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Mekhilta of R. Simeon ben Yoḥai |

Mekhilta is an Aramaic word corresponding to the Hebrew middah, meaning a “ measure” or “rule”, in this case referring to certain fixed rules of scriptural. Source for information on Mekhilta of R. Simeon ben Yoḥai: Encyclopaedia would require a detailed examination, which has not been conducted to date. The present Mekhilta cannot, however, be the one composed by R. Ishmael, as is Read the text of Mekhilta d'Rabbi Yishmael online with commentaries and.

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An examination of the singular character of ms therefore requires further study, that would have to include a new and consistent examination of its terminology, the names of the rabbis it mentions, and its prevalent hermeneutical methods that at albeit extremely rare times seem also to include several elements seemingly characteristic of the other school, that of R.

The aggadic material in ms fundamentally resembles the parallel material in mi. An orderly examination of the parallel aggadic material of Parshat Amalek demonstrates the primacy of the tradition in mi, in comparison with that of ms, which apparently was fashioned by redactors who sought to inform the midrashic expositions with a more developed literary and ideational nature, somewhat freed from their rigid linkage to the verses.

Along with the ideational development of several of the Midrashim in this section in ms, the latter occasionally exhibits stylistic hyperbole, exegetical diffusion, a tendency to relate unattributed interpretations to specific rabbis, and possibly even an attempt to artificially rewrite disagreements.

Some of the Midrashim in ms exhibit a simplification of content that borders on popularization, and the accentuation of motifs that concentrate on elementary principles of the religious experience, such as emphasizing the importance of obedience to the word of God, sermonizing about the observance of the commandments and avoiding sin, reinforcing the standing of prayer, and promising the good end that awaits Israel, along with the tribulations that shall befall its enemies.

A comprehensive characterization of the aggadic material of the two Mekhiltot would require a detailed examination, which has not been conducted to date. Nonetheless, a partial examination of other parashot in the ms reveals findings similar to those in evidence in Parshat Amalek.

The literary nature of the first aggadic unit that appears only in ms, and not in mi, which resembles in a certain sense the genre of Tanhuma, also reflects the literary adaptation that is characteristic of the aggadic material of ms and the relatively late time of its fashioning. The same is true for some of the aggadic material that is incorporated within the halakhic sections, and for a portion of the halakhic material that is included in the aggadic passages.

A geonic response probably by R. This could possibly be related to the manner in which ms was transmitted, and, in fact, the tb frequently quotes Midrashim similar or identical to ms. Tarbiz, 41—72 Heb. Albeck, Introduction to the Talmuds Heb. Epstein, Introduction to the Mishnaic Text—47 Heb. Tarbiz, 6—82 Heb. Jochai ; M. Glick, "Another Fragment of the ms," in: Leshonenu, 48—49—15 Heb.

Hirshman, Torah for the Entire World Heb. Hoffmann, Mechiltade-Rabbi Simon b. Jochai zu Exodus Heb. Kahana, "Another Page from the Mekhilta of R. Alei Sefer, 155—20 Heb. How do I know that it [also] applies when the master has no wife and children? Finkelstein also comments on this contradiction between the Halakhic conclusions of the two parts of the derashah in the Mekhilta.

The Akivan midrashim indeed contain derashot similar to the conclusion of our derashah in the Mekhilta, all agreeing that both the slave and his master must have a family. If his master has a wife and children but he does not have a wife and children, he is not to be pierced, as it says: Similarly, in Sifre Deuteronomy In either case, the slave is to be pierced through the ear.

Epstein cites this baraita as one of his proofs that the Mekhilta to Exodus is from the school of R. Ishmael, since it is one of the places where the opinion of the anonymous voice of the midrash matches an opinion that appears elsewhere in the name of R. Ishmael is also very much present in the midrashim from the school of R. For our purposes, however, this source holds important information. According to this unique tradition, there was a dispute between R. Higger suggested they are the product of a post-Mishnaic author and were later revised in Babylonia.

Stemberger, Introduction to the Talmud and Midrash trans. Fortress Press,pp. There have been a few recent studies dealing with specific minor tractates: Brodsky, A Bride Without a Blessing: This view accords with my reconstruction of the first part of derashah 2 in the Mekhilta: According to this derashah, the piercing can take place even if the slave has a family but the master does not.

This opinion is included in the statement of R. These opinions do not match completely, since the reconstructed derashah does not treat the second case, in which the master has a family but the slave does not, and we cannot know how the author of this derashah would rule in that case.

But we can say that the derashah on Exod. As can be seen from my detailed discussion above, I am not using this source as the basis for my claim. Rather, my hypothetical reconstruction and higher criticism of the midrashic text, built on logical and comparative textual studies of the midrashic texts, is suddenly finding support in this later rabbinic gaonic?

With this dispute between R. Ishmael in mind, let us return to our discussion of the evolution of derashah 2 in the Mekhilta.

I have suggested that two changes were made to the original derashah. First, the order of the verses in the derashah was reversed, with the starting point becoming the proof-text and vice versa. Second, the Halakhic outcome of the derashah was altered: When viewing the changes made to the early midrash in combination with the dispute between R. One might suggest that the editor of the Mekhilta took the earlier Akivan midrash and changed it to reflect an Ishmaealian view, which requires that both the master and the slave have families in order to perform the ear-piercing ritual.

Pace Finkelstein, we are not dealing with a baraita copied in the margin, which was later incorporated into the main text of the midrash, causing textual problems. Rather, this is an intentional, if rough, reworking of the midrashic material to conform to a different Halakhic view. The reworking of the derashah into the form that appears in our Mekhilta is the cause of the textual difficulties listed above.

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The rest of the derashot did not require this kind of revision, since the Halakhic opinions they demonstrate match Ishmaelian views elsewhere.

This is evident from a number of parallels in midrashim from the school of R. Akiva, which accord with the Halakhic conclusions in the other derashot in our passage in the Mekhilta. The reconstructed midrashic unit In light of the above discussion, we can at this point offer the following reconstruction of the original midrashic unit on Deut.

In addition, Rabbi is the only named sage in this unit. I claimed above that Mekhilta Deuteronomy was not the source material on which the editor of Mekhilta Derabbi Ishmael drew for this passage. As I mentioned, a parallel to derashah 2 appears in Mekhilta Deuteronomy with a similar Halakhic conclusion.

However, the seamless and smooth derashah in Mekhilta Deuteronomy uses a term that often signals a text transferred from another midrashic context. I argued that this passage originated in our Mekhilta as a reworking of a pre-existing, Akivan midrash on Deut.

Mekhilta of Rabbi Ishmael

Its derivative nature makes it much smoother and less apparent in its use of earlier materials. It is also unlikely that the editor of our Mekhilta drew on an earlier Ishmaelian midrash to Deuteronomy that does not survive. The Halakhic position in my reconstruction of the original midrashic unit clearly reflects the view attributed to R. The editor of the Mekhilta here has appropriated a midrashic unit that conformed to R. Section 1 One issue that I have not yet addressed is the first derashah in the Mekhilta.

This first derashah was also a part of the early Akivan midrash on Deut. And, indeed, we find just such a midrash in Sifre Deuteronomy Guggenheimer, The Jerusalem Talmud [Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, ]: So far according to R. It was used by the editor of our Mekhilta because of its relevance to Exod. Nevertheless, it retained the unique Akivan midrashic technique foreign to Ishmaelian midrash, making it the only derashah of its kind in the entire Ishmaelian corpus.

Conclusions We can now add this first derashah to the midrashic unit reconstructed above and present the complete Akivan midrash on Deut. What are the ramifications of the textual study presented here? First, we were able to identify an earlier source for our Tannaitic legal midrashim, a source no longer at our disposal. For this reconstruction we demonstrated the need for a careful textual survey and comparative study of all the rabbinic material at our disposal. This Halakhic dispute revolves around different approaches to the social 26 setting in which a slave may choose to remain enslaved.

According to the Ishmaelian view, a slave may not make this decision without already having a family, and a master cannot accept such an offer unless he has a family of his own. If one chooses to dedicate himself to lifelong servitude, he must do so after his own family is already established, as well as the family of the master to whom he is committing himself. The alternate view, of R. Akiva, does not require such conditions. Fourth, we can refine our understanding of the methodological differences between the Halakhic schools of R.

We thus reinforce the unique use of this technique of midrashic reading in Akivan midrashim. Judah the Prince is the only named sage in this reconstructed, early midrash. Furthermore, if Mekhilta Deuteronomy is already using our Mekhilta and reworking it to smooth out its rough edges, as suggested, then the passage in Mekhilta Deuteronomy is later than Mekhilta Derabbi Ishmael in its redaction.

Of course, these findings are limited to this particular section of these midrashim, but they concur with other findings by scholars of the legal midrashim, who generally date the redaction of the legal midrashim to a generation or two after the redaction of the Mishnah. In our case, the editor of the 46 See A. This is in contrast to the opinions of Albeck, Introduction to the Talmud, pp. For a critique of Wacholder, see M.

A later editor, intending to compile a halakhic midrash to Exodus, took R. Ishmael's work on the book, beginning with ch. He even omitted passages from the portion which he took, but, by way of compensation, he incorporated much material from the other halakhic midrashimSifraR.

Shimon bar Yochai's Mekiltaand the Sifre to Deuteronomy. But the redactor based his work on the midrash of R. Ishmael's school, and the sentences of R. Ishmael and his pupils constitute the larger part of his Mekhilta. Similarly, most of the anonymous maxims in the work were derived from the same source, so that it also was known as the "Mekhilta of Rabbi Ishmael.

He cannot, however, have been R. Hoshaiahas A. Rab, however, did not do this in Babyloniaas I. Weiss assumes Einleitung in die Mechilta, p. Ishmael," and in the Jerusalem Talmud and the haggadic midrashim by "Teni R. Yet there are many baraitot in the Talmud which contain comments on Book of Exodusand which are introduced by the phrase "Tana debe R. Yishmael," but which are not included in the Mekhilta under discussion.

These must have been included in R. Ishmael's original Mekhilta, and the fact that they are omitted in this midrash is evidence that its redactor excluded many of the passages from R.