Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Rashi doesn't say the תִּנְשֶׁמֶת is the calve soriz (bat)

Here I resolve a confounding Rashi. Rashi on Shemini does not translate Atalef among the non-kosher birds, but does translate תִּנְשֶׁמֶת. And he defines it as the calve soriz, which is the bat in Old French. Yet on Yeshaya (2:20) he translates the Atalef as the calve soriz. And consistently in the gemara (Bechorot 7b, Beitza 7a) Rashi translates the Atalef as the calve soriz. What gives?

#1: One strong possibility is that really, Rashi did not define the תִּנְשֶׁמֶת as the calve soriz. He only gave a description as a winged creature similar to a mouse [corrected self here], and drew a connection to the תִּנְשֶׁמֶת which appears later in verse 20 (there, the mole). However, some "helpful" scribe supplied the definition, based on Rashi's description.

Here is the printed Rashi, as we have it today, on Vayikra 11:18:

The bat, the starling, the magpie;יח. וְאֶת הַתִּנְשֶׁמֶת וְאֶת הַקָּאָת וְאֶת הָרָחָם:
The bat: Heb. הַתִּנְשֶׁמֶת. That is calve soriz [in Old French, chauve-souris in modern French]. It resembles a mouse and flies about at night. The תִּנְשֶׁמֶת mentioned among the creeping animals (verse 30), resembles this one, insofar as it has no eyes. That [one] is called talpe [in Old French, taupe in modern French, mole in English].התנשמת: היא קלב"א שורי"ץ [עטלף] ודומה לעכבר ופורחת בלילה. ותנשמת האמורה בשרצים היא דומה לה, ואין לה עינים וקורין לה טלפ"א [חפרפרת]:

And here is Rashi as it appears in Ktav Yad Rome, from the year 1470.

Note that the initial words, which would positively identify this as the calve soriz (bat), do not exist.

A more expansive Rashi (in that it often expands, ad incorporates words from other Rishonim as well), Munich, 1233, does have this lead in of the calve soriz.

And so does this one from I don't know when and where (Cod Hebr 3):

#2: This is a bit more forced, but could we say that Rashi originally said these words about עטלף, and some scribes moved the explanation over to תִּנְשֶׁמֶת? Unlike #1, I don't have any manuscript evidence of this.

But we could speculate as follows: Rashi said it about עטלף. And his purpose in referring to the תנשמת is not to address the similarity of words in both places, but to reference the other pasuk in Tanach, namely Yeshaya 2:20, which helped him make that identification of עטלף as bat:

On that day, man will cast away his silver idols and his gold idols, which they made for him, [before which] to prostrate himself to moles and to bats.כ. בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא יַשְׁלִיךְ הָאָדָם אֵת אֱלִילֵי כַסְפּוֹ וְאֵת אֱלִילֵי זְהָבוֹ אֲשֶׁר עָשׂוּ לוֹ לְהִשְׁתַּחֲו‍ֹת לַחְפֹּר פֵּרוֹת וְלָעֲטַלֵּפִים:
to prostrate himself to moles: Heb. לַחְפֹּר פֵּרוֹת, idols in the likeness of moles, a species of rodents who dig in the earth, called talpes in O.F. [taupes in modern French].
and to bats: kalbe soric [chauvesouris in modern French]. Alternatively, this may be interpreted to mean that man will cast his idols that he made for himself, before which to prostrate himself, into pits and ditches that he finds before him when he goes to escape and hide.

A later scribe thought that Rashi was surely trying to connect the two instances of תִּנְשֶׁמֶת and explain locally how the words relate, and so reassigned the dibbur hamatchil to be תִּנְשֶׁמֶת.

Update: On the other hand, see Chullin 63a, and the Rashis there. In particular:
(תחותא) באות שבעופות - עוף הצועק בלילה צואיט"ה בלע"ז:
באות שבשרצים - טלפ"א תרי תנשמת כתיבי חד בעופות וחד בשרצים:
דבר הלמד מענינו - אחד מי"ג מדות היא:
קיפוף - ציאי"ט ולי נראה שקורין קלב"א שורי"ץ שדומה לטלפא שבשרצים:
קורפדאי - טלפ"א:


Anonymous said...

Have you looked at the manuscripts of Rashi on Isaiah to see if there isn't a mistake there instead?

joshwaxman said...

No. Do you have access to such manuscripts?

However there are multiple gemaras in which rashi defines atalef as bat, so path of least resistance would be that this one local to shemini is where the error is (if any)

Anonymous said...

You have Rashi manuscripts that include Nach in your sources - however it is very difficult to find the relevant verses.


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