Abstracts

SOURCES (RABBINIC)

Yair Hayyim Bacharach, Mekor Hayyim, ed. Rabbi Eliyahu Dov Pines, Jerusalem: Makhon Yerushalayim, Vol. I, 1982, Pp. i, 356, Price £12.50; Vol. II, 1984, Pp. ii, 541, Price, £14.50. - These beautifully produced volumes contain the text of Shulhan Arukh, Orah Hayyim with the Baer Hetev and the Commentary, together with editorial notes and Introduction, by the famous 17th century German Halakhist, published from manuscript for the first time. A bonus for students of Jewish law is the publication of the various approbations by Bacharach's Rabbinic contemporaries. Bacharach had the misfortune to be anticipated by the classical Commentaries of the Taz and the Magen Avraham but both he and the editor call attention both to where he agrees and where he takes issue with these and other commentators. (L.J.)

M. Ben-Sasson, "Fragments from Saadya's Sefer ha'edut vehashetarot" (Heb.), Shenaton Hamishpat Ha'ivri 11-12 (1984-1986), 135-278. - Sefer ha'edut vehashetarot was R. Saadya Gaon's first halakhic work and was widely used during the Geonic period. Only ten extracts from his work have been published since the beginning of the century. The present article consists of some eighty newly-discovered extracts from the Cairo Genizah, some of which parallel the exact sections, and some of which are entirely new. The author provides a bibliography and an introduction in which the question of possible Islamic influence upon R. Saadya Gaon's jurisprudence is raised. Each extract is accompanied by a Hebrew translation and notes. This is only a precursor of a more complete version of this work, which will appear at a future date. (D.B.S.)

J. David Bleich, "Survey of Recent Halakhic Periodical literature", Tradition l9 (l981), 348-360. - The author reviews halakhic opinions on the matters of copyright, physicians' fees, the permissibility of canned tuna fish, and maternal identity. (S.M.P.)

J. David Bleich, "Survey of Recent Halakhic Periodical Literature", Tradition 20 (l982), 155-166. - The author presents material on indirect coercion in compelling a get; automatic banking machines; jaundice and circumcision; and copyright of a tape recording. (S.M.P.)

Der tannaitische Midrasch-Sifre Deuteronomium, übersetzt und erklrt von Hana Bietenhard mit einem Beitrag von Henrik Ljungman, Bern: P. Lang, l984, Pp. viii, 943 (Judaica et Christiana, 8); see KS 60/1-2 no. 476.

Z.W. Falk, "Four Glosses in Mishnah and Baraita", Mélanges à la mémoire de Marcel-Henri Prévost (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1982), 171-177. - The author analyses four texts where glosses or marginal notes appeared to have been incorporated into the text. They concern the use of illegal conditions in betrothal, manumission by deed, interpretation of a vow, and the use of an "old" deed of divorce. (B.S.J.)

W.S. Green, The Traditions of Joshua ben Hananiah, Part One: The Early Legal Traditions, Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1981, ISBN 90 04 06318 8, Pp. xviii, 333, Price: Gld. 96 (Studies in Judaism in Late Antiquity, 29). - Originating as a doctoral thesis prepared at Brown University's Graduate Seminar, under the supervision of Professor Neusner, this study commenced as an attempt to write a biography of R. Joshua, but ultimately has focused upon the redactional processes by which his traditions are transmitted. The present volume analyses "the early legal traditions", as found in the Babylonian Talmud and sources parallel to them. Of particular interest to students of Jewish civil law will be the 30 or so passages from Nashim and Neziqin analysed in chapters IV and V, some of them attracting reasonably substantial commentary. Following the pattern of other works emanating from Brown, the general conclusions must be awaited until the whole corpus has been analysed. (B.S.J.)

David Halivni, "The Early Period of Halakhic Midrash", Tradition 22/1 (1986), 37-58. - The author briefly catalogs the history of scholarship on questions of antiquity respecting the Mishnah form of study and the Midrash form of study. He advances a thesis that Midrash as a teaching form already existed in the second century BCE, which is contrary to some present day scholarly opinion. See also the rejoinder in Tradition 22/4 (1986), 65-74, by Emanuel Feldman. (S.M.P.)

Irwin H. Haut, The Talmud as Law or Literature. An Analysis of David W. Halivni's Mekorot Umasorot, New York: Bet Sha'ar Press, Inc., 1982, distributed by Sepher Hermon Press, Pp. 83, Price $10.00 (cloth), $6.00 (paper). - The author first presents some basic concepts of Halivni's method of analysis, his theory of Setam and Gemara, and then analyses various sugyot from Eruvin (27d-29b), Pesahim (3b-10b), Gittin (77a, 88b), Kiddushin (2a), and Moed Katan (14a, 20b, 26b) in the light of Halivni's method. There is a somewhat more extended discussion of Halivni on Kiddushin 42b, a sugya on agency for delict (shaliah lidvar averah). His conclusion, in which he weighs the "literary" as against the "legal" elements in Halivni's method, includes an account of Gittin 32a, where the author sides with Elon as against Halivni, but looks for a rapprochement between their approaches. The book concludes with a brief (but remarkable) biography, and some bibliographical notes. Along with Halivni's own account of his method (JJS 30 (1979), 192-201; see Survey no. 526, JLA IV), and the Neusner collections on The Formation of the Babylonian Talmud (1970) and The Modern Study of the Mishnah (1973), this book will assist the reader towards an appreciation of some of the issues currently debated in modern scholarship on the Talmud. (B.S.J.)

S. Havlin, "New Light on the Enactments of Rabbenu Gershom Meor Hagolah - Their Authorship, Scope and Spread" (Heb.), Shenaton Hamishpat Ha'ivri 11-12 (1984-1986), 317-335. - This article supports the case for R. Gershom Meor Hagolah's authorship of the takanot attributed to him. Many scholars have rejected this view and have argued that the takanot could not possibly have been the work of R. Gershom. The author cites various sources indicating that a large body of takanot was indeed passed in the twelfth century, probably at the instigation of R. Gershom. A major argument in support of this thesis is that much of the evidence for placing these takanot in a different period of history is in fact based upon successive recensions of the takanot, and not upon their original versions. New light is also shed on these takanot in the responsa of the Rashba. (D.B.S.)

M. Hengel, J. Neusner, P. Schäfer, eds., Übersetzung des Talmud Yerushalmi, Tübingen: J.C.B. Mohr (Paul Siebeck), Band IV/1-3, Bavot, 1982, ISBN 3-16-144490-6, Pp. xvii, 533, Price: DM 215; Band IV, Sanhedrin, 1981, ISBN 3-16-143092-1, Pp. xiv, 341, Price DM 136; Band 1/7: Avoda Zara, 1980, ISBN 3-16-142662-2, Pp. xii, 192, Price: DM 78. - A German translation of the Jerusalem Talmud was commenced in 1975, with Berakhot translated by Charles Horowitz, and edited by the Institutum Judaicum der Universitt Tübingen. The publisher now continues the series under new editorship. All three volumes are translated by Gerd A. Wewers. They are based on printed editions and manuscript sources, including published Genizah fragments. The translation is well annotated with references to both rabbinic parallels and modern literature. Indices of Biblical and rabbinic sources, the names of Rabbis mentioned in the text, and (in the case of Sanhedrin) place names, are provided. These volumes will considerably assist scholars in access to a difficult text, one of considerable importance - especially in the present Tractates - to the legal historian. (B.S.J.)

Abraham Katch, "A Geniza Fragment of Talmud Yerushalmi in the Antonin Collection of the Saltykovshchedrin Library in Leningrad", JQR 71,3 (1981), 181-84. - A newly discovered fragment of Yer. Shekalim, Ch. 7, fol 31a, 31b, and 32a. These are not included in L. Ginzberg's Yerushalmi Fragments from the Geniza (N.Y., 1947). (M.F.)

A. Kimmelman, "A Guide to Talmudic Commentary in the Geonic Period" (Heb.), Shenaton Hamishpat Ha'ivri 11-12 (1984-1986), 463-587. - This Guide provides an index of Geonic sources on the Bible, Midrash Halakhah, Mishnah and Babylonian Talmud. The indices on tractates Bava Batra and Hullin are from the estate of B.M. Levin, the author of the Otsar Hageonim. The Guide also contains a bibliography of material on Genesis literature and a detailed explication of the author's methodology in preparing the Guide. The index on the Bible is according to chapter and verse, and that on the Midrash Halakhah and the Mishnah direct the reader to existing works. The index on the Talmud is by tractate and page. (D.B.S.)

D. Kraemer, The Mind of the Talmud, An Intellectual History of the Bavli, New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990, Pp. xiv, 216, ISBN 0-19-506290-6, Price: £28.00. - This book seeks to summarise and refine the author's detailed study of the literary history of the Talmud, inspired by both Weiss Halivni and Jacob Neusner, and to expound the intellectual assumptions and values implicit in the development of its literary forms. He argues that it is possible to divide the history of amoraic literary expression into three periods, since the Babylonian Talmud provides access "not only to the final document but also to the various stages that led to its creation ... we can ... know, at the very least, that certain forms of expression were typical in certain generations, and, given additional data, we can even say that it is likely that the essence of a certain opinion was held in the circle of disciples of a particular stage." Though the forms of argument may not necessarily represent the actual process used to arrive at conclusions, the deliberations found in the Talmud, "do represent someone's claim concerning the nature of the process" (an approach which might commend itself to many modern legal philosophers). "The ideology of the law," Kraemer writes, "is here, in a unique and most explicit way, for all the world to see." However, unlike the traditional works of legal dogmatics, "what is outstanding about the deliberations that the Bavli records is that they so often avoid a conclusion; more often than not they prefer to support competing views rather than deciding in favour of one view or the other." Much of the book is concerned with the significance of this preference. He sees it as "a not so subtle challenge to authority", and argues that "the form of the Bavli embodies a recognition that truth, divine in origin, is on the human level indeterminable" (a claim which also fits well with the growth of scepticism in legal philosophy). The three concluding chapters of the book are devoted to "The Meaning of Argumentation", "The Bavli on 'Truth'," and "The Bavli in Comparative Perspective". Not the least of the merits of this book is its capacity to help non-specialists to relate some highly technical Jewish problems to the mainstream scholarly agenda. (B.S.J.)

Hans Kvalbein, ed., Blant skriftlærde og fariseere. Jødedommen i oldtiden, Oslo: Verbum, 1984, ISBN 82-543-0248-0, Price: Dkr. 271,00. - In this textbook on Judaism a short chapter, pp. 193-206, gives an introduction to the history of the Torah. The author, Øyvind Moberg Wee, argues that Mishnah must be considered first of all as a kind of commentary to the Torah. (K.N.)

Jacob Neusner, A History of the Mishnaic Law of Damages, Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1983-84: Part One - Baba Qamma, ISBN 90 04 06930 5, pp. 35, 164, Price. Gld. 80; Part Two - Baba Mesia, ISBN 90 04 06931 3, Pp. 30, 163, Price: Gld. 80; Part Three - Baba Batra, Sanhedrin, Makkot, ISBN 90 04 06853 8, Pp. 31, 293, Price: Gld. 148 (Studies in Judaism in Late Antiquity, XXV). - The author here continues the analysis of Mishnaic literature, noted earlier in Surveys nos. 267 (JLA II) and 780 (JLA V). The material treated in these volumes is of the greatest interest to the student of Jewish Civil Law, containing much of the regulation of Torts, Contracts, Property, Succession and Crime. The approach follows that adopted for the Orders on Holy Things and Women. A research assistant has compiled a useful bibliography, consisting largely of works with which the author, as he explains in the Preface, declines to engage. Further assessment of the series on Damages must await publication of the review of its concluding volumes. (B.S.J.)

Jacob Neusner, Uniting the Dual Torah, Sifra and the Problem of Mishnah, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990, pp.xii, 233, ISBN 0-521-38125-8, Hbk., Price: $32.50. - Professor Neusner here analyses the rationality implicit in the drafting of Sifra, and sees it as critical of that of the Mishnah. Sifra represents a particular, and especially successful, attempt to unite the traditions of the Oral Torah and the Written Torah, not (as in Tosefta and the Talmudim) by providing biblical proof-texts for propositions of the Mishnah, but rather by abandoning the classifications of the Mishnah, and integrating its teaching within the midrashic running commentary of the Sifra, which follows the classifications of the Written Torah itself. Thus, instead of "reading the Written Torah into the Oral", Sifra reads the Oral Torah into the Written one. Sifra contends that "without the revelation of the Torah, we are not able to effect any classification at all, we are left, that is to say, only with species, but not genus, only with cases, but no rules" (p.125). Sifra thus represent a "critique" of the "deep structure of logic" of the Mishnah, a different form of ListenWissenschaft, in which categories are compared and contrasted in hierarchical order. As always, the author poses searching questions and offers tantalising hypotheses. (B.S.J.)

Jacob Neusner, SifrÈ to Numbers, An American Translation and Explanation, Volume One, Sifré to Numbers 1-58, Atlanta, Georgia: Scholars Press, 1986, ISBN 1-55540 008-6, 009-4 (pbk.), Pp. xvi, 232 (Brown Judaic Studies, 118.). - Neusner here embarks on the first complete English (dare one say?) translation of Sifre Bamidbar, seeking a literalism which will bring out the literary traits of the composition, and the philosophical positions represented by those literary traits. In his Introduction, he subjects Piska 6 to literary analysis, and concludes that through the literary structure the authors make two complementary points: that reason unaided by scripture produces uncertain propositions, while reason operating within the limits of scripture produces truth. (B.S.J.)

Jacob Neusner, The Tosefta, Its Structure and Sources, Atlanta Ga.: Scholars Press, 1986, ISBN 1-55540-049-3, Pp.xi, 250 (Brown Judaic Studies 112). - Neusner here reprints the sections from his History of the Mishnaic Law of Purities dealing with the literary and linguistic structures of the Tosefta, and presenting the detailed lists supportive of his conclusions. (B.S.J.)

Jacob Neusner, The Tosefta, translated from the Hebrew. Fourth Division - Neziqin, New York: Ktav Publishing House Inc., 1981, ISBN 0-87068-692-5, Pp.xxv, 374. - Earlier volumes in this series were noted in Survey no.404 (JLA III). This volume, of course, contains material of the greatest interest to the student of Jewish (civil, as against ritual) law. It will be widely consulted. (B.S.J.)

Jacob Neusner, A History of the Mishnaic Law of Damages, Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1985: Part Four - Shebuot, Eduyot, Abodah Zarah, Abot, Horayot, ISBN 90 04 06853 8, pp. xxxi, 275; Part Five - The Mishnaic System of Damages, ISBN 90 04 07270 5, Pp. xxxi, 228, Price: Gld. 104 (Studies in Judaism in Late Antiquity, XXV). - These volumes conclude the series noted in Survey no. 1027 (JLA VI). The concluding volume, in particular, should be of the greatest interest to students of Jewish law, for the light it casts on the history of Mishnah Nezikin, and the law contained in it. However, Neusner's approach has been increasingly to separate the study of individual literary texts from the wider study (e.g. in tannaitic literature as a whole) of the themes they contain. Thus, historians of Jewish law will need to integrate into their own frame of reference the results of Neusner's purely literary history. For example, the main period of composition of the tractates on civil law, Neusner maintains, cannot be dated earlier than the mid-second century. The date of formation of each tractate is discussed individually, and Neusner then turns to "The Unfolding of the Law", arranging his restatement of the mishnaic rules in three chronological groups: pre-Yavneh, Yavneh and Usha. As for analysis of the content of the rules, Neusner restricts himself to the overall systemic message. The first three tractates (Baba Kamma - Baba Bathra) convey a systemic message of social stasis: no party in the end should have more than what he had at the outset, and none should be the victim of a sizable shift in fortune and circumstance. In combining within the Order substantive rules of civil law with the institutions of government, the Mishnah follows no scriptural model. While Scripture is a rich resource for Mishnah, at its foundation this division of Mishnah is essentially independent of Mishnah. "That is so even where Scripture plays a commanding role in what Mishnah will say about a given topic... The plan of Mishnah is prior, its principles of selection definitive... Scripture is a reference book, not a ground plan, or architect's design for the edifice built by Mishnah." He observes a "fundamental, systemic difference" between the Mishnah and the laws of the Qumran community. The latter takes no interest in the transactions of everyday life, but at least purports to regulate the lives only of its own members, whereas the Mishnah purport to legislate for all Israel on matters in which they clearly lacked competence. The sage or rabbi is not projected in Mishnah as a special caste: the message of the law is universalist - there is a single economy of Heaven and Earth, available to everyone. (B.S.J.)

Y. Orenstein, Ha-Talmud ha-Yerushalmi ve-Yotserav (Tel-Aviv: Yavneh, 1989), is a clearly presented Introduction to the Yerushalmi, especially helpful to students who come to this difficult work for the first time. (L.J.)

Jakob J. Petuchowski, "Obscuring a Mishnah", JRJ 27/4 (l980), 72-74. - The author responds to the argument of Meir Ydit, "An Obscure Mishnah and Haggadah Text", JRJ 27/2 (1980), 76-80 (below) and offers a rejection of it. (S.M.P.)

G.G. Porton, The Traditions of Rabbi Ishmael. Part IV: The Materials as a Whole, Leiden: E.J. Brill, l982, Pp. xiv, 261, Price: DF 96.00 (Studies in Judaism in Late Antiquity, XIX/4); see BL 1983, p.116f.

Nahum Rakover, Guide to the Sources of Jewish Law (Heb.: Moreh-Derekh Bimkorot Hamishpat Haivri), Jerusalem: Sifriyat Hamishpat Ha'ivri, 18-983, Pp. 89, Price: $16.00. - Prompted by the Foundations of Law Act, 1980, this volume seeks to provide a Where to Look for Your Law for Jewish Law. It provides brief introductions to the sources from the Bible to the Judgments of modern Rabbinical Courts in Israel, with sample texts from the law of bailment (shemirah). This is followed by a section on secondary literature (text-books, journals, encyclopaedias, indices to the responsa (including the Bar-Ilan Computer Project), biographies, bibliographies, manuals, dictionaries, anthologies and indices). There is an appendix of standard abbreviations and acronyms, a geographical and chronological chart of rabbinic authorities from the eleventh century, and an alphabetical index to that chart. The volume concludes with a general index of names, books and subjects. While the book is addressed primarily to Israeli practitioners without any previous grounding in Jewish law, the Appendices will serve the scholar as a convenient reference tool. (B.S.J.)

Mishna Aboda Zara; a critical edition, with introduction by David Rosenthal, l980, Pp. viii, 267 (Hebrew University thesis); see KS 57/3-4 no. 3364.

F. Rosner, ed., Maimonides' Commentary on the Mishnah, Tractate Sanhedrin, New York: Sepher-Hermon Press, Inc., 1981, ISBN 0-87203-099-7, Pp. xix, 215, Price $14.95. - This is the first English translation of the whole of Maimonides' Commentary on Tractate Sanhedrin (as opposed to Perek Helek, which includes a very famous discussion of the nature of God, and the world to come). Dr. Rosner has based himself primarily upon Kafah's modern retranslation of the original Arabic into Hebrew. The current edition prints the Hebrew of the Mishnah (only), an English translation of the Mishnah, and a translation of Maimonides' Commentary. Each chapter is followed by notes, mainly of a text-critical character. The book will undoubtedly be of service to students studying the Mishnah as a classical Hebrew text, in giving them access to one of the classical commentaries. (B.S.J.)

E.L. Segal, "Variant Traditions of Cases in the Babylonian Talmud", JQR 70 (1979), 1-27. - Segal seeks to identify "variant traditions" as opposed to textual variants, within TB. He identifies conflicting parallel sugyot in Nezikin that differ from cases whose meaning comes only from context. These independent literary units "take on the appearance of variant traditions." (S.N.R.)

E. Shochetman, "Kelale Hatalmud of R. Bezalel Ashkenazi" (Heb.), Shenaton 8 (1981), 247-308. - This article is an analysis of the Kelale Hatalmud of R. Bezalel Ashkenazi, based upon a manuscript in the Jewish National and University Library of Jerusalem. The printed edition, published by A. Marx some seventy years ago, was based upon what he believed to be the sole manuscript of R. Bezalel's work, i.e. that of the Jewish Theological Seminary of New York. According to Marx, this work was mainly a preparatory and was not designed for publication. Shochetman argues that the Jerusalem manuscript is the later and more complete work, and he presents the additional Kelalim not found in the New York version in a special appendix at the end of the article. His main thesis, however, is that R. Bezalel did not intend to write a separate book of Kelalim, but intended his work to complement the Sefer Keritut of R. Samson of Chinon. (Y.S.K.)

S. Shtober, "Questions Posed to R. Abraham b. Maimonides" (Heb.), Shenaton Hamishpat Ha'ivri 14-15 (1988-89), 245-281. - The present article contains twelve hitherto unpublished items from the Cairo Genizah. Nine are halakhic questions addressed to R. Abraham b. Maimonides. Two are legal deeds, one of which was written by R. Abraham himself, and the other was issued by his bet din. The final item is a complete responsum. The issues dealt with in the documents are the grazing and milking of sheep by non-Jewish shepherds on the Sabbath, the laws and customs of niddah, gentile slave-concubines, the inheritance rights of a convert, the rights of women apprentice shohtim (ritual slaughterers), oaths, evidence and contract law. An appendix dealing with the state of observance of niddah and the Sabbath laws is attached. Each document is preceded by a short introduction to its halakhic and historical background. (D.B.S.)

Adin Steinsaltz, The Babylonian Talmud (Jerusalem: The Israel Institute for Talmudic Publications), Ketubot (1988, 2 vols.), Kiddushin (1989, 2 vols.), Sotah (1990). Adin Steinsaltz continues to produce his popular edition of the tractates of the Babylonian Talmud. Although an historical perspective is somewhat lacking, these volumes are very useful for the realia of the literature. With amazing industry, Steinsaltz has now also produced two English versions: The Talmud, A Reference Guide (New York: Random House, 1989, ISBN 0-394-57666-9), and Tractate Bava Metzia, Part I (only chapter one) (New York: Random House, 1989, ISBN 0-394-57666-7). In similar vein The Artscroll Series has produced Tractate Makkos (sic) in English, ed. Hersh Goldwurm and Nosson Scherman (Brooklyn, New York: Mesorah Publications, 1990, ISBN 0-89906-725-5). Here the English translation and commentary are placed side by side with the original Hebrew and Aramaic text. (L.J.)

I. Ta-Shma, "Maimonides' Commentary on the Talmud" (Heb.), Shenaton Hamishpat Ha'ivri 14-15 (1988-89), 299-305. - Maimonides' Commentary on the Talmud, which he mentions in the Introduction to the Mishnah, is hardly ever referred to by authorities in his period, and only traces of it are extant. The author observes that the major sources of reference to this commentary are either members of Maimonides' family and his circle of disciples, or Egyptian rabbis of later periods who were likely to have seen old manuscripts of the commentary. In all probability, it was designed as an internal handbook rather than a work for the general public: hence, no efforts were made to preserve it for posterity. The author refers to the various manuscripts containing this commentary and rejects the view that these manuscripts constitute separate editions of the commentary. In his view, Maimonides was constantly engaged in revising his commentary and only the decision not to preserve it lead to the addition of marginal notes, and hence, the theory of separate editions. (D.B.S.)

Meir Ydit, "An Obscure Mishnah and Haggadah Text", JRJ 27/2 (1980), 76-80. - The author explores presumed hidden meanings of M. Berakhoth l:5 and attempts to decode them in the light of the theological problems engendered by the destruction of the Second Temple. (S.M.P.)

Yerushalmi Neziqin, ed. from the Escorial manuscript with an introduction by E.S. Rosenthal, introduction and commentary by S. Lieberman (Heb.), Jerusalem: Ha'akademiyah hale'umit hayisra'elit lemada'im, l983, Pp. xxxix, 225; see KS 60/1-2 no. 473.

Shmuel Safrai, The Literature of the Sages, Part One, Assen/Maastricht and Philadelphia: Van Gorcum and Fortress Press, 1987, ISBN 90-232-2282-2, Pp.xxi, 486, Price: Dfl.95.00 (Compendia Rerum Judaicarum ad Novum Testamentum, II.3a). - This is the long-awaited volume on rabbinic literature from the Compendia project (see Survey no.1019, JLA VI). The editor provides an Introduction and chapters on "Oral Tora" and "Halakha". Isayah M. Gafni describes The Historical Background. The main weight of the book resides in the analyses of the literary sources of talmudic halakhah by Abraham Goldberg, who contributes chapters on The Mishna (with an Appendix by Michael Krupp on Manuscripts of the Mishna), the Tosefta, The Palestinian Talmud and the Babylonian Talmud. M.B. Lerner adds chapters on Tractate Avot and the External Tractates (ARN, Derekh Erets, etc.). The volume well represents the contribution of Israeli scholarship to the study of the early rabbinic sources. Part Two will cover Midrash and Targumim. (B.S.J.)

Dov Zlotnik, The Iron Pillar - Mishnah (Jerusalem: Bialik Institute, 1988) ISBN 965-324-516-1 - Professor Dov Zlotnik's introduction to the Mishnah is a welcome and unique contribution to the fields of rabbinic literature and Jewish legal studies. Written primarily with a philological bias, and secondarily with a legal orientation, the author has succeeded in introducing the legal student into the word of the Mishnah, without placing himself outside of the Mishnah's world and world view, thereby making this volume a useful and instructive aid to the rabbinical world. Like the late Professor Asher Gulak's Yesodot Hamishpat Ha'ivri, the author has succeeded in the difficult rhetorical task of maintaining the "dogmatics" of his discipline while couching his study in the method, mindset, and format of the modern historical scholar.

Unlike higher text critics, the author "assume(s) the integrity of the oral tradition" and concedes that he "is impressed with the pains taken in different generations to keep it (the oral tradition) intact." The author demonstrates, with historical, linguistic, and comparative legal materials, the internal dogmatics of the Mishnah document. Analysis of technical terms, coherent patterns of evidence garnered from the entire range of rabbinic literature, its rhetoric its range of legal norms, and the position of R. Judah the Prince are well treated.

The author makes several valuable points throughout his monograph which are of enduring value. The rhetorical analysis demonstrates that the Mishnah's original purpose was archival; it was intended by the compiler to be a literary source of oral teachings, and not as a legal source of promulgated law. The author carefully distinguishes between conjecture and scholarly conviction; this quality of exposition is a reflection of the intellectual honesty that pervades this study. This reconstruction of R. Judah's world is compelling if not somewhat of a tease. Always the aristocrat, R. Judah's published Mishnah is not only an attempt to "save" the oral law in order to make it accessible, but it is quite likely a partial result of R. Judah's having been excluded from the inner circle of the academy of R. Eliezer B Shamua. Probesson Zlotnik's treatment of minority views in the Mishnah reveals another systematic observation that yields an enduring insight. It is shown that some dissenting views are recorded for possible rehabilitation while others are preserved so that they should be so identified and not be readmitted into the normative collection of oral law norms. In his study of M. Eduyot, Prof. Zlotnik has resolved the long-standing dispute between Maimonides and R. Abraham B. David.

According to Maimonides, the Mishnah is not code, but a compendium of official, carefully edited statements of the oral Torah. It was edited in specific formulae so that its content not be lost, even though earlier oral Torah could be transmitted by teacher to student in discretionary diction. On the other hand, Rabbi Abraham b. David believes the Mishnah was not only understood by the Babylonian Talmud as a code, it was Rabbi Judah's intention to compose the Mishnah as a code. Through painstaking literary analysis and study of tannaitic materials, Professor Zlotnik argues that Maimonides' tradition is historically accurate on literary and philological grounds. Indeed, the author's close reading of this old tractate provides the conceptual frame of the entire volume. The author not only introduces the dogmatic rabbinic student and value neutral historical scholar into the universe of Mishnaic discourse, he shares the vocabulary, applying his teacher's method to the Mishnah with clarity, insight, erudition, and thorough control of his materials.

This study would have been more complete if attention was paid to Professor Jacob Neusner's work on the Mishnah. While Professors Neusner and Dov Zlotnik begin with radically different methodological starting points as to the purported reliability of Mishnaic traditions, Neusner's insights concerning the "religion" of "Judaism" is sufficiently groundbreaking to have been addressed, even in rebuttal.

After studying Professor Zlotnik's The Iron Pillar, neither student nor scholar will be able to read the Mishnah in the same way as before. This quality is the author's most enduring contribution. (A.J.Y.)

 

 

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