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Monday, May 28, 2012

Tikkunei Soferim No Passion For Truth

Tikkunei Soferim No Passion For Truth
Mississippi Fred (What's Bothering Artscroll?) writes regarding tikkunei soferim (scribal emendations):

"The following interesting thing was brought to my attention by a friend, concerning a famous, controversial Rashi text.

Here is a translation:

"while Abraham remained standing before the Lord"

But is it not so that he [Avraham] did not go to stand before Him? Rather, it was G-d who came to him and said to him, "The wailing concerning Sedom and Amorah is so great," and it should have been written: "G-d was still standing near Avraham,"but, it is a tikkun soferim [an emendation of the Scribes) which our Sages of blessed memory reversed writing it thus.

The background: In rabbinic literature there are references to tikkunei soferim, lit. emendations of the Scribes, in the Torah text. Most of these instances concern expressions which would be disrespectful to God. So there are tikkunei soferim, which employ euphemism (kinoy hakatuv). Thus, in this case, really God was "standing" before Abhraham, but the verse has it the other way out of respect for God." (see link for full essay)

My thinking is that such scribal "emendations" are not rectifications. Rather, they are serious violations of the integrity of holy text. Perhaps Hashem humbled Himself to "stand before Avraham" precisely to give Avraham the power to work miracles of transformation (i.e., with the "humble" authority of Hashem) for Sodom and Gomorroh. The scribe who "emended" the text as described by the presented historical facts effectively sought to strip the children of Avraham of the G-d given power to act in Hashem's stead in the physical world.

Importantly, Hashem gave over this power to act in the physical world in His stead to Avraham (and to the children of Avraham subsequently) through giving the Torah over to us as it is written, e.g., "standing before Avraham". A scribe has essentially rejected the responsibility by "emending" the text to demonstrate putative "respect" for Hashem. In actuality, the scribal emendation demonstrates quite the opposite - a lack of respect for Hashem and Hashem's Torah.

technorati tags: talmud torah rashi sofrut torah judaism