Sunday, May 09, 2010

Is it kefira to say that material was added to the Torah after Moshe?

Is it kefira to say that material was added to the Torah after Moshe?

Short answer: No.
Long answer, from Lurker in 2007
LF: Not all of Deut was written by Moses according to the tradition.
ed: The only possible exclusion is the last 8 pesukim.

Well, maybe it's the only possible exclusion in your opinion. But the Ibn Ezra clearly does not agree with you: He says that there are plenty of other passages in the Torah that weren't written by Moshe.

A well-known beraita in Bava Batra 15a cites the opinion of R. Yehuda (or R. Nechemia) that the last 8 verses in the Torah were written by Yehoshua. This, of course, is consistent with your statement. But while this gemara speaks only of the last 8 verses, it thereby establishes a tremendous principle, which the IE picks up on: If R. Yehuda can say that there exist some verses in the Torah weren't written by Moshe, then clearly, it is not kefira to suggest that there are parts of the Torah that were written later, by people other than Moshe. And if that's the case, then there's no reason why we need to limit ourselves to the last 8 verses, should it happen to appear that there are additional parts of the Torah that were also authored at a later date. And that's exactly what the IE does: Even though the gemara only says that Yehoshua wrote the last 8, the IE felt that it made no sense for Moshe to have written the 4 verses prior to those, either: So in Devarim 34:1, the IE states quite bluntly, "In my opinion, it is starting from this verse [as opposed to 34:5] that Yehoshua authored." Once the gemara had established the precedent that Yehoshua wrote 8 verses in the Torah, the IE had no qualms about expanding that number to 12 on his own.

Now, you might assume that the IE limited himself to assuming that these verses were written immediately after Moshe's death. But in fact, he goes on to say that Yehoshua edited in 34:6 ("and nobody knows [the location of] his grave until this day") only toward the end of Yehoshua's own life -- which was decades later.

You might also assume that the IE limited his ideas of later authorship to those verses at the very end of the Torah, but that he didn't dare to question the notion that all the rest of the Torah was written entirely by Moshe. You would be mistaken, however: In his commentary to Devarim 1:2, where the IE again refers to the later authorship of 34:1-12, he also cites 5 other passages in the Torah that he believes couldn't possibly have been written by Moshe, but must have been added at a later date:

* Devarim 1:1. "These are the words that Moshe spoke... on the other side of the Jordan"

* Devarim 31:22. "Moshe wrote this song on that day..." (R. Chavel, in his commentary, says that the IE actually means that the entire parsha was authored later, not just verse 22)

* Bereishit 12:6. "...and the Canaanites were then in the land"

* Bereishit 22:14. " it is said in these days, 'in the mountain where God is seen'"

* Devarim 3:11. "...behold, his [Og king of Bashan] bed was a bed of iron; is it not [present in] in Rabbat B'nei Ammon?"

In other words, the IE believed that the opinion of R. Yehuda in Bava Batra opened the door to a critical examination of all the rest of the Torah. Obviously, he did not regard it as kefira to suggest that parts of the Torah were edited into the text by later redactors.

And if a gadol like the IE didn't think that such an idea was kefira, then it would be the height of presumptuousness for us to declare that it is.

I'll have much more to say about this tomorrow, I think

Search for more information about things that make Ayatollah Kramer see red at

No comments: