmud lay undisturbed at Westminster Abbey for the next four hundred years.  How Lunzer obtained it for his library is possibly the greatest story in the annals of Jewish book collecting. In the 1950s there was an exhibition in London to commemorate the readmission of the Jews to England under Cromwell. Lunzer noted that one of the books on display, from the collection of Westminster Abbey, was improperly labeled, and was in fact a volume of a Bomberg Talmud. Lunzer called the Abbey the next day, told them of his discovery, and suggested that he send some workers to clean the rest of the undisturbed volumes.  They discovered a complete Bomberg Talmud in pristine condition, and Lunzer wanted it. But despite years of negotiations with the Abbey, Lunzer's attempts to buy the Talmud were rebuffed.  

Then in April 1980, Lunzer's luck changed. He read in a brief newspaper article that the original 1065 Charter of Westminster Abbey had been purchased by an American at auction, but because of its cultural significance the British Government was refusing to grant an export license. Lunzer called the Abbey, was invited for tea, and a gentleman's agreement was reached. He purchased the Charter from the American, presented it to the Abbey, and at a ceremony in the Jerusalem Chamber of Westminster Abbey the nine volumes of Bomberg's Babylonian Talmud were presented to the Valmadonna Trust. It's a glorious story, and it's so much better when Lunzer himself tells it, as he does here: (You can also see the video here,and end it at 14.35. We continue to apologize for those ads.)



The Valmadonna Trust Library - all of its 13,000 books and manuscripts, including the Westminster Abbey Talmud, is now on sale at Sotheby's in New York. It can be yours for about $35 million.  But if you buy it, you must agree to two conditions set by Lunzer: that the Library remain whole, and that it be made available to scholars. In that way, just as I once held that magical Talmud, others may continue to do so. 

Saturday, January 24, 2015

עד היום הזה, הרב אמנון בזק, הוצאת ידיעות ספרים

עד היום הזה, הרב אמנון בזק, הוצאת ידיעות ספרים
מאת: רב צעיר

הרב אמנון בזק עשה חסד עם לומדי וחובבי תנ"ך רבים בהוציאו לאור את ספרו "עד היום הזה". הספר מרכז את שאלות היסוד שלומדי התנ"ך נפגשים בהם, שאלות שהעיסוק בהם בבית המדרש הינו דל יחסית, ודווקא במסדרונות האקדמיה רבתה העיסוק בהן. כך מתאר המחבר את החשיבות שבעיסוק בשאלות אלו:
"בשנים האחרונות אני נתקל באופן אישי במצוקתם של יותר ויותר בוגרים ובוגרות של מערכת החינוך הדתית, בעיקר כאלו שהגיעו ללמוד במוסדות אקדמיים ואגב כך נחשפו גם למחקר המקרא. חשיפה זו מעוררת אצלם לעתים שאלות שהם חשים שאין להן מענה, ולעתים אף תדהמה וזעזוע מהקעקוע של כל צורת החשיבה שעליה גדלו."

הספר מחולק לשלושה שערים:

·        "בין מסורת לביקורת" – בשער זה דן המחבר בזמן חיבור התורה וספרי הנ"ך, בכפילויות של סיפורי התורה ובסתירות בין סיפורי ומצוות התורה.
·        "ארכיאולוגיה וספרות המזרח הקדום" – שער זה מחולק לשני פרקים ארוכים יחסית. חלקו הראשון עוסק בערעורים ובתימוכים שניתן למצוא בעולם הארכיאולוגיה למסופר במקרא. חלקו השני מתייחס לקבצי חוקים שונים שנמצאו מתקופת המקרא, כדוגמת חוקי חמורבי, ובהשפעתם על הבנת מצוות התורה.
·        "בין פשט לדרש" – שער זה עוסק ביחס בין פשוטו של מקרא למדרשי אגדה ומדרשי הלכה וכן לנושא הפולמוס המכונה (למורת רוחו של המחבר) "תנ"ך בגובה העיניים".  
ללא ספק יש ברכה רבה בניסיון להתמודד בתוך בית המדרש עם השאלות הקשות שעלו כתוצאה מהמחקר האקדמי, הן מפאת העמדת דברים על דיוקם והן מפאת הצלת נפשם של תועים. ככלל, הספר הינו חובה לכל מי שלימוד התנ"ך והנושאים סביב לימוד התנ"ך מעסיקים אותו. ככזה, הספר הינו דבר מתוקן שהוציא מתחת ידיו חבר, תלמיד ור"מ בבית מדרש שחרטה על דגלה את החזרה ללימוד המוגבר של תנ"ך, ושהוביל למהפכה בכל הקשור ללימוד ולעיסוק בתנ"ך התרחש בדור האחרון.


























דיון והערות לספר:

שני הפרקים הראשונים בספר עוסקים בשאלה מי חיבר את התורה. אמנם כל ילד מכיר את העיקר השמיני מתוך י"ג העיקרים לרמב"ם הקובע כי התורה כולה מן השמים, אך בכדי לקבל אמונה זו יש להתמודד עם השאלות העולות כנגדה. זאת המשימה שלקח על עצמו הרב אמנון בזק בשני הפרקים הללו.
כאמור, את העיסוק בשאלת מחבר התורה ותקופת חיבורה חילק הרב בזק לשני פרקים. הפרק הראשון עוסק ב"יצירת התורה על פי המקרא ומסורת ישראל" והפרק השני עוסק ב"פסוקים מאוחרים בתורה: התופעה והשלכותיה".
את הפרק הראשון פותח המחבר בסקירה מקיפה של מה ניתן ללמוד מהמקרא עצמו על חיבור התורה. בספרי הנביאים הראשונים הייחוס היחיד לתורה הוא למצוות בספר דברים המצוינים מספר פעמים כמופיעים ב"תורת משה". הפעם הראשונה במקרא בו מופיע אזכור מפורש לתורה שאינו רק לספר דברים הינו בנחמיה, בציווי לחוג את חג הסוכות כפי המופיע בספר ויקרא.

כל זה עומד לכאורה בסתירה, או לכל הפחות כקושי מסוים למסורת חז"ל שהתורה כולה, על חמשת חומשיה, נמסרה לבני ישראל בטרם מותו של משה. הרב בזק איננו מקהה את העוקץ של הקושי הזה, אלא בזה שהוא טוען שניתן לראות דמיון סגנוני בין סיפורים מסוימים בנביאים הראשונים לסיפורי התורה. לדוגמא (עמ' 32):

"ישנה הקבלה נרחבת בין סיפור נישואי דוד ומיכל לבין סיפור נישואי יעקב ורחל"

גם אם נקבל הקבלות סגנוניות אלו כעובדה נתונה, עדיין אין זה מוכיח כלל כי זמן כתיבת סיפורי התורה קדם לזמן חיבור נביאים ראשונים (לכל היותר זה יכול להוכיח שהם נכתבו באותה תקופה), או לחילופין שהיה בפני אבותינו בתקופת הנביאים הראשונים את התורה בשלמותה (לכל היותר זה יכול להוכיח שהיה בפניהם סיפורים אלו). בפרק השלישי בספר המחבר מזכיר גם את העובדה שישנם ביטויים ספרותיים ולשוניים המופיעים רק בספרי התורה וביטויים אחרים המופיעים רק בספרי הנביאים, כדוגמת המילה "נוה", מה שמוכיח את כתיבתם בזמנים שונים.

עוד נמצא בפרק הראשון בספר דיון בסוגיית "תורה מגילה מגילה נתנה" או "תורה חתומה נתנה", וכן בשאלה האם, לפי מסורת חז"ל, נתנה למשה הרשות לכתוב כאוות נפשו את מילות התורה, או שכל מילה הוכתבה לו מאת הקב"ה.

הפרק השני המכונה "פסוקים מאוחרים בתורה: התופעה והשלכותיה" דן בנושא יחסית מוכר של שאלת הימצאותן של פסוקים בודדים שהוכנסו לתורה לאחר מותו של משה רבינו. פסוקים כאלו מכונים לעתים, בעקבות דברי הראב"ע "סוד השנים עשר" (בנושא זה מומלץ גם מאמרו של הרב שמריה גרשוני).

העיסוק בנושא מתחיל ממחלוקת בחז"ל בשאלת זהות מחברם של הפסוקים האחרונים בתורה, המתארים את מותו של משה. חז"ל מתייחסים לשמונת הפסוקים האחרונים, אך הראב"ע כבר מרחיב את דבריהם לשנים עשר הפסוקים האחרונים בתורה. ומשנתנה הרשות מצרף אליהם הראב"ע פסוקים, או חלקי פסוקים ממקומות שונים בתורה. המחבר אף מציג פירושים נוספים, כדוגמת פירושי רבי יהודה החסיד בהם מובאת האפשרות שפסוקים נוספים בתורה נכתבו בתקופות מאוחרות, כדוגמת תקופת אנשי כנסת הגדולה.

לאחר שבסיום הפרק הראשון המחבר מגיע למסקנה כי "מסורת חז"ל קובעת באופן חד משמעי שמשה רבנו הוא שכתב את כל החומשים" (עמ' 48), הרי שבפרק השני ישנו עיסוק מינמלי בלבד בשאלה כיצד ניתן, מצד אחד, לטעון כי ישנה תופעה של פסוקים מאוחרים, ומצד שני לחיות עם דברי הגמרא (סנהדרין צט ע"א, הובא בפרק הראשון עמ' 40):

תניא אידך: כי דבר ה' בזה - זה האומר אין תורה מן השמים. ואפילו אמר: כל התורה כולה מן השמים, חוץ מפסוק זה שלא אמרו הקדוש ברוך הוא אלא משה מפי עצמו - זהו כי דבר ה' בזה. ואפילו אמר: כל התורה כולה מן השמים, חוץ מדקדוק זה, מקל וחומר זה, מגזרה שוה זו - זה הוא כי דבר ה' בזה.

האם ראשונים אלה חולקים על עיקרו של הרמב"ם, ותופסים שיש מחלוקת בין סוגיות ומכריעים שלא כסוגיא זאת? האם הראשונים הללו מצליחים למצוא דרך בו ניתן לקבל את דברי הגמרא אך גם להחזיק בפירושיהם?

זאת ועוד, כשמצוטטים בפרק השני דברי חז"ל (בבא בתרא טו ע"א):

שמונה פסוקים שבתורה יהושע כתבן, דתני': וימת שם משה עבד ה' - אפשר משה (מת) [חי] וכתב וימת שם משה? אלא, עד כאן כתב משה, מכאן ואילך כתב יהושע, דברי ר"י, ואמרי לה ר' נחמיה; אמר לו ר"ש: אפשר ס"ת חסר אות אחת? וכתיב: לקוח את ספר התורה הזה! אלא, עד כאן הקדוש ברוך הוא אומר ומשה אומר וכותב, מכאן ואילך הקדוש ברוך הוא אומר ומשה כותב בדמע, כמו שנאמר להלן: ויאמר להם ברוך מפיו יקרא אלי את כל הדברים האלה ואני כותב על הספר בדיו.

השאלה לכאורה זועקת: מדוע אין רבי שמעון מקשה מהפסוק "כי דבר ה' בזה"? האם רבי נחמיה ורבי שמעון חולקים על הברייתא על פיה קבע הרמב"ם את העיקר השמיני?

הפתרון שמציע המחבר הוא (עמ' 53):

"שאכן כל התורה כולה נאמרה בנבואה מאת ה', אך אין הכרח לומר שכל האמור בתורה הוא מנבואת משה דוקא"

ועוד בהערה בעמוד 55 הוא מוסיף הסבר נוסף בשם רבי יוסף בן אליעזר:
"יש להשיב, כי על עניין המצוות כאשר אמרנו למעלה, ולא על הסיפורים".

על אף שלטעמי ניתן היה להרחיב יותר במתן מענה לשאלות דלעיל, יש מקום להסתפק גם בהתייחסות המעטה של המחבר. אך כשהוא מציג את גישת ראשוני מבקרי המקרא שהסתמכו על אותם ראשונים שאיחרו פסוקים אחדים מהתורה על מנת לאחר את רובה ככולה של יצירת התורה לתקופה מאוחרת, הוא כותב את הדברים הבאים (עמ' 68):

"נראה, שבכל הנוגע לשאלה זו הויכוח איננו נובע מן הנתונים עצמם, אלא מהנחות היסוד האקסיומטיות של הפרשנים והחוקרים... טענתם של החוקרים הסבורים שלא מדובר בתוספות בודדות, אלא במעט המעיד על המרובה, אינה מבוססת על הוכחה אובייקטיבית".

וכאן, נדמה לי שהיה מקום להאריך ולהסביר, כיצד הממצאים מפרק א' של הספר משתלבים כאן? האין הם מחזקים את טענת מבקרי המקרא? ואם לא, מדוע לא?

על זאת יש להוסיף ולשאול. כאמור, שמה של הפרק הוא "פסוקים מאוחרים בתורה: התופעה והשלכותיה". אך לאחר שהוצגו אותם פסוקים בודדים בהם חלק מהראשונים נוטים לאחר את זמן כתיבתם, ה"תופעה" עדיין אינה ברורה. מדוע דווקא פסוקים אלו הינם מאוחרים? מה היתה שיקול הדעת של מחבר הפסוק "והכנעני אז בארץ" להוסיף את פסוקו לתורה? מה היתה התורה חסרה לולי תוספת זו? ושוב, אליבא דמבקרי המקרא אין כאן קושיא כלל, שהרי התורה כולה נכתבה בזמן מאוחר יותר, אך מי שרוצה לומר שרק פסוקים בודדים נתווספו בתר-משה, ובפני אותם מוסיפים היתה תורה שלמה, למעט אותם פסוקים בודדים, מה ראו לשלוח יד בתורת משה ולהוסיף אותם?

אך לא רק ה"תופעה" אינה ברורה, גם "השלכותיה" אינן ברורות. מספר ראשונים הצביעו על מספר פסוקים שלדעתם הם מתקופה בתר-משה, מהן ההשלכות של פירושים אלו ושל דרך פרשנות זו? האם זו דרך פרשנית לגיטימית? המחבר מקדיש כמעט רבע מהפרק השני כדי להסביר שאת המילים "וירדף עד דן" ניתן לפרש שלא ע"י איחורו לתקופה בתר-משה. אך אם דרך הפרשנות של איחור פסוקים בודדים הינה לגיטימית, מדוע שלא נפרש כך גם את פסוק זה? מדוע הראב"ע חילק בפרשנות שלו בין פסוק זה לפסוק "והכנעני אז בארץ"?
בהמשך הספר המחבר מציג באריכות רבה את שיטת הבחינות של מורו הרב מרדכי ברויאר. קשה לדרוש מתלמיד שיבקר את דרכו של רבו, אך בכל זאת היה מקום להוסיף לפחות ברמז את הבעייתיות שיש בשיטת הבחינות. אם בחלק השלישי של הספר המחבר מדגיש עד כמה דרכם של מפרשי התנ"ך לאורך הדורות היה לחלק בין הפשט לדרש, הרי שבשיטת הרב ברויאר הפשט והדרש שזורים יחד, באופן שבהחלט סוטה מדרכם של מפרשי התנ"ך לאורך הדורות. כמו כן, הגבולות של שיטת הבחינות אינן ברורות. ישנן דעות במחקר שסיפורי האבות אצל פרעה ואבימלך הינן למעשה אותו סיפור שמצא את מקומו שלוש פעמים בתורה, כל פעם עם פרטים קצת שונים. איש שיטת הבחינות יוכל לומר, שלמעשה הסיפור ארע רק פעם אחת, איננו יודעים מה היו הפרטים המדויקים, אך התורה בחרה לכתוב אותו שלוש פעמים כדי להדגיש בחינות שונות אצל אברהם ויצחק ויחסם אל פרעה ואבימלך. האם פירוש כזה, המנתק לחלוטין את התורה מהמציאות, נכלל בכוונת ממציא השיטה?

בפרק השביעי בספר הנקרא "המקרא וספרות המזרח הקדומה", המחבר דן בספרים עתיקים נוספים שהתגלו באזור ועל השלכותיהם על הבנת התנ"ך. ראוי להזכיר בהקשר זה סדרת מאמרים מרתקים באנגלית שפרסם בחורף דאשתקד פרופ' יהושע ברמן (קישור לחלק הראשון), אף הוא בוגר ישיבת "הר-עציון", ובו הוא מבקש להתבונן על תורת התעודות במבט חדש. מדוע, שואל פרופ' ברמן, איננו מוצאים בקרב קבצי החוקים האחרים שהתגלו באזור גם כן טענות לתורת תעודות? האם ייתכן שרק בתורה שלנו חוברו תעודות שונות, ולא באף קובץ חוקים אחר מאותה תקופה?! מתוך ההנחה שיש למצוא את פתרון השאלות לסתירות בתורה מתוך הבנת אופן הכתיבה החוקית והסיפורית שהיתה נהוגה באותה תקופה בקרב העמים האחרים באזור, מגיע פרופ' ברמן לתובנות מעניינות במיוחד שצריכים לעורר דיון ער בבית המדרש. אפשר רק לקוות שהדברים יתורגמו במהרה לעברית ויזכו לדיון גם בשפת הקודש.

אסיים את הערותי על הספר בדבר שכתב המחבר לקראת סופו. הפרק האחרון של הספר נקרא "חטאיהן של דמויות מרכזיות במקרא". המחבר מציג שבאופן עקבי ניתן למצוא שני כיוונים בחז"ל ביחס לחטאי גיבורי התנ"ך. כידוע, מפרשי המקרא בחרו בדרך כלל בדרך הפשט. בדיונו בחטא דוד ובת-שבע מציין המחבר כי "רש"י אימץ את גישת רבי יונתן והוסיף דבר מפתיע – ששליחת אוריה למוות נועדה להתגבר על הבעיה ההלכתית של היות בת שבע אשת איש". לענ"ד לא ניתן לומר דבר זה כלל. בפרקים יא-יב בשמואל ב הפירוש היחיד שמופיע ברש"י המזכיר את דברי רבי יונתן הוא שדוד שלח את אוריה למות "כדי שתהא מגורשת" (שם יא טו). פירוש זה של רש"י אינו בא לנקות את דוד מן החטא החמור, אלא להסביר מדוע בער לדוד להרגו. רש"י אינו מזכיר כלל שאוריה היה מורד במלכות, והלומד את דבריו בשמואל בודאי לא יגיע למסקנה שדוד לא חטא.

לסיכום, הספר "עד היום הזה" של הרב אמנון בזק בלול מכל טוב שיעניין את לומד התנ"ך בעידן שלנו. הספר מציג את הנושאים בצורה בהירה מאד, עם שלל מקורות והוכחות לכל כיוון. הערותיי דלעיל אינם גורעים מאומה מהכלי המתוקן שיצא מתחת ידיו של המחבר, אלא נועדו רק לתת ביטוי לרצון לראות מהדורה שניה מורחבת שיכיל עוד יותר חומר, ידע ונקודות מחשבה.


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Rav as a Mechadesh Halacha: One Small Example From Shabbat Rosh Chodesh

The Rav as a Mechadesh Halacha:
One Small Example From Shabbat Rosh Chodesh
Michael J. Broyde

In the Koren Rav siddur, in the minhagim of the Rav, in the section dealing with the halachic rules of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, זצ"ל it is written:

The Rav posited that if one forgot to recite Ya’aleh VeYavo on Rosh Hodesh during Shaharit, one should not repeat the Amida, but should rather rely upon the reference to the holiday that will be made in the Musaf prayer. The Gemara in Shabbat (24a) states that one who forgot to recite Ya’aleh VeYavo must indeed repeat the Amida and include Ya’aleh VeYavo in that second recital; but the Gemara in Berakhot (30b) qualifies this ruling, teaching that it is not necessary if one intends to recite Musaf subsequently, since the required reference to the special status of the day will take place during Musaf. Even though Rashi there (s.v. betzibbur) cites those who maintain that this dispensation applies only to the Leader in order to avoid any unnecessary delay to the start of the Repetition of the Amida, the Rav felt that we should follow the opinion of the Magan Avraham (Orah Hayyim 126:3) that even an individual should not repeat the Amida of Shaharit and should rely on his subsequent recitation of Musaf.

The rationale behind this view is as follows: When one forgets to recite Ya’aleh VeYavo, the need to repeat the Amida is only in order to be able to make reference to the special day within the context of the prayer. The obligation to recite the Amida per se, however, has in fact already been fulfilled. This second Amida therefore has the status of a tefillat nedava – a voluntary prayer, as it is recited not to fulfill any obligation to pray, but rather only to provide the needed context for the reference to the special day made through Ya’aleh VeYavo. Since it has become the practice to refrain from offering this form of voluntary prayer nowadays, Rav Hayyim Soloveitchik ruled that it is preferable not to repeat the Amida, but to rely upon the recitation of Musaf, if it will be done at the proper time. In light of this understanding, the Rav suggested that when Rosh Hodesh falls out on Shabbat, it would actually be prohibited to repeat the Amida if one forgot to recite Ya’aleh VeYavo, since it is prohibited to offer a tefillat nedava on Shabbat. [Eretz HaTzvi, pp. 43-44.] (Emphasis added)

And one is not surprised to find that this exact recitation is found in R. Tzvi (Hershel) Schachter, Eretz HaTzvi (Yeshiva University Press: New York, 1991).

While at first glance this note is not surprising – it appears that the Rav and his grandfather are adopting the ruling of the Magen Avraham over his peers -- upon further examination it is clear that this is an exceptionally innovative ruling, in fact.  Furthermore, the expansion of this ruling by the Rav himself (“the Rav suggested that when Rosh Hodesh falls out on Shabbat, it would actually be prohibited to repeat the Amida if one forgot to recite Ya’aleh VeYavo”) is unprecedented, but logically compelling.
A review of the sources is needed.

The Talmudic Sources, the Rishonim and the Codes.

The Gemera in Shabbat 24a recounts rather directly:

דתני רבי אושעיא: ימים שיש בהן קרבן מוסף, כגון ראש חודש וחולו של מועד - ערבית ושחרית ומנחה מתפלל שמונה עשרה, ואומר מעין המאורע בעבודה, ואם לא אמר - מחזירין אותו

R. Oshaia taught: On those days when there is a mussaf, such as Rosh Chodesh and Chol Hamoed at the Evening, Morning and Afternoon services, the shemona esrai is recited, and the nature of the day is inserted in the avoda blessing [ya’aleh veyavo] and if one does not insert it, one repeats the Shemona Esrai.

And the gemera in Brachot 30b recounts rather directly what appears to be a slightly different rule.

והתניא: טעה ולא הזכיר של ראש חודש בשחרית[1] - אין מחזירין אותו מפני שיכול לאומרה במוספין, במוספין - אין מחזירין אותו מפני שיכול לאומרה במנחה! - אמר ליה: לאו איתמר עלה, אמר רבי יוחנן, - בצבור שנו.

If one forgot and did not recite yaaleh veyavo in the morning [tefillah], he is not made to repeat [the prayer], because he can say it in mussaf if he forgot it in musaf, he is not made to repeat, because he can say it in mincha? — He said to him: Did you not leave out the rule of Rabbi Yochanan: This applies only to prayer said in a congregation?

Rashi (aware of the possible contradiction between these two sources) seeks a simple resolution with his two sided comments. Rashi in Brachot 30 b states:

בצבור שנו - דאין מחזירין, משום דשמע ליה משליח ציבור, ואיכא מקצת הזכרה, אבל ביחיד צריך לחזור, ובהלכות גדולות מפרש לה בשליח ציבור משום טירחא דצבורא, אבל יחיד הדר.

In a Congregation: One does not repeat davening, since one can hear it from the chazzan, and that is some partial recitation, but an individual must repeat; The Bahag explains that the chazzan is different since otherwise the community will be delayed, but other than the chazzan, one must repeat.

And one of these two resolutions of the contradiction (or both) is – as far as I can see – accepted by every single rishon who comments on the gemera.  Rambam (Tefillah 10:10-12) states directly:

טעה ולא הזכיר יעלה ויבא אם נזכר קודם שישלים תפלתו חוזר לעבודה ומזכיר, ואם נזכר אחר שהשלים תפלתו חוזר לראש,* * * *. במה דברים אמורים בחולו של מועד או בשחרית ובמנחה של ראשי חדשים, אבל ערבית של ראש חדש אם לא הזכיר אינו חוזר.כל מקום שהיחיד חוזר ומתפלל ש"ץ חוזר ומתפלל אם טעה כמותו בעת שמתפלל בקול רם, חוץ משחרית של ראש חדש שאם שכח ש"ץ ולא הזכיר יעלה ויבא עד שהשלים תפלתו אין מחזירין אותו מפני טורח ציבור, שהרי תפלת המוספין לפניו שהוא מזכיר בה ראש חדש.

Rambam Tefillah 10:10-12

If one errs and forgets to mention Ya'aleh veyavo -- if one remembers before one has finished one’s amidah, one should return to retzey, and recite it. If one remembers after one has concluded one’s amidah, one must repeat the amidah from the beginning.  * * *When does this rule apply? On Chol Hamo'ed or in the morning or Mincha amidah of Rosh Chodesh. However, in the evening service of Rosh Chodesh, if one failed to mention it one need not repeat one’s prayers. In every case in which an individual is required to repeat his prayers, the chazzan is also required to repeat his prayers if he made that mistake while praying out loud, with the exception of the morning service of Rosh Chodesh, where if the chazzan failed to mention Ya'aleh v'yavo before completing the amidah, he is not required to repeat the amidah because of the delay this would cause the congregation, since the Musaf service is still to be recited and Rosh Chodesh will be mentioned there.

And the same rule is codified in the Shulchan Aruch, with the addition that one can also adopt the approach of the Bahag as quoted by Rashi and instead of praying again, one can hear the prayers from the chazzan.  Shulchan Aruch OC 124:10 codifies the rule in Shabbat 24a and Shulchan Aruch OC 126:3 codifies the exception in Brachot 30b.

שולחן ערוך אורח חיים הלכות תפלה סימן קכד סעיף י
מי ששכח ולא אמר יעלה ויבא בר"ח או בחולו של מועד או בכל דבר שצריך לחזור בשבילו, יכוין דעתו וישמע מש"צ כל י"ח ברכות מראש ועד סוף כאדם שמתפלל לעצמו; ולא יפסיק ולא ישיח

Shulchan Aruch OC 124:10

One for forgets and does not recite yaaleh veyavo on Rosh Chodesh or chol Hamoed or any other cases where one must repeat the amidah due to the omission, he can focus himself during the repetition and hear the words from the chazzan of all Eighteen blessings, from beginning to end, like a person who is himself praying without interruption or digression.

שולחן ערוך אורח חיים הלכות תפלה סימן קכו סעיף ג
כל מקום שהיחיד חוזר ומתפלל, ש"צ חוזר ומתפלל, אם טעה כמותו כשמתפלל בקול רם, חוץ משחרית של ר"ח, שאם שכח ש"צ ולא הזכיר יעלה ויבא עד שהשלים תפלתו, אין מחזירין אותו, מפני טורח הצבור, שהרי תפלת המוספין לפניו שהוא מזכיר בה ר"ח.

Shulchan Aruch OC 126:3

In every case in which an individual is required to repeat his prayers, the chazzan is required to repeat his prayers if he made that same mistake while praying out loud, with the exception of the morning service of Rosh Chodesh, where if the chazzan failed to mention Ya'aleh v'yavo before completing the amidah, he is not required to repeat the amidah because of the delay this would cause the congregation, since the Musaf service is still to be recited and Rosh Chodesh will be mentioned there.

So far, the halacha is clear and simple.  One must repeat the amidah if one forgets yaaleh veyavo (either by actually repeating it or through listening to it recited by another) except for the rare situation of the Shacharit chazzan who forgets during his repetition.

The Alternative of the Rama MePano: A Different Rule

Rama MePano 25:5 understands the basic flow of the sources in a different way and adds something quite new to the codification of the halacha.  He states:

יחיד ששכח ולא הזכיר קדושת היום בתפלת שחרית ואחר שהתפלל מוסף חזר והתפלל שחרית, ודאי אינו צריך לחזור ולהתפלל מוסף, שאפי' בקרבנות גופייהו אם הקדים את שאינו תדיר מה שעשה עשוי. ואי לאו דמסתפינא אמינא דלא אמרו בגמרא להחזיר את היחיד שטעה אף על פי שיש לפניו תפלת המוספין אלא קודם שהתפלל מוסף כיון שבידו לתקן יתקן לגמרי, הא אם התפלל מוסף הרי הזכיר קדושת היום ואין צורך לחזור ולהתפלל שחרית, דלא גרע דיעבד ליחיד ממאי דשרינן לכתחלה לרבים, ודברים של טעם הם להלכה מהתם, הגע עצמך שש"צ יהא נזקק להוציא עשרה שאינן בקיאין ידי חובתן ושכח ולא הזכיר שחרית מעין ר"ח ועם תפלת מוסף פוטר עצמו וחבריו לכתחלה ולא אחד בהם חוזר ומתפלל שחרית, לא יהא יחיד הבקי בדיעבד אלא כעשרה שאינן בקיאין ולכתחלה.

An individual, who forgets and does not recite the mention of the day in the Shacharit amidah and then he recites musaf, returns to recite Shacharit.  Certain he does not have to return to recite musaf again, since even with the Bet Hamikdash sacrifices themselves, if one did them out of order, and sacrificed the infrequent first, that which was done, was done.  If I were not uncertain, I would say that that the gemera does not direct an individual who errors to repeat the amidah, only before he has recited musaf, since he can fix this matter, he should do so completely.  But, if he already recited musaf, he has already recited the proper sanctification of the day and he does not have to recite Shacharit again, since the after the fact rule for a single prayer is no worse than that which we permit ideally for the many.  This seems logical and normative as a matter of halacha: Consider for yourself that the chazzan who is connected to the obligation to fulfill the obligation for ten who cannot pray when they are not experts, and yet when he forgets to recite yaalah veyavo in Shacharit, he can fulfill his and others obligations in musaf perfectly. And not of them have to go back and recite Shacharit again.  A single person who can pray for himself after the fact, is no worse than ten who are not experts ideally.

The Rama mePano understand the sources in a new and novel way: really according to the formulation in Brachot 30b (which the halacha follows) one can rule that if one already prayed the proper mussaf before one realized that one forgot to recite ya’aleh vehavo in Shacharit, one need not pray again, since one can be no worse that the chazzan mentioned in the gemera above. And this view is adopted by the Magen Avraham (OC 126:3) as well, who states:

כל מקום - כ' מ"ע סי' כ"ה אי לאו דמסתפינא הייתי אומר יחיד שלא הזכיר ר"ח בשחרית והתפלל מוסף אין צריך שוב להתפלל שחרית דלא גרע דיעבד ליחיד מלכתחלה לרבים ודברים של טעם הם להלכה ע"כ, ול"נ דנכון למעשה שלא יתפלל דלא יהא אלא ספק [כ"ה סימן תכ"ב]:

3            Any place.  It is written in the Rama Mepano 25 that if he were not so uncertain he would say that a person who forgets to recite yaaleh veyavo in Shacharit and then recites musaf he does not have to again go back and recite shacharit another time, since the after the fact rule for a single person is not worse that the ideal rule for the many.  This approach has much merit as normative halacha.  In my view, it is proper lemaseh that one should not recite shacharit again, since the matter is in doubt.

Magen Avraham seems to agree with the tentative rule of the Rama mePano and thus decides that if one already recited musaf, then one does not have to say shacharit again.  Magen Avraham, however, does not claim that one can decide not to recite Shacharit again and intend it rely on this subsequent recitation of musaf.

An Explanation of the Rav’s View

As quoted above, this was not the Rav’s view.  Rather (as the Koren siddur notes) “the Rav posited that if one forgot to recite Ya’aleh VeYavo on Rosh Hodesh during Shaharit, one should not repeat the Amida, but should rather rely upon the reference to the holiday that will be made in the Musaf prayer.” Notice the incredible chiddish the Rav puts forward.  He expands the Rama mePano and Magen Avraham to include the case where one is eventually going to recite musaf, but has not yet done so, and he adds to this that on Shabbat one must adopt this rule, since a teffilat nedava is prohibited.  This chiddish – which to the best of my knowledge is completely unfound in any Rishon at all -- is I think built on a totally different approach to the two Talmudic sources from any Rishon and even quite distinct from the Magen Avraham and Rama mePano, although related and derived from it.

Consider how to explain the three basic views adopted:

All Rishonim: Either Brachot 30b is addressing the unique situation of the chazzan or is because one can hear it correctly from the chazzan, but it never applies in the case of a person who is davening alone without a minyan present.  Shabbat 24a is the rule – one who leaves out Ya’aleh VeYavo has to repeat the amida.  No distinction is made between weekday and Shabbat.

Rama MePano and Magen Avraham: Shabbat 24a is the rule, but Brachot 30b is the exceptional rule for the chazzan in order to not delay the community.  One who is not the chazzan cannot rely on Brachot 30b.  If one has already prayed mussaf, then one has no choice but to follow the Brachot 30b rules, since he has already after the fact fulfilled his obligation.  Again, no distinction is made between the weekday and Shabbat.

Rabbi Yosef Dov Halevi Soloveitchik: Brachot 30b and Shabbat 24a are in tension since one directs one to repeat amida and one directs one not to.  The halacha follows the rule of Brachot 30b in that one who skips Ya’aleh VeYavo in Shacharit never really has to repeat the amida, except as a voluntary prayer, and when voluntary prayer is prohibited (such as on Shabbat), such a repetition is prohibited too.  This is based on the insight of the Rama MePenao, but is quite an expansion of it.

Allow me to suggest, as a proof to Rabbi Soloveitchik’s understands of the basic Talmudic sources, that one can focus on three basic aspects of the two sugyot to support this chiddish.  First is the fact that that the gemera in Shabbat can reasonably be limited to weekdays (chol) cases where 18 blessings is said, which is why it used the language of shemonah esrai – and on such days, a tefillat nedavah is possible.[2]  Second, the Brachot sugya can reasonably be limited to Shabbat, since it discusses forgetting that it is Rosh Chodesh but yet reciting musaf: when can one forget that it is Rosh Chodesh and yet still recite musaf?  Almost never during the weekdays (since if one did not remember it was Rosh Chodesh, one would not say musaf as a factual matter) but only on Shabbat, when no tefillat nedavah is possible, and yet musaf is recited, even if it is not Rosh Chodesh![3]  Parsing the two sources in their context allows one to see that Shabbat 24a directive is the suggestion for a tefillat nedava and the Brachot 30b rule is actually the rule – no repetition is permitted when no tefillat nedavah is possible.[4]

Finally, it is not difficult to divide the Brachot sugya into two thoughts along a line similar to the Rama MePano (but not identical). The first is the general rule that no repetition for ya’aleh veyavo is needed when one says a subsequent amidah (musaf), and the second view is that of Rav Yochanan that in a tzibbur is different, since one does not actually have to wait until the next amidah to fulfill one’s obligation, but one can fulfill it by listening to the chazzan repeat this davening (as per the main view of Rashi).  Of course, this view concedes, according to Rabbi Soloveitchik, that when one cannot hear it from the chazzan, one still does not repeat the amidah, except when a teffilat nedavah is acceptable (which nowadays is never).  In fact, the Rav must have ruled that whether or not the halacha adopts Rav Yochanan’s view, the rest of the Brachot sugya is correct.  This also makes the Brachot sugya (the “on topic” gemera) normative (lehacha), and the Shabbat sugya (the “off topic” gemera) not normative (shelo lehalacha) – a more compelling read of the sugyot.

It is worth noting that if this explanation of the Rav’s view is correct, another chiddish seems also to be correct.  On Shabbat Rosh Chodesh, when one is davening by oneself without a minyan, and one forgets that it is Rosh Chodesh for both Shacharit and Musaf, and remembers after mincha, one does not repeat musaf again, since one can follow the formulation of Brachot 30b thatבמוספין - אין מחזירין אותו מפני שיכול לאומרה במנחה! and a tefillat nedava is not possible.  The same is true if one forgets it is Rosh Chodesh on Shabbat mincha, but had previously remembered at shacharit and mussaf.



[1] I have deleted the words “בערבית - אין מחזירין אותו מפני שיכול לאומרה בשחרית” since nearly all the rishonim do not have them in their gemera and this makes more sense given the flow of the sugya.
[2] The Gemera in Shabbat 24a states מתפלל שמונה עשרה, ואומר מעין המאורע בעבודה.
[3] Of course, one could also read the Gemera in Brachot as speaking about a case during the weekday when one forgot ya’aleh veyavo in shacharit but recited musaf – but then the sugyot are in flat out conflict.  The approach, which also notes that the term shemona esrai (the weekday amidah) is in Shabbat 24a and not is Brachot 30b, eliminates the ccore onflict between the two sugyot.
[4] This approach has the additional advantage of making the Brachot Talmudic source superior to the Shabbat one, which is more reasonable and in line with the general rule, in that the Brachot source is directly on the topic of ya’aleh veyavo and the Shabbat source is off topic and incidental, following the general Talmudic rule that when Talmudic sources conflict, we prefer to follow the one that is central and not the one that is incidental.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

ArtScroll’s Response and My Comments

 ArtScroll’s Response and My Comments

by Marc B. Shapiro 
My recent post here was more popular than my typical post. I base this statement on the fact that I received more emails from readers than usual and the post was picked up by a variety of different websites. The part dealing with the censorship of Rashbam was translated into Hebrew here (with one of the commenters calling for a herem to be placed on ArtScroll)[ and see also here.
ArtScroll has now issued its response. The following has been sent out to those who wrote to ArtScroll about the censorship.

Let us make clear at the outset, ArtScroll has total and uncompromising respect for Chazal and the classic commentators. We do not censor them. Every one of their words is holy, and we have never deigned to tamper with their sacred texts.

For an understanding of the matter under discussion, it is important to present the background of the published versions of Rashbam’s commentary on the Torah.

·      Rashbam’s commentary was first printed in 1705, based on the only existing manuscript of his virtually complete commentary on the Chumash. That manuscript began with Parashas Vayeira.

·      Subsequent editions were based on that 1705 printing.

·      In 1882, David Rosin published a new annotated edition of Rashbam’s commentary.

·   The new edition also included a commentary on the Parshiyos Bereishis, Noach, and Lech-Lecha based on comments culled by Rosin from Rashbam’s other writings as well as selections from other works that cite Rashbam. Additionally, this 1882 edition included material taken from a newly-discovered manuscript containing one page of commentary ascribed to Rashbam, on only the first chapter of Bereishis ending in the middle of verse 1:31.

·      This manuscript fragment includes an exegesis that appears several times – an exegesis that Ibn Ezra, in his famous Iggeres HaShabbos, vehemently condemns, stating, that it had been put forth by “minim” (heretics). Furthermore, a later exegesis in the same manuscript page (on verse 14) directly contradicts that earlier exegesis.

In our Czuker edition of Mikraos Gedolos, we wished to provide the Torah public with the fullest version of the Rashbam’s commentary, so rather than beginning with Parashas Vayeira, we incorporated additional material from the 1882 Rosin edition, from the beginning of Bereishis. However, given Ibn Ezra’s attribution of this exegesis to “minim,” coupled with a completely contradictory exegesis in verse 14, it is questionable whether Rashbam actually proposed the exegesis attributed to him.  Because of these factors we added only those writings attributed to Rashbam whose authenticity have not been questioned. Far from “censorship,” we have added to the older, standard Mikraos Gedolos editions.

Nevertheless, for the sake of clarity, we should have indicated that the basis for our text of Rashbam was the standard Vilna edition of 1898, with emendations from the Rosin edition of 1882. Indeed, this is what we have indicated in our just-published Sefer Shemos volume, and which will be reflected in future reprints of Sefer Bereishis.

* * * *
In my response I will only deal with the matter at hand, that is, the censorship of Rashbam’s commentary, not with the larger matter of whether ArtScroll really has “total and uncompromising respect for . . . the classic commentators.” I have dealt with this latter point in previous posts and offered evidence that contradicts ArtScroll’s assertion.

Let me begin by saying that the one word that best describes ArtScroll’s statement is “chutzpah”. Here we have an explanation from Rashbam that has been discussed and dealt with by some of the greatest Torah scholars for well over a century, yet ArtScroll feels that it knows better than all of them and thus has the authority to simply delete passages from the commentary. If that isn’t chutzpah, I don’t know what is.

Rashbam’s brother, Rabbenu Tam, famously attacked those who deleted or emended passages in the Talmud based on their own understanding.[1] Rabbenu Tam realized that if everyone had the freedom to do with the text as he wished, it wouldn’t be long before the Talmud was irrevocably damaged. As such, anyone who has a suggestion about a mistake in the text is free to add it in the form of a note or in a commentary, but he is not permitted to alter the text itself. The only honest thing would have been for ArtScroll to have included the “objectionable” passages and then explain why they feel that these texts are not authentic.

The fact that ArtScroll sees the passages that it deleted as heretical is irrelevant. Great people have regarded texts of the Rambam, of R. Kook, and of many others as heretical. Does that mean that we can start deleting these texts? There are aharonim and at least one rishon who believe that there are passages in the Talmud that were inserted by people intent on mocking the Sages (details will be in a future post). Does that mean that if ArtScroll shares this opinion it is entitled to delete these passages as well?

As I mentioned, the chutzpah is seen in the fact that ArtScroll feels that it knows better than such great figures as R. David Zvi Hoffmann[2] and R. Yaakov Kamenetsky.[3] Both of these men were not simply great talmudists but were also great biblical scholars, and they expound Rashbam’s view. It never occurred to them to delete the passages or to claim that they aren’t authentic. Cassuto was another great biblical scholar and he believed that Rashbam’s understanding of the verse is correct.[4]

Every student of Torah is taught the virtue of humility. What this means is that if you don’t understand something you seek out people greater than yourself to hear their perspective. How come ArtScroll didn’t follow this route before taking the drastic step of deleting the comments of Rashbam?

Unfortunately, if ArtScroll’s mikraot gedolot becomes the standard, anyone who uses the commentaries of R. Hoffmann, R. Kamenetsky, Cassuto and so many others will be very confused. These commentaries will cite Rashbam and explain his words, but the reader who opens up his ArtScroll mikraot gedolot to see what Rashbam says “inside” won’t be able to find it. If he doesn’t read the Seforim Blog, he won’t know what is going on.

For over a hundred years people studied Rashbam’s commentary without any problem. Different interpretations were offered, all in order to make sense of Rashbam’s words. Around fifteen years ago a few people, none of whom have any scholarly or religious standing, started making noise that there is heresy in Rashbam’s commentary on Genesis chapter 1.[5] This led a couple of haredi publishers to delete some or all of the “problematic” comments (different editions have different deletions).[6]

ArtScroll has chosen to follow this regrettable path. When this nonsense first began with the haredim in Israel, the great R. Yehoshua Mondshine, whose recent passing is an enormous loss for all, published the following letter in Kovetz Beit Aharon ve-Yisrael.[7]



The disdain he shows in this letter would be magnified if he were writing about ArtScroll, as one would expect ArtScroll to know better. It is unfortunate that ArtScroll did not heed his final words directed towards publishers inclined to censorship.

יש להתרות במו"לים שלא יהיו נחפזים "לצנזר" את פירוש הרשב"ם מכח סברות תמוהות וקלושות, ויחרדו לנפשם מאזהרות הקדמונים דלייטי ליד המגיה בספרים.

Following R. Mondshine’s letter, there appears a very lengthy letter by R. Menahem ben Shimon[8] explaining that Rashbam’s comments at the beginning of Genesis should not be controversial at all. He concludes by comparing censorship of Rashbam to the burning of Maimonides’ Guide of the Perplexed, and adds

יש בזה עזות מצח, וביזוי דברי הקדמונים, והתייחסות לדבריהם כאילו חלילה מדובר בתקליטור עם משחקים חינוכיים "בהכשר הרבנים", וכיו"ב, וכבר הזהירונו חז"ל להיזהר בכבוד תלמידי חכמים שכל דבריהם כגחלי אש.

I have to acknowledge that some people are having a good chuckle right now at my expense. Call it naiveté, but I was convinced that the response of ArtScroll would be to admit the mistake, blame it on an error in “editing” or something like that, and correct matters in the next printing. That would have been a great outcome. I, more than many others, was shocked by ArtScroll’s response. 

In its response ArtScroll states: “[G]iven Ibn Ezra’s attribution of this exegesis to “minim,” coupled with a completely contradictory exegesis in verse 14, it is questionable whether Rashbam actually proposed the exegesis attributed to him.”

The first thing to note is that in the preface to the Iggeret ha-Shabbat, where Ibn Ezra explains what led him to write the work, he does not attribute this exegesis to “minim”. ArtScroll would have you believe that Ibn Ezra stated that the passages they have deleted are heretical interpolations. Even if this was the case, it would only be Ibn Ezra’s opinion. This would not entitle ArtScroll to delete the passages, just like they don’t have the right to delete other passages that some commentator thought were not authentic. But in this case ArtScroll is simply wrong, and I hope that they are not intentionally misleading people. (I also hope that they informed the sponsor of the new mikraot gedolot that they intended to delete passages from Rashbam.[9])

Here is the text from Ibn Ezra.[10]


As you can see, Ibn Ezra responds very sharply to the interpretation mentioned by Rashbam. Although Rashbam is not mentioned by name, the standard view in traditional and scholarly circles is that Ibn Ezra was indeed directing his words at Rashbam and not at others who shared this perspective. This would explain his use of the words ולא תשא פני איש which would only be used with reference to an outstanding scholar.[11] David Kahana suggests that, as a sign of respect, Ibn Ezra does not mention Rashbam by name and he also does not curse the author of the explanation he is attacking.[12] He only curses the one who reads it aloud and the scribe who writes it. If Ibn Ezra was directing his comment against some heretic, we would expect him to curse this person, so the fact that he does not do so is quite significant and indeed points to Rashbam as the “addressee” of Ibn Ezra’s Iggeret ha-Shabbat.

Ibn Ezra never denies the authenticity of the interpretation he is responding to; he just attacks it. His attack on Rashbam’s view is just like Nahmanides’ attack on Maimonides’ view that the angels who came to Abraham were really just part of a prophetic vision. Nahmanides does not deny that Maimonides said this, but he does say that it is forbidden to accept what Maimonides says. It is the exact same thing here. Ibn Ezra is not denying that Rashbam offered the interpretation. He is simply saying that it is forbidden to accept this approach. (I should also add, since we are discussing a dispute between Ibn Ezra and Rashbam, that by any traditional measure Rashbam must be regarded as a more significant and authoritative figure than Ibn Ezra.)

ArtScroll also states that since Rashbam’s commentary to Genesis 1:14 contradicts what he says in the passages deleted by ArtScroll, this gives weight to their assumption that the other passages were not written by Rashbam but were instead inserted by some heretic. To begin with, since there are five[13] “problematic” comments and one “non-problematic” comment, perhaps it is the “non-problematic” comment to Genesis 1:14 that is to be regarded as inauthentic and should be removed. I say this only tongue and cheek, since ArtScroll should have realized two pretty basic things.

1. Rashbam often offers explanations, even in matters of halakhah, that are in line with the peshat of the text but diverge from the talmudic understanding. I understand that in some contemporary circles this would be regarded as heretical, since they assume that the meaning of the verse, especially in halakhic matters, can only be what the sages of the Talmud declare. Yet Rashbam had a different perspective, and he allowed for a peshat that diverges from what the Talmud states.

2. If you have contradictory explanations in the same chapter, the proper thing to do is to see if they can be reconciled before deciding that some of the comments are not authentic and can therefore be deleted. This was the approach of the great scholars of the last century who discussed Rashbam’s commentary. If ArtScroll had “uncompromising respect” for these figures, who devoted great time to understanding what Rashbam was saying, they would not have dared delete Rashbam’s comments, since by doing so they are in effect claiming that they know better than R. Hoffmann, R. Kamenetsky, and so many others.

Let me cite some other writers, including outstanding Torah scholars, who discussed Rashbam’s comments on when the day begins. In ArtScroll’s eyes this was all a big waste of time, since Rashbam never could have said what appears in his commentary. I guess we should all feel sorry for these Torah scholars that when they wrote they didn’t have ArtScroll around to set them straight. The more important question is why didn’t ArtScroll think that any of the explanations offered by these scholars were enough to save Rashbam’s comments from being deleted? (My own sense is that the individual who made the choice to censor Rashbam did not begin to understand the issue and was unaware of the sources referred to in this post.)

1. R. Menahem M. Kasher discusses Ibn Ezra’s attack on Rashbam and offers an explanation for Rashbam’s position, distinguishing between how the days were structured in the first six days of creation and what occurred afterwards.[14] R. Kasher also cites R. Pinhas Horowitz, Ha-Makneh to Kiddushin 37b, that before the giving of the Torah night came after day, and this can also be an explanation for Rashbam’s approach. In support of his assumption, R. Horowitz cites a verse not mentioned by Rashbam, Genesis 8:22:  ויום ולילה לא ישבתו. As you can see, in this verse night comes after day. (R. Horowitz repeats this explanation in his Panim Yafot to Genesis 8:22.) R. Moses Sofer cites this point from R. Horowitz and notes that even today it is only with regard to Jews that night precedes day, but for non-Jews the halakhah remains that day precedes night.[15]

R. Ezekiel Landau agrees with R. Horowitz that before the giving of the Torah the day did not start at night.[16] In support of this approach, R. Samuel Mirsky refers to Ugaritic literature which he regards as real evidence for Rashbam’s position.[17]

R. Moshe Malka also takes note of R. Horowitz’s position.[18]  Based on it he claims that

נחה שקטה תמיהתו של הראב"ע על הרשב"ם, כי הוא דבר על מעשה בראשית לפני מת"ת

R. Catriel David Kaplin also refers to R. Horowitz’ perspective and explains that Rashbam agrees with it.[19]

R. Kasher further cites R. Isaac Israeli (14th century) as agreeing with R. Horowitz. In his Yesod Olam[20] R. Israeli writes

וכן נהגו כל ישראל ממתן תורה ועד עתה להתחיל קדושת השבת ושאר ימי מקראי קודש מתחילת הלילה . . . ועל העיקר הנכון הזה יסדו לנו קדמונינו וקבעו בחשבון מולדות הלבנה ותקופת החמה.

R. Kasher calls attention to the words ממתן תורה ועד עתה and concludes that R Israeli is telling us that before the giving of the Torah the day began in the morning.

Finally, R. Kasher points to two separate rabbinic texts, one talmudic and one midrashic, that he feels can support Rashbam’s approach.

2. Da’at Mikra to Genesis 1:5 (p. 10 n. 168) explains that Rashbam’s understanding of when the day begins only refers to the six days of creation.

3. A different approach in explaining Rashbam is taken by R. Moshe Schwerd in a recent article in Or Yisrael.[21]

4. The Lubavitcher Rebbe refers to Rashbam’s explanation of when the day begins in order to illustrate how explanations in accord with peshat can contradict the accepted halakhah.[22]

5. R. Chaim Leib Zaks calls attention to the fact that two medieval authorities explain Genesis 1:5: ויהי ערב ויהי בקר, just as Rashbam did, that is, that day comes before night.[23] The first is the commentary attributed to Rashi, Ta’anit 11b, s.v. למחר.[24] The second is the commentary attributed to Rashi, Nazir 7a s.v. התם.[25]

6. R. Eliyahu Katz, who served as rav of Bratislava under the Communists and later as chief rabbi of Be’er Sheva, published a number of interesting books which appear to be completely unknown. In his Emor ve-Amarta[26] he states that R. Judah ha-Nasi might also have held that according to the peshat night comes after day, and that Rashbam might have based his explanation on R. Judah’s opinion. He also points out that Rashi, Genesis 1:14 writes

שמוש החמה חצי יום ושמוש הלבנה חציו הרי יום שלם

This is a strange formulation since Rashi appears to be agreeing with Rashbam that the day – שמוש החמה – comes before the night – שמוש הלבנה.

7. R. Jacob of Vienna, in his commentary to Genesis 1:5, writes[27]:
וא"ת אימא הלילה הולך אחר היום והכי קאמר ויהי ערב של יום הראשון ויהי בקר של יום שני אז נשלם יום שלם
In his note to this passage R. Zvi Rotberg understandably refers to Rashbam, as R. Jacob might indeed be alluding to him here.[28] The editor of R. Jacob’s volume, R. Menasheh Grossberg, refers to R. Pinhas Horowitz’s view mentioned above.
8. R. Shlomo Fisher, without question one of the top Torah scholars in the world, elaborates on the implication of Rashbam’s view that it is only through Torah she-Ba’al Peh, not the peshat of the verses, that we know that day comes after night.[29] A student of R. Fisher asked him about the censorship of Rashbam, and not surprisingly he expressed strong opposition to any such tampering with the writings of rishonim. He also told this student about a contemporary “scholar” who claims that Rashbam was influenced by evil people who caused him to go astray! Talk about chutzpah![30]
10. Michael Landy called my attention to the fact that Abarbanel cites the interpretation mentioned by Rashbam in the name of יש מהמפרשים.[31]
All of these sources that I have quoted, and believe me when I tell you that there are many more, are simply designed to show that the view of Rashbam expressed in his commentary to the first chapter of Genesis is part and parcel of Torah history and literature. Many of our great minds have discussed Rashbam’s view in a variety of contexts. Yet ArtScroll, on its own, has decided that it knows best and chose to remove the words of Rashbam from the public eye. They have no right or authority to do this. Their action is a betrayal of Rashbam and of those who want to study the writings of Rashbam. It is also an incredible display of disrespect to those great Torah scholars who have devoted time to the matter and explained the comments of Rashbam that ArtScroll prefers to view as heretical.
After all we have seen, let us return to the issue of Ibn Ezra’s attack on Rashbam and ask why it was so harsh. After all, what is so terrible about explaining the peshat of the Torah even if it diverges from the accepted halakhah, an approach that is found in numerous commentators?

The significance of the example we have been discussing is that there were indeed sectarians who observed Shabbat from Saturday morning until Sunday morning. Rashbam’s interpretation was thus dangerous as it could have had real world implications by giving support to the anti-halakhic behavior just mentioned.

In his commentary to Exodus 16:25 Ibn Ezra refers to “many people, lacking in faith” who erred in this matter and did not start Shabbat on Friday night. He tells us that they based their mistaken approach on Genesis 1:5: ויהי ערב ויהי בקר. In other words, they interpreted the verse in the same way that Rashbam did. Towards the end of Iggeret Shabbat, p. 171, he also mentions these “minim” who do not observe Shabbat beginning Friday night. It is thus easy to see why Ibn Ezra reacted so strongly and set out to uproot Rashbam’s interpretation.

Who were these sectarians Ibn Ezra refers to? Presumably the Mishawites, a group that we know started Shabbat on Saturday morning.[32] Benjamin of Tudela records meeting sectarians in Cyprus, again presumably Mishawites, who indeed observed the Shabbat in this fashion.[33]

In the last paragraph of the ArtScroll letter it states that from now on they will note that their text of Rashbam is the standard Vilna edition of 1898 with “emendations from the Rosin edition of 1882”. This is clearly obfuscation as we are not dealing here with any “emendations” suggested by Rosin. To repeat what the issue is: Rosin printed from manuscript Rashbam’s commentary to Genesis chapter 1. This section of the commentary does not appear in the standard Vilna edition. ArtScroll chose to include Rashbam’s commentary to Genesis chapter 1 in its recently published mikraot gedolot. However, ArtScroll also chose to delete those sections of the commentary it didn’t like, assuming (without any evidence) that these sections were written by heretics. This is censorship of  Rashbam. That is all people need to know.[34]

ArtScroll has done some great things. They have also done some pretty disappointing things. But as I said in the prior post, nothing comes close to this. Deleting comments of one of the greatest rishonim is simply outrageous. Some have said that what ArtScroll did is unforgivable. I think this is going too far. If ArtScroll acknowledges its error and reinserts that which has been removed, I think that we all would be very happy to put this behind us. One of the most important aspects of a Torah personality is the ability to recognize when one has made a mistake and rectify it. If ArtScroll is able to do this, it would lead to great admiration.

On the other hand, if ArtScroll refuses to acknowledge that it has made a terrible error, even after seeing the evidence presented in this post, then one must conclude that ArtScroll is knowingly suppressing the words of a great rishon. One can only hope that ArtScroll does not wish to have this blemish permanently attached to its name.



[1] ArtScroll and other publishers should pay close attention to the words of Rabbenu Tam, which I would have thought would be enough to scare off the censors. Sefer ha-Yashar, ed. Rosenthal (Berlin, 1898), p. 75:

ומגיהי חנם, בעיני דינם, למדורי גהינם

P. 105:

כי כאשר לא יודעים, העולם מטעים, וכאשר תוהים, הספרים מגיהים. ואתם הרעות מהם, כי הם כותבים ה"ג בהגהותיהם, ולכן ניכר מעבדיהם. ואתה לא כן, אך סותם הגהותיך וסומכים עליך וטועים . . . אין עצה ואין תבונה, רק להעמיד על האמת ולזרוק מרה במגיהי הספרים

Even if they are not scared of מדורי גהינם, one would have thought that they would have seen the wisdom of what Rabbenu Tam writes in the introduction to Sefer ha-Yashar, ed. Schlesinger (Jerusalem, 1985), p. 9:

והדין נותן אם לא ידע אדם הלכה יכתוב פתרונו לפי ראות עיניו אם ירצה אך בספרים אל ימחק שדברי תורה עניים במקומן ועשירים במקום אחר ואם דבר רק הוא ממנו הוא [רק]
                       
[2] Sefer Bereshit, trans. Asher Wasserteil (Bnei Brak, 1969), pp. 26-27. Hoffmann writes as follows:

כמו גם פרשנים חדשים רבים הוא [רשב"ם] סבר, שבימי מעשה בראשית נמנו הימים באופן שונה מדרך מנייתם לאחר מכן, בימי מתן תורה, כשם שגם תחילת השנה לפני מתן תורה שונה – לדעת ר' אליעזר – מזו שלאחריו.

[3] Emet le-Yaakov (Cleveland Heights, 2007), p. 17.
[4] Umberto Cassuto, A Commentary on the Book of Genesis, trans. Israel Abrahams (Jerusalem, 1998), p. 28.
[5] As far as I know, the first one to assert that Rashbam’s comments are heretical interpolations was R. Yehudah Nachshoni, Hagut be-Farashiyot ha-Torah (Bnei Brak, 1981), vol. 1, p. 262, but this had no impact on the haredi world. Here is the page from Nachshoni.



He writes:

לדעתו יש לחשוש שמא חלו ידי קראים בדברי הרשב"ם

What this means is that Ibn Ezra thought that perhaps Rashbam’s metaphorical interpretation of the commandment of tefillin in Ex. 13:9 is a Karaite interpolation. This is complete nonsense as Ibn Ezra says nothing of the sort. I think, therefore, that there is a typo and the first word should read לדעתי. It is still nonsense but at least now the sentence is understandable. Following this, Nachshoni adds another absurdity, stating that Rashbam’s interpretation of when the day starts is also a Karaite interpolation. (Prof. Daniel Lasker has confirmed to me that all Karaites began the Sabbath on Friday night.)

Now comes the real irony. ArtScroll published a posthumous translation of Nachshoni’s book in 1988. Apparently ArtScroll was embarrassed by what Nachshoni wrote so ArtScroll censored it! Here is the English version, Studies in the Weekly Parashah, vol. 2, pp. 414-415.



In 1988 ArtScroll censored the writings of Nachshoni because he said that Rashbam’s comments were heretical interpolations, but in 2014 ArtScroll accepted this very position and instead censored Rashbam! Can it get any crazier than this?

As an aside, let me also note that I find it strange that ArtScroll does not give Nachshoni the title “Rabbi” on the title page of its translation of his book, even though he is referred to as such in the preface.
[6] It is possible that the haredi publishers who censored Rashbam did so purely for financial reasons. After putting a lot of money into their editions, a pashkevil directed against them, incited by some extremist, could be financially devastating. In the haredi world it is often enough to say that there is a “problem” with a book for people not to buy it. The masses won’t have a clue about the issue, but if there is a choice between two competing mikraot gedolots, they will feel safer buying the one which has not had any questions raised about it.
[7] (Kislev-Tevet 5760), p. 150.
[8] Ibid., pp. 151-155.
[9] I don’t have the newly published ArtScroll mikraot gedolot on Exodus (and will refuse to buy it until Rashbam’s commentary is fixed). I was curious if Rashbam on Ex. 13:9 appears in full or if it too was censored. Here Rashbam states that the commandment of tefillin in this verse: והיה לך לאות על ידך ולזכרון בין עיניך, is to be understood metaphorically. Ibn Ezra, in his commentary on Ex.13:9, harshly criticizes the metaphorical interpretation. A friend sent me a copy of this page of Rashbam and the commentary appears in full. I did notice, however, that in the following verse in Rashbam, Ex. 13:10, it reads חוקת הפסח with a dagesh in the kuf. This is a mistake, and in the next printing the dagesh should be removed.

If ArtScroll is looking for something to censor in the newly released volume, Or ha-Hayyim to Ex. 31:16 probably fits the bill. In this controversial passage Or ha-Hayyim states that we don’t violate Shabbat to save the life of someone who will not live until the next Shabbat. This contradicts an explict talmudic passage, Yoma 85a, that one violates Shabbat even for hayyei sha’ah. See R. Ovadiah Yosef, Hazon Ovadiah: Shabbat, vol. 3, pp. 296ff. R. Judah Aryeh Leib Alter, Sefat Emet: Likutim (New York, 1957), p. 77a (Ki Tisa), already suggested that an “erring student” wrote these words in Or ha-Hayyim.
[10] It appears in Kerem Hemed 4 (1839), pp. 160-161.       
[11] See Aharon Mondshine, “Li-She’elat ha-Yahas she-Bein Perusheihem shel R. Avraham Ibn Ezra ve-Rashbam la-Torah: Behinah Mehudeshet,” Teudah 16-17 (2010), p. 17.
[12]  Rabbi Avraham Ibn Ezra (Warsaw, 1894), vol. 1, part 2, p. 45 n. 4.
[13] In the previous post I noted four examples of ArtScroll’s censorship with regard to Rashbam’s peshat  understanding of when the day begins: Gen. 1:4, 5, 8, 31. I neglected to mention Rashbam’s commentary to Gen. 1:6 which is also censored by Artscroll. Regarding why Rashbam's commentary to the first three parashiyot of Genesis were missing from the manuscript, see Itamar Kislev in Tarbiz 73 (2004), p. 229 n. 12.
[14] Torah Shelemah, vol. 10-11, pp. 276-279.
[15] Hiddushei Hatam Sofer to Shabbat 87a. R. Akiva Eger points out that R. Horowitz’s position leads to a very interesting conclusion. Here is the summary in R. Yaakov Moshe Shurkin’s commentary to Teshuvot Rabbi Akiva Eger (Lakewood, 2003), vol. 2, p. 769 (Pesakim, no. 121):

וכתב רבינו דלפי חידושו של הפנים יפות הנ"ל, דדין עכו"ם ששבת חייב מיתה הוא ביום ולילה שלאחריו, יש להמליץ זכות על אלו שבאו להתגייר ומרגילים את עצמם לשמור את השבת גם קודם שנתגיירו כנ"ל, די"ל שאינם עוברים בזה באיסור דעכו"ם ששבת, דסגי להו אם יעשו מלאכה במוצאי שבת, וכדברי הפנים יפות הנ"ל. ואין צריך למחות בשפחות הנ"ל מלשבות בשבת.

[16] Tziyun le-Nefesh Hayah to Pesahim 116b.
[17]  “Midot ha-Parshanut ha-Mikrait,” Sura 1 (1954), p. 396.
[18] Be’er Moshe (Lod, 1994), p. 14. He also questions R. Horowitz’s position by citing Mishnah, Hullin 5:5:
                  
מה יום אחד האמור במעשה בראשית היום הולך אחר הלילה

Rashbam could easily reply that the Mishnah is not speaking in terms of peshat. However, I am surprised that neither R. Horowitz nor R. Landau discuss this text which would appear to contradict their approach, as they assume that the Talmud agrees that before the giving of the Torah night came after day.
[19] Keter Nehora (Jerusalem, 2004), p. 114.
[20] (Berlin, 1848), vol. 1, p. 35 (2:17).
[21] “Hagdarat Zemanei ha-Yom ve-ha-Laylah al pi Halakhah u-Mahashavah” Or Yisrael (Nisan 5770), pp. 226ff.
[22] Sihot Kodesh (1967), part 2, sihah from 12 Tamuz 5727, p. 284.
[23] “Be-Inyan ha-me-Et le-Et shel Ma’aseh Bereshit,” Ha-Maor (Oct. 1957), pp. 4ff.
[24] This source was also noted by R. Abraham Elijah Kaplan. See Divrei Talmud (Jerusalem, 1958), vol. 1, p. 42 n. 97:

וזה מזכיר דברי רשב"ם שנלחם בם ראב"ע במחברתו אגרת השבת

[25] Kaplin, Keter Nehora, p. 115, also refers to this commentary to Nazir.
[26] (Be’er Sheva, 1994), vol. 1, pp. 26-27.
[27] Peshatim u-Ferushim (Mainz, 1888),  pp. 9-10
[28] Le-Misbar Kera’e (Bnei Brak, 2005),  p. 49.
[29] Derashot Beit Yishai (n.p., 2004), p. 48 n. 11.
[30] E-mail of this student to me.
[31] Commentary to Genesis, p. 33 in the standard edition.
[32] Regarding the Mishawites, see Zvi Ankori, Karaites in Byzantium (Jerusalem, 1968), pp. 372-416. Regarding whether the Dead Sea Sect started the Sabbath on Saturday morning, see Lawrence Schiffman, The Halakhah at Qumran (Leiden, 1975), pp. 84-85. See also Jacob Z. Lauterbach, Rabbinic Essays (Cincinnati, 1951), pp. 446ff.
[33] See The Itinerary of Benjamin of Tudela, ed. Adler (London, 1907), pp. 17-18 (Hebrew), p. 15 (English).
[34] Here is the page listing the texts used in preparation of the ArtScroll mikraot gedolot for the Book of Genesis.


There is no mention of the Mossad ha-Rav Kook editions, perhaps because of copyright concerns. But there is no doubt that in preparing its text of the mikraot gedolot, an important source for ArtScroll for the commentaries of Ibn Ezra, Ramban, Hizkuni, R. Bahya ben Asher, and Sforno were the Mossad ha-Rav Kook editions (and perhaps also Bar Ilan’s Mikraot Gedolot ha-Keter).

For instance, look at the description of Hizkuni. The page from ArtScroll states that its text is based on the first printing and the manuscript thought to be from the author. This is exactly what one finds in Chavel’s edition of Hizkuni published by Mossad ha-Rav Kook. Does anyone really think that ArtScroll compared, line by line, the first printed edition to the manuscript? This work was already done by Chavel. All ArtScroll had to do was use the text provided by Mossad ha-Rav Kook. So how come ArtScroll can’t tell us this, and instead puts on this charade?

ArtScroll does not mention consulting manuscripts with any of the other texts included in its mikraot gedolot, only with the ones already published by Mossad ha-Rav Kook. ArtScroll also says that its edition of Hizkuni is based on the first printing, Cremona 1559. Yet the first printing was in Venice 1524. ArtScroll simply repeated Chavel’s mistake. See Chavel’s introduction to his edition, p. 11.

The title Hizkuni (which I don’t italicize since it is now used as a personal name) comes from the author’s introductory poem to the work. Here is the relevant page from the Chavel edition and on line 7 you can see the word vocalized.



Louis Jacobs, Jewish Biblical Exegesis (New York, 1973), p. 69, claims that the word should be vocalized as Hazekuni, which is the piel plural imperative (“strengthen me”; dagesh in zayinsheva under zayin). R. Chaim Mordechai Brecher made the same point. See G. Kressel, ed., Ha-Ahim Shulsinger (Jerusalem, 1986), p. 119. I don’t see why this is preferable as Hizkuni is also correct, as the kal plural imperative, and the kal imperative is actually much more common in the Bible than the piel imperative. Furthermore, Hizkuni rhymes better with yizkeruni, the parallel word in the poem. Finally, look at the sentence in its entirety

ויקרא שמו בישראל חזקוני, למען קוראיו בשמו יזכרוני

This means that one who pronounces the title of the book, Hizkuni, will be reminded of the name of the author, Hizkiyah. This mnemonic only works if the title of the book has a hirik under the het, like in the author’s name. See A. Ben Ezra in Kressel, ed. Ha-Ahim Shulsinger, p. 119.

Here is the introductory poem from ArtScroll’s edition. The word חזקוני is missing a dagesh in the zayin which means that ArtScroll understood it as an imperative. (Chavel places a dagesh in the zayin, meaning that he understood it as  piel plural perfect.)





Look at the third line from the bottom on p. 8 where ArtScroll has

ומבואר [נ"א: ומכוער]

Anyone who understands Hebrew can see that ומבואר is incorrect (and this error also appears in the Venice 1524 edition). When ArtScroll prepared its mikraot gedolot it had Chavel’s edition in front of it. Chavel’s edition is based on what appears to be the manuscript of the author. In this manuscript (which ArtScroll claims to have consulted) one finds the reading ומכוער. So how come this is not the word that appears in the text published by ArtScroll? This is the original reading, not a נוסח אחר. (At best, ArtScroll could have put ומבואר in brackets, but why would this even be necessary in a non-critical edition?) If ArtScroll thinks that it is important to cite the Cremona reading, then how come immediately following this it doesn’t have כי מי ימצא בו דבר חכמה מפואר. As you can see, this is what appears in the Cremona text, and again, one who knows Hebrew will realize that it doesn’t make much sense.



In the manuscript, which is the basis of Chavel’s version, the text reads אשר ימצא בו דבר חכמה מפואר. This is what appears in ArtScroll, with no indication that there is an alternative text. So why did ArtScroll feel the need to add [נ"א: ומכוער] in the previous part of the sentence? Is this just a way of showing the reader that ArtScroll is “scientific” and has examined the different versions?

If you compare ArtScroll’s version of the introductory poem to that which appears in Chavel’s edition, which is based on the manuscript, you will find that other than the example just mentioned, ArtScroll relies entirely on the mistaken text from the Cremona edition instead of using the correct version from the manuscript. Just skimming through the commentary I found other examples where ArtScroll ignores the manuscript reading in favor of the Cremona edition. I don’t know why ArtScroll did this, but it again shows that ArtScroll’s new edition of mikraot gedolot was not properly edited. 

I also found what I think is a punctuation mistake in ArtScroll's edition of the poem. See the page from Chavel printed above, the second column, second to last line: ובעיני א-להים יישר. Chavel punctuates יישר as a pual imperfect. ArtScroll punctuates it as a kal imperfect. Because of the rhyming, I think Chavel is correct.

The issue of how ArtScroll uses works of prior scholarship requires a more detailed study than I can provide here. I would, however, like to point to one problematic aspect. Let us look briefly at ArtScroll’s Five Megillos, the earliest ArtScroll publication. ArtScroll is very proud of the fact that it only uses traditional rabbinic sources. On the first page of the commentary to each of the five megillot, we are informed that all material in square brackets is a comment from the author, which we are to assume is an original insight.

Here is ArtScroll’s commentary to Ruth 4:10.


Now read what appears in the Soncino commentary to Ruth 4:10.


ArtScroll’s entire comment is lifted from Soncino. Quite apart from the plagiarism, I find it troubling that ArtScroll feels that Soncino is good enough to be used, just not good enough to be mentioned by name. (When ArtScroll changed some of Soncino’s wording, a mistake crept in. Soncino has “sacred duty of building a home.” ArtScroll intended to change this to “sacred task of building a home,” but instead of “task” it reads “text”.)

After David Farkas called this example to my attention, it did not take me long to find other examples, of which I offer two. Here is Soncino’s commentary to Ruth 4:1.



Now look at ArtScroll on this same verse.



It is obvious that Soncino is the basis for what is found in ArtScroll. (Note the words “fairly large edifice” in both Soncino and ArtScroll.) 

Here is Soncino’s commentary to Esther 2:20.


Now look at ArtScroll on this same verse



Again, it is obvious that Soncino is the basis for what is found in ArtScroll. (Note the words “filial piety” in both Soncino and ArtScroll.)

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