Monday, October 24, 2011

Baruch Shekivanti!

"In the beit midrash, it is considered an exciting delight to find that one's original thought was actually innovated by an earlier source, unbeknownst to the current thinker. This is usually taken to be a vindication of the thought patterns of the learner, and an exoneration of his logic. The happy student may exclaim, 'baruch shekivanti!', which ostensibly means 'blessed is He who directed me [to the same conclusion as source x]'. This phrase has become of modern parlance in orthodox circles, and is used in situations removed from torah learning, as well. (...)" Source
Exactly one year after my novel explanation about the Ot of Cain, which I identified to be the Tav just like the Ot of Mitzraim in Exodus 12:13 , I was shown a source to this claim - the Siftei Chachamim (see here, last line): אות ת רמז בו תחיה כלומר שלא יהרגנו

So it turns out that it was the letter Tav indeed and the Tav is in fact the short version of תחיה, "You shall live". My only source for that until now was Rabbi Kasher's chidush on the Odd letters in the Mezuzot, where he used the same logic. Now the Siftei Chachamim validates Rabbi Kasher's insight and confirms that the Ot of Cain is indeed connected to the Ot of Mitztraim. Fascinating.

It's just remains unclear if Hashem inscribed in Cain the letter Tav in Ktav Ivri or Ashurit. The Ot of Mitzraim was in Ktav Ivri, like an X. So did Cain have our traditional Tav or an X in his forehead?

Just an addendum, the Siftei Chachamim also brings that the letter could have been the Hey, one of the letters in G-d's name. As I mentioned in the original post, the Peirush Hasulam says that it was a Vav. I thought that was all - Tav, Hey and Vav. Then I looked in older Mikraot Gedolot and found this alternative version of the Siftei Chachamim (see here):  אות י רמז בו יחיה כלומר שלא יהרגנו. Somebody obviously messed up in the copying because that is NOT what the Siftei Chachamim says, so in case you see it, it's a clear Taut Sofer, copier's error.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Melechet Shamayim

Just came across a very good blog that also focuses on Safrut. The author is very handy and like experiments, and I specially like his series about Gevil parchment. In fact, I will look for a Gevil on my upcoming trip to Jerusalem. The question is what I should write on it - I'm thinking maybe a Lamnatzeach (see post about it here), a psalm that was inscribed in David's shield for protection. It's short, easy to write and it will look stunning in Gevil.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Ze Keili VeAnveihu זה אלי ואנוהו

This is an addendum to one of my earlier posts which discussed Ze Keili Veanveihu.

Just a quick briefing:
"זה אלי ואנוהו" - התנאה לפניו במצוות 
(מסכת שבת קלג/ב)

In that post I mentioned that according to some rabbanim, there's no concept of Ze Keili Veanveihu in something which is concealed from the eye (i.e. Tefillin). Yesterday I saw that the Keset HaSofer explicitly disagrees and even brings a proof from the Aron HaKodesh, which was gold coated not only externally but internally as well. That is because, says the Keset Hasofer, of Ze Keili Veanveihu. See below (here is the original):

 ג) ל כ ת ח ל ה  יכ ת ו ב  כ ת י ב ה  גס ה  ק צ ת  של א  יהיו נמ ח ק י ם  מ ה ר ה  וכ ן
 מצו ר ,  לי פ ו ת ן  מ ב פ נ י ם  שה ר י  בי ה מ ״ ק  הי ה  מצ ו פ ה  זה ב  מ ב פ נ י ם ,

 ה) הס ו פ ר י ם  הז ר י ז ים עו ש י ם  ג׳  מי נ י  קל פ י ם  לש ל  רא ש  ה ע ב  י ו ת ר
 ל כ ת ו ב  בו  פ׳  שמ ע  שה י א  ק ט נ ה ,  ו ה ד ק  ממ נ ו  לפ י  וה י ה  כי
 י ב י א ך  שה י א  יו ת ר  ג ד ו ל ה ,  ול פ י  קד ש  ול פ י  וה י ה  א ם  שס ו ע  שה ן
 א ר ו כ ו ת  עו ש י ם  קל ף  דק  מ א ד  וב ז ה  י ת מ ל א ו  ה ב ת י ם  בש ו ה  וזהו  נו י
 ה פ י ל י ן 
Just delving a bit more in this subject, I think we can use the classical yeshivish distinction of Gavra (גברא) and Cheftza (חפצא) to explain the two sides of this discussion; if the concept of Ze Keili is upon the person (גברא) so he knows what's hidden and if there's something nice in it like a well-written parsha or in the case of the Aron Kodesh, gold coated wood, the person will think he is exalting the Mitzva and it will count as Ze Keili Veanveihu.

However, if Ze Keili relates exclusively to the item (חפצא), then when you look at the item there's nothing special about the hidden gold coat or the special parshiot. The item just looks the same as any other and therefore only an external embelishment will make it special. Hence the wording ZE keili, the word ZE ("this") is usually referred to something you can point at i.e. not hidden.

What option do you think is more correct? If you think nobody would spend money on a hidden embellishment and that therefore the first opinion doesn't make sense, here's a famous story that illustrates the psychology behind the first opinion, although is not Torah related. Here it is - Lehavdil!
Steve Jobs has a many enviable qualities. His attention to detail, his ability to grasp what people actually want, his management style and presentation skills are all things that many CEO's envy.

(...)That scenario almost repeated itself with the original Mac. Upon seeing the mother board Steve deemed it ugly. When designers pointed out that the only service technicians would actually see the motherboard, Steve shot back famously "I'll see it." (source)