Avodah Mailing List

Volume 35: Number 143

Sun, 24 Dec 2017

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: Rabbi Meir G. Rabi
Date: Sun, 24 Dec 2017 11:49:35 +1100
[Avodah] Did the Patriarchs Speak Hebrew?

Speak means communication, there were 10 communications with which HKBH
created the universe

There were 10 communications broadcast at Har Sinai - I'm pretty sure it
wasn't Polish or Hungarian.

The Rishonim argue about the nature of prophesy, is it an actual voice
(meaning stimulation of the human hearing facility of the ear - not
necessarily stimulated by an actual sound) or just a voice in the head but
TTBOMKnowledge, none question the language. Anyway, does it make any
difference? Either way the brain is receiving a signal.

Perhaps the type of language is irrelevant, what's important is that the
message is received and understood. That the parties are connected.

I have seen, but could not re-find a comment by the MaOr VeShemesh (I think
connected to Ish Mitzi  HiTzilanu) that Yidden spoke Mitzi, and the meaning
of Lo Shinu LeShonom is that they spoke with a Yiddishe style, with dignity
and kindness - and this is what set us apart. Clearly a Derasha designed to
direct the listeners and readers towards a more dignified language, but at
the same time reflecting an ultimate truth, the language does not make the
man, it's the style that's important.

I also recall hearing is a RaMBaN or a Siforno - a child exposed from birth
to no external language inputs, would naturally speak Lashon HaKodesh. This
seems to be a fairly old consideration amongst philosophers, see
Frederick's Experiment, and Gong Mahal.

HKBH looked into the Torah and created the universe, speaks volumes about
the centrality of Torah, not about it's language, although it's not easy
separating the two.
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Message: 2
From: David Riceman
Date: Sat, 23 Dec 2017 19:53:36 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Did the Patriarchs Speak Hebrew?

See Melachim 2 18:26

[Email #2. -micha]

And see Gen. 31:47

Sent from my iPad

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Message: 3
From: Zev Sero
Date: Sat, 23 Dec 2017 22:46:46 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Midrash Tanchuma

On 23/12/17 16:33, Ben Bradley via Avodah wrote:

> It was printed in 5645, ie 1885, by one Shlomo Buber (Bober?) in Lvov 
> from manuscripts acquired from Oxford and the Vatican.
> I must admit I'd never paid much attention to these details until now, 
> but It's just come to my attention that it my copy is hugely different 
> to the standard one.

Yes, the Buber Tanchuma is a different sefer from the standard Tanchuma. 
  Citations to "Tanchuma" stam refer to the old edition, while ones to 
this edition are given as "Tanchuma (Buber)".

Buber claimed that he had found the original version, and that the one 
published in the 16th century is a much later one.  Not everyone was 

There was also something the rishonim called "Medrash Yelamdeinu", which 
   may have been a third version which is now lost, or may simply have 
been the name by which they referred to one or the other of these two 


Zev Sero                May 2017, with its *nine* days of Chanukah,
z...@sero.name           be a brilliant year for us all

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Message: 4
From: Akiva Miller
Date: Sat, 23 Dec 2017 21:39:15 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Did the Patriarchs Speak Hebrew?


R' Seth Mandel wrote:
> There is no proof that anyone spoke Hebrew.

and R' Zev Sero responded:
> Rashi Bereshis 2:23

That Rashi does not mention Hebrew. What Rashi says there is that the
olam was created via "Lashon Hakodesh".

"Lashon Hakodesh" may or may not be the same thing as what we refer to
as "Hebrew". One cannot discuss this topic meaningfully unless he is
careful to make this distinction.

For a very in-depth (yet also readable and in English) treatment of
these and related topics, I recommend "Lashon Hakodesh - History,
Holiness, & Hebrew" by Rabbi Reuven Chaim Klein.

Akiva Miller

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Message: 5
From: H Lampel
Date: Sun, 24 Dec 2017 00:41:29 -0500
[Avodah] Historicity of Aggadta

Under the subject line of Re: [Avodah] Did the Patriarchs Speak Hebrew?, 
RSM raises a claim that RMB and I have argued over in the past. He writes,

> Medrashim of Chazal teaches us important ideas, but are not meant to
> be literally true. They do not intend to be a historical document,
> but rather contain important moral and ethical teachings which are
> 'emes in the spiritual sense.
> ... if you understand
> what the Rambam says in his introduction to Chapter 10 of Mas. Sanhedrin
> regarding three approaches to what Chazal say
But the Rambam also writes there:

    And? I will yet compose a work in which I will gather all the
    drashos found in the Talmud and elsewhere...and I will reveal what
    of the drashos are [meant in] a literal way, and which of them are
    [meant as] mashal, and which of them were [describing something seen
    only] in a dream but was stated in a purely absolute way, as if it
    were [experienced] in a state of wakefulness...

So, the Rambam does not maintain that the literal meaning of? /all/ 
drashos is to be rejected. Some are indeed meant literally, and some are 

(The Rambam never wrote this work. As he explains in Moreh Nevuchim, 
since much of it would be dealing with the meaning of drashos whose 
meanings were valuable lessons too precious to be shared with those who 
would not appreciate them appropriately, he would be forced to merely 
substitute the drashos' figurative expressions with his own figurative 
expressions. But in several works he does provide the key that they are 
not meant literally when the literal meaning would contradict realia, 
logic, fundamentals or pesukim.)

His son Avraham, in his maamer on Drashos Chazal writes similarly 
regarding the maasiyos reported in the Talmud.

R. Yehuda HaLevy (1:68) understood the midrashic maasiyos attributing 
the Hebrew language to the patriarchs as a historic reality that carried 
an important lesson, and considered the Torah as presenting evidence 

    According to tradition it is the language in which G-d spoke to Adam
    and Eve, and in which the latter conversed. It is proved by the
    derivation of Adam from /adamah/, /ishshah/ from /ish/;
    /Chava/__from Chay; /Cain/ from /Kannisi/; /Shes/ from /shas/, and
    Noach from /yenachamenu/. This is supported by the evidence of the
    Torah. The whole is traced back to Eber, Noach and Adam. It is the
    language of Eber after whom it was called /Hebrew/, because after
    the confusion of tongues it was he who retained it. Abraham was an
    Aramaean of /Ur Kasdim/, because the language of the Chaldaeans was
    Aramaic. He employed Hebrew as a specially holy language andAramaic
    for everyday use. ..

Zvi Lampel

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Message: 6
From: Simi Peters
Date: Sun, 24 Dec 2017 13:05:02 +0200
[Avodah] tanhuma buber

Your edition of Tanhuma is indeed vastly different from the standard printed
edition.  It was published by Buber from a Cairo Geniza manuscript (or
possibly several manuscripts-not sure about the details.)  There is some
overlap, but there is a lot of material in Tanhuma Buber that does not
appear in the standard editions and vice versa.  It's good to have both.
Unless you're interested in trying to reconstruct an ur-edition of Tanhuma,
you can just treat them as separate works and mine each for its interesting


Kol tuv,

Simi Peters

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