Welcome to Scribd, the world's digital library. Read, publish, and share books and documents. See more
Download
Standard view
Full view
of .
Look up keyword
Like this
12Activity
0 of .
Results for:
No results containing your search query
P. 1
The teaching of David Halivni: deciphering the voices of the Stammaim in the Talmud Babli

The teaching of David Halivni: deciphering the voices of the Stammaim in the Talmud Babli

Ratings:

5.0

(1)
|Views: 1,311 |Likes:
Published by Florian_L
This article is an overview of David Halivni's lifelong work on the Talmud.

More than three decades ago, David Halivni made the fundamental hypothesis that the Talmud as we know it is the works of generations of anonymous sages, the Stammaim, who lived after the Amoraim, the last sages whose name appear in the discussions in the Talmud.

According to David Halivni, only the legal conclusion was officially transmitted by the earlier generations of sages (Tannaim and Amoraim), the dialectical material (shakle ve-taria) being only individually recorded in the memory of the sages attending the legal deliberations.

The author (Florian Deloup Wolfowicz)reviews this thesis from its inception (the problem of doh'aq in the Talmud) through some of its textual manifestations in the Talmud and the rabbinic litterature, up to its contemporary consequences, both historical and philosophical.

The article also includes a discussion of the idea of a Jewish resistance to history (in the sense of Hegel) which accounts for the extended ahistoricity of traditional Jewish learning. David Halivni's works call for another kind of learning, both historical and fallible. In particular, the author argues that at the root between pshat and derash, the historical noncoincidence between the legal conclusions and the explicit reconstruction of the arguments of the deliberations is a key structure of Oral Law.
This article is an overview of David Halivni's lifelong work on the Talmud.

More than three decades ago, David Halivni made the fundamental hypothesis that the Talmud as we know it is the works of generations of anonymous sages, the Stammaim, who lived after the Amoraim, the last sages whose name appear in the discussions in the Talmud.

According to David Halivni, only the legal conclusion was officially transmitted by the earlier generations of sages (Tannaim and Amoraim), the dialectical material (shakle ve-taria) being only individually recorded in the memory of the sages attending the legal deliberations.

The author (Florian Deloup Wolfowicz)reviews this thesis from its inception (the problem of doh'aq in the Talmud) through some of its textual manifestations in the Talmud and the rabbinic litterature, up to its contemporary consequences, both historical and philosophical.

The article also includes a discussion of the idea of a Jewish resistance to history (in the sense of Hegel) which accounts for the extended ahistoricity of traditional Jewish learning. David Halivni's works call for another kind of learning, both historical and fallible. In particular, the author argues that at the root between pshat and derash, the historical noncoincidence between the legal conclusions and the explicit reconstruction of the arguments of the deliberations is a key structure of Oral Law.

More info:

Published by: Florian_L on Dec 20, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial No-derivs

Availability:

Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
download as DOC, PDF, TXT or read online from Scribd
See more
See less

03/27/2013

pdf

text

original

 
The teaching of David Halivni: deciphering the voicesof the Stammaim
 by Florian Deloup Wolfowicz
Among contemporary research on the Talmud, David Halivni's work holds aspecial place. Still little known in France, it has nevertheless renewed in depth our understanding of the Talmud and in particular, the structure of the
 sugya
(the textualdiscursive unit of the Guemara). David Halivni's masterwork, a lifelong on-goingwork dedicated to the study of the Talmud Babli, is a commentary in Hebrew, entitledMeqorot u-Messorot [Sources and Traditions]
1
.Nuanced and erudite, David Halivni'sthesis can be perhaps most elementarily stated in its historical form:1.The sum and substance of the Talmud as a text, as we know it, is theworks of anonymous sages, called Stammaim (from the Aramaic
 stamma
,anonymous) who flourished from the sixth century on
2
;2.The Stammaim did not have all the sources required to assemble theGuemara and had to restore the give-and-take from incomplete material;3.The interest for the discursive, almost absent in the Mishna, developedin the period of the Stammaim who relied on the Midrash, where theexposition of a verse is followed by a homiletic or legal explanation.This thesis deviates from the traditional viewpoint that considers that theGuemara – and hence the Talmud – was completed with the last Amoraim, in the fifthor sixth century. According to David Halivni, "between the Amoraim and us stand theStammaim".The outstanding task of reconstruction and restoration that David Halivni setfor himself reverberates with the history of his own life, recalled in a short and intenseautobiography. Born in 1927 in Kobolečka Poljana (then in Czechoslovakia, now inUkrainia), David Weiss Halivni grew in Sighet where he is quickly recognized as achild prodigy in his learning of the Talmud. He becomes a rabbi at the age of fourteen. Like all the Jews of his town, he is sent by the Nazis to Auschwitz.Liberated in 1945 and the only survivor of his family, he immigrated to the UnitedStates in 1947 with a group of young orphans. There he met the scholar SaulLieberman who became his teacher. Then David Halivni joined the JewishTheological Seminary (JTS) in New York where he became professor of Talmud. In1985, in the aftermath of deep disagreements with the new direction of JTS over religious reforms it sought to adopt, David Halivni left an institution over which henevertheless exerted a profound influence. A short time afterwards, he was appointed professor at Columbia University in New York where he taught until he retired. DavidHalivni is the recipient of several prestigious awards, notably the Bialik prize and theIsrael prize. He now lives in Jerusalem. Although he lived in many different placesand times, "in the most important sense, David Halivni has traveled not at all"
3
. Hecontinues studying the same
blatt 
 
 gemore
that he was studying in Sighet three
1
To this day seven volumes have appeared. The first one was published in 1968, the latest one in 2008.
2
This thesis is stated for the first time in Meqorot u-Messorot, Seder Moed, Yoma – Hagigah,Jerusalem, 1974.
3
 
Baroukh Weiss, in
 Neti`ot le-David (David Halivni Festschrift)
, éd. Y. Alman, Ephraïm Betsalel Halivni, TsviAryeh Steinfeld, Jérusalem, 2005.
1
 
quarters of a century ago. Everything changed since a world was irreparablydestroyed –, only the learning of Talmud remains.Though David Halivni's thesis and method are erudite, their importance is felt beyond academic circles. They touch upon essential questions on the authority of theTalmudic text, its plain meaning, the difference between legal relevance and thereligious commandment to learn, as well as the subtle link between Oral and WrittenLaw.
"FORCED" INTERPRETATIONS IN THE TALMUD
If learning in the Talmud is fraught with many difficulties, both linguistic andstructural, especially to the beginner, there is one peculiarity of the text that not onlyresists to study but actually deepens with it, the
 perush dahuq
,
the forced, nonliteral,interpretation. Indeed, the Talmud, as we know it, is marred with forcedexplanations. These forced explanations have largely contributed to the developmentof the
 pilpul 
, the art of solving or harmonizing internal contradictions of the text whileformally preserving the literality. David Halivni's approach does not belong to pilpul:it endeavors to explain the contradictions of the text in a more radical way but also ismore respectful of the simple meaning of the text. This is a key point because of theappreciation of 
dohaq
in the Talmud depends his entire thesis
4
.
 Diyyuq and dohaq in the Talmud 
The sages have emphasized several times the obligation to transmit theteachings with precision or 
diyyuq
: "every man has the obligation to state the law inthe language of his teacher" (T.B. Berakhot 47a). As David Halivni writes
5
: "For them, not only paraphrase was susceptible of imprecision but would constitute adeviation from the chain of tradition. Continuity of language and continuity of tradition would go hand in hand in rabbinical thought. Every single change that wouldaffect the first would also affect the second." Nevertheless, it is beyond doubt that halakhic changes, that is changes pertaining to Hebrew Law, occurred in the Talmudic literature and many of themwere caused by an imprecision of the transmitter. When two sages disagree and eachone has received a tradition from his teacher,
'elu ve-'elu divrei eloqim hayim
, bothteachings are acknowledged as teachings of the living God. But, as David Halivni puts it, when a single sage states one opinion and the opposite, only one teaching isthe teaching of the living God ! The cases when such a contradiction can be accountedfor by the fact that a sage retracted from an earlier position or withdrew a statementare rare. Imperceptibly and unbeknownst to the transmitters, changes indeed occurred.And yet, according to David Halivni's formulation, changes of the past are"the language of the teacher" of tomorrow: the oral tradition has absorbed thesechanges; as a consequence, the text has become strained and unsmooth – hence our 
4
A posteriori David Halivni discovered that his resolution of the dohaq has a wider scope and bear onthe whole dialectical material of the Talmud. See below the section
The works of the Stammaim
.
5
Introduction to Meqorot u-Messorot, Seder Nachim, p. 7.
2
 
difficulty understanding it. The
 suggyot 
of the Guemara strive to arrange and explainteachings from distinct academies in a methodic and extensive fashion; however theauthors of this work, the Stammaim, had no choice but to solve their difficulties
bedohaq
, using forced explanations.
 Dohaq
bears witness to the fact that we do nothave sources in their primary form. In general, when the explanation given in theGuemara strays away from the peshat, the simple meaning, of the Mishnah, the probability increases that the author did not have the integral sources in front of him.In fact, many classical post-Talmudic commentators, as soon as the Gueonim, havesometimes interpreted the Mishna or the Baraita
6
differently from the Guemara notonly because of language; besides, it occurs sometimes that an Amora does not knowof a Baraita, baraita la' shemi`a lei (TB Eruvin 19b), or that he knows it only partially.Here is a first example
7
, T.B. Sanhedrin 42b.We read in the Mishna (firstMishna in the sixth chapter):The place of stoning was outside the court, as it is written [Lev. 24:14]:Bring forth him that cursed outside the camp.The Talmud notices the discrepancy between the statement in the Mishna ("outsidethe court") and the verse ("outside the camp") stated in support of the law.But was the place of stoning just outside the court and not further?The Guemara asks this question because there is a baraita that teaches that the placeof stoning is outside the three camps, that is, outside the city's walls. The Guemarathen tries to demonstrate that the expression "outside the camp" means "outside thethree camps", hence outside the city. Two exegetical arguments (
derashot 
) are given.In both cases, the Talmud interprets "outside the court" as "far away from the court",stretching all the way to the end of the camp. This seems quite a forcedinterpretation
8
. David Halivni gives an explanation
9
that does not step in the plain meaning of the verse nor supersedes that of the Mishna. The Tanna, the teacher of this
drashah
included in the Mishna, lived at a time when the court was situated at the gate, at theedge of the town, as in biblical times. Outside the court, therefore, also meant outsidethe town, in one direction. The Tanna refers to this direction, hence the scripturalsupport "outside the camp". Later, as explains David Halivni, the location of the courtchanged.
6
Teaching of the Tannaim that was not included into Rebbi's Mishna.
7
This example is exceptional in that it is one of the oldest statements in the whole Mishna. I chose it because it is simple and demonstrates that the
dohaq
is not arbitrary but to the contrary, is the trace of areconstruction from contradictory and incomplete sources.
8
 
At the beginning of the
 suggya
, the Guemara deduces from the discrepancy between the Mishna andthe Baraita an "additional" teaching: even if the court convenes outside the city, the place of stoningought to be outside the court. But this is already supported by the
 peshat 
of the Mishna in the first place. The two reasons (anonymously) given in the
 suggya
(the court must not appear as an assemblyof murderers and the condemned must have the possibility of last minute rescue because of the distanceto travel to the place of stoning) do not address the discrepancy itself.
9
We cannot review here all his demonstration: see
Midrash, Mishnah and Guemara
, HarvardUniversity Press, 1983, pp. 25-27 for a summary and his article, "The location of the Beit Din in theEarly Tannaitic Period", Proceedings of the American Academy for Jewish Research, vol. 29, 1960-61, pp. 181-191 for a complete discussion.
3

Activity (12)

You've already reviewed this. Edit your review.
1 hundred reads
1 thousand reads
lslevy liked this
MichaelClayBell liked this
millerboyz999 liked this
chisda liked this
cyntab liked this
inachuu liked this
sch0l4r liked this

You're Reading a Free Preview

Download
scribd
/*********** DO NOT ALTER ANYTHING BELOW THIS LINE ! ************/ var s_code=s.t();if(s_code)document.write(s_code)//-->