- Name: manuscriptboy
Sunday, August 30, 2009
Friday, August 28, 2009
Saving the Tannaim
Here is some more information sent to me by a friend who runs the project:
The project is headed by Prof. Shamma Friedman and aspires to transcribe all extant Tannaitic literature, and hopefully to upload high quality scans in addition to the transcription. The project is free and run for the public's use. We welcome comments via e-mail and make corrections according to peoples comments. The project is run by Asaf Pink and 5 dedicated workers. We have the Tosefta and Mechilta de-Rabbi Yishmael fully uploaded.
The Sifra will be uploaded in the next few months and both the Sifreis should be uploaded till the end of 2010. Additionally we have uploaded a fascinating paper pointing out the pros and cons of some of the Tosefta and Mechilta editions with quite a few corrections even to Kahana's Geniza fragments edition.
Now here's the important part:
We would welcome donations and comments. The project is funded by Bar Ilan University and the Naftal Institute but unfortunately the economic crisis has caused the budget to be downsized considerably. For comments or donations they can contact my e-mail. We are planning to start working on the Mishna soon and if enough funding could be found we plan to have all extant Mss of the Mishna uploaded by the end of 2013!!!!
So there you have it. An important project, with new data, open access and a need for funding to keep going. Give, or don't come to me in 2013 complaining that you can't find a Genizah fragment for Masekhet Mikvaot.
Friday, August 07, 2009
A new wave of Talmudic commentary? AG's comments on Session 304
We should acknowledge our debt to the traditional commentators. The
basis for any new commentary is a new edition and the new commentary
is important for the creation of new editions. They are both equally
valuable and support each other.
The method is known as the "philological-historical-
An acceptable commentary of an halakhic midrash should be succinct and
to the point. It should strive to reconstruct the original wording
(probably of the composition, not the homily), a literal commentary,
an exaplantion of the mode of exegesis, reveal the halakha in the
homily and the homily's relation to the pshat. Then you can go on to
find order and patterns in homilies (not always, but sometimes,
there), and locate places where traditions were transferred from one
(sometimes otherwise lost) source to another. Do not discuss general
subjects or tangential material at length.
Milikovsky: Seder Olam needs a different kind of commentary. We modern
westerns think everything needs commentary, in in the case of SO it
means to try and reconstruct his calculations and biblical
Brody: began studying Talmud thinking there was a whole shelf of
Talmud commentaries and discovered there was one vol. of Halivni and
one of Feldblum. Halivni has grown and Friedman and co. wrote more,
but the former is too short, the latter too long. His forthcoming (he
estimated 8 years) commentary on ketubot will be a middle ground
between the two and focus on PaRDeS: Philology, Ribud, Dimyonot (i.e.
parallels) and Sevara (yes, sevara, he believes in sevara, it is not
just for yeshivot) (for that matter he thinks what he's doing should
be acceptable in any yeshiva too, and would like his book to be used
in "traditional" settings as well). The use of older commentaries
should be mentioned only when they discuss the talmud (i.e. stop
focusing on them instead of the text). Do not write too much (they all
seem to say that - AG). Nusach discussions are limited and based on
the green set, and he has better things to do with his time than that,
since someone already did it for him. He is not fazed or deterred by
the tendency of his predecessors at the department not to write
Some things I learned at the World Congress
- Inflection makes a big difference to a public lecture.
- If your lecture is about Talmud, don't give a blow-by-blow account of the sugya.
- Germans and Spaniards speaking in English are often (though not always) very difficult to understand.
- The Friedberg Genizah Project has a program that can match together Genizah fragments from the same codex. 30% success rate, whatever that means.
- The Princeton University Sefer Hasidim Database will be available at the end of the month at this address.
- The new edition of Midrash Shmuel, edited by Barchiyahu and the late Tirtsah Lifshitz, has been published. So has the second printing of Elazar Hurvitz's 2006 catalogue of Westminster College Genizah fragments (ואכמ"ל).
- It's exhausting.
- Not much about Halakhah in the Middle Ages.
Thursday, August 06, 2009
World Congress Day 5 – part 2
Session 704 – The European Genizah Project 2
Elisabeth Hollender. About half of fragments from Germany contain piyutim. These liturgical manuscripts are difficult to localize since they do not normally contain information about the scribe, and are usually copied in square script. How can we cull additional information from these fragments? For one, some fragments in the Trier collection contain Minhag Tsarfat and are from the 14th century, saying something about immigration from France even before the Expulsion. There are other Tsarfatic fragments found in Germany. But none of the fragments at Erlangen defined by Ernst Roth as Tsarfatic are actually French. Beyond the upper valley of the Moselle, there are only occasional uses of Minhag Tsarfat, showing that French refugees did not keep with their tradition. Mention of Giluy Milta blog. The chance of finding unknown piyutim is low – one new piyut by Shimshon ben Yonah (? yotser for first day of Shavuot) has been found and will be published by Dr Hollender in the forthcoming volume on Genizat Europe. All other piyutim found were mentioned by Zunz and were usually published by Goldschmidt and Fraenkel. Most manuscripts are from 14th century or later, so repertoire was limited. Except perhaps shiv'atot, which were mostly composed in Ashkenaz and were only popular for a limited time, so they are not common in the binding fragments. But there are a few from the 14th century. The use of selihot was less fixed than piyutim, as shown by Avraham Fraenkel in his introduction to Leket Piyute Selihot. Only the rise of printed Selihot created unity in the liturgy. In answer to a question – most piyutim are vocalized according to the simplified Ashkenazic system.
Javier Castano. Still in preliminary stage of checking notarial documents from Aragon – access to archives is not a simple issue. First – preservation of Hebrew documents is connected to notarial culture in Mediterranean. Fragments of Hebrew expenses book from Tarazona in binding of Quran, first described in 1912 but misidentified until Yahuda corrected the identification. Mentions the payment made by the community to avoid being stoned on Easter. Incidental interest by Aragonese scholars in 20th century. Stronger interest in 1970s but still awaiting research. Document from Beit Din 1466 Saragossa. Two important books have been published – on the ketubot and on documents from Navarra. Unlike the Catalan fragments from bindings, most of the Aragonese fragments are from 15th century. Dispersion and discontextualisation of data makes research difficult. Image from border of Spain and France, with Ketubah 1465 Aragonese city, serving as binding for notarial protocol. Other Hebrew documents were attached to related notarial documents. From Navarra 68 documents were published in one volume (and 12 have been found since) – in Aragon 70 documents have been found, no more than 4 in the same place (excepting Saragossa). But this is an early survey. Typology of private deeds – account books, ketubot, etc. 44 ketubot were published, only 6 from Aragon. Almosnino family monopolized scribal activity in their town for several generations in 15th century. Public documents – court decisions. Someone mentioned in Hebrew court document from Huesca is probably the person burned to death a few years later as studied by Y Baer. טירואל court wrote to Saragossa in Hebrew alphabet vernacular. In contrast to Girona, the finds in Aragon and Castile and Portugal are modest. Project trying to survey systematically. In Catalunya, the destruction in 1391 and confiscation of Hebrew books in 15th century explains the recycling. But in Aragon, communities survived into 15th century, and the project may help to provide information about them. In answer to question - Catalan Jews are basically Provencal Jews, but the rest of the Iberian peninsula is a different culture, including Jewish culture. Halakhic and Talmudic fragments have been found in Catalunya, but not in other areas. In Barcelona there are four archives that may contain similar bindings to Girona, which may be the tip of the iceberg. Recovering them is primarily a monetary question, and archivists are often resistant to taking apart their holdings. Also – in Catalunya the archives are state-controlled, but in Aragon they are private, so just getting access is not easy. Perani asks how many fragments are parchment. Castano answers that they are mostly paper, but parchment is used for outer bindings – either ketubot or Bible (sometimes Sefer Torah). Fragments of Torah scrolls have been found in many small towns.
Andreas Kunz-Luebcke – fragments in Freiberg, in East Germany, including Mahzor. 2 pages from Pentateuch, 6 from Mahzor and fragments of Haftarot. Pentateuch manuscript, with Targum and masorah, has illustrations of dragons, of a bird, and flowers. Attempt to explain connection between illustration and biblical text. One dragon has two heads, one at each end, and one of them is anthropomorphic. Textual comparison of Biblical and Targumic text to other witnesses. Targum may possibly be connected to Targum Yerushalmi I. Fragments from Mahzor – approx. 1% of the complete codex. Similar to Nuremberg Mahzor, as opposed to Leipzig and Worms mahzorim in both repertoire of piyutim and specific variants in text of piyutim. This suggests that the Eastern Ashkenazic rite was in use in Freiberg. Comment by [Avraham Fraenkel, or his brother in law, not sure] – cataloguing should differentiate between Siddur, Mahzor and Selihot.
Andreas Lehnardt. Renewed interest in bindings in Italy and Austria is well developed, but in Germany it has been neglected. Andreas once found page of a Mahzor with piyut of Kalir in a book from library of Eisenmeger and later in Jewish community of Mainz. This sparked his interest in the topic. Just found 12th century Hebrew fragment in Giessen – possibly oldest found so far. Pieta from Lake Constance with a Hebrew fragment stuck to Jesus's knee – not only in bindings. 14th-17th centuries are period when bindings were reused. Several hundred new fragments in places were persecutions were known – Frankfurt in 17th century, Friedberg where Jews were expelled in 1620 – 144 fragments (3% Talmud, 36% liturgy, 25% Bible, Mishneh Torah and Sefer ha-Terumah). First interest in Germany in Hebrew binding fragments in 15th century, but mostly in 18th century, usually when Latin fragments were found by librarians or scholars. Moritz Steinschneider was not very interested in fragments, though he did describe fragments that he was shown, and he sometimes misidentified them. After the Holocaust, hardly anyone studied fragments – Ernst Roth. Michael Krupp took an interest in fragments. Famous Sefer Yerushalmi in Darmstadt. In almost every town Andreas has visited in the past years he has found at least one fragment. Mentions fragment of Emunot ve-Deot (Ashkenazic translation) that I identified 1 ½ years ago. And Talmud fragments (in Sefardic script, probably from Italy) from Kassel. No fragments of mystical texts have been found, and rarely of midrash. Collaboration with Mif'al ha-Mishnah. Need to look in other countries too - some fragments from Trier are now in Cincinnati and fragments from Mainz in New York. Some fragments from Trier may now be in Paris. Benjamin Richler asks – in terms of range of topics, need to remember that large format manuscripts are the ones that were useful. And Malachi Beit-Arie says the same proportions are found everywhere, and it may be also because of original demand. In Italian Genizah there are not many Italian manuscripts. Kogel asks about grammatical works – but none of those. 700 fragments have been found so far, and new findings turn up every week.
World Congress Day 5 – part 1
Session 703 – The European Genizah Project 1
Michael Krupp discussing a fragment of Sifre Deuteronomy in his collection (Krupp 3859, MSS-D 133). Latin inscription (1611-1615) on first page suggests that it is from Italy. It was not used for binding a book but simply as a folder. Fragment in Italian script, IMHM did not offer a date. Krupp thinks it is comparable to well-known 11th century Italian manuscripts of rabbinic texts, based on descriptions by Moshe Lutzki in introduction to Vatican 66. Justification of left-hand column. Krupp prepared an edition of this text, with variants from Mss Berlin and London, and to eds. princ. and Finkelstein. Then a synopsis including some Genizah fragments (from Kahana's edition). Krupp fragment resembles the Genizah fragments, but also includes a sentence that appears in Finkelstein's ed based on Midrash Hakhamim. Menahem Kahana thanks Krupp who gave him the fragment in the past, and comments that Midrash Hakhamim is a solidly Italian witness, so it is interesting that this fragment resembles it. Mauro Perani thinks it is from early 13th century. Edna Engel just walked out, but Perani thinks she will agree.
Mauro Perani (Andreas Lehnardt: "He is the Italian Genizah") on Girona Geniza. 'The wonderful city in which Nahmanides was born'. In Italy and Central Europe, the reused pages were always parchment, beginning in 16th century. 385 printed books in Modena were bound in the 1640s with Hebrew manuscripts, including fragment of Midrash Halakhah (so Menahem Kahana asked for them to be removed). In Girona, 90% of the fragments are paper, and the reuse began in 1331. Also, in Italy the finds are exclusively literary while Girona contains many documentary fragments. In both areas, Hebrew manuscripts were used alongside Christian and even Greek and Arabic works. In Girona the pages were pasted together to create hard bindings for books. Millas Vallicrosa published some fragments starting in 1928. There are several archives in Girona which all have fragments, but work started in Historical archive. In Perpignan, the registers are very well preserved and so it is not possible to see fragments peeking out (one fragment has been found), but in Girona they are in worse condition and so the bindings have started to open up and reveal the fragments inside. Restoring fragments from a register costs 1000 Euro. 60 registers have been opened so far, yielding up to 20 fragments per register. Based on the number of unopened registers, we can expect around 2000 fragments (a lower figure than Perani gave in 1998). In Hebrew registers, years are given by both Jewish and Christian calendars. Slide with deed from Girona, 1307 (not the translation that I prepared for Perani of this document, forthcoming in Hispania Judaica Bulletin). Ketubbah from 1377 reused in 1477. Malachi Beit Arie points out that recycling Hebrew manuscripts is only a small part of a larger European phenomenon. But the circumstances are different because Latin manuscripts were discarded with the advent of printing, while only certain Hebrew manuscripts come up in bindings. Vienna NB is now being checked, with fragments bound in mid-15th century following expulsion of Jews.
Engel on development of Hebrew script in Italy. From reed to quill. There are not enough dated Italian manuscripts, so the Italian Genizah is helpful. General explanation of script types. Engel's scheme of development of types, based on Oriental scripts, works for European as well. It is important to differentiate between different areas of Italy. First, 11th-12th centuries in Southern Italy. 13th century, Rome. 14th-15th centuries, Northern and Central Italy. For first period, a few manuscripts from 11th century Otranto and Genizah fragments (too little from Northern Italy, but probably also pre-square like in the South). Cramped letters, vertical lines descending with tilt to left, shin with sharp base – all similar to pre-square script from 9th century Israel. How is that? Didn't Italian script develop over the first few centuries? Zerah ben Yehudah, writing in 1105 without localization but probably Italian in real square script, shows more development in letters. Semi-square script from mid-12th century becomes the calligraphic script, with less squareness and thus easier to create. 13th century Rome has cursive script that still has links to square script. Letters continue to tilt leftwards and a harmonic flow, aleph like a K. Avraham ben Yom Tov ha-Kohen worked in Rome as a scribe in last quarter of 13th century – larger space between letters and more harmonic, more calligraphic that approaches square. Beginnings of development of benoni script in mid-13th century. Pola bat Avraham, professional scribe from the Anavim family. Her aleph resembles her father, but beyond that her script is unique, half-square, well proportioned between height and width, she added crowns and little flourishes at the bottom of letters like aleph and tav. Transition to writing with quill reflects growing similarity to Ashkenazic script, allowing sharper vertical lines. Can be seen in Avraham ben Yom Tov. Slowly, it affects the non-square scripts as well. Only in 15th century does quill become the main tool.
Judith Kogel. Systematic work on bindings in France began only 6 months ago. Dijon Marseilles Anjou. Some fragments from Alsace were studied by Paul Fenton and JP Rothschild 20 years ago. Focus on Colmar libraries. 96 bindings contain Hebrew fragments – the others are Latin fragments. Most of the volumes of incunabula come from the Dominican convent in Colmar. We don't know where the books were bound – possibly in the convent itself. 85 of the 96 have been examined, 212 fragments have been recovered. Some are only strips. 75 are prayers books, 12 are Halakhot and 21 Talmud. Some are copied in Italian script. The largest fragment is a bifolio of haftarot (other pages of the same manuscript have been found), copied by a scribe named Baruch who probably also provided the vocalization. Possibly the same scribe who copied a manuscript in Parma where Baruch is also marked in Ruth. Semag, 47 cm high and 32 cm wide, three columns, 44 lines per page. Decorated mahzor with picture of bird, in green and red, at the bottom of leaf, connected to a aleph-lamed ligature (which is itself decorated with dragons). The head of the bird provides the head of the lamed – a rare feature in Hebrew manuscripts. A fragment of Rashi's Talmud commentary including a diagram of the Land of Israel (mentions Therese Metzger , Betzalel Narkiss, Gabrielle Sed-Rajna, Mayer Gruber, Avraham Grossman, Yossi Ofer). Discusses which way the scribe turned the page in order to write the captions in the diagram. A catalogue is in preparation. Malachi Beit Arie says that shortly Sfardata will be available online.
Wednesday, August 05, 2009
World Congress day 4
Session 213. I made it for the last moments of Ephraim Kanarfogel's speech. He's speaking slowly! Gap between France and Ashkenaz. France continued to follow Rashi in his sympathetic attitude towards apostates, while Germany perceived them as enemies. But from the late 13th century, in Evreux, the antagonistic attitude prevailed.
Elisheva Baumgarten on women and time-bound commandments in the 13th century. Mahzor Vitry in section on tsitsit begins with midrash about David, emphasizing the role of these mitsvot in creating Jewish identity. How involved were women in this kind of Jewish identity? The topic of women performing these mitsvot has been studied in recent years by Mordechai Friedman (recent MA), Bitkha Har Shefi, Avraham Grossman and the late Yisrael Ta-Shma. There are three Halakhic questions – can they perform it, can they make the blessing, and can men help them? Friedman claims that there is no unity on these questions even within medieval France. Grossman made it clear that women did perform these mitsvot on a fairly wide scale. None of these scholars tried to place the women within a wider social perspective. For the moment, only in the Jewish context, but the Christian context is important too. Gender does not include only women. Medieval sources discuss this in biblical exegesis, in minhag and halakhah books, in responsa and in books like Sefer Hasidim. Lulav, sukkah and shofar. The initiative to perform these mitsvot came from the women themselves. Discussed by Rashi and his teacher, wide discussion in 12th century, especially R Tam. In 13th century less enthusiasm but not rejection of R Tam. From mid-13th century, discussion focuses on Tefilin and Tsitsit, and earlier discussions are neglected. The first triad were performed on festivals, but these were performed daily. As Kanarfogel has shown, men neglected these daily mitsvot. Some for theological reasons, some because they felt they could be performed only by special people, and some because of the mahloket Rashi-R Tam regarding Tefillin. So they were performed mostly by the religious elite. We don't know how many women performed these mitsvot – probably fewer than those who performed lulav et al. R Avigdor says that נשים צדקניות would do it. In any case, this is not a small group of women joining the larger body of all men, but rather a small group of women joining a small group of men. So the gender difference is not the full explanation here – part of it is social. Exemplum in Sefer Hasidim – people who perform Tefillin and Tsitsit suffer socially because people humiliate them. R Moses of Coucy and R Isaac of Corbeil reflect the importance of encouraging men to perform them. Maharam discourages women from performing them – his contemporaries were surprised, because it was accepted that women did. But by the 15th century, Maharam's position had become normative – Maharil mentions only one women known for wearing tsitsit, and it appears odd and even arrogant. The attitude of the poskim changed, as did their rhetoric – at first, women were compared to blind men, who are exempt from these mitsvot, and the main discussion was about the question of reciting the blessing. But from Maharam onwards, women are discouraged from performing it at all, and their rhetoric has more to do with the female body (that is not consistently clean). Perhaps this move was meant to encourage men to perform the mitsvot, to distinguish themselves as a group from women. [R Yosef Bekhor Shor – concern that women's busying themselves with mitsvot would keep them from paying attention to their husbands]. This shift reflects a change in thinking about the differences between men and women. Women became more 'other' than they used to be.
Simcha Emanuel – EE Urbach surveyed medieval German scholars. 12th century. We start with Riva –wrote pesakim before him. Ra'avan was his younger contemporary. Albeck's introduction has a list of scholars who corresponded with him – 22 people. Moving to Regensburg, we find several important scholars, students of both Riva and R Tam. Plenty of people. When we reach the end of the 12th century, we find the two sons-in-law of Ra'avan – Rashbat and R Yoel of Bonne, with whom he corresponded and argued. Speyers – Yihuse Tannaim va-Amoraim, Riva tsair. Beginning of 13th century – Ra'avyah, R Simcha of Speyers, R Baruch of Mainz and others. They died around 1320s. But who comes next? Who were the students of Ra'avyah? You may think of R Yitshak Or Zarua – but he lived in Austria. Aptowitzer doesn't know of any students. Explanation in my Shivre Luhot for lack of students of R Baruch of Mainz is insufficient. Students of R Simha of Speyers did not live in Germany – Bohemia (Arugat ha-Bosem), Austria and Italy. Magdeburg was also very far away. Some of these students came to Germany from other lands, but others were German-born but chose to move East. So by the 1230s, there were no significant Torah scholars in Germany. There are a few names, but none are noteworthy. 1241 – Rachel Furst's case of Frankfurt. Important point is that all the scholars were involved – four German scholars and R Yitzhak Or Zarua. The German scholars are almost anonymous, but Or Zarua, who lived in Vienna, is well known. At this time, R Meir of Rothenburg was starting to emerge. When he did, it was not as heir to the German tradition but as a lonely figure. R Elazar of Worms wrote at the beginning of the 13th century (1217) about the lack of scholars to sustain the tradition, particularly after the death of R Yehudah he-Hasid. It sounds subjective, and some historians have claimed that the passage is forged. In another place, unquestionably by Rokeah, he writes more about how people are not able to learn properly, and with the death of his only son he has no one to pass his Torah to. This is what compelled him to commit his mysticism to writing, unlike his predecessors. Rokeah's concern was real – he saw that there were no young students in the yeshivot. So what happened? Why weren't these sages able to create a new generation? I don't know. I'm not aware of any major historical event to explain it ca 1235. Jacob Sussman pointed out the break in relations between France and Germany, that erupted after the first quarter of the 13th century – best shown by the lack of German students in French yeshivot. Afterwards they started up again – R Yitshak Or Zarua and Maharam of Rothenburg. This is the same period we are talking about. But which came first? Haym Soloveitchik in book on interest says that in second quarter of 13th century Germany stopped being independent of France in its Halakhic thought. Or Zarua and Maharam, and especially their students, are basically French in their Talmudic thought. Is this a coincidence? Was the tower built by German scholars one of cards? Soloveitchik in his article on creativity and catastrophe says that French creativity ended after R Shimshon of Sens, and therefore the 1306 expulsion didn't really change anything. But the Rintfleisch attacks in Germany in 1298 had a critical impact. If I were a young student in the 1240s, I would certainly have gone to learn in France, even though the teachers were not as great as R Tam – R Jonah of Gerona did this. But who could I have learned with in Germany? Now we need to re-appraise Maharam of Rothenburg. He missed learning with the German greats by a few years – he even knew R Yitshak Or Zarua slightly, and he tells of one thing he learned from him when he was a tinok. Maharam's German teachers (R Yehudah ha-Kohen of Friedberg, actually of Wurzburg, and another) were minor figures. Maharam filled the vacuum in Germany, so that the break there lasted only one generation. Maharam wrote thousands of responsa, and Talmudic commentaries, and his students wrote a long list of important works. This was indeed broken by the 1298 attacks. But it was not an original German tradition that was broken, but rather a new one created by Maharam.
Yehuda Galinsky. The literary works on Halakhah in 13th century Northern France and what they teach us about Jewish society at the time. 'Can Halakhic Texts Talk History' has been answered positively. The question today is what we can learn from the works themselves. Two kinds of works – student notes (pesakim), and Halakhic compositions. The first are usually haphazard and not comprehensive. The second are usually carefully built and include an introduction and survey of contents. The goal of the pesakim was to preserve the opinions of a teacher who did not commit his thoughts and decisions to writing, so the disciple set them to writing and tried to disseminate them outside the confines of his Bet Midrash. But there is no attempt to cover a topic comprehensively. Often, this will include the pesakim of his teacher's teachers. With the second category, the goal is not simply to preserve the teacher's opinions. Table shows that the genre of student notes had a long history, from R Shemaiah for Rashi, through to the student of R Isaac and R Peretz of Corbeil at the end of the 13th century. This genre did not change much over time in form. Usually, these notes have no introduction, and it is difficult to ascertain who wrote them, and the circumstances under which they were written. In the second category we find Sefer Yere'im, Sefer ha-Terumah, Semag and Semak. All of these have introductions, and the authors invested in planning the book. Yere'im follows the order of Bahag, but supplies all the details himself. He presents the sugyot based upon the Tosafist tradition, and emphasizes practical issues. R Eliezer of Metz writes explicitly in his introduction that he composes his work for the scholars who are caught up in pilpul and find it difficult to keep track of practical halakhah. Sefer ha-Terumah – student of Ri ha-Zaken. Two parts – iyun and pesakim. Much of the book can be compared to Tosafot Sens – the overall structure of the book is inscrutable, but the internal structure follows the tractate it is based upon. Focus on practical issues is an innovation of the book, and the other is the table of contents that precedes the book. The author explains that this table itself can often supply relevant Halakhic information. So it is really a list of pesakim, linked to a longer iyun work. So both these books are aimed at Talmudists caught up in the Tosafist revolution. In the 13th century, we find a change. R Moses of Coucy left his Bet Midrash and wandered through the Diaspora as a preacher. When he returned home, he became the first French scholar to compose a comprehensive Halakhic work – based on his French antecedents, but mostly upon Maimonides' Mishneh Torah. Who was the audience? Several – to help Talmudic scholars remember things; in Asin 3 he mentions the genesis of his book – the communities in Spain who heard his preaching requested a concise explanation of the mitsvot. Not his students or his colleagues, but his popular audience. It doesn't matter that the finished product did not really answer the needs of this audience – what is important is that this is an audience that we have not encountered before (except perhaps the consumers of the genre of Mahzorim). Semak by R Isaac of Corbeil. Epistle appended to beginning shows that it was directed at a wide audience, including even women. For R Moses of Coucy, the popular audience was just part of his aim – for R Isaac of Corbeil it was the primary one. It is a shorter work. He also made an effort to encourage people to read the work every work. More manuscripts survive than any other French Halakhic work – 96 mss in Ashkenazic writing from 13th-14th centuries, while Semag has 24 and Terumah fewer than 10. A few other works from this time were also aimed at a popular audience – Kitzur Semag, Sefer ha-Niyar and maybe also the lost Sefer ha-Menahel. Clearly, something changed from the 12th to the 13th century. Ephraim Kanarfogel has been studying the second tier scholars in Ashkenaz and France in the 13th century, and that may be connected. In 13th century, the scholars write for a wider audience, and the masses became more interested in reading.
David Berger – chairman and respondent. First – women. Having heard Dr Baumgarten, apparently in the time of Rashi, hardly any women wore tefillin or tsitsit, and the focus on festival commandments was stronger. Perhaps the 13th century campaign to convince men to wear tefillin convinced women as well. I don't see much difference between Ri and Maharam in their concern about women's hygiene, and they both feel that women do not really take it seriously. And dropping tefillin also led to dropping tsitsit, which is not really a binding commandment for men either. Dr Galinsky also points us to an interesting passage about women – the epistle of the student of R Isaac of Corbeil – that women should also learn the commandments that relate to them. Unclear whether this teaches us much about the learning of women in Northern France, but apparently the author thought they were capable of reading the Semak. Not clear how seriously we should take this line. Dr Emanuel's important suggestion may have a partial explanation. There were students, but they left for Austria and Bohemia – this may be the explanation. The Jewish communities in Austria and Bohemia were growing greatly at this time, and received special legal encouragement. Moving East seemed attractive. If enough leading students were drawn East by financial considerations, that could be enough to leave the yeshivot in Germany barren. Another comment about Maharam – Haym Soloveitchik pointed out that Maharam was the first German scholar to adopt the work of Maimonides because he was the first figure great enough to recognize the greatness of Mishneh Torah. Emanuel's speech suggests that because Maharam was working in a void that sapped the self-perception of German Torah, and therefore he was more open to outside influences. Prof Kanarfogel – according to the programme I should be speaking in English. The speeches were in Hebrew, so I should respond in Hebrew, but here is a passage that I wrote in English about Jacob Katz's explanation of Rashi's position on apostates. 'I would add… Jews wanted to see all the acts of apostates as sins… increase[ing] the temperature of the hellfire that awaits them'. And Kanarfogel has supplied two texts that support this. For instance, the position that a Jew may not lend an apostate money at interest because of 'lifne iver'. And Rid wrote to R Yitshak Or Zarua דלא כל הימנו להפקיע עצמו מישראל. Jews felt that apostates had no right to stop considering themselves as Jews.
Questions. JI Lifshitz to Emanuel – we would have expected to see more of a break in the work of Maharam, but there is continuity. Emanuel answers that Maharam was open to different options – French, Maimonides, and German traditions from 25 years earlier. But what is striking is that Maharam is only one person, as opposed to the large groups of scholars from before. Rami Reiner to Baumgarten – women had access to lulav etc already from the Mishnah. So what changed at the time of Rashi? Alex Tal asked something about tefillin as amulets. Baumgarten says that there are Talmudic sources, but their focus is different. Will be dealt with more at length in writing. However you define the objects of these mitsvot, they are objects that build a Jewish identity. Women wearing tefillin started before the Tefillin campaign, so Berger's comment is weak. Ephraim Halivni says that the sources talk only about tefillin, and not also about tsitsit. Baumgarten agrees that halakhically they are different, but from a social perspective the issue with tefillin is hygiene and with tsitsit it is hubris – both of these are related claims that are targeted at Christian women at this time as well.
Someone asks Galinsky about the term 'remazim' in Sefer ha-Terumah. Galinsky says they have a double purpose – not just a table of contents but also pesakim and an independent work. Rashba, in writing Torat ha-Bayit in long and short version, was probably thinking of Terumah. Questioner refers to remazim in Yalkut Shimoni (which function as internal cross-referencing). Ari Geiger asks Galinsky whether the change in reading audience is connected to burning of Talmud in 1240, and whether Simane Or Zarua is a parallel German phenomenon. Galinsky doesn't believe that the Tosafists disappeared after R Shimshon left for Israel. Yeshivot continued to work. But in parallel to the yeshivot, the audience widened, not diminished.
Tuesday, August 04, 2009
(I have no idea what this website is. But the last sentence in the biography is wrong: 'Mordecai b. Hillel says ('Erubin, end) that he was so absent-minded that once, while traveling, he climbed into a wagon loaded with cattle.' It wasn't loaded with cattle. It was being drawn by a horse and a mule, in violation of Deut 22:10).
World Congress day 3, part 2
Session 706 – disjointed liveblogging in a windowless room
Alfred Haverkamp – literary sources in Hebrew, German, Yiddish. The full documentation will be posted online. Rainer Barzen and Christoph Cluse are full-time researchers, as well as present and past doctoral students. Many areas still to cover, especially in the East. Cooperation with Prague and Poland. Judaism and Christianity are usually studied separately from each other. But the Corpus includes both Jewish and Christian memories, and their interactions. Unlike Christian liturgy, Jewish piyutim preserved memories in the family, even outside of Germany. Latin charter, Koblenz 1307, for Jews, with Hebrew summary on verso: מן העירונים, שהיהודים הם עירונים בעיר. There were other documents in the archives of the Koblenz kehillah, but they were lost in 1348. In terms of commercial deeds, less was put into writing than in the Mediterranean area – only major transactions were recorded in writing.
Benjamin Laqua – Cologne, Judenschreinsbuch. Legal deeds in serial records. Especially first half of 14th century. Crossover between Jewish and Christian modes of record keeping. Mostly voluntary dispositions of land in Jewish quarter. Basis of historical studies in 19th century and early 20th century. Until now, mostly communal institutions. Records had been kept for 100 years before a special book was set aside for the Jews. A separate volume was part of the topographical sub-division of the city. Entry from 1260s shows that in major real estate changes in the Jewish quarters, leaders of the Jewish community, and Jewish legal norms (first-born double inheritance), were involved. Hebrew deeds were sometimes stitched into the book, to buttress the Latin deed. Sometimes, these Hebrew documents have Latin writing on them, suggesting that they were kept by Christians before being appended to the book. The Christian scribes probably needed Jews to translate for them. Latin documents always list the wives as joint owners, even when in the Hebrew deeds they are not mentioned. Restriction of inheritance to sons was not followed by the community. Usually, latin documents do not refer to the ketubah. This tradition of memory was recently ended by the collapse of the Cologne archive, with the book still missing.
Rami Reiner – cemeteries separate the dead from the living. The gravestone seems to keep them away, giving the date when they left. 1500 tombstones, 1107-1346 from Wurzburg. Due to be printed next year. Gerard Nahon published Jewish tombstones from France – they're pretty boring, all the same, like a military cemetery. Ashkenaz is different. There are standard phrases, but more individualism. 80 tombstones have unique expressions. This lecture deals with ברכת המתים, which is more conservative. German tombstones almost never mention resurrection of the dead. Worms tombstones (old edition, Michael Brokke's edition not yet available) founded in mid-12th century, have מנוחתו כבוד at the beginning, but replaced by מנוחתו בגן עדן. עדן גן, חלק בגן עדן. 1220s – נשמתו in Eden; from 1240s – נפשו. Mainz, after 1250 – תנצב"ה. Early Ashkenazic tombstones – מנוחתו בכבוד, מנוחתו בשלום, but then move to Gan Eden. After that – בצרור החיים. What does this say about their attitude towards life?
Descriptions of Eden in story of R Yehoshua ben Levi and in Mahzor Vitry. Place of sensual pleasure, where the person stays forever. Samuel Shepkaru – placement in Eden major concern in Crusade Chronicles, instead of martyrdom lishmah. Diachronic investigation bears this out. Eva Haverkamp concluded that the Raavan chronicle is mostly based upon an earlier one from right after the Crusade. No Eden emphasis there. In Solomon ben Samson chronicle, it starts to appear. Ref to Micha Peri's doctorate. Jacques le Goff studied the rise of purgatory. This probably influenced a Jewish process – the dead will go straight to Eden without having to suffer in purgatory.
בצרור החיים – from the words of Abigail to David, where it is probably a blessing for a long life. But later traditions identify this as a place in heaven, under the Heavenly Throne. Especially in Haside Ashkenaz – Sefer Gematriot. But not only Haside Ashkenaz were familiar with this idea.
Mixing of themes supports assumption that this is more about fashion than about theology. Similarly for the rise of אמן אמן אמן סלה. Origins in Talmud as part of adjuration, development in Hekhalot. Rituals for personal protection – Kiddush Levana, Kapparot. Moshe Idel recently pointed to a different group of Haside Ashkenaz, around Nehemiah the Prophet, with an emphasis on prophecy and adjurations of angels. And indeed, the manuscript that Idel studied – Montana– includes this formula, אא"א סלה. Transition to this style became standard in Ashkenaz in middle of thirteenth century. Probably connected to R Nehemiah and his group.
This changes the role of the gravestone. Not just giving information about the dead person, but to bless him with the ברכת המתים. R Elazar Rokeah in Hokhmat ha-Nefesh talks about protection through Heavenly Throne from mazikim. That is what the gravestones were not trying to do.
Rainer Barzen's edition of Takanot Shu"m is due to be published next year.
How were memorbuchs created, which ideas shaped them? Especially around 1300, Rintfleisch. Memorbuch of Nuremberg – until 1298, written by single scribe, Yitzhak bar Shmuel of Meiningen. Codicology shows that he had two separate purposes – recording names of wealthy benefactors, and a martyrology, beginning from 11th century and followed by short notes about individual victims. Possibly a model brought from the Rhine communities. Entries about the Rintfleisch persecutions are not integrated into a whole – entries by date and place. Nuremberg was attacked in August, and the scribe himself was killed. Information about the attacks came from survivors, or sometimes a centralized list by another community. The entry for Nuremberg is different. 600 names of victims arranged according to hierarchy. First kohanim and levi'im, then regular families and then families headed by widows. This could be based on local documentation of the community for taxation purposes (as suggested by Yisrael Yuval). But perhaps the list was rearranged after the attack for liturgical reasons. Wurzburg was a more important community than Nuremberg. The names are not arranged in any order, but is probably based on a pre-existing list. It was probably written by survivors from Wurzburg. Why was it added to the Nuremberg memorbuch? Tradition of broad memoria? Rothenburg ob der Tauber is different. Describes the events themselves, the series of consecutive attacks. They also erected a memorial stone outside the first wall of the town (found in 1914). Reused by Nazis, and survives only partially. Documents the three attacks, written in first person singular, apparently by the person who commissioned it. Perhaps it was part of a larger memorial that also gave the names of the dead. The date is different from that in the memorbuch, so probably independent of it – rare example of both public and private remembrance. Ms Munich 393 – 14th century list of private fast days (Megillat Ta'anit Batra). There are two extensions – 13 Av, Wurzburg ונטבעו במקוה מורינו הרב ר' אפרים וזוגתו החסידה מרת רחל והרבה מן הקהל עמם. 6 Adar II, Uberlingen – בתי החסידה קדשה השם עם קדושי העיר... לכן היום בלבי נטמן ומצאתי פסוק לסימן כלך יפה רעיתי ומום אין בך השם ינקום את דמם ככתוב ונקתי דמם לא נקתי והשם שוכן בציון. This is a rare example of personal memoria, perhaps only possible within the context of this list.
World Congress - day 2 part 2 (guest post)
Avishalom Wistrich spoke about the development and mutual dependance
of two stories in b. Ketubot and b. Nid. (the relationship between
paralell traditions like this in the Bavli needs more work - AG).
Jonathan Feintuch spoke about the development of the "academic story"
from the Yerushalmi to the Bavli and tried to point out how a barbed
reply is preserved in two paralell stories, in the name of the same
sage, participating in two different polemics, according to preference
and sitz-im-leben of the sugya.
Mira Balberg (A graduate of Hebrew U, currently at Stanford) spoke
about the boundaries of the human body as viewed through the prism of
the discussions of the impurity of human rot (טומאת רקב), in Bavli and
Yerushalmi Nazir. Taking their cue from the Tosefta, which severely
limits the cases in which rot would cause impurity, the talmudim
impose several limits of their own in the same vein, all stemming from
the fact that rot causes impurity only when the human body rots all at
once with no extra elements rotting around it (such as a coffin, or
even dead skin or snot). Balberg suggested these limits may reveal the
rabbinic image of the human body and its boundaries, a question which
is also interesting for those of us who live in a world with
artificial limbs and donated kidneys.
Keshet Shoval examined the role of bread in the Rabbinic meal liturgy.
She showed a story from the yerushalmi in which the blessing before
and after eating bread is said by the same sage, forming a cogent
frame for the meal, pointed out that bread was singled out among foods
for being the center of the meal and the subject of the long blessing
after meals (and other foods which are the subject of the short
version, are similar to bread in some way). Taking her lead from W.
Robertson Smith, she pointed out that bread was "human food" in the
semitic religion, while meat was "divine food", to be shared with the
gods. The concentration on bread in many religious communities at the
time (Qumran, Early Christians and Rabbinic Jews) was to be a
replacement for sacrifices, and a casting of bread as divine food as
well (in the Christian case, just plain divine).
(This should be problematized, though, since tractate Hullin contains
many many laws regarding meat, but no meal liturgy. Bread is
therefore not a simple replacement for meat, and the meal liturgy is
not a liturgy meant to supplant the temple cult. A better explanation,
focusing on the table and not on the altar, should be found - AG).
World Congress Day 3
Arkady Kovelman – One central metaphor – the meat of the Sabbath lamb. I got here for the questions. Gail Leibovitz – lots of attention given to hotsa'ah. Can a masekhet have more than one theme? Kovelman – one core metaphor. Shana Schick – which stratum contains the metaphors? Kovelman – we pay no attention to the redaction. Ari Schick – have you tried with Yerushalmi? Kovelman – we tried and failed. Yerushalmi is very different. Avi Walfish – I've also found it more difficult, but Menachem Katz has found some literary structures.
Jane Kanarek – Flip the usual question – instead of asking how the Rabbis transform the obvious meaning of a verse, looking at how they sometimes avoid the obvious verse as prooftext and turn elsewhere. Theoretical claims – reading is ideological, and linked to religious practice, and involves choice. The Rabbis make these connections to the verse by choice. This is by no means the only way Bavli reads scripture. Example from learning shiv'a, that does not use Genesis 50:10 – 'And he performed mourning for his father for seven days'. Bavli MK 20a learns from Amos 8:10, which refers to general, public mourning. The Bavli doesn't explicitly say it is avoiding the verse, but it can't be happenstance. The Yerushalmi does learn from there, but complains that it is a pre-Sinaitic source. Five other traditions follow with sources for the mourning period. The pre-Sinaitic issue isn't a consistent problem, it's really just a vehicle for moving the sugya forward. The Bavli condenses the final stage of this Yerushalmi sugya.
The same problem arises with the thirty-day mourning period, which the Bavli learns from Nazir, and a gezerah shavah to the mourning over Nadav and Avihu, and then a gematria to supply the thirty day period. But Sifre Devarim learns the Nazir thirty day period from the explicit verses about thirty day mourning for Moshe and Aharon.
The mishnah on which this discussion is taking place is the confluence of mourning and festivals. But that is not a sufficient explanation. There are plenty of pre-rabbinic sources for seven days of mourning. This is a tool for the rabbis to demonstrate that Scripture is not what creates practice – only Rabbis do.
The Bavli uses this same verse from Amos for other laws of mourning. In contrast, in the Yerushalmi the verse is only used in the context of shiva. So this is a Babylonian trope. Jacob disappears because his case is too obvious, while using Amos creates a web of meaning that binds shiva to other rabbinic mourning practices. The Bavli is interested not only in finding a good source for the law, but to link different laws to each other.
Walfish – Chana Friedman's doctorate.
Jane is wondering about Palestinian texts in general, and whether they have a different way of creating webs of meaning. Kovelman – perhaps avoiding the obvious was a goal in itself. Jane considered literary play, that the rabbis were just having fun, but she believes that there are overarching narratives in laws. Harry Fox – Menachem Katz's paper on shrinking Yerushalmi sugyot. ES Rosenthal said that the Bavli prefers to do Midrash ha-Mishnah, and only at the end to introduce some knock-out baraita that could have solved all the problems. Walfish – comment on the comments – there are many sugyot where the Bavli expands the Yerushalmi. So we need to ask when the Bavli chooses to expand or to contract the Yerushalmi. Gila Rosen – the interplay between avelut and hagim is already in the Mishnah. And curous to hear other cases.
Jay Rovner – How can one account for the purpose of fanciful sugyot, and are there such aggadic sugyot as well? Meta-systemic concerns. Halivni thinks the anonymous argumentation is a late reconstruction of earlier amoraic discussion. Leib Moscovitz looks forward instead of backward, towards greater abstraction in later strata, an attempt to create overarching theoretical systems. Tetralemma – four items are shown to be like or unlike each other based upon two considerations. The question of whether this is serious or an aid to memorization is unclear. But they are definitely coherent.
Monday, August 03, 2009
World Congress - day two part 1
Dr Bitkha Har Shefi spoke about the section on hilkhot niddah in Likute ha-Pardes. She showed at length the radically different approach found in this work - on the one hand, an ascetic approach towards sex, and on the other, a more egalitarian one, where both man and woman have to work to make their sexual relationship a spiritual one.
Tehillah Elitsur, whose doctorate is being judged now, spoke about the responsa of R Asher ben Yehiel, the Rosh, in comparison with his Pesakim. She found a long list of hermeneutic innovations in his responsa that are not reflected in his Pesakim. She concluded (I'm summarizing) that his Pesakim, like his Tosafot, were simply meant to transmit the heritage of the Tosafists, not to provide his original thought. That appears only in his responsa. An infamous judge opined that this was simply because his responsa were actual cases rather than theoretical law, but (almost) Dr Elitsur explained that the innovations she was talking about went well beyond the needs of the specific case before the Rosh, and reflected his general reading of the sugya.
Finally, Rabin Shushtri who is writing a doctorate at Bar Ilan on Bavli Sukkah, took the HU position on the Yemenite manuscripts of Bavli Sukkah, trying to show that they are original witnesses to an Eastern textual tradition, that can sometimes explain legal positions taken by Maimonides.
World Congress - day one
Prof Mordechai Sabato discussed Mishnah Megillah 4:1. The first half of the mishnah. He showed that the tractate splits very neatly down the middle, with chapters 1-2 dealing with reading the Megillah, and chapters 3-4 dealing with reading the Torah. But the aforementioned mishnah goes back to reading the megillah. Basically, his suggestion is that it was moved there from the beginning of chapter 2 (where it appears in the Tosefta) in order to contrast with reading the Torah. That requires his slightly re-interpreting the mishnah, that it is saying the megillah can be read either standing or sitting, by one person or by more.
Menahem Katz demonstrated that, in its development of sugyot from the Yerushalmi, the Bavli will often summarize the sugya. It sounds counter-intuitive to people who are used to thinking that the Bavli is always more developed, but it makes sense.
Uri Zur read through several long sugyot in Eruvin, claiming that there were stages in the sugya that did not really make sense, but were there to allow the editors to move the sugya in a different direction.
Richard Hidary compared the sugyot about 'Lo titgodedu', the prohibition against secession, in the Bavli and Yerushalmi. Basically - the Bavli only makes sense if you read it as a point-by-point polemic against the Yerushalmi. More in his doctorate.