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Megillah, Daf Tet, Part 1

 

Introduction

This week’s daf focuses on the mishnah that we learned at the end of last week’s daf concerning the difference between Torah scrolls, mezuzot and tefillin. According to the Mishnah Torah scrolls can be written in any language or in any type of script, but mezuzot and tefillin must be written in Hebrew language using Assyrian script.

 

גמרא. הא לתופרן בגידין ולטמא את הידיםזה וזה שוין.

 

GEMARA. [From this we infer] that for requiring [the sheets] to be stitched with sinews and for defiling the hands they are the same.

 

The pages of mezuzot, tefillin and Torah scrolls all must be sewn together with sinews. We should note that there are some sages who hold that Torah scrolls can be sewn with regular thread.

They all also defile the hands. This is a concept we have discussed before and is also found in Tractate Yadayim. Basically, this means that they are all holy.

וספרים נכתבין בכל לשון וכו‘. ורמינהו: מקרא שכתבו תרגום, ותרגום שכתבו מקרא, וכתב עבריאינו מטמא את הידים, עד שיכתבנו בכתב אשורית, על הספר, ובדיו. –

 

Scrolls may be written in any language. They contradicted this with the following: Hebrew text written in Aramaic or an Aramaic text written in Hebrew, or [either] in Hebraic script, does not defile the hands; until it is written in Assyrian script upon a scroll and in ink.

 

According to the Mishah, Torah scrolls can be written in any language or any script. But a baraita says that if a Hebrew portion of the Tanakh was written in Aramaic, or an Aramaic portion was written in Hebrew, it is not valid (i.e. it does not defile the hands). It also must be written in what is known as Assyrian script (the script we use today) and not what is known today as Paleo-Hebraic script. Thus the mishnah and the baraita contradict each other.

אמר רבא: לא קשיא; כאן בגופן שלנו, כאן בגופן שלהן.

 

Rava replied: There is no contradiction; the one statement [that of the Mishnah] speaks of [books written in] our script, the other of [books written in] their script.

 

Rava resolves the contradiction by saying that it depends on which script was used. If the script is "our script" meaning the original Hebraic script, then the scroll can be written in any language. But if the script is Assyrian, then the language must be Hebrew.

אמר ליה אביי: במאי אוקימתא לההיאבגופן שלהן, מאי איריא מקרא שכתבו תרגום ותרגום שכתבו מקרא? אפילו מקרא שכתבו מקרא ותרגום שכתבו תרגום נמי, דהא קתני עד שיכתבנו אשורית על הספר בדיו!

 

Abaye said to him: How have you explained the other statement? As referring to their script. [If so], why should it say, "A Hebrew text written in Aramaic or an Aramaic text written in Hebrew"? The same would apply even to a Hebrew text which is written in Hebrew or an Aramaic text which is written in Aramaic, for it also teaches "until it is written in Assyrian on a scroll in ink"!

 

Abaye says that Rava’s resolution does not make sense. According to Rava if the scroll is written in their script, then it is valid if it is in Hebrew (or more precisely, its original language). But this contradicts the baraita itself which says that it must be written in Assyrian script. Even a Hebrew text written in Hebrew is invalid unless written with the Assyrian script.

 

אלא, לא קשיא; הארבנן, הארבן שמעון בן גמליאל. –

 

Rather, there is no contradiction: the one statement [in the Mishnah] represents the view of the rabbis, the other that of R. Shimon b. Gamaliel.

 

Abaye, or the Talmud, now offer a new resolution. The Mishnah which says that they can be written in any language is the opinion of the rabbis who allow Torah scrolls to be written in any language. The baraita is the opinion of R. Shimon b. Gamaliel does not allow any language.

 

אי רבן שמעון בן גמליאל הא איכא יונית!

 

But if it is the view of R. Shimon b. Gamaliel, what about Greek?

 

This is an obvious problem. How can the baraita disqualify all other languages when R. Shimon b. Gamaliel does allow scrolls to be written in Greek.

 

אלא, לא קשיא: כאןבספרים, כאןבתפלין ומזוזות,

תפלין ומזוזות מאי טעמאמשום דכתיב בהו +דברים ו‘+ והיו, בהוייתן יהו,

 

Rather there is no contradiction; the one statement [in the Mishnah] refers to scrolls, the other to tefillin and mezuzahs.

What is the reason [why] tefillin and mezuzahs [must be written in Hebrew]? Because in reference to them it is written, "And they shall be", (Deuteronomy 6:6) which implies, they shall be as they originally were.

 

The Talmud attempts another resolution. Torah scrolls can be written in any language (mishnah), but mezuzot and tefillin which include the verse from the Shema "and they shall be" must be written in their original language (baraita).

 

מאי תרגום שכתבו מקרא איכא? בשלמא תורהאיכא +בראשית ל"א+ יגר שהדותא!

אלא הכא מאי תרגום איכא? אלא לא קשיא; כאןבמגילה, כאןבספרים.

מגילה מאי טעמאדכתיב בה ככתבם וכלשונם, –

 

What cases are there of Aramaic which can be written in Hebrew? I grant you we find in the Torah "yegar sahaduta" (Genesis 31:47); but here [in the case of tefillin, and mezuzot] what Aramaic is there?

Rather there is no contradiction; the one statement [in the baraita] refers to the Megillah, the other to the other books [of the Scripture].

What is the reason in the case of the Megillah? Because it is written in regard to it, "According to their writing and according to their language" (Esther 1:20).

 

There is some Aramaic in the Torah. Therefore, it can make sense why the Torah would say that the Aramaic portion of the Torah must be written in Aramaic. But why would we need to say that about the mezuzah or tefillin texts in which there are no Aramaic words!

Therefore, the Talmud offers yet another resolution. The baraita which allows only the original refers to Megillat Esther, where it is eluded to that it must be written in its original language. The mishnah which allows any language refers to all other books of the Bible.

מאי תרגום שכתבו מקרא איכא? – אמר רב פפא: +אסתר א‘+ ונשמע פתגם המלך,

רב נחמן בר יצחק אמר: +אסתר א‘+ וכל הנשים יתנו יקר לבעליהן.

 

What case of Aramaic being written in Hebrew is possible here?

R.Papa said: "And the king’s pitgam shall be published" (Esther 1:2);

R. Nahman b. Isaac said: "And all the wives shall give yekar to their husbands" (ibid).

 

The amoraim point out some Aramaic words in Esther: pitgam saying, or letter, and yekar honor. Both of these words must be written in their original Aramaic and not translated to Hebrew.

 

רב אשי אמר: כי תניא ההיא בשאר ספרים,

 

R. Ashi said: That statement [in the baraita] was made in reference to other books [of the Scripture],

 

R. Ashi offers yet another resolution. The Torah may be written in any language. But the other books of the Bible may not. In tomorrow’s section we will see a baraita that explains why. So stay tuned!