Volume 32 Number 49
                 Produced: Sun Jun 11  9:39:37 US/Eastern 2000

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Tikun Sofrim (3)
         [Isaac A Zlochower, Ben Z. Katz, Chaim Mateh]
Tikun Sofrim in Rashi (2)
         [Sammy Finkelman, Sammy Finkelman]


From: Isaac A Zlochower <zlochoia@...>
Date: Mon, 05 Jun 2000 23:11:21 -0400
Subject: Tikun Sofrim

Previous posters have presented various opinions on the implications of
the 18 changes in the tanach text that are listed as " tikun soferim".
I wish to add another consideration.  Even if we assume that the
midrashim that mention these "editorial changes" mean to say that Ezra
or the sages of the Great Assembly censored the text, that does not
prove that such changes actually occurred.  I can think of two instances
where the verses make perfect sense as written and there is no need to
postulate any "correction" or thought of correction.  The first section
of parshat Vayera is well understood according to the commentary of the
Rashbam wherein the first sentence is a general introduction with
details following in the rest of the section.  According to this view,
G-D is not flitting in and out of the scene; there are only the three
angels, one of whom acts as G-D's direct representative.  Now,  the
chief angel, who bears G-D's Name, announces that He is going to
investigate the situation at Sodom and its satelites with the intention
of destroying the cities if  the reports are verified.  The other angels
leave for Sodom, while Avraham, who had accompanied the angels, does not
leave but remains to plead for the cities.  Now, Avraham realizes  that
he is standing before G-D's "stand-in" but he does follow the lead of
the angels and assume that he, too, was dismissed.  The  phrase, "and
Avraham was still standing before G-D", therefore, makes perfect sense
as is.

The second instance is the phrase in Malachi (1:13), "You say, here is
this scrawny or weary animal and you blow into it.."  This phrase occurs
in the section that decries the unsuitable offerings that are made in
the new temple by the returnees from the Babylonian exile.  I have
translated "hipachtem" as coming from the same root as "vayipach b'apov
nishmat chaim", as does the Metzudot (2nd peshat).  This phrase can be
seen to reflect the practice among unscrupulous animal dealers to make a
scrawny horse (or other animal) look better for a sale by blowing air
into it through a pipe to inflate its belly.  This is still done in some
area(s) in Siberia as attested to by a Russian Jew who was learning
Malachi with me.  Malachi, in this view,  expresses indignation at such
practices in trying to pass off a sickly, half-dead animal for a
sacrafice.  Again, the verse can stand perfectly well as is.


From: Ben Z. Katz <bkatz@...>
Date: Sun, 04 Jun 2000 23:19:48 -0500
Subject: Re: Tikun Sofrim

>From: Chaim Mateh <chaimm@...>
>First of all, the commentary in my Medrash Tanchuma (Etz Yosef) quotes
>the Baal Tzeidah Laderech who says that the words Anshei Knesses Hagdola
>etc were added by a "mistaken student" and that they are not found in
>old editions of the Tanchuma.  Further quoted is the Meor Einayim who
>writes that "I have with me 2 Medrashim that are 300 years old and none
>of this is there".

	I am aware of the Etz Yosef.  However, as Dr. Moshe Bernstein
pointed out in a recent response regarding the text of rashi regarding
the tikunai soferim, it is much more likely that theologically
problemmatic words would be taken out of a manuscript rather than added.
(As an aside, I find it interesting how readily certain individuals are
to accept manuscript errors when theologically convenient, but not in
situations where the reverse is the case.)

><<  If these were only verses the Bible should have written a different way
>but didn't, why are they listed in the margins of many Bibles as masoretic
>notes with the abbreviation t"e (for tikunei ezra)?>>
>I am unfamiliar with whichever Bible you refer to.  In my Tanach, it's
>written "tikun sofrim" in the margin.

	The Bible I am refering to is the Nach Lublin, as reprinted in
the Judaica Press edition.

><<Finally, from a historical perspective, since most of the verses in
>question were changed because the originals were too anthropomorphic, if
>most of the verses currently read well without anthropomorphisms, why
>should anyone be interested in a tradition that the
>verses really should have been more anthropomorphic but were changed?>>
>You're asking why G-d wrote (or rather had Moshe, Neviim, AKH write)
>words not with their straightforward meaning, but rather to contain
>hidden things and drash.  It's like asking why did G-d write "eye for an
>eye" when He could have written "monetary compensation for the poked out

	You misunderstood my point.  When the Torah states "an eye for
an eye" the difficulty is obvious - did the Torah mean it literally or
is the Torah trying to say that one who puts out someone else's eye
deserves to have his eye put out, but that we will only charge him the
monetary equivalent.  With all or most of the tikunai soferim, however,
THE VERSES ARE FINE AS THEY ARE so why is there a theologically
problemmatic midrash about what the verses should have read (it would be
as if the Torah stated to pay monetary compensation for damages but we
had a midrash that told us that the Torah originally wrote an eye for an
eye, but that it was changed).

Ben Zion Katz
Children's Memorial Hospital, Division of Infectious Diseases
2300 Children's Plaza, Box # 20, Chicago, IL 60614
Ph 773-880-4187, Fax 773-880-8226

From: Chaim Mateh <chaimm@...>
Date: Mon, 05 Jun 2000 22:56:21 +0300
Subject: Re: Tikun Sofrim

In vol 32 #44, Joseph Tabory <taborj@...> wrote
<<The "frum" explanation is that the "corrections of the sofrim" were
actually done by G-d in the original edition of the Torah and are called
"corrections of the sofrim" only because "corrections" of this nature were
commonly done by scribes.>>

By "frum" I presume you mean to the Rashba, Sifsei Chachamim, Minchas Shai,
various commentaries on the Medrash, and other commentaries?!

<< The more reasonable explanation is that the scribes actually changed the
text of the Torah. >>

Huh?  Exactly who gives these more "reasonable" explanations?  Do you mean
to say that the Rashba et al give _unreasonable_ explanations?

<<The reason that this explanation is more reasonable, especially in this
context, is that the whole purpose of the passage is to show the modesty or
humility of G-d.   It would be strange to think that He changed the text to
hide His humility.>>

Lots of passages in the Torah seem to us, at first glance, to be "strange".
 Comes along the commentaries, be they the Talmud, Rishonim, or Achronim,
and shed light on the topic and tell us the real meaning of the "strange"

<< It is much more reasonable that He wrote in the Torah that He stood
before Abraham to teach us a lesson in humility. However, the scribes
thought it more important to protect the honor of G-d and so they changed
the text.>>

WADR the "classic" explanation of what Tikun Sofrim is (i.e., _not_ changed
by Chazal), is put forward by the majority of commentaries. 

Kol Tuv,


From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Sun, 03 Jun 00 22:47:00 -0400
Subject: Tikun Sofrim in Rashi

From: Chaim Mateh <chaimm@...>
Moshe Rudner <mosherudner@...> wrote:
<< when the angels leave Avraham (Genesis 18:22), G-d is still there
being as he had not yet left since "Vayera", but the Passuk says that
Avraham still stood before G-d. Rashi explains that "Tikun Sofrim Hu Ze"
to say the more respectable, "And Abraham was still standing before G-d"
rather than the reverse In some editions, Rashi goes on to say, "Asher
Hufchuhu Zichronam LiVracha Lichtov Ken" which seems to very clearly say
that Chazal changed the actual text.>>

CM> In all the different Chumashim that I checked, the words "Asher
CM> Hufchuhu Z"L Lichtov Ken" are in parenthesis, which means that
CM> whether they are really Rashi's words, is suspect.  The source for
CM> this Rashi is Medrash: either Bereishis Rabbah 49:7 or Shmoss Rabbah
CM> 41:4. In both Medrashim, no explanation of "tikun sofrim" is given.

CM> Does any Rashi expert (Russel?) have an old or accurate Rashi
CM> wherein the above words are yes or not in parentheses?

One of the best places to look for an explanation of Rashi is the
translation and commentary by Rabbi A.M. Silbermann in collaboration
with Rosenbaum (originally published I think in 1934 and still in print)

It is extremely good. To give just one example it explains that the
interpretation of Balaaz as an abbrevaitaion standing from Bih (in)
Lashon Am Zor) is a mistake. Lo'ez is a simple Hebrew word that we
actually should be a bit familiar with since we say it near the start
of Hallel and it means a foreign tongue.

Now in Gen 18:22 they also that in parenthesis in the Hebrew text. They
have one of their many notes by the english translation.

Note 3 to page 74 says:

"This term signifies "an emendation or improvement made by the Scribes"
and has reference to certain words found in the Hebrew text of the Bible
where it is believed that a phrase or word which would offend against
the dignity of God and has been replaced by an improved expression. Such
a case occurs here as is explained by Rashi. Another occurs in I Samuel
III 3 where instead of the words "they curse Me (God)" the text has it
"they curse themselves".

There are  two main lines of explaination of this term. (1) That the
original writer, the Scribe, intentionally avoiding writing the
offensive expression substituted another for it and (2) that the
original text actually contained the words to which objection was taken
and that the  Scribes, the early authorities who settled the text of
the Bible (one passage says that it was Ezra who was responsible for
these emendations) removed them., replacing them by others that could
not be regarded as blasphemous. Rashi's own view may be gathered from
his comment on Job XXXII. 3. (In Hebrew letters: Zeh achad min hamikras
stiknu sofrim es lashon hakasuv)

The number of such Tikkene Soferim varies in the Rabbinical and
Massoretic passages where they are enumerated. Some lists contain
eleven, otheres eighteen, one of the latter having an "improved" word
for one that would refer to Moses in a disparaging manner , the other
seventeen having reference to God."

My comment: We need to look up these references. This seems contrrary
to what we were taught, and it doesn't sound right because in case in
the Tokhakkha where they felt like this they changed the way a word was
READ but not how it was written. They created a Krii and Kisuv. Also you
find Onkelos changing the transaltion but no change in the text. And in
other places where somebody wanted to indicate somethinbg you have dots,
but no alteration in the text.

However this is attributed to the Sofrim. This means well before Hillel.
One question could be were the people who supposed that there had been
such changes correct. Were they relying on knowledge or just supposing
that? And even if they had a tradition are all their examples correct?
I don't see any problem at all in Genesis 19:22 that I should think it
originally was written differently.

The word Tiknu is related to Takanah, which means a repair a reform or

Even supposing this happened, you would have to further suppose that
during the eighty year period before the destruction of Second Beis
Hamikdosh, which was the period - sometime in that period - when a
correct text of the all the books in Tanach was produced and the
question of whether somethinbg belonged or not was debated, they would
not have gone back to the original text if they knew it. But perhaps it
was only checked against the best Torah they had and the Torahs in the
Temple already had these changes. But would it not then be better known
and would the Rambam write what he did in his commentary on the Mishnah
where he is also quoting Sanhedrin 99a and the Yerushalmi Sanhedrin
10:1. However the Gemorah in Sanhedrin of a single WORD, like Maimonides
does, but of a VERSE (Posuk) The Baraissehs use various examples of when
a person is maintaining that the Torah is not from heavan that if he
maintains even this he is doing that but never about a single word. So
perhaps these extremely minor changes (which do not alter a gezareh
shoveh, a Kal vechomerr or any point of Halachah could have been made
by the Sofrim and according to Silbermann Rashi seems to believe this.
(what does the word dikduk in the Braissah mean?)

So perhaps this is all consistent especially if we KNOW what the changes

From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Sun, 04 Jun 00 12:34:00 -0400
Subject: Re: Tikun Sofrim in Rashi

-> CM> In all the different Chumashim that I checked, the words "Asher
-> CM> Hufchuhu Z"L Lichtov Ken" are in parenthesis, which means that
-> CM> whether they are really Rashi's words, is suspect.

But the words "elah tiknu sofriom hu zeh" are not in parenthesis. What
is in parentheis (or omitted sometimes) is that this comes from
bereishis Rabbah and the explanation of what the words tiknu sofrim

It should be understood here that "sofrim" are not just any Torah
writers but a particular group of people, starting from around the time
of Ezra and maybe including Ezra himself. They were the ones who taight
the Torah, but they were not Cohanim or most of them would not have
been and they needed a word for them.

The Sifsai Chachamim has a note about this Rashio and it is included
also in the Ikur Shifsei Chachamoimn. And there he says "Chalilah" that
they added one letter to the Torah - that was not the intention but he
wanted to say "Tiknu Sofrim" - but rather they examined this and found
places where the main intent of what is written is the opposite of what
it looks like. So, according to this interpretation, it was always this
way and what the Sofrim did was compile a list and teach about these

And I suppose this could be settled by looking at the Samariitan version
of the Torah., although somneone could say if they are identical in the
passages listed that maybe they used those changes too.


End of Volume 32 Issue 49