Date: Thu, 23 Jul 1998 21:10:03 -0400
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Russell Hendel)
Subject: RE: The Mesorah
To: Avodah@AishDas.Org, , RHendel, , AlSilberman@Juno.Com
Subject: RE: The Mesorah
I thank Al/Moshe Silberman for continuing the discussion on the Mesorah
We both agree on many points. But it baffles me why he thinks answering me
an unimportant topic to discuss. Many people never read the mesorah
The debate going on between the two of us (me and moshe) should make
people aware of the ISSUES one encounters in Mesorah. Also it makes them
aware how the texts are so fragile. Thus I invite Moshe to continue
Moshe said so many things so quickly that it becomes hard to read.
ALthough I am writing from memory let me outline 3 areas: I think we
agree in the first 2 but not the 3rd.
There are 3 major points
* SEMANTIC vs SYNTACTIC
Moshe and I both agree that MESORAHS *can* review deficient/full spellings
or study uses of a root (what I call semantic and Moshe morphology).
Thus I confess to >mixing< two Mesorahs on BIN. For indeed there
are two problems: The SPELLING of BIN and the MEANING of BIN.
So let me untangle what I created (Moshe, I am taking the blame on this
one..but we do agree THAT SOMETIMES a mesorah is semantic
and sometimes syntactic and I acknowledge that other terms are more
Moshe, Let us do the easy one first.
Consider the word pronounced BiN.
Such a word occurs (without a preceding vav) in
* all occurences of Yehoshua Bin Nun
* Dt 25,2
* The Two occurences in Jon 4:10
* Prv 23:1
* Prv 30:1
There are also two Danielic occurence which have a preceding vav (OOVin)..
(Note: Neither Moshe not I am surprised that these two are NOT in the list
..but to those just learning the Mesorah this is a normal "list rule"..
since Moshe and I are use to seeing Mesorahs we both know this)
MOSHE and I BOTH AGREE on the above list.
WE also aree that two appropriate ways of "recording this list" are
>>Prv 23:1---No other Full (spelling)<<
(Indeed Prv 23:1 is the only BiN spelled with a yud)
>Four Bin--One full; 3 deficient; and all Bin Nun like it<
For those who never saw the mesorah these are characteristic forms and
both Moshe and I agree.
Note the 3 characteristics of these mesorahs
* they are "spelling (vs semantic) lists" of
* words pronounced BIN
* the count verses (5 occurences in 4 verses)
* they list the ONE FULL spelling
This is how the mesorah preserved our text
Moshe..if I am not mistaken you and I agree on ALL that has been said
so far, both in turn of potential mesorahs, mesorah language, and
the spelling issue of BIN
* SEMANTIC BIN
I don't believe Moshe and I necessarily agree here but I do believe I
have a case.
THE Mesorah Gedolah on Prv 23,1 states
>>7 Deficient Bin<<
It then lists 7 verses (Dt 25:2, Prv 23:1, Prv 14:9, Jon 4:10, Prv 30:1,
and the two Danielic ones--just for the record...I incorrectly cited
a wrong Danielic verse in my first posting and indeed my correction
in the second posting was due to Moshe)
BUT Moshe you must I think grant me that IF we believe the text of
the Mesorah to be correct it couldn't possibly be talking about spelling.
It is rather talking about DEFICIENT VERB FORMS.
Some of the verses CLEARLY mean BN=UNDERSTANDING (Like Prv 23:1 and
the two Danielic verses)
The Baal Haturim Interprets Dt 25:2 as UNDERSTANDING
Several commentaries interpret Prv 30:1 as UNDERSTANDING.
So Moshe, of the 7 verses, we see that FIVE can be interpreted as
Perhaps NOW you see what I suggested -- that this Mesorah was SEmANTIC
As for the word DEFICIENT I interpreted this not as DEFICIENT spelling
but as DEFICIENT VERB FORMS (weak letters)
All I had to do was deal with the remaining two verses:
* So I interpreted Jon 4:10 as "built overnight"
And now that I think about it "planned overnight"
would be better (plan=understood=ByN)
* I interpreted Prv 14:9---BayN as Bin(and that took a whole
All I am doing is taking a mesorah that had 5 good out of 7 cases and
tried to see what else is needed.
I then would interpret the 7 as verses not occurences etc.
Moshe, I believe there are real issues here. Could you kindly review
this and get back to us. Perhaps you would like me to further defend
Prv 14:9...The jewish people need more Parshanuth.
Russell Jay Hendel; Phd ASA RHendel @ mcs drexel edu
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Date: Sun, 26 Jul 1998 15:48:11 -0400
Subject: Reply to Russel - Part II
Thus the above mesorah (on BN)clearly lists VERSES (not occurrences), of
the SEMANTIC unit of BN (not the syntactic unit) and is indifferent to
spelling (actually associated mesorahs discuss spelling).
H: A CHIDUSH: THE AMAZING PRV 14:9
Ah! So now we KNOW that the MESORAH *must* have considered PRV 14:9
as an example of the semantic unit ByN (even though it is spelled
I: Tabular Summary of the BIN-BEN issue--Pros/Cons
The above might appear ad hoc. To fully appreciate we recap the 7 BINS
and WHY we shouldn't translate them as Ben:
7),6),4) Prv 23:1 and the Two in Daniel--Clearly mean UNDERSTAND
Prv 30:1--AGUR ben YAKEH..but Solomon was the author and there
is no need to assume this is someone else. Also the
works AGUR(Gather), YAKEH(Vomit) have strong picturesqe
meaning. So BIN=Understanding fits in well(GATHERED
UNDERSTANDING and then REGURGITATED IT)
Dt 25:2--Attribute of "lashes" would mean "follows regulations"
(negative commandment etc)>
"BIN lashes" means -- medically examined and cleared
for lashes (Which is the Halachah)
Jon 4:10--Even if you translated it as BEN=ATTRIBUTE you still
have to elliptically add (ATTRIBUTE that it WAS MADE overnight)
Rashi simply bypasses BEN and translates it as "overnight
Prv 14:9--As indicated, the parallel-chiastic form shows we are
dealing with understanding not with the word inbetween
JOSHUA BIN NUN--Linguistically emphasizes that Prophecy requires
separation from family life and devotion to understanding
Russel follows in the footsteps of Rashi who follows the grammar of
Menachem ibn Saruq that roots can consist of two or even one letter. I
don't know whether or not Russel is familiar with the organization of the
Machberes Menachem. The machberes lists all the roots in Lashon Hakodesh
recognized by Menachem and within each root he gives the various meanings
which that root can have. This organization is exactly the same as in
current lexicons which follow the sephardi grammar of tri-literal roots.
Under both systems it is absolutely not true that "one root = one
semantical meaning". RSR Hirsch does try to make this equation but that
not the view of Menachem or Rashi or anyone else - at least for the
purposes of the masora listings.
For the root beis, nun Machberes Menachem says that it has five different
semantical meanings. There is, of course, son, attribute, understanding
building (or construction as Russel puts it). There is a fifth which is
rarely used and not germane here.
Construction and understanding are not of the same semantical meaning. If
"b'lishna" of the masora is not referring to form (Russel's claim) then
must be referring to meaning. Yet, according to Russel's statement above
there are at least two different semantical meanings encompassed within
these citations (understanding and construction). Thus, b'lishna of the
masora cannot possibly be referring to meaning.
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