Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Age of Trup -- part xxx

Shadal continues his Vikuach al Chochmas HaKabbalah. (See previous segment.) This text was somehow not scanned into the version at SeforimOnline, so I scanned it myself from my own copy. This is the final segment of the chapter called "Third Night." He discusses the absence of Nesiim in Eretz Yisrael before the creation of nikkud. In a footnote, he discusses that there were in fact two systems of nikkud, and modifies his thesis to match.

The author: This in truth is a great novelty by me, that there were in the days of the Sages of the Talmud men whose wisdom was in the knowledge of the reading of Tanach with precision. And there is no doubt that these men were fit for the work of establishing the nikkud and trup on the face of all of Scriptures.

And now, in truth, my mind has quieted from all its bewilderments and doubts in the matter of this investigation, an investigation as to the start of nikkud and the time of the authors of the nikkud, and their location; therefore, my heart rejoices and my honor is happy as one who finds a great treasure. And also, to you my friend, I bear a thousand thanks, that you supported at my right hand and brought me to the chambers of the truth.

And now, my dear friend, I will not conceal from you, that the opinion of the author of Tzemach David, that there was no further Prince {Nasi} after Rabbi Hillel and after the year 118 {but for all these dates, add 240 years to convert to English dates, so =358}, is not a "clear halacha" {halacha berura} for behold, the wise man Shmuel Petit, in his book Observationum (printed in the city of Paris in the year 1642) brings proofs from the books of their Chachamim and from the laws of the Caesars, that until the year 175 (which is the year 415 to their calendar) there was in Eretz Yisrael a Prince (Patriarcha), whose name was Gamliel, and only in the year 189 (=429) the word of the king came from before Theodosius Caesar, who mentions the Princes {Nesiim} as a matter which already passed and was nullified from the world.

And it is so, that there are still left to us 70 years and more from the time of the nullification of the Nesiim until the closing of the Talmud, and the matter remains as it was, true, fixed, correct, and established. For it does not make sense at all that the nikkud was made in Eretz Yisrael and that it was accepted in all the dispersions of Israel, if at the time it was made, 70 years plus had already passed from the time the Nesiim were nullified, and there was no futher ruler and government to the residents of Eretz Yisrael over the residents of the Diaspora. *

* After days and years, a different nikkud than we have was revealed, in an eastern land, and those nekudot were written over the letters. (See sefer Halichot Kedem which was printed in Amsterdam in the year 607 {=1847}.) I also found in manuscript (??) 12 of Rossi that the nikkud which was above was the nikkud of the land of Ashur {and thus Bavel}, and that which was below was called the nikkud of Teveria. Therefore it appears that the beginning of the bringing out of nikkud was in Bavel, but the Sages of Teveria made in it changes, and we accepted it from them, like the words of the Ibn Ezra. And that which the men of Ivropa {Europe?} accepted the nikkud of Eretz Yisrael and abandoned the nikkud of Ashur, this was because they found that the Assyrian nikkud did not accord to their pronunciation in reading the Holy Tongue. For the Assyrian nikkud does not distinguish between patach and segol, as is the case as well in the Arabic language. Therefore the men of Europe, who were already used to distinguishing in their reading between the vowels of yaar and the vowels of gefen, needed to accept the Tiberian nikkud, and to abandon the Assyrian.

But it is still difficult that that I found in the commentary of
avot kadmon {??}, in ktav yad {manuscript} (see Kerem Chemed 4, folio 203) that the Tiberian nikkud is not similar to our nikkud, nor are either of them similar to the nikkud of Eretz Yisrael. And I cast my eyes to Hashem, that he will send out from darkness to great light sefarim or pages from the early days, which from them the doubts will be made clear and the confoundings will be whitened.

End footnote.


And now, behold, we have been occupied a lot, and already two hours have passed since midnight. Let each man please now turn to his bedchamber, and by morning light the sun will shine and we will return to delight in the investigation of wisdom, as God places in out mouths.

The guest: Peace to my master.

The author: Go in peace.

END CHAPTER THIRD NIGHT

2 comments:

Ilana said...

WOW!
That is some labor of love!
Kol haKavod on the translation!

joshwaxman said...

thanks.

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