(note: transliterations are in adapted Michigan-Clairmont encoding, seehttp://www.torahcodes.co.il/michigan_clairmont.htm)
“In one they found it written….in two they found it written…”
The variety of Torah texts
A Torah scroll in which a single letter is missing or extra is invalid (Maimonides, Laws of a Torah Scroll, chapter 10, halacha 1), as we wrote inPamphlet 9 (see there). In the Zohar it is written (part two, Mishpatim, fol. 124a), “The whole Torah is the name of the holy One, blessed be He, and one who learns it is as one who learns the name of the holy One, blessed be He, because the entire Torah is the name of the holy One, blessed be He, His highest name — the name which includes all names — and if one removes a single letter from it, it is as though he had damaged His name, may it be praised;” this is also brought in the introduction to the Minchat Shai, see there.
Thus wrote Nachmanides (in his introduction to the book of Genesis): “We have a true tradition that the whole Torah is the names of G-d…therefore a Torah scroll in which there is an error of a single letter extra or missing is invalid, for this is the issue which requires us to invalidate a Torah scroll in which a single vav of the word AWTM (otam) — which is spelled 39 times plene in the Torah — is missing.” Nachmanides said two important things here: first, that an error of a single letter invalidates an entire scroll, and second, that in the matter of errors there is no difference between a missing letter or an extra letter — either will invalidate a scroll — and he explicitly mentioned the tradition about the letter vav in AWTM. Further on we will return to the issue of AWTM and see wondrous things.
Therefore most religious people do indeed believe, with an innocent faith, that the Torah text which we have is the text which Moses received on Mount Sinai. A singular and unique text which has been passed down from generation to generation without change, without the addition or deletion of a single letter, G-d forbid — for a change would have invalidated the scroll, as our great Rishonim said. (But the most meticulous admit that there is a minor difference in the number of letters between our scrolls and those of the Yemenite community.)
But we will prove, with proofs most clear, that all this has no base in reality at all! We will see explicitly that we don’t possess a monolithic Torah text, and that differences between the texts are not of a letter or two, but of dozens and hundreds of letters! (We have already explained in Pamphlet 9 that the Torah scrolls’ script was entirely changed, that the letters’ form was altered through the generations, and that many letters were omitted from the Torah scroll which Ezra brought with him. This our essay should be considered as continuation of what we wrote in Pamphlet 9.) Moreover, we will bring the words of the Babylonian and Jerusalem Talmuds, words of the midrashim and the Zohar, and we will see that the Torah scrolls the Tanaaim and Amoraim had before them were different from the texts we have. If we say that the text Chazal had was the true text given to Moses at Sinai, we are forced to say that the text we have is not, and all our Torah scrolls must be considered invalid!
Now we will present to you, the student who demands truth, the editions of the Torah which we have in print. There are three. Pay attention and see that all these texts are edited and meticulously proofread from dozens of Torah scrolls on parchment, from our generation and from previous ones.
The first Torah text is the Koren edition, proofread by D. Goldschmidt, A. M. Haberman, and M. Modan (hereafter: Koren). It is said there: “The proofreading of this edition was done most carefully and through thorough examination, as much as is humanly possible, based on the opinion of the Masorah, the grammarians, and the commentators, and based upon what is found in the majority of manuscripts and printed editions considered to be reliable. It was not a blind copy of this or that printed edition or manuscript.” This is the version most common in the Halachic world, and it is found on D.B.S’s Jewish sources CD. Those who leap and skip about in Torah codes do their tricks on this text.
The second Torah text: The Adi edition of the Hebrew Bible is based on an ancient Masoretic codex known as the Leningrad manuscript (hereafter: Leningrad). It was written about a thousand years ago, in 1008 CE, and the whole of it has been preserved. The Adi edition of Leningrad was proofread by Aaron Dotan, and it is the version used in the Bar Ilan University’s Responsa Project CD. (It is also the version given to IDF soldiers at their oath-of-allegiance ceremony.)
The third Torah text: The Mosad HaRav Kook’s edition of the Hebrew Bible, proofread by R’ Mordechai Breuer (hereafter: Breuer). In “Daat Miqrah” (The text and its sources, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers) he wrote: “The text…in this edition was proofread based on the Leningrad manuscript B19a, the Sasson manuscript 507, the Sasson manuscript 1053, and the Venice edition of Miqraot Gedolot, 5284-5286 [1524-1526 CE]. In cases of disagreement between the sources, a decision was made based on the Masorah (of the Ramah or of the Minchat Shai) or according to the majority text as in Leningrad, Sasson 507, Sasson 1053, and Miqraot Gedolot.” And in a note he added: “In… cases a decision was made based on the ktiv tradition of the Yemenite community.” About the text of this edition it has been written: “..the final outcome of this comparative procedure is a printed text almost completely identical with Codex A [Keter Aram Sova] and the Yemenite tradition” (Emanuel Tov, “Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible”).
One who wishes to expand his knowledge on this matter of the Torah texts should read the wonderful summary by Prof. Menachem Cohen in his introduction to the new “Miqraot Gedolot — Keter” edition (the Joshua/Judges volume). (Anyone who sends a request to us at P.O. Box 39425, Tel Aviv, 61393 will be mailed a summary of the essay.)
We have spared no effort; we have compared these three texts word by word, letter by letter. Be astonished, O, Heavens, and marvel, Earth, we have found no less than 105 differences between the texts! These are texts which were proofread and checked against Torah scrolls throughout the world, against manuscripts and the Masorah books of the Ramah and of the Minchat Shai! Go figure the number of differences between the scrolls which were used by the proofreaders, if after all their efforts there were still 105 letter-differences! Each and every one of these differences invalidates the entire Torah scroll!
Below we present you, the student who investigates and examines, with a table of the main differences between the three texts of the Torah.
(identical to the Yemenite “Taj” text)
|Notes & Comments|
|MN$WA||MN$A||MN$A||Koren differs from Leningrad and Breuer|
|Genesis 7:11||M@YNWT||M@YNT||M@YNT||Koren differs from Leningrad and Breuer|
|Genesis 9:29||WYHY||WYHYW||WYHYW||Koren differs from Leningrad and Breuer|
|Genesis 13:8||WBYNK||WBYNYK||WBYNK||WBYNK (Rashi 16:5)|
|Exodus 25:22||ARWN||ARN||ARWN||ARN (Zohar Shelach-lecha 157) “ARN is written defective, without a vav, in every place”|
|Exodus 25:31||TY@$H||T@$H||T@$H||Koren differs rom Leningrad and Breuer|
|Exodus 28:26||HAPWD||HAPD||HAPWD||Koren differs from Leningrad and Breuer|
|Exodus 37:3||+B@T||+B@WT||+B@T||(+B@T 3)|
|Exodus 39:35||ARWN||ARN||ARWN||ARN (Zohar Shelach-lecha 157) “ARN is written defective, without a vav, in every place”|
|Numbers 1:17||B$MWT||B$MT||B$MT||Koren differs from Leningrad and Breuer|
|Numbers 10:10||XD$KM||XD$KM||XD$YKM||Koren and Leningrad differ from Breuer|
|Numbers 11:29||ATM||AWTM||ATM||See Nachmanides in the introduction to Genesis “39 times plene in the Torah”|
|Numbers 22:5||B@WR||B@WR||B@R||Koren and Leningrad differ from Breuer|
|Deuteronomy 1:15||AWTM||ATM||AWTM||See Nachmanides in the introduction to Genesis “39 times plene in the Torah”|
|Deuteronomy 6:9||MZZWT||MZWZT||MZZWT||MZWZT (Rashi: It is written MZWZT for you need only one) (Notice that this word is one of the parshiyot found in the tefillin and mezuzot, in which a single letter invalidates)|
|Deuteronomy 23:2||DKH||DKA||DKA||Koren differs from Leningrad and Breuer (this is “the difference in the scrolls of the Yemenites” which all admit to)|
If you look at the table, you who fearlessly demand the truth, you will see that the text “closest” to the text of the parchment scrolls (read in the synagogue) is the Koren. There are several letter differences between this text and the Breuer text, but between the Koren and Leningrad text there are some 100 differences! The Leningrad codex is a full text of the Hebrew Bible that was written about a thousand years ago. We should also say that the text of thetikkun soferim [the text used by scribes when writing Torah scrolls], called by scribes the Davidovitch tikkun, is almost exactly the Koren text. This is the basis upon which most contemporary Torah scrolls are written.
In short, most contemporary Torah scrolls use the Koren text, and those who read from them Mondays, Thursdays, and on Shabbat will innocently think that they are reading the exact text given to Moses at Sinai.
See something terrible. If we check the Koren text against explicit gemaras, midrashim, and the Zohar, we will immediately see that the text we now have is not at all the text that the Tanaaim and Amoraim used!
In the table below we will list spellings, based on midrashim, the Talmud, and the Zohar, which do not match our Torah scrolls at all. We will easily find that the letter sequence of the Torah which was before the writer of the Zohar, for example, was different from ours (as proven many times in the table) as was the Torah of the Tanaaim, Amoraim, and authors of the midrashim.
Not only that, but every instance of defective or plene spelling is interpreted to explicitly justify the text they had, different from the text we have! We will bring a single example (Zohar, part three, Acharei Mot, fol. 57b): “Theyud in the word Pinchas [PNXS] was given only after Pinchas was zealous for G-d’s sake.” This happened only in Numbers 25:10, so according to the Zohar the word “Pinchas” in Exodus 6:25 should be defective, but in our text it is plene, with the yud!
Recall the word AWTM, mentioned by Nachmanides (see above). In the table you can see that there are differences between the texts even regarding the word AWTM. Thought we do find that each text has 39 instances of AWTM spelled plene, these words are in different places in the text, and it seems clear that in order to reconcile the text with the Masorah, each scribe decided on his own where to plant the instances of plene AWTM.
There are dozens more such differences in letters and words; look at the table and see fearful and amazing things.
|Koren text||Talmud, Midrashim, and Zohar||Rishonim and Achronim|
|Genesis 42:4||BNYMYN||BNYMN (Sotah 36b)|
|Genesis 43:14||BNYMYN||BNYMN (Sotah 36b)|
|Genesis 43:16||BNYMYN||BNYMN (Sotah 36b)||Trumat HaDashan part 2, paragraph 236 and the Masorah which says there are 17 plene BNYMYN in the Tanach, but the Koren text has only 12|
|Genesis 43:29||BNYMYN||BNYMN (Sotah 36b)|
|Genesis 45:12||BNYMYN||BNYMN (Sotah 36b)|
|Genesis 49:27||BNYMYN||BNYMN (Sotah 36b)|
|Genesis 25:6||HPYLG$YM||HPYLG$M(Bereshit Rabbah 61)|
|Deuteronomy 11:18||L+W+PT||L+W+PWT(Menachot 34b)||L++PT (Tosfot on Sanhedrin 4b, see the Minchat Shai)|
|Leviticus 4:34||QRNT||QRNWT (Sanhedrin 4a)|
|Leviticus 15:10||WHNW$A||WHN$A (Niddah 33a)||See the Tosfot, s.v.v’hanose ktiv: “Without avav. It is puzzling, because in the Masorah it is plene; we find that the Masorah disagrees with the Shas.”|
|Numbers 7:1||KLWT||KLT (Bamidbar Rabbah 12; Zohar part two on Shmot 5)|
|Deuteronomy 1:13||WA$YMM||WA$MM (Yalkut Shimoni on the portion of Dvarim)|
|Genesis 25:23||GYYM||GWYM (Berachot 57b)|
|Deuteronomy 22:2||ATW||AWTW (Zohar Chukat 184a) see the responsa of the Ridbaz 4:101|
|Numbers 21:34||ATW||AWTW (Zohar Chukat 184a)|
|Numbers 21:35||BNYW||BNW (Zohar part three on Chukat, 184b)|
|Numbers 15:38||LDRTM||LDWRWTM (Zohar addition, part three, 372)|
|Exodus 26:33||ARWN||ARN (Zohar on Shelach-Lecha 157) “ARN is written defective without avav in every instance”|
|Exodus 26:34||ARWN||ARN (Zohar on Shelach-Lecha 157) “ARN is written defective without avav in every instance”|
|Exodus 30:26||ARWN||ARN (Zohar on Shelach-Lecha 157) “ARN is written defective without avav in every instance”|
|Exodus 40:3||ARWN||ARN (Zohar on Shelach-Lecha 157) “ARN is written defective without avav in every instance”|
|Exodus 40:5||ARWN||ARN (Zohar on Shelach-Lecha 157) “ARN is written defective without avav in every instance”|
|Exodus 40:21||ARWN||ARN (Zohar on Shelach-Lecha 157) “ARN is written defective without avav in every instance”|
|Deuteronomy 10:8||ARWN||ARN (Zohar on Shelach-Lecha 157) “ARN is written defective without avav in every instance”|
|Deuteronomy 31:9||ARWN||ARN (Zohar on Shelach-Lecha 157) “ARN is written defective without avav in every instance”|
|Deuteronomy 31:25||ARWN||ARN (Zohar on Shelach-Lecha 157) “ARN is written defective without avav in every instance”|
|Deuteronomy 31:26||ARWN||ARN (Zohar on Shelach-Lecha 157) “ARN is written defective without avav in every instance”|
|Genesis 13:7||RYB||RB (Zohar on Lech-Lecha 84)|
|Exodus 14:7||KLW||KLH (Zohar Chadash Shir HaShirim, essayl’susti brachavey Paroh)|
|Exodus 23:15||MCWT||MCT (Zohar part two 182/2 DBS disc)|
|Numbers 9:11||MCWT||MCT (Zohar on Bo 41b)|
|Numbers 24:2||@YNYW||@YNW (Zohar part three 202b)|
|Exodus 6:25||PYNXS||PNXS (Zohar part three 57b)|
|Deuteronomy 6:8||YDK||YDKH (Zohar part three 269a)|
|Genesis 7:8||+HRH||+HWRH (Pesachim 3a)||See Rashi and Rabbeynu Chananel|
|Exodus 15:11||@$H||@W$H (Mechilta D’Rabi Ishmael Beshalach 8)|
|Deuteronomy 6:20||ATKM||AWTNW(Yerushalmi Pesachim chapter 10, halacha fourand Mechilta D’Rabi Ishmael Bo)||See the responsa Tzitz Eliezer part nine, paragraph 17, chapter 10|
|Genesis 49:11||$YLH||$LH (Medrash Rabbah Eichah, parasha one, piska 51)|
|Genesis 13:3||LMS@YW||LMS@W (Zohar Lech-Lecha 83b)|
|Leviticus 7:12||XLWT MCWT||XLT MCT (Zohar Vayikra 12b)|
|Exodus 20:2||HWCATYK||HWCATK(Yerushalmi Succah chapter four, halacha three)|
|Deuteronomy 23:26||KY||VKY (Yereaim paragraph 214)|
|Deuteronomy 22:15||HN@R||HN@RH (Maimonides, Laws of a Virgin Girl 3:2)|
|Leviticus 25:30||LA||LWA (Rashi, Erchin 32a)|
|Exodus 25:22||AT||VAT (Rashi, Ibn Ezra, Chezkuni)|
Anyone who has eyes to see will immediately recognize that it is not possible for the Torah scrolls of Chazal, of the Zohar, and even of the Rishonim to be the text we now possess. And since it is not possible, G-d forbid, that the text which Chazal, the heavenly Tanna, the author of the Zohar, or the authors of the midrashim and the great Rishonim had was a text “not from Sinai,” we are forced to admit that our text is that which is “not from Sinai,” with all that it implies.
Incidentally, we will mention that any, who see the many distortions which occurred over the generations, will immediately understand that all the nonsense about Torah codes (a common phenomenon in this computer age) have no hold on or proof of the original Torah text. See for yourself: one who works codes according to the Leningrad text or the Zohar text or according to the text used in the Talmud and the midrashim will find, in each text, different results for the skip. Anyone seeing this would just laugh.
Note that the matter of changing texts was known even in the time of the Talmud. Therefore, according to the Halacha, what is to be done when we do not know the precise text of the Torah?
In Tractate Soferim 6:4 it is said: “Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish said: Three scrolls of the Torah were found in the Temple court: The Maon [instead ofMaonah] scroll, the Zaatutei [instead of Naarei] scroll, and the He [instead ofHoo] scroll…so they retained the reading of the two [i.e., the majority] and abandoned that of the one [i.e. the exception].” The decision was according to the majority of the scrolls, based on “after the multitude to sway” (Exodus 23:2).
This determination was correct for the period of Chazal, when there was as yet no Masorah to follow, but in our days when we have the Masorah and even direct evidence from the Talmud and midrashim, what shall we do when there are differences between existing scrolls, the Talmud’s text, and the Masoretic text? Decisions on this important matter became the province of vast debates, and we will present three approaches.
In the responsa of the Rashba, attributed to Nachmanides (section 232) it is written: “Question: Is a Torah scroll invalidated by defective and plene spelling which run contrary to the Masorah? I say: the books of Masorah are no better than the books of the Talmud, which say it is written pilagshim [PLG$M, without a yud (Bereshit Rabbah 61)], asimem [A$MM, without a yud (Devarim Rabbah 1)], kalot [KLT, without a vav (Bamidbar Rabbah 12)] and qarnot[QRNT, without a vav (Sanhedrin 4a)] — but in our scrolls we write pilagshimwith a yud [PLG$YM], asimem with a yud [A$YMM], kalot with a vav [KLWT] and karnot with a vav [QRNWT], the opposite of what our Sages said. Yet we do not use the books of the Talmud to correct our scrolls and change them, for this is what I was informed by you. So, we shall not heed the new books of Masorah which have come from nearby….and we shall not heed [the books of Masorah], and we will maintain our scrolls as they are.”
“Answer: In my opinion, the truth as you say, and we should neither add nor eliminate anything in any place in our scrolls to bring them into accordance with the [Masoretic] tradition and Aggadic midrashim, for the latter are not free from disagreements between sages of different places countries, expert in defective and plene spellings…In any case, whatever is brought in the Talmud as a principle on which some law is based, such as KRNT…should be definitely a sufficient base to correct the minority [of the scrolls]. Moreover, in each and every case, even in regard to defective and plene spellings, we correct the minority based on the majority.”
That is, in his opinion, the books which exist in that time and place, even if they contradict the Masorah, the midrashim, and the Talmud, should be the main source of the “correct” text, unless a Halachic law is learned from a variant spelling and that spelling appears in many books.
The opinion of the Meiri (Kiryat Sefer, second essay) is: “Now we must clarify the matters of defective and plene spellings: how do we determine where we have found disagreement between the midrashim of our Rabbis OBM, the old Masoretic codices written by the scholars of language, and the precise scrolls. In the midrashim of our Rabbis we have found ‘and to the sons of the concubines’ written as PLG$M, and in the Masoretic codices it is written plene [PLG$YM]. So, too ‘on the day Moses completed’ is written KLT in the midrash, and in the Masoretic codices it is plene [KLWT], as is the case for QRNWT, where QRNT is written, and ‘my covenant of peace [$LWM],’ concerning which our Rabbis OBM said that its vav should be written with an interruption [Kiddushin 66b], but in the Masoretic codices there is no such remark. There are many more such examples, and from the great scholars of the generation I have seen that wherever the Talmud brings a certain spelling as a principle from which a Halachic law is learned, we rely upon the opinion of our Rabbis; thus in the cases of karnot [spelled either as QRNWT or QRNT], basukkot[spelled either as BSKWT or BSKT], and totafot [spelled either as +W+PWT or ++PT] we rely upon the Talmud’s ruling. But wherever a certain spelling is base for a midrash, we rely upon the Masoretic codices, and if there is a disagreement between the Masoretic codices themselves, we rely on the majority of them.”
According to the Meiri, the determining text is that of the Masoretic codices, and not of those scrolls which are contrary to the Masorah, even if they conform to the midrashim and the Talmud; but if a Halachic law is learned from a certain spelling, one should discredit the Masoretic spelling and use the spelling of the Talmud.
A third opinion is that of the Ramah (Rabbi Meir the son of Todros HaLevi, c. 1170-1244 CE), that the determining text is that of the Masoretic codices, and if there is a disagreement, the majority should be followed — even if the midrashim and the Talmud disagree, and even in regard to those spellings from which Halachic laws are learned. Thus he wrote in the introduction to his book Masoret Siyag L’Torah: “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 we are commanded in the Torah to decide in any controversy in accordance with the majority opinion, as it is written: ‘After the multitude to sway’…”
And the author of the Minchat Shai (Rabbi Shlomo Yechiel) wrote in the introduction to his book: “Wherever I found words of the Ramah OBM, I relied upon them and followed in his path, and I accepted all his decisions, for he was a great man.” He also wrote (on Leviticus 4:34), “I have already said that wherever the Gemara or a midrash disagrees with the [Masoretic] tradition concerning defective or plene spelling, we follow the [Masoretic] tradition. Thus it is not only in regard to Aggadic exegeses like pilagshim, kalot, and asimem, but even in cases where Halachic laws are learned from specific spellings, like here [the case of karnot].” According to the Ramah, even if Halachic law is learned from a specific spelling, the Masoretic spelling should be preserved.
Notice that all these poskim did not deny the changes in the text and the differences between the text of their days and the text of the Torah which Chazal possessed. They fully admitted the discrepancies, and only ruled how one should determine matters stemming from them. And we say that according to all the findings before us and according to the testimony of our rabbis the Masoretes, it is clear that throughout the generations many distortions befell the Torah text, and the texts grew farther and farther from the “Divine” text which G-d dictated and Moses wrote down (Menachot 30a). It is also clear that the Torah text was determined, in each and every generation, by the rabbis of that generation. It seems reasonable that as the generations passed, the distortions multiplied, and the text grew even farther from the one Chazal possessed. It is no wonder that with all this plethora of texts and changes even the best proofreaders of our day cannot produce a single unified text. We have already written about this briefly in pamphlet 9 and showed there (and in pamphlet 8) that the constitution of the Holy Writ was determined by the Oral Torah — that is, the text itself and its holiness was agreed upon by human sages, based on their reasoning and study, and is not from the Heavens. Here, in this essay, we have expanded on this, brought many proofs, and we have staked our claim well.
To completely prove our words before the conclusion of this essay, we will bring some of the words of our rabbis, the fearful and perfect, who freely and clearly admitted that the Torah texts we possess are not the same Torah “written by Moses from the mouth of the Glory,” but that there are many Torah texts, different from each other, each based on decisions of generations of scholars, of different ages and of different places.
First we will clarify why in our generation we no longer write Torah scrolls for personal use, and thus refrain from fulfilling the positive commandment to write such a scroll. This issue was already commented upon by Maimonides (Sefer HaMitzvot, positive commandment 18), “It has been commanded to us that each man shall write a Torah scroll for himself. It is better if he writes in with his own hand …But if he cannot write it himself, he must purchase it or hire someone to write it for him. This is what the most high One has said, ‘Write for yourselves this song’ [Deuteronomy 31:19].”
And about this the author of the Shagat Aryeh responsa has written (paragraph 36): “I could rule that the commandment of writing a Torah scroll does not apply nowadays, because even in the Amoraim’s time they were not expert in defective and plene spellings, as Rav Joseph had said to Abaye [Kiddushin 30a], ‘They are expert in defective and plene spellings, we are not expert’.”
It is precisely for this reason that no blessing was established over writing of a Torah scroll. In the Chatam Sofer’s responsa it is written (part one, paragraph 52): “Were Chazal expert in defective and plene spellings, they would have established a blessing for [the writing of] a Torah scroll. But… they themselves were not expert, as brought in Kiddushin 30a, and even in the [partition of the text into] verses they were not expert; moreover, there are several instances where the Masorah differs from the Talmud, and [we] write according to the Masorah — so that according to the Talmud, our scrolls would be invalid.” To that very extent! The Torah scrolls we possess would be invalid for us, were they written in the manner of the Shas! It is clear that the Chatam Sofer would never have invalidated a Torah scroll which was a precise image of that given to Moses at Sinai.
Now come see, wise and profound student, examples of the confusion and embarrassment that existed between the scribes and the poskim in these matters. In the Ridbaz’s responsa (part four, paragraph 101) it is written: “And even though the proofreader frightened me by saying that one of the sages had repaired the scroll to be as it was, and he did not desist until he went blind, I was not frightened by his words and I said: ‘It is not for my honor or the honor of my father’s house that I do this, but so that there not be an increase in disagreements in Israel and so that our Torah not become as two Torahs, especially as we are in the midst of this people who say we have replaced out Torah and added and subtracted and changed where they would. They certainly would say so now if they saw that our Torah scrolls disagree one with the other.’ Therefore I went myself to the proofreader’s home and found there three proofread scrolls. I repaired them and returned the crown of the Torah to its original glory. As for the other scrolls, I ordered him not to proofread based on the midrash, but based on the majority of scrolls. I rely on Him who is blessed, that He knows the mysteries of the heart.” The proofreader worked according to the midrash, and the Ridbaz corrected him according to the majority text. Think about it: who can find their way in the formulae after all the changes in standard texts and corrections of the changes in the Torah scrolls?
These are the words of Rabbi Obadiah Yosef, after he brought the halachic ruling of the Kaf HaChaim (Responsa Yichveh Daat, part six, paragraph 56): “And my eyes look towards the rabbi, the gaon R’ Jacob Sofer and what he wrote in Kaf HaChaim (paragraph 143, subsection 34): ‘A Torah scroll of the Yemenites may not be read from, not by Ashkenazi Jews nor by Sephardi Jews, until it is corrected, because there are discrepancies in regard to [partition into] portions and letters’.” He brought the testimony of Even Sapir (Chadrei Teiman pamphlet, paragraph 28, page 61b), to refute the ruling of the Kaf HaChaim: “I recall my sins today, that I brought with me a Torah scroll written by the Yemenite scribes, and when I found in it differences from our Torah text, such as vayihyu kol yemei noach [where vayihyu is spelled WYHYW; see Table 1]…I corrected it according to our scrolls, but now I have seen in the Meiri’s book Kiryat Sefer that all the books of Maimonides, dealing with the partition of the text into portions, which have reached our hands, are plagued by various and sundry errors, because the words of these books are unclear, and those who copied them made decisions based on their own opinion, each adding and subtracting as he saw fit, and they corrupted the text with things they made up…” The Even Sapir concluded: “Therefore it was in vain that I erased and proofread, and had I seen it first, I would not have touched it. Well did our predecessors say, ‘stay the hand of the proofreader.’ And He who is merciful will forgive transgression.”
Here are words clear as the sun about the many different texts of the Torah (“those who copied them made decisions based on their own opinion, each adding and subtracting as he saw fit, and they corrupted the text with things they made up”!) — what more can we add?
We will conclude with the words of the Ginat Veradim (Orach Chaim, rule two, paragraph six) who says what we have already said many times: just as the Halacha is a human creation accepted by public mandate, so what we accept as the Torah text is absolutely based on human Halachic determination. This is what he says: “The is is the conclusion: generally, the scribes of previous generations who worked hard at the Masorah and were exacting on matters of defective and plene spelling and disagreements between scrolls– when they agreed on a matter, they only agreed because they followed the majority of books worthy of being followed. Therefore the tikun soferim we possess, written for us by the Rishonim, should not be added to nor subtracted from. We consider it as though it were handed to us at Sinai.”
What a wonderful phrase is “as though”! A cure for every ill, an answer for every contradiction and a glue for every crack. Come see what wonders can be worked with it. In the Torah it is written that the hyrax is a ruminant, but it isn’t? Say “as though” (and that is exactly what the Sreidei Aish does). There’s no mention in the Gemara of the proper method to intercalate years? Say “as though” it had been established during the Talmudic era (thus was “Rav Ada’s method” invented). In Tractate Chulin it is said that the windpipe divides into three, and anyone can see that this is not so? Say “as though” (and until this very day every working ritual slaughterer and those who check them say “as though”). “As though” and again “as though,” wherever you look, it is “as though.” From now on, any time they use most clear proofs to show you that the Halacha is not from the Heavens and that the Torah is not form the Heavens, that they are all the works of Man, you may surely use the “as though” principle… But if you are a free thinking person, proud of yourself, look reality and truth straight in the eye and accept the judgement of your senses and knowledge, your reason and your logic, without any “as though.” Then you will be a complete person and not merely “as though.”
Anyone with an honest heart will understand, and anyone with an honest mind will agree.
Fortunate are we who have merited this great essay comparing the texts of the Torah. After we wrote and published nine pamphlets, we added dozens of essays on Halachic issues and explanatory pages on all the weekly portions; we are continuing and gathering strength.
Hundreds of thousands of our essays and the pamphlets have been distributed in Israel and throughout the world, and have lit the path for thousand who had questions and doubts about matters of faith, outlook, and the Halacha.
We are loyal to our method and our outlook that all the foundations of the Jewish faith, from the Scriptures to the rulings of the last of the Achronim, are all work of Man. Anyone who looks will see and prove this. Only one who shuts his eyes and ears and brain and reason will insist on continuing to “prove” that all the mistakes and contradictions and duplications in the Scriptures and the odd issues with odd rulings in the Halachic literature stem from a Divine source.
In our pamphlets we started with Halachic rulings based on errors Chazal made in understanding reality (pamphlet 1), continued on to the laws oftreifot, from which it is clear that Chazal were not expert in the anatomy of living creatures (pamphlet 2) and discussed the hyrax and the hare, which the Torah says are ruminants (pamphlet 3)! After we clarified Chazal’s lack of knowledge about animals, we moved onto cosmology and astronomy. The laws of when the Sabbath finishes are based on an ancient worldview which sees the world as flat and surrounded by a firmament with actual thickness (pamphlet 4). Inpamphlets 5 and 6 we discussed mistakes on matters of the Jewish calendar and we concluded this section with the Sages’ lack of knowledge concerning the build of the female womb, based on which they ruled many degrading halachot on the matters of niddah and impurity (pamphlet 7). Any reasonable person will understand that the Sages’ errors did not originate with G-d, and therefore, in pamphlet 8, we showed that all of Jewish Halacha is a human invention, just like any other human invention for good and for bad. Then we continued to the Written Torah and showed, in pamphlet 9, that many distortions and changes befell the Torah text over the course of generations: in its writing, its language, defective and plene spellings and in entire words. That pamphlet complements this essay which proves, by comparing all Torah texts, that there are many differences between Torah texts, even in our days.
All who seek knowledge and truth , who wish to learn and understand the truth of our words, should look over our website or contact our post office box or voicemail. May it be that those who walk in darkness see the light.
Words of True Knowledge