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From: Russell Hendel <rhendel@saber.towson.edu> Date: Sun, 2 Jan 2000 20:24:50 -0500 (EST) Subject: RE: Torah Misinai Gilad Gevaryahu's posting (v30n48) suggesting that our current Torah is NOT perfectly identical with the one that Moses gave us seems to have gone unchallenged. Furthermore his posting to Torah Forum which he cites was answered there. Since this is a doctrinal belief I would like to reopen it and would encourage an extended conversation. Gilad makes 4 specific questions to the doctrine that the Torah we have is totally identical to the one given by Moses. I shall try and keep myself brief (but we can go into detail if the dialogue continues) 1) "Talmudic statements on where the 'middle of the Torah is'": A russian emigree answered this in Torah forum--the word MIDDLE could mean MIDDLE letter, or the MIDDLE of double words (DRSH DRSH) or the MIDDLE of the big and small letters. Furthermore even Gilad must grant that being off by several 1000 letters is inconsistent with the small number of variants in modern sefer Torahs--hence we must posit a different meaning to MIDDLE 2)"We are not expert in FULL and DEFICIENT": I recently gathered all Rashis on FULL and DEFICIENT spellings. Following Rav Hirsch I showed there are two ways that Chazal deal with these: a) the deficiency creates a new word so the Biblical sentence is read in two ways (eg 'this is my name forever' & 'this is my ineffable name (Ex 3:15); b) the deficiency of spelling indicates a deficiency in the object (eg In Lev 23 the deficiently spelled succah indicates permissability to be deficient in a wall). Thus we have a grammatical rule here. All the Talmud means when it says we are not expert is that we don't fully know how to apply this rule in all cases..there is no doubt about the spellings in the Torah (see http://www.shamash.org/v1-1-28.htm for further details). 3) "Rav Moshes Teshuva". Rav Moshe was not asked a question about the authenticity of the torah;he was asked about making extra aliyahs at eg Bar Mitzvahs (so peoples feelings should not be hurt).Rav Moshe based himself on the well known law that you can be lenient in Rabbinic matters to avoid hurting people--hence he took a talmudic statement out of context. There is no reason to believe he was commenting on the authenticity of the Torah (Especially since it explicitly states that any verse which Moses did not break up we cannot break up) 4) "Variant texts". Lets be precise here. There are about 100 or so variants BUT only two of them deal with actual letters. The rest deal with hyphens, cantillations and paragraph markings. eg the first controversy of Ben Asher and Ben Naftali deal with whether the phrase LET THERE BE LIGHT (Gen 1:3) is hyphenated--there is no controversy on the text. There are only two words (DCA and VAYIHIYU) where there is a variance of text. There is a sefer Torah in Europe which goes back to Ezra which has DCA with an aleph. Furthermore I published an analysis in HebLang showing the etymology of all Lamed Aleph verbs justifying this grammatically. I think there is something to talk about here and would encourage dialogue Russell Hendel; Math; Towson; RHendel@Towson.Edu Moderator Rashi Is Simple; http://www.shamash.org/rashi/