Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Why do Gutnick and ArtScroll suggest Rashi had a different Torah text?

Genesis 14:14, with Rashi
And Abram heard that his kinsman had been taken captive, and he armed his trained men, those born in his house, three hundred and eighteen, and he pursued [them] until Dan.יד. וַיִּשְׁמַע אַבְרָם כִּי נִשְׁבָּה אָחִיו וַיָּרֶק אֶת חֲנִיכָיו יְלִידֵי בֵיתוֹ שְׁמֹנָה עָשָׂר וּשְׁלֹשׁ מֵאוֹת וַיִּרְדֹּף עַד דָּן:

His trained men:  Heb. חִנִיכָיו It is written חִנִיכוֹ [in the singular], his trained man. This is Eliezer, whom he had trained to [perform the] commandments, and it [חִנִיכָיו] is an expression of the initiation (lit. the beginning of the entrance) of a person or a utensil to the craft with which he [or it] is destined to remain, and similarly (Prov. 22: 6):“Train (חִנ‏ֹ) a child ;” (Num. 7:10):“the dedication of (חֲנֻכַּת) the altar ;” (Ps. 30:1):“the dedication of of (חֲנֻכַּת) the Temple,” and in Old French it is called enseigner [to instruct, train].חניכיו: חנכו כתיב זה אליעזר שחנכו למצות והוא לשון התחלת כניסת האדם או כלי לאומנות שהוא עתיד לעמוד בה, וכן (משלי כב ו) חנוך לנער, (במדבר ז יא) חנכת המזבח, (תהלים ל א) חנכת הבית ובלע"ז קורין לו אנציניי"ר [לחנוך]:

The problem:

The verse says חֲנִיכָיו, which means "trained men". In his comment, Rashi says חנכו כתיב or "it is written his "trained man." Did Rashi have a different text? Why does he say the word is written "trained man" when its clearly "trained men?"

The answer:

There are four early editions of Rashi. The problematic text, reproduced above, appears in just two of them: Rome and Venice. The other two, including Reggio de Calbria the first printed Rashi edition, make no mention here of Eliezer, or of a variant Torah text. Instead, they give:

His trained men:  Those that he trained in the commandments....

Which variation corresponds to the original Rashi? Impossible to know. In the 200 or so years between Rashi and the Reggio de Calbria edition, words and even sentences could have been added and removed from manuscripts a dozen times over.

The question, then, is on contemporary publishers.

On Genesis 14:14  we have two different versions of Rashi's comment, one of which suggests quite strongly that Rashi used a Torah text that was different from the one we have today. For some reason, this is the version that appears in my Mikraot Gedolot, and its also used in ArtScroll's Stone edition, the Gutnick edition [which you can review here] and many others. How was this decision made? Why did so many different editorial committees choose to include a Rashi variation which so strongly suggests that the father of all commentators based himself on a different, perhaps flawed, text of the Torah?

Search for more information about Rashi mysteries at 4torah.com.

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