Monday, December 12, 2005


Empowered, perhaps, by the Gedolim who cashiered Samson Raphael Hirsch for suggesting that evolution was possible, Yaackov Mencken has determined that the views of the RaMaH (R. Meir Ben Todros HaLevi) and Avot d’rabi Nathan are also outside the pale of official, sanitized, Orthodox belief: soon as one says that even a single word doesn’t come from G-d it is no longer a Torah philosophy.

RaMaH (R. Meir Ben Todros HaLevi) in his introduction to Masoret Seyag LaTorah:

...All the more so now that due to our sins, the following verse has been fulfilled amongst us, "Therefore, behold, I will again do a marvelous work among this people, Even a marvelous work and a wonder; And the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, And the prudence of their prudent men shall be hid"(Is. 29:14). If we seek to rely on the proofread scrolls in our possession, they are also in great disaccord. Were it not for the Masorah which serves as a fence around the Torah, almost no one would find his way in the controversies between the scrolls. Even the Masorah is not free from dispute, and there are several instances disputed [among the Masorah manuscripts], but not as many as among the scrolls. If a man wishes to write a halakhically "kosher" scroll, he will stumble on the plene and defective spellings and grope like a blind man through a fog of controversy; he will not succeed. Even if he seeks the aid of someone knowledgeable, he will not find such a one. When I, R. Meir HaLevi Ben Todros of Spain, saw what had befallen the scrolls, the Masorah lists, and the plene and defective spelling traditions, due to the ravages of time, I felt the need to search after the most precise and proofread codices and the most reliable Masoretic traditions, to resolve the conflicts. The newly-produced scrolls should be abandoned in favor of older, more faithful ones and among these the majority of texts should be followed as commanded in the Torah to decide any controversy, as it is written: "After the multitude to do..."(Ex. 23:2).

Avot d’rabi Nathan
Ezra reasoned thus: If Elijah comes and asks me 'Why have you written these words?', I shall answer 'That is why I dotted the passages'. And if Elijah says to me 'You have done well in having written these passages' then I shall erase the dots over them."