Thursday, June 23, 2005

Lehavdil

Section 44 in the Prague edition of Maharam's responsa is a missive penned by R Yoel ha-Levi of Bonn. He describes people who go into the fields of non-Jews and cut willow twigs for Hoshana Rabba. His conclusion is that this is forbidden, since stealing from non-Jews is precisely the same as stealing from Jews. In the printed edition, this comparison is qualified by "lehavdil":

מה לי מגוי מה לי מישראל להבדיל, שהרי שניהן תורת גזל נוהג בהן

Lest anyone think that Jews are the same as non-Jews, "lehavdil" comes to say that though someone may be drawing a comparison between them, they are truly incomparable.

The passage is found in Sefer Ra'avya, written by R Yoel's son. There there is no "lehavdil", and R Prof Victor Aptowitzer points out (no. 690, II p. 395, n. 4) that the word was surely added by a later scribe, since the expression is not a medieval one.

Anyway, in a manuscript of Teshuvot Maharam that I'm reading through now (ed. Berlin, p. 121, no. 54), the word is missing too.

Just thought I'd share that with you.

1 Comments:

Anonymous francine marino said...

It is truly a loaded word, "lehavdil". It deftly raises one onto a pedestal while demeaning the other. Today it is commonly used to distinguish the name of a living person from a dead one. ostensibly an innocuous usage, intended, I presume to somehow "protect" the living one. But when you hear it used to distinguish between the name of your dead child and someone else's living one (as I have) it can deliver an offensive blow too. And there you have a link between your two most recent entries.

6:45 PM  

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