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From: Russell Hendel <rhendel@saber.towson.edu> Date: Sun, 16 Jan 2000 18:17:35 -0500 (EST) Subject: E: Perfect transmission of All Torah Letters I thank Joseph Tabory for his citations (v30n88) that there is a viewpoint that the meaning of our doctrine of faith that "The Torah we have in our hands is the same that God gave Moses" is that no WORDS have changed.However I categorically state that I personally believe that we have the same Torah in all its LETTERS I therefore have an obligation to explain those talmudic texts that Dr Tabory brought. How does a person who believes we have a perfect transmission deal with the statement that "There were 3 Sefer Torahs in the Temple and when a problem arose they went by the majority". In clarifying this I will show that the issue is not just doctrinal but attitudinal and affects our learning. Quite simply besides statistical methods the Masoerites developed special types of Midrashim which would preserve texts. The Minchat Shai specializes in such midrashim. Let me bring one from Rav Hirsch. The word "OFFSPRING" is spelled FULL (with all vowels) only twice in Tnach--Gen 2:4 "These are the OFFSPRING of heaven and earth when they were created:" and Ruth 4:18 "These are the OFFSPRING of Peretz (from whom King David came)". Rav Hirsch wryly comments "Only two things in human history are perfect (and hence spelled fully)--its beginning (Creation) and its end (The Messianic throne)." Notice how Rav Hirsch's words besides being "cute" and "philosophical" also preserves the text. Indeed suppose I was reading one of the Temple Torahs. I come to Gen 2:4 and I "notice" that "OFFSPRING" (the Hebrew word TOLDOTH) is spelled with one VAV. I instantly remember the Hirsch Midrash and suspect that something might be wrong. So I check the other two Sifray Torah and see that indeed a mistake has crept in. In other words I am positing that (a) besides the facts that mistakes happen rarely in any Sefer Torah (as any Baal koray can testify) I am also positing that (b) the mesorah was preserved BOTH by Midrash as well as statistics. So it is very reasonable that no mistakes ever crept in. (To be fair to Dr Tabory I should note that preserving Mesorah with Midrash is a very tricky business...all I am saying is that some Midrashim had that goal). Finally allow me to show how this has influenced my life. I recently (on another email group) got into a discussion about FULL and DEFICIENT spelling Precisely because I believe that our Torah has preserved all letters I spent time learning and researching to see how Rashi dealt with the problem I gathered all Rashis on the subject and found that Rashi always used one of two methods (See http://www.shamash.org/rashi/v1z1-14.htm for details). In other words my BELIEFS that the Torah has every letter preserved led to greater learning. Russell Hendel; Phd ASA; Math Towson University Moderator Rashi Is Simple http://www.shamash.org/rashi/