Volume 11 Number 40
                       Produced: Tue Jan 25  7:26:25 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Ben Asher, Marc, and Masora.
         [Mechy Frankel]
Dikduk (Hebrew grammar)
         [Perets Mett]
Eitz HaDaas and the Eruv Rav
         [Perets Mett]
Ma'ariv before Tzeis from Vol. 10 #79 Digest
         [Perets Mett]
Sunday Tisha B'Av
         [Perets Mett]
Travelling on Shabbos
         [Perets Mett]


From: <frankel@...> (Mechy Frankel)
Date: Thu, 13 Jan 1994 15:37:47 EST
Subject: Ben Asher, Marc, and Masora.

As a sometime Baal Korei with an overfondness for chataf patachs (I
slavishly follow Koren, which intermittently occasions some amusing
scenes when I lein), I appreciated Marc Shapiro's posting in Vol 10 #99
on the Differences between Yemenite and other Sifrei Torah, (as a
completely objective observer, I also liked very much and recommend
highly the posting on same subject in Vol 10 #52 by Shlomit and Benjamin
Edinger) and would like to thank him for raising this interesting topic.
In his letter Marc asserts, inter alia, a) that Jordan Penkower has made
an "amazing discovery" which b) now allows us to "know without any
doubt" what Rambam's Sefer Torah looked like. c) that Ben Asher's text
was the "most perfect" example of what the Tiberians were trying to
achieve and that all subsequent Torah texts were attempts to recreate
this perfection, and d) when word of this scientific advance ultimately
seeps onto the playing field of poskim, the halachic consequences are
clear, they should fortwith correct all Sifrei Torah in accordance with
this new appreciation (though Marc expresses pessimism that they will
act on it).  Since I believe that not one of the above assertions is
true, I offer the following remarks, dealing with each point, seriatim.

1) First some background. The Rambam (Hilchot Sefer Torah, Ch. 8) indeed
cites the Torah text of Ben Asher, then located in Egypt and previously
in Jerusalem, as being particularly reliable ("hacol somchin alav") and
one which he, Rambam, used as a template to correct other Sifrei Torah
(not that a codex is a Torah scroll). This reliability stems from the
fact that Ben Asher - not further identified, but clearly a Masorete of
high repute - went over it and corrected it many times. (hmm - what if
he'd gone over it one more time?) More background, important for
discussion in some of the following: a) There are very early, yet
differing in important details, manuscript versions of the Rambam's
MishneTorah extant.  b) The original Keter is no longer completely

2) Unless Marc is referring to something more recent, the Penkower work
I've seen is summarized in a lengthy article "Maimonides and the Aleppo
Codex" (Textus, 1981) where Penkower does indeed make the argument that
the Aleppo Codex (or "Keter Aram Tsovah") is the very same document that
Rambam used to correct Sifrei Torah and which the Rambam attributed to
Ben Asher.

3) Penkower's discovery, or"proof", is as follows. In Hilchot Sefer
Torah, the Rambam provides a sufficient level of description in two
separate areas which allow detailed comparisons between his text and
others to be made. One area is the detailed Maimonidian list in Ch. 8 of
pesuchos and sesumos ("open" or "closed" sections, i.e. Torah sections
preceeded by a blank space starting at beginning or middle of lines),
the other is in the arrangement of the "Shira" portions (especially
parshas Ha'azinu) on the klaph (e.g. the number of lines, how to handle
the preceeding and following narrative words). Penkower provides a
demonstration that ONLY the Keter Aram Tzovah, of all available codices,
conforms uniquely to the full list and pattern of pesuchos and sesumos
as enumerated in the Mishne Torah, Ch. 8, H.4.

4) My first problem is with the assertion that Penkower has made an
amazing new discovery. As Penkower himself notes, he is only supplying
the second part of a proof already developed by an earlier researcher,
Prof. Moshe Goshen-Gottstein (GG) (Textus, 1960).  GG had already
demonstrated the unique conformance of the Keter Aram Tsovah with
Rambam's description of the Ben Asher arrangement of shirim (Textus,
1960). Thus pride of precedence (which is a blood sport, or at least a
fighting issue, in academic circles) ought be given to GG, as Penkower
himself is always careful to aknowledge.

5) To be sure, not everyone accepted G-G's proof from arrangements of
the Shira portions, but then neither is Penkower's proof free from all
objections.  a) In the most four critical points of comparison between
Ben Asher and the Rambam's list, the Keter Aram Tsovah is no longer
extant, forcing Penkower to rely on secondary (and contradictory) source
descriptions to reconstruct the original text. The potential for
scholarly dispute here is self-evident. Some detailed
examples/possibilities are provided in the following.

b)There are certain ambiguities in the Rambam's formulation of open and
closed sections due to the Rambam's custom of only listing the lead word
of each section, causing confusion when there were two similar words in
close proximity, and leading to variants in manuscripts of the Rambam's
Code. There are at least four such sections where Penkower is forced to
make choices in ancient machlokesim (e.g. between Rabainu HaMeiri and
Hagahot Maimuniot on one hand and R. Y. Karo (Keseph Mishna) on the
other, re the Rambam's original girsah concerning a section start at
Vayikra 22:7), to choose between differing manuscript versions of the
Mishne Torah, and to pick and choose between ancient Torah scrolls,
which had all been accorded a reputation for precision in antiquity yet
differ from each other. Sometimes the same source (e.g. Ramah's (R.
Aboulafia) early Torah scroll) is cited as a positive validation of a
Penkower choice or ignored when in disagreement.

c) While Penkower adduces scholarly arguments to support his choices
others may find room to differ. e.g. Penkower dismisses the Tikkun
Soferim of Cracow as a non-Ben Asher style text because he found two
spelling differences (extra "yud" or "vav") and because it contains two
different sectional arrangements.  However these sectional differences
are precisely amongst the four under dispute which Penkower is
endeavouring to prove on the basis of other manuscripts. Absent the wo
minor spelling differences (scribal error?) and we would have an
additional documentery anti-proof to Penkower's thesis. Moreover,
Penkower's assessment leaves us with no decent explanation for the
appendage of the Ben Asher colophon to this Tikkun, which naively would
indicate that SOMEBODY(s) back when thought it was a Ben Asher text.

d) I'm not knocking any of this - it seems like a fine piece of
scholarship, but I would bet my socks (o.k., your socks) that somebody
else will, or has, that being the nature of the academic enterprise and
the leave-no-random-thought-fragment-unpublished pursuit of tenure. Thus
Marc's claim of proof "beyond any doubt" is highly subjective and, it
seems to me, much too heavy a load for the evidence to bear. Again, I'm
not actually disputing Penkower's thesis, just pointing out the
potential for doing so.

5) My next problems are with Marc's repeated references to THE Tiberian
masoretic text in its most perfect form, which he identifies as the Ben
Asher text. While it is undoubtedtly true that the Ben Asher text was
and is highly revered (the Rambam's plug didn't hurt here), there was
NEVER a single perfect Tiberian masoretic text, of which Ben Asher
recorded the most precise copy - rather there were many people engaged
in the masoretic enterprise, who produced different texts which might
disagree here and there with Ben Asher, not because they didn't
"achieve" what Ben Asher did manage to achieve, or because they weren't
as "exact" or careful, but because they had a variant shita. (The Rema's
comment on Yoreh Deah 275 is highly relevant here.) The immediate
primacy of any Ben Asher version over all others was also, despite the
Rambam's clear position, not a universal given (see below).

6) The suggestion that the halachic consequences of a definite
reconstruction of the Rambam's text are clear, is also not self-evident.
While the Rambam relied on this single authoritative volume, there were,
and are, other halachic approaches, most notably the dependance on
"Rove" (majority). Thus R. Meier Abulafia in Massoret Seyag LaTorah
decided variant Pentateuchal spellings on the basis of "Rove" of
reliable (in his assessment) manuscripts. So too the Rasba in a
responsum quoted by Penkower. There is no evidence at all to indicate
that these were "bideved" psaks, fallbacks necessitated in the absence
of having the one "real thing" (i.e the Ben Asher version). On the
contrary, this approach has venerable roots, as the tradition of the
three (differing) Torah scrolls in the Bais Mikdash (Soferim 6)
providing the basis for a majority decision. In this regard the Tshuva
of the MaHari Mintz, (Simon 8) (partially quoted by the Shach in Yoreh
Deah 275) indicating that not only the Ben Asher version was considered
authentic by Halacha is particularly relevant.

7) The situation is yet further complicated if one wishes to adduce
other "modern" scholarly perspectives to the debate. e.g. Z. Ben Haim's
claim that even the Rambam didn't follow the ben Asher text for
everything, but ONLY for the pattern of pesuchos and sesumos. Of course,
you don't have to accept this notion (I don't), but it does indicate how
still muddy are the "scientific" waters. It should also be mentioned
that there are/were modern scholars who disputed the identification of
the Aleppo Codex with the Rambam's ben Asher text. Cassutto (who
travelled to Aleppo to personally examine the Codex) was one prominent
example. (Penkower dismisses Cassutto's opposition by his claim that the
mss. Cassutto relied on were defective. This is, of course, debatable.)

8) I believe that Marc's suggestion is moot in any event, since,
biavanoseinu harabim, after surviving for a millenium, the complete
Aleppo Codex is no longer extant. Any reconstruction, is just that - a
reconstruction and thus potentially fraught with all the scholarly
machlokesim endemic to that contentious class.

9) For completeness it should also be mentioned that the current
"scientific" appreciation of the Aleppo Codex as being the actual Ben
Asher text of the Rambam has in fact been the accepted kabbalah amongst
most Chachamim who have involved themselves in such matters for a very
long time now. Thus Penkower's work is not something that might be
expected to catch them as a bolt from the blue. In fact, many Chachamim
over the centuries have visited and inspected the Aleppo Codex in Aleppo
(other names - Aram Tzovah, Cheleb), e.g. In the last century R. Shmuel
Salant is supposed to have maintained custody of just such an Aleppo
corrected copy (commissioned by the Rabbaney Yerushalaim from a Sofer
sent to Aleppo) while a copy of this copy was then sent to Brisk. It is
thus not self-evident that we have achieved "that which the "Remah was
unable to achieve" It is also unclear that poskim would give greater
weight to a modern scholar's deductions than to received and venerated
traditions. Thus, in this instance, there may be no incremental value -
from a posek's perspective - to Penkower's "revelations".

10) Finally, scholarship can be a multi-edged sword, and just to muddy
the waters yet further, I will close with a hypothetical question for
Marc. What if our modern scholars "definitively prove" that Ben Asher
was a Karaite? (This is a serious question There is in fact "al mah
lismoch" strong evidence to support such an assertion). How should/would
such "scholarly" testimony be weighed against the accepted tradition
that Ben Asher was a great (jewish) sage? While some poskim might regard
this (hypothetical) datum tidbit as irrelevant, others could be expected
to take it seriously indeed, - as they have in other situations where
ne'emanus is a significant factor. Would you, by the very same
arguments, expect these poskim henceforth REJECT any ben Asher related
textual decisions in favor of variants, since the ben Asher decisions
are the tainted fruit of a poisoned tree? Might we expect an MJ posting
urging correction of Torah texts in a manner exactly opposed to the
original suggestion? Of course nobody expects any such thing to happen
but it does illustrate that in psak things are rarely black and white,
which is why we tend to leave it to the pros, while kibitzing full speed
from the sidelines.

Mechy Frankel                         W: (703) 325-1277
<frankel@...>                   H: (301) 593-3949


From: <P.Mett@...> (Perets Mett)
Date: Tue, 11 Jan 94 12:36:11 -0500
Subject: Dikduk (Hebrew grammar)

Danny Weiss wrote:

        For all you Hebrew grammar experts out there -- what is the
        correct vowelation for the name Elana (pronounced ee-lah-nah,
        accent on the lah).  In Hebrew - aleph, yud, lamed, nun, heyh.
        The aleph gets a hiriq, the nun gets a qamats. What about the
        lamed? Qamats or Patah? And does the lamed get a dagesh? This
        word/name is not quite analogous to the usual femininization of
        a masculine noun (eg, ayal to ayala) since usually the accent
        goes to the last syllable (the la in ayala), but not in Elana
        (it remains on the lamed). In fact, why does the accent stay on
        the lamed?

Are you sure it is Hebrew? Perhaps it should be spelt
        chirik aleph, komats lamed, komats nun, aleph
= tree in Aramaic. No need for a dogesh after a long chirik. And maybe the
final aleph in Aramaic does not take the stress.


From: <P.Mett@...> (Perets Mett)
Date: Tue, 11 Jan 94 12:36:11 -0500
Subject: Eitz HaDaas and the Eruv Rav

 Jack A. Abramoff <71544.2433@...> wrote:

I recently heard on a tape of a shiur that there is a Zohar which equates
the Eitz HaDaas (the Tree of Awareness of Good and Evil) with the Eruv Rav
(the mixed multitude which came out of Egypt with the Children of Israel).
Has anyone seen such a comparison, either in the Zohar or in other
medrashim?  Thanks for your assistance.

Before the chet of Odom Horishon good and bad were totally distinct. As a
result of eating the fruit of the Eits Hadaas Tov Voro good and bad became
intermingled (b'arvuvyo) so that it is often difficult to disentangle good
from bad. The Zohar (?) says that the Bney Yisro'el went into goluth to be
mesaken the chet of Odom Horishon i.e. to restore the clear distinction
between good and evil. The Eirev Rav (= arvuvyo, intermingling) represents
the extent to which this was or was not successfully achieved.


From: <P.Mett@...> (Perets Mett)
Date: Tue, 11 Jan 94 12:36:11 -0500
Subject: Ma'ariv before Tzeis from Vol. 10 #79 Digest

Susan Hornstein wrote:

4.  And here's one I have NO answers to, but REALLY want some...  What if
you end Shabbat by saying the phrase "Baruch Hamavdil bein kodesh l'chol,"
(as I frequently do, having care of a toddler) and wish to daven Ma'ariv
later in the evening (like after she's in bed).  Do you say "Ata
Chonantanu" or has it lost its significance since you've already ended
Shabbat?  What if you say "Baruch Hamavdil" and daven Ma'ariv only a
little later, but before Havdalah (like after your husband has davened
and can take care of the selfsame toddler).  Then it's still the generally
right time period, but you've still ended Shabbat another way.  Do you say
Ata Chonantanu?

The Rav's Shulchan Oruch (Hilchoth Havdolo - I forgot to note the simon)
says clearly that Ato Chonantonu must be said even if the full Havdolo over
wine jhas been made. See Shmirath shabbos K'hilchosoh (Vol 2) for further

Perets Mett


From: <P.Mett@...> (Perets Mett)
Date: Tue, 11 Jan 94 12:36:11 -0500
Subject: Sunday Tisha B'Av

Danny Skaist wrote:

        And unlike shabbat-pushed-off-till-Sunday, where havdala is made
        on 11th Av, Havdala is made on the 10th of Av, so no wine for

Where do you get this from? The source for not drinking the Havdolo wine in
the nine days is a Maharil quoted by the R'mo in Orach Chayim 554. However
the Maharil permits the drinking of Havdolo wine after T B'av (see M Bruro
556). The Oruch Hashulchan says that wine should not be used (irrespective
of whether Motsei T Bav is 10th or 11th Av) but quotes no source for his


From: <P.Mett@...> (Perets Mett)
Date: Tue, 11 Jan 94 12:36:11 -0500
Subject: Travelling on Shabbos

Jonathan Katz <frisch1@...>wrote:
        1) If the boat is moving, does this violate the prohibition against
        travel on Shobbos?
        2) Assuming the boat is anchored, are there problems with just
        being on the boat itself?

See ShO Orach Chayim 248:2 (free translation)
When it is permissible to commence  ajourney before shabbos ... this is
permitted even if the boat travels on shabbos.

There is some discussion that one should lechatchilo ask the the captain to
stop the boat for shabbos (but it doesn't matter if the request is ignored)

However if the purpose of the trip is a pleasure cruise then there is a
shaalo about emabarking late in the week.

End of Volume 11 Issue 40