Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Pesach related posts

The Haggadah of the Ri M'Josh. (Unfortunately, I did not have time to complete the edits for this year.)

1. Why burn siur (partially fermented dough) before Pesach?
2. A segulah I can (sort of) support.
3. Matzah constipated Chazal
4. Why I am in favor of selling chametz


1. The chacham's desire to learn Greek wisdomAnd that is why he wants to learn all Torah -- so that he may then study Greek wisdom. However, the response to this is אין מפטירין אחר הפסח אפיקומן.

Why does ואת עמלני refers to sons specifically? Rav Chaim Kanievsky explains, based on a gemara that רוצה לעשות כל בניו זכרים יבעול וישנה, which entails greater tircha. And this is related to the beginning of parashat Tazria, and the famous derasha about how to have male children.

My analysis of the Haggada (starting in 2010)

In order of the haggadah, some thoughts on:

  1. An interesting peshat in the importance of Nissan
  2. A review of the 2011 Absolut Haggada
  3. YU Pesach to Go
  4. From YU Torah, Last Minute Seder Preparation

    1. Why eat marorIt is to remind of the bitterness, or from some medical reason? Can we ascribe it to practical cause against the Rabbinic tradition (which also happens to make good sense)? Rashi, Ibn Ezra, Ibn Caspi. Also, how Ibn Ezra is thus frum.
    2. Is blood on the doorposts le-dorotTwo parses of a pasuk yields the blood on the doorposts as a command for just in Egypt, and as a recurring commandment. Similar to the structure by amah ivriya. I strongly favor the traditional parse as the better parse.
    3. Was it the Israelites of the Egyptians on the seashoreTwo parses of the pasuk וַיַּרְא יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶת-מִצְרַיִם מֵת עַל-שְׂפַת הַיָּם? The traditional one is that the Egyptians were dead on the seashore. Rashbam and Ibn Ezra differ from Rashi and the midrash, and claim that the Israelites were standing on the seashore when they saw the Egyptians dead. I side with Rashi and Shadal, in the traditional explanation. Also, does the trup indicate anything in this regard?
    4. Charoses and the authenticity of the Zohar -- If named Tannaim or Amoraim mentioned in the Zohar think the tapuach is the apple, but according to true Chazal the tapuach is the citron, then how could the Zohar be anything other than a forgery?
    5. Does an orange belong on the seder plate?
    6. Introducing the Absolut Haggadah, 2010 Vintage -- a link, and positive review, of that haggadah. I focus on one dvar Torah therein, about the meaning of varav, as mature. You can download the Haggadah here.
    7. The text of kol chamira
    1. My review of the 2009 edition of the Absolut Haggadah. You can download the haggadah here.
    2. Prepare for Pesach by learning through all of Rif on Pesachim. This year, I put it into a single convenient PDF.
    3. "And even you shall break his teeth": parts onetwothreefourfive.
    4. Does Oto HaIsh is the Haggadah refer to Jesus?
    5. And even you shall break his teeth -- what does this mean? part iiiiiiivv.
    6. The text of kol chamira. Times are from that year, though, unless I get around to updating it.
    7. Is Nirtza a violation of ain maftirin achar hapesach afikomen?
    8. Rav Shmuel Palagi's objections to the songs after Hallel (during the seder) -- part i ; part iipart iii. And his objections against piyutim in general.
    9. Another take on minei zemer (as definition of Afikoman)
    10. The dot on the heh of rechokah, and Pesach Sheni.
    11. Who likes Gazalot? Further analysis of that Yerushalmi about minei zemer.
    12. Does Arami Oved Avi refer to a wandering / poor Aramean, or to Lavan who sought to destroyThis post deals with an interpretation of Arami Oved Avi by Ibn Ezra and Radak which goes against the classic midrashic interpretation, and the reaction of two supercommentaries of Rashi to this "daring" interpretation. What comes into play is whether Ibn Ezra and Radak can claim to have absolute knowledge of Hebrew to be able to declare the midrashic interpretation to not work out according to the rules of dikduk; and whether one can argue on midrash, as they are doing, if after the midrashic interpretation goes all the way back to Sinai! It could also be that as supercommentators of Rashi, they are simply defending Rashi's interpretation as one of peshat.a
    13. The Rav on Arami Oved Avi -- Dr. David Segal told me over a peshat he heard from the Rav zt"l, in which Arami Oved Avi as expounded in the haggadah is in line with Ibn Ezra and Radak's insistence that Oved is an intransitive verb. Rabbi Wohlgelenter also heard this from the Rav. I repeat this from memory, and from a brief conversation; therefore, I hope I have the details right.
    1. Absolut Haggadah, 2008 Edition
    2. All of Rif on Pesachim
    3. One Who Dons Tefillin On Chol Chol haMoed is Chayyav Misa?
    4. Early Seder
    5. Some Fascinating Info On Dayenu, pt i
    6. One Who Eats Matzah On Erev Pesach
    7. A Redefined Kezayis, Because They Had a Smaller Strain of Olives
    8. What should I feed my goldfish on Pesach?
    9. Dueling Chumros
    10. Reclining Be-Benei Berak According to Abarbanel
    11. Rasha Mah Hu Omer -- How Do We Know This Is The Rasha?
    12. Elijah Drinks
    13. Soft Matzah
    14. The Prayer for an Edible Matzah
    15. Davening Maariv early on Shabbos on Erev Pesach
    16. The Pizza after Pesach segulah?
    1. When did the heirs slaughter the son
    2. It Is Permitted To Own Kitniyot On Pesach!
    3. Why do we care that Lot ate matza on Pesach?
    4. Does Eliyahu haNavi Really Visit Every Seder?
    5. Eating Original Chazeres
    6. What Do You Mean, It Would Have Been Enough Had God Stranded Us On The Shore of the Reed Sea At The Mercy of the Egyptians?
    7. The Absolut Haggadah, 2007 Edition -- my review
    1. The Learner/Burner Question (7 posts)
    2. The Rif on Sefirat HaOmer
    3. Cute: Pesach seder in 60 seconds
    4. Sources for Yoshev Lifnei Rabbo Devar for Pesach
    5. Naghei vs. Leilei (7 posts)
    1. Cute Pesach Flash
    2. Blunt his teeth because of his attitude, not because of his actions
    3. Feeding Gorillas Matzah in the run-up to Pesach. But what will they feed him Erev Pesach?
    to be continued...

    Wednesday, March 18, 2015

    Outing anonymous critics and threatening them with death

    So this has me somewhat upset. A pseudonymous critic of Rabbi Yosef Mizrachi, Dana Cohen, has disappeared from Facebook, apparently shortly after one of Mizrachi's followers tracked his/her IP address.

    While one may disagree with some of Dana's positions and/or approach, this is somewhat disturbing.

    To explain, Rabbi Mizrachi has stated in the past that:

    1) Dana Cohen is worse than Hitler
    2) He wishes anonymous commenters and critics would be out in the open so that they could be killed.
    3) He has followers who are thugs who will credibly threaten with death those who criticize him.

    For #1, see this video, at the 2:10 mark.

    For #2, see this video:
    "... every IP number, have a name and automatically, if someone use his computer to public and to murder someone else in Internet, the whole world will know who he is and will be subject to lawsuits, and actions against him, and all kinds of things, even to get killed. Why? You want to kill someone else, expect him to come and kill you tomorrow."

    For #3, see this video, from the 1 hour 32 minute mark, for a few minutes.

     where he says that though he knows his critic's identity, he won't reveal it, because his followers will make things rough for her. Because they are ex-criminals and tough guys. And then boasts how, when someone was opposing Rabbi Mizrachi, one such ex-criminal called the person up and threatened, if he didn't apologize to Rabbi Mizrachi, that he would come to his house, take him into the kitchen, and fry him in a pot. Or maybe drown him in a mikveh. And Rabbi Mizrachi had to beg him not to do it. He ends with 'This is not our way. But it is very sad that people lose their olam haba because they are very stupid.'

    While it is good that he closed the anecdote with a claim that one shouldn't do this, his attitude while telling the anecdote seems (to me) to be one of amusement and pride. And there is this undercurrent of threat in the very telling of the anecdote -- he knows Dana Cohen is going to hear this, and so he is telling him / her to watch out, or else this might happen.

    Frankly, if you have followers who are thugs like this, then it is more than inappropriate to make public statements that your critics are worse than Hitler and that an appropriate response to such criticisms is murder. As the Mishna in Avot (1:11) states:

    אבטליון אומר, חכמים, הזהרו בדבריכם, שמא תחובו חובת גלות ותגלו למקום מים הרעים, וישתו התלמידים הבאים אחריכם וימותו, ונמצא שם שמים מתחלל.

    I would fault Rabbi Mizrachi for the actions of his followers (including the attempt to find his / her IP address), and of the thuggish silencing of the pseudonymous Dana Cohen.

    Wednesday, March 11, 2015

    Chiram of Tyre, the coppersmith

    This year, we read Vayakhel-Pekudei as a double sidra, and so the haftara would begin at I Melachim 7:51. This is about the haftara of just Vayakhel, which begins at I Melachim 7:13.

    In the haftara, King Shlomo obtains a craftsman of copper, Chiram Mitzor, חִירָם מִצֹּר, who aids in the construction of the Bet Hamikdash.

    יג  וַיִּשְׁלַח הַמֶּלֶךְ שְׁלֹמֹה, וַיִּקַּח אֶת-חִירָם מִצֹּר.13 And king Solomon sent and fetched Hiram out of Tyre.
    יד  בֶּן-אִשָּׁה אַלְמָנָה הוּא מִמַּטֵּה נַפְתָּלִי, וְאָבִיו אִישׁ-צֹרִי חֹרֵשׁ נְחֹשֶׁת, וַיִּמָּלֵא אֶת-הַחָכְמָה וְאֶת-הַתְּבוּנָה וְאֶת-הַדַּעַת, לַעֲשׂוֹת כָּל-מְלָאכָה בַּנְּחֹשֶׁת; וַיָּבוֹא אֶל-הַמֶּלֶךְ שְׁלֹמֹה, וַיַּעַשׂ אֶת-כָּל-מְלַאכְתּוֹ.14 He was the son of a widow of the tribe of Naphtali, and his father was a man of Tyre, a worker in brass; and he was filled with wisdom and understanding and skill, to work all works in brass. And he came to king Solomon, and wrought all his work.
    טו  וַיָּצַר אֶת-שְׁנֵי הָעַמּוּדִים, נְחֹשֶׁת:  שְׁמֹנֶה עֶשְׂרֵה אַמָּה, קוֹמַת הָעַמּוּד הָאֶחָד, וְחוּט שְׁתֵּים-עֶשְׂרֵה אַמָּה, יָסֹב אֶת-הָעַמּוּד הַשֵּׁנִי.15 Thus he fashioned the two pillars of brass, of eighteen cubits high each; and a line of twelve cubits did compass it about; [and so] the other pillar.

    There are a number of interesting points which are inter-related.

    1. Why should he be described specifically as the son of a widow? Why should this matter?
    2. Was his father non-Jewish, and thus a man of Tyre as a nationality rather than just a resident. What I mean to say is, was he Tyrian as opposed to of Israelite descent? Is it strange for the child of intermarriage to be a major builder of parts of the Beit Hamikdash?
    3. Chiram was also famously the king of Tyre. Is it just that Chiram is a common name?
    4. Note the verb וַיָּצַר in pasuk 15. Might we say that אִישׁ-צֹרִי does not mean of Tyre but rather 'a craftsman'? Why don't the meforshim note this possibility or at least the pun?
    5. Chazal say that not only was he a craftsman but his father was as well, applying חֹרֵשׁ נְחֹשֶׁת to his father, and deduce from here that a person should go into his father's profession. Should we say this, as a matter of peshat?
    6. How do we resolve contradictions with the parallel account in II Divrei Hayamim II, where in response to a request from Shlomo, King Churam sends a craftsman from Tyre named Churam who is expert not just in copper but in all manners of construction, and whose mother was of the daughters of Dan, rather than Naftali?

    A short excerpt from Divrei Hayamim:

    י  וַיֹּאמֶר חוּרָם מֶלֶךְ-צֹר בִּכְתָב, וַיִּשְׁלַח אֶל-שְׁלֹמֹה:  בְּאַהֲבַת יְהוָה אֶת-עַמּוֹ, נְתָנְךָ עֲלֵיהֶם מֶלֶךְ.10 Then Huram the king of Tyre answered in writing, which he sent to Solomon: 'Because the LORD loveth His people, He hath made thee king over them.'
    יא  וַיֹּאמֶר, חוּרָם--בָּרוּךְ יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה אֶת-הַשָּׁמַיִם וְאֶת-הָאָרֶץ:  אֲשֶׁר נָתַן לְדָוִיד הַמֶּלֶךְ בֵּן חָכָם, יוֹדֵעַ שֵׂכֶל וּבִינָה, אֲשֶׁר יִבְנֶה-בַּיִת לַיהוָה, וּבַיִת לְמַלְכוּתוֹ.11 Huram said moreover: 'Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, that made heaven and earth, who hath given to David the king a wise son, endued with discretion and understanding, that should build a house for the LORD, and a house for his kingdom.
    יב  וְעַתָּה, שָׁלַחְתִּי אִישׁ-חָכָם יוֹדֵעַ בִּינָה--לְחוּרָם אָבִי.12 And now I have sent a skilful man, endued with understanding, even Huram my master craftsman,
    יג  בֶּן-אִשָּׁה מִן-בְּנוֹת דָּן, וְאָבִיו אִישׁ-צֹרִי יוֹדֵעַ לַעֲשׂוֹת בַּזָּהָב-וּבַכֶּסֶף בַּנְּחֹשֶׁת בַּבַּרְזֶל בָּאֲבָנִים וּבָעֵצִים בָּאַרְגָּמָן בַּתְּכֵלֶת וּבַבּוּץ וּבַכַּרְמִיל, וּלְפַתֵּחַ כָּל-פִּתּוּחַ, וְלַחְשֹׁב כָּל-מַחֲשָׁבֶת--אֲשֶׁר יִנָּתֶן-לוֹ, עִם-חֲכָמֶיךָ, וְחַכְמֵי, אֲדֹנִי דָּוִיד אָבִיךָ.13 the son of a woman of the daughters of Dan, and his father was a man of Tyre, skilful to work in gold, and in silver, in brass, in iron, in stone, and in timber, in purple, in blue, and in fine linen, and in crimson; also to grave any manner of graving, and to devise any device; to do whatever may be set before him, with thy skilful men, and with the skilful men of my lord David thy father.

    These questions are all interrelated because the answer to one can constrain answers to another.

    Thus, we might say the reason for mentioning that Chiram was the son of a widow was to explain why she would marry a non-Israelite. This was a remarriage.

    Or, we might say that despite Chiram residing in Tyre, אִישׁ-צֹרִי meant craftsman, and thus he learned the craft from his (even Israelite) father, from a young age, and was a progidy. Yet his father wasn't alive and available, and besides, he was exceedingly skilled.

    The way Radak resolves the contradiction between Dan and Naftali is to say that he (and thus his father) was from the tribe of Naftali, and his mother was from the tribe of Dan. And the focus in Melachim is copper work, which is why only expertise in copper is mentioned there, but indeed, he was an expert in all manner of materials, including silver, gold, iron, timber, etc., as mentioned in Divrei Hayamim. The dimensions of the pillars seems off by one cubit between the sources, (two pillars of 18 cubits in Melachim, and in total combined 35 cubits in the II Divrei Hayamim 3:15) but that is because (as the next pasuk in Melachim states, there were capitals on top of these pillars. Radak suggests that a half cubit at the top entered into the capital, which is why the sum is taken as 35 rather than 34.

    Once we say that his father was of Naftali (as a resolution of Dan / Naftali) , then we would have him of Naftalite descent. Unless she was a widow of a man of Naftali, and remarried a man of Tyre.

    Maybe we shouldn't work at harmonizing the contrasting accounts in Melachim and Divrei Hayamim. Melachim is in Neviim while Divrei Hayamim is of a lower level of inspired writings, Ketuvim. And (some members of) Chazal say that Divrei Hayamim was only given for the sake of derash, and in many cases do not take conflicts between Divrei Hayamim and other sources on a literal level, but use it to make derashot. (Thus, for example, the many children of Bityah are simply alternate names for Moshe Rabbenu.)

    Here is a map of ancient Israel, taken from Wikipedia:

    The caption there is: Map of the twelve tribes of Israel, before the move of Dan to the North

    Note Tyre (and Sidon) all the way to the North. Tzor is an island, but also has territory on the mainland. The tribe of Naftali is also at the top. Note that Dan is below, towards the middle. But also note the city of Dan in the North, within what is described as Naftali's territory. To explain:
    According to the biblical narrative, the tribe had originally tried to settle in the central coastal area of Canaan, but due to enmity with the Philistines who had already settled there, were only able to camp in the hill country overlooking the Sorek Valley, the camp location becoming known as Mahaneh Dan ("Camps of Dan"). (Joshua 19) The region they were trying to settle included the area as far north as Joppa, and extending south into the Shephelah in the area of Timnah; as a result, the modern state of Israel refers to the region as Gush Dan (the Dan area). However, as a consequence of the pressure from the Philistines, the tribe abandoned hopes of settling near the central coast, instead migrating to the north of Philistine territory, and after conquering Laish, refounded it as their capital (renaming it Dan). (Judges 18)
    Perhaps this can explain the contradiction between Naftali and Dan. Or it can explain how a woman of Naftali could marry a man of Dan. These were both places in the north, near Tyre. And perhaps one was a city of origin and the other was a tribal origin.

    Tuesday, March 10, 2015

    Posts so far for parshat Vayakhel


    1.  Why single out kindling? As ruling out the exception of ochel nefesh.

    2. Why does Rashi change midrash Tanchuma?

    1. YUTorah on Vayakhel-Pekudei. And

    2. Why does the Torah emphasize that 'on the day of the Shabbat' there is a prohibition of kindling? From Magid Meisharim, it comes specifically to remove us from the hearts of the Sadducees...

    3. A woman's wisdom is only in the spindle? I suggest this strong response is because he was responding to a polemic attack on Pharisaic Judaism.


    1. The trup symbol of psik in וְאַתָּה תְּצַוֶּה | אֶת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל --  to hint that it was not from the money of the Israelites, but rather that clouds brought it from Gan Eden. This according to Birkas Avraham. Based in Tetzaveh, but connected to Vayakhel.
    2. Vayakhel sources, 2012 edition. 


    1. Vayakhel sources -- further improved. For example, many more meforshei Rashi.
    2. YUTorah on parashat Vayakhel. And for 2012. And 2014 edition.
    3. Some thoughts on Onkelos on Vayakhel --   Regarding three points -- the word shaba as a back-formation; Onkelos' rendition ofal hanashim as al neshaya; and whether ve'asah should be rendered in Onkelos as a part tense verb.
    4. Betzalel did all that Hashem commanded Moshe, pt i -- based in Pekudei, but involving Vayakhel:  According to Rashi, Betzalel knew even that which Moshe didn't say to him, and also argued against the reverted order. How to understand this is a major dispute amongst super-commentators of Rashi. In this first part, we try to establish that Rashi never even juxtaposed the two midrashim, which may then impact how we understand what he does say.
    5. Betzalel did all that Hashem commanded Moshe, pt ii --  Into the fray! Looking at the Levush Ha'Orah, who takes other meforshei Rashi to task.
    6. Lo Tevaaru vs. Lo Taviru Esh --   I'm almost certain the Samaritans changed it. The question is, why?
    7. Is it היו or יהיו פני הכרובים?  The Rashba answers a query, based on the texts before him and bolstered by sevarah.
    8. Should Shemot 35:35 read כל or בכל?  Exploring a variant raised and rejected by Minchas Shai.
    9. The pesik in Et | Mizbach HaOlah --  Should we indeed darshen the trup in this way?  My very first post arguing with Birkas Avraham about this issue.


    1. Vayakhel sources -- revamped. Now with more than 100 meforshim on the parasha and the haftara.
    2. Did they donate four, or five, types of jewelry to the Mishkan? Did the midrashist have a non-Masoretic text?! A pasuk in Vayakhel lists four types of jewelry donated to the Mishkan. But a Midrash Rabba appears to indicate five types of jewelry. And LXX and the Samaritan Torah back up this reading. What shall we make of this? Could an entire word have fallen out of our Torah?!
    3. As a followup to the above post, Did an entire word fall out of the Torah, pt ii -- No, it didn't. Though I'll attempt to prove this in the third segment. Though the idea that this would be the conclusion could bias one's analysis -- after all, one does not want to be a heretic, according to the Rambam's definition!

      This segment is dedicated to analyzing the language of the midrash, and is an attempt tofurther demonstrate that the midrashist indeed was working off a text equivalent to that found in the Samaritan Torah.
    4. And Did an entire word fall out of the Torah, part iii -- No, it didn't. And in this segment, I will try to demonstrate.
    1. Vayakhel sources -- links by aliyah and perek to an online Mikraos Gedolos, and many, many meforshim on the parsha and haftara. Great for preparing Shnayim Mikra.
    2. Vayakhel thoughts, on gematria and Rashi. What is motivating Baal HaTurim to give all these derivations of the count of 39 melachos. And what is motivating Rashi to explain that Vayakhel is the hiphil? Was it the variant girsaot of Onkelos on this pasuk? I personally doubt it.
    3. The Karaite interpretation of lo tevaaru esh, and how Aharon ben Yosef responds to Ibn Ezra and Rav Saadia Gaon within this polemic. Some interesting stuff on both sides.
    4. And then, why I think the Karaite position is ridiculous; and my own suggestion of a peshat-based interpretation of this pasuk.
    5. How Zohar on parshat Vayakhel mentions Yishtabach, which might be post-Talmudic. And how Zohar on parshat Vayakhel says (citing Chazal that) one may not break off a "parsha" that Moshe did not, but misinterprets parsha to mean sidra, something which does not seem to make sense.
    • "Upon the Women" -- Does Onkelos intend a derash? I would guess not, and Rashi may not really be saying this either.
    • Behold, Hashem is Called / Credited
      • Midrash Rabba (48:5) has an interesting spin on the singling out of Betzalel. While it is homiletic, it fits into an existing theme in the peshat of the pesukim, and also relies on a very clever play on a linguistic ambiguity in the text, one which most casual and many serious readers of midrash will miss...
    • The First Word of Parshat Vayaqhel
      • Explaining Rashi's explanation of the first word of the parsha, as the perfect causative, created by vav hahipuch from the imperfect causative. You can recognize the imperfect hiph'il because it looks exactly like the imperfect Aramaic Aph'el.
    • The 39 Melachot of Shabbat as Pashut Peshat
      • How, on the simplest level of reading, the construction of the Mishkan and the prohibition of performing labor on Shabbat are linked, such that Chazal's derivation of the 39 melachot may be read as pashut peshat.

    to be continued...

    Wednesday, March 04, 2015

    The hyrax, practicing caecotrophy

    A solid candidate for the Biblical shafan is the hyrax.

    This is based on linguistic evidence (comparison to Arabic tafan and what the al-wabr was in the time and place of Saadia Gaon), zooarchaeological evidence (what areas rabbit, hares, and hyraxes were found in ancient times), and analysis of pesukim in which the shafan is mentioned.

    The difficulty is that the shafan is not a ruminant, while the Torah states it is a maaleh geira. There are several answers to this, such as:

    1. It makes constant chewing motions such that ancient peoples believed it was a ruminant (and dibra Torah kilshon benei adam).

    2. It has a multi-chambered stomach, which could cause it to be classified in the class of maaleh geira. (Or cause ancient people to believe it was a ruminant...)

    3. Rabbi Natan Slifkin has video in which it seems to practice merycism, that is, the bringing up food in the throat back to the mouth for rechewing (that is, while not scientific rumination, it is literally maaleh its geira).

    4. Here I offer a fourth reason it might be considered maaleh geira. Some animals, such as rabbits, practice caecotrophy, and this is the justification for considering the rabbit and hare to be maaleh geira (and thus the shafan and / or arnevet). To define the term:

    • "Caecotrophy" is a kind of coprophagy. "Caecotrophy" specifically refers to the ingestion of caecal feces for nutritional purposes. "Coprophagy" refers to the ingestion of feces for any reason, including mental illness.

    Meanwhile, as some in Mexico object:
    "The hyrax cannot be the shafan or the arnebet, because even the proponents of identifying the hyrax as the shafan acknowledge that there is no evidence that the hyrax practices rumination, caecotrophy, or even merycism; thus, the hyrax is not "maaleh gerah"."
    However, it turns out that every hyrax eats hyrax feces at one point in its life, when it is still a baby, for what might easily be considered nutritional purposes. It does not engage in auto-caecotrophy (eating its own feces), but it eats the feces of other hyraxes. That is, as this Wired article notes:
    2. They have multi-chambered stomachs. Although they are not ruminants, hyraxes have three-chambered stomachs filled with symbiotic bacteria that help break down the plants they eat. Baby hyraxes are not born with the bacteria they will need to digest plant matter, so to obtain it they eat the poop of adult hyraxes.
    Whether this is technically considered caecotrophy rather than caecophagy, I can see people debating. But it is surely noteworthy that it engages in this behavior, giving us a reason #4.

    Thursday, February 26, 2015

    The trup on מַעֲשֵׂה חָרַשׁ אֶבֶן

    Summary: Shadal writes that one would expect it to be different, based on Rashi. One should put חָרַשׁ אֶבֶן together as a single phrase. I am not entirely convinced. Also, an interesting cross-out in Wickes about the trup in the Aleppo Codex on Ezra 7:13.

    Post: In parashat Tetzaveh, Shemot 28:11, the pasuk reads:

    The first three words of the pasuk could be translated as either

    (a) the work of | a gem engraver
    (b) an engraver's work | of gems

    There is a very slight difference between the two. In the former, charash even is a unit (a craftsman), and maaseh is the work done by that unit. In the latter, maaseh charash is a unit (a craftsman's work), and even modifies that, clarifying upon what substance the maaseh charash was done.

    At least, that is my attempt to distinguish between the two. One could perhaps suggest other ways to parse this.

    The zarka (snake-like symbol) subdivides a clause ending in segolta (upside-down segol), so the trup would appear to decide in favor of (b).

    According to Rashi on the pasuk, because of the patach under the resh, charash is in the construct form and so the meaning is "engraver" of gems.

    [Similar to] the work of an engraver of gems, [similar to] the engravings of a seal, you shall engrave the two stones with the names of the sons of Israel; you shall make them enclosed in gold settings.יאמַעֲשֵׂה חָרַשׁ אֶבֶן פִּתּוּחֵי חֹתָם תְּפַתַּח אֶת שְׁתֵּי הָאֲבָנִים עַל שְׁמֹת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל מֻסַבֹּת מִשְׁבְּצוֹת זָהָב תַּעֲשֶׂה אֹתָם:
    [Similar to] the work of an engraver of gems: Heb. אֶבֶן מַעִשֵׂה חָרַשׁ. The work of a craftsman of precious stones. This [word] חָרַשׁ is connected to the following word. Therefore, it is vowelized with a “pattach” at the end, and likewise, “The carpenter (חָרַשׁ עֵצִים) stretched out a line” (Isa. 44:13). [This is like] חָרָשׁ שֶׁל עֵצִים. Likewise, “The iron smith (חָרַשׁ בַּרְזֶל)” (Isa. 44:12). All these are connected and are [therefore] vowelized with “pattach” s.מעשה חרש אבן: מעשה אומן של אבנים. חרש זה דבוק הוא לתיבה שלאחריו, ולפיכך הוא נקוד פתח בסופו, וכן (ישעיה מד יג) חרש עצים נטה קו, חרש של עצים. וכן (ישעיה מד יב) חרש ברזל מעצד, כל אלה דבוקים ופתוחים:

    IMHO, just asserting that charash is the construct and connected to the following word need not rule out either (a) or (b). It works readily with (a), charash even as a unit. But it could work readily with (b) as well, with the last word of the unit (maaseh charash) needing to be in construct form as the whole unit should be in construct form because of the connection to the following word.

    On the other hand, מעשה אומן של אבנים might be taken to imply (a), that is, by explicitly putting in the word shel, Rashi might be saying that uman shel avanim is a unit, and it is the work of such a craftsman. I am not so convinced. I think one can parse מעשה אומן של אבנים as (b) just the same, and the only reason shel is there is to emphasize that the charash is in construct rather than absolute form.

    Shadal argues that the trup is fit to be modified, to place the zarka on the first word. Thus:

    "Maaseh | charash even. So it would be appropriate for the trup on these words to be. See Rashi."

    See this post from 2012, where I also mentioned this pasuk, trup, Rashi and Shadal. The difference is that here I am not so convinced.

    While checking to see if Wickes had anything on this, I saw the following interesting emendation of Wickes' text (pg 88) in the scan in Google Books:

    By "it has been already mentioned", Wickes means footnote 1:

    Note that someone has crossed out the sentence "Even Ben Asher's famous Codex at Aleppo is wrong."

    I don't think someone crossed this out due to religious fervor, taking offense on behalf of the Aleppo Codex. I would guess that someone believes that this statement is incorrect.

    We cannot examine the Aleppo Codex itself to confirm that there is a segolta there rather than an etnachta. Ezra is currently missing from the Aleppo Codex:
    The Aleppo Codex, as it reached Israel has 294 parchment pages, written on both sides. Examination revealed that many pages were missing as a result of the damage to the Codex in 1947. Mainly the first part of the manuscript was damaged, the Pentateuch, of which only the last eleven pages remained. Almost all the Five Books of Moses had been lost, except the final chapters of the Book of Deuteronomy, which were preserved. The final pages of the Aleppo Codex are also missing, including part of the Song of Songs, and all of Ecclesiastes, Lamentations, Esther, Daniel, Ezra, and Nehemiah. In the rest of the books of the prophets, some pages are missing. In all, the Aleppo Codex originally had 487 pages.
    (Wickes' book is copyright 1887.) However, the Leningrad Codex, which should be the same, definitely has a segolta there, and no etnachta is to be seen.

    Tuesday, February 24, 2015

    posts so far for parashat Tetzaveh


    1. Preemptive atonement for the golden calf? So suggests Rav Chaim Kanievsky, to explain why Rashi writes that the taking of a young bull was to atone for sin the golden calf, when it hadn't happened yet. I suggest an alternative, that Midrash Tanchuma (which is Rashi's source) as well as Rashi himself explicitly in parashat Ki Tisa, maintains that this was after the sin of the golden calf.

    1. Tetzaveh sources -- expanded and improved.

    2. The zarka and segolta on מַעֲשֵׂה חָרַשׁ אֶבֶן -- Shadal writes that one would expect it to be different, based on Rashi. One should put חָרַשׁ אֶבֶן together as a single phrase.

    3. The trup symbol of psik in וְאַתָּה תְּצַוֶּה | אֶת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל --  to hint that it was not from the money of the Israelites, but rather that clouds brought it from Gan Eden. This according to Birkas Avraham.

    4. The trup on לְבָּשָׁם הַכֹּהֵן תַּחְתָּיו -- How shall we make sense of Rashi's comment on the tevir? Shadal makes up newtrup and makes it simpler.

    5. YUTorah on parashat Tetzaveh.

    6. Tzav in Tetzaveh -- Why does Rashi only analyze the word tzav in parashat Tzav, but not in parashat Tetzaveh? So asks the Siftei Chachamim. I think the answer is that Rashi only repeats midrash in this, rather than innovates, and Torat Kohanim is only on sefer Vayikra.


    1. Tetzaveh sources, further improved. For example, many more meforshei Rashi.
    2. Hakeves echad -- a missing heh for some Rishonim! Ibn Ezra, Rabbi Moshe haKohen, and Radak are missing a heh in hakeves ha-echadi,in parashat Tetzaveh!
    3. Arrange the lamps, or estimate the lamps I don't think Ibn Ezra is actually endorsing Yefet ben Ali's novel theory.
    4. YU Torah on parashat Tetzaveh.

    1. Tetzaveh sources -- revamped, with over 100 meforshim on the parsha and haftara.
    2. What makes a gadol? Comparing a list of traits listed in an Emes veEmunah post with a midrash about required traits. What of broad secular knowledge?
    3. What was bothering Ibn CaspiContinuing the conversation on a post in Mishpatim. How Rashbam differing from Chazal is not the same as Rashi differing from Chazal. And considering how Ibn Caspi onegrof would potentially argue with the conclusions of Chazal.
    4. Is nature incapable of making squares and right angles? Considering a position of Rav Shamshon ben Refael Hirsch.
    5. When you cause to ascend the lamps -- What is bothering Rashi? He explains בְּהַעֲלֹתְךָ in a particular way, but is inconsistent elsewhere in explaining לְהַעֲלֹת נֵר תָּמִיד. Meanwhile the derasha is not initially on Behaalotecha. I consider Gur Aryeh, and then differ, and explain my own take on the matter.

    • Tetzaveh sources -- links by aliyah and perek to an online Mikraos Gedolos, and links to many meforshim on the parsha and haftara.
    • Remove me Na -- also for Ki Tisa. How Moshe was removed from a sefer.
    • A Populist Midrash
      • Different approaches to atonement, progressing from the elite, to the common people, to the poor, to the poor unlearned. Interestingly, Torah learning is given as an option before prayer.
    • The Purpose of the Tzitz
      • is "bearing the iniquity of the holy things." What does this mean? What iniquity? Three traditional answers: Rashi, that iniquity which belongs to the korbanot (e.g. tamei) but not which belongs to the owners (taking it out of designated areas); Tg. Yonatan, the iniquity of promising to bring a korban but not following up; Rashbam, recalling the korbanot so that the Jews' sins will be forgiven for them. Then, my suggestion: the "iniquity" of a mere mortal intruding in this holy place, such that he must be announced by the tinkling of bells and designated at "Holy to Hashem" to justify his presence.
    To be continued...

    Sunday, February 08, 2015

    Cappadocia, and the Authenticity of the Zohar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Caesarea Philippi (Banias), in the Golan Heights

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Thus, Caphtor = Keputkeya.

    The pasuk in Amos reads:

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

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

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

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

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


    Blog Widget by LinkWithin