Thursday, July 31, 2008

Written and unreliable/ Oral and viable

In a post on the Mahram M' Rotenberg's captivity, Bein Din L' Din quoted the following statement from Dr. I Agus:

"We must draw a clear distinction between R. Solomon’s Responsum 29, where he inserts a copy of an historical document that was written by a contemporary of R. Meir, and this statement in the ים של שלמה, which was based on an oral report, notoriously subject to error. An oral statement made almost three hundred years after the event is usually devoid of historical truth."

Although the above is virtually a dogma among historians, one must always keep an open mind. This is illustrated very nicely by one of my favorite authors, R. Kipling. In an article on his book Puck of Pooks Hill and its sequel, Lisa Lewis remarks:

The many ways history is recorded and interpreted are another major theme that permeates Puck of Pook's Hill. Written evidence is shown as less reliable than it seems. In "Old Men at Pevensey" an ambitious monk deliberately slants the record for political reasons. The manor rolls can also be falsified--De Aquila says of a girl "write her free," yielding to her family's importunity without examining the facts.

In "Hal o' the Draft" a magistrate decides not to prosecute villagers guilty of gun running, so that this crime would not be listed in the trial records for Henry VII's reign. A letter written by one character to another, but which may be read by hostile eyes on the road, carries an opposite message between the lines. When Maximus writes to Parnesius that he should not heed defeatist rumours, Pertinax comments: "He writes as a man without hope." [1]

The oral tradition represented by old Hobden, though it may seem full of superstitious nonsense, contains hints and suggestions that can carry more than symbolic meaning, as the Marsh, which looks so flat and plain, is full of hidden dykes. The land itself, with its traditional place names, its hills, fords and pathways, bears true witness to the past. Little Lindens farm, the parish church and the ruins of the old forge each contribute to the unspoken record.

At the end Dan refers to G. M. Ballantyne's adventure stories, in which he found his information about gorillas, offering an explication of the "Devils." "All people can be wise by reading of books," comments Puck. "But are the books true?" asks the knight. (27) Puck then leads him on to tell the third story in his cycle, "Old Men at Pevensey," in which writing is used to deceive: "tricked out and twisted from its true meaning, yet withal so cunningly that none could deny who knew him that De Aquila had in some sort spoken those words."

[1] This is the passage in question:

"Tell your Father that my destiny orders me to drive three mules or be torn in pieces by them. I hope within a year to finish with Theodosius, son of Theodosius, once and for all. Then you shall have Britain to rule, and Pertinax, if he chooses, Gaul. To-day I wish strongly you were with me to beat my Auxiliaries into shape. Do not, I pray you, believe any rumour of my sickness. I have a little evil in my old body which I shall cure by riding swiftly into Rome."

Despite the triumphal tone of the letter, he writes "as a man with out hope".

The Beis Vaad L'Chachomim of Y. C. Daiches - A most unusual periodical

Below is the entry for R' Daiches from NEJ: (A more lengthy biography of R' Daiches (who was according to all reports quite an interesting character) can be found in the memoirs of his son, David Daiches (a noted literary critic) -Two Worlds: An Edinburgh Jewish Childhood (1956) and Promised Lands: A Portrait of My Father (1997).

"ISRAEL HAYYIM (1850–1937), born in Darshunishek, Lithuania, studied at Lithuanian yeshivot and, after a short time as rabbi in a Lithuanian community, became rabbi in Leeds, England. Daiches founded the Union of Orthodox Rabbis of England. Often lenient in his opinions, Daiches tried to adapt to modern technological advances, and occasionally was subjected to strong criticism (see his Mikveh Yisrael , 1912). His published work mainly concerned the Jerusalem Talmud, on which he wrote annotations; the responsa of Isaac b. Sheshet (Ribash; 1879); Ma'arḥot Yisrael, on Oraḥ le-Ḥayyim by Ḥayyim Segal of Ratzki (1879); and notes added to Last's edition of Magen Avot by Menahem ha-Meiri (1909, 1958). Daiches also published responsa (1870) and sermons (Imrei Yosher, 1887), and Derashot Maharyaḥ (with autobiography, 1930). He edited a rabbinic journal, Beit Va'ad la-Ḥakhamim, during 1902–04."

This journal was one of the most unique rabbinic publications I have ever seen. There is a curious mix of classic rabbinic scholarship (a lengthy discussion on the Kashrus of an animal with certain extension to the stomach, a Teshuva from the Malibim on inheritance (scans below),etc.), critical rabbinic scholarship (articles if R' Dovid Tzvi Hoffman on the last ch. in Pesachim that I hope to place in a future post), and critical Biblical scholarship (the lecture of Jakob Barth on Babel and the old Israelite Religious system, translations of ancient Sumerian poetry such as the Enuma Elish, etc. - see below for scans).

Interestingly, despite this somewhat unorthodox mix, R' Shlomo HaKohen of Vilna sent several long effusive letters praising the publication and its editor. I cannot help wondering what the reaction of contemporary Rabbinic leaders would be to such a periodical.
Also, worthy of note is the section entitled Maaneh B'Ktzaroh which I found to be very amusing.
This is a Teshuva of the Malbim that was published there (since I don't know if it has been reproduced anywhere else I thought it worthwhile to place it here).

This is a translation of Prof. Jakob Barth's lectures in response to Friedrich Delitzsch's Babel und Bible. See Mordechai Breuer "Modernity within Tradition" pgs. 209-211 for a complete description of this episode.

As you can see, the issue of "Babel und Bible" had become quite a hot topic at this point. To this end Daiches's son Shmuel (a distinguished Orientalist on his own right) produced several translations of various ancient Babylonian poems with commentary:

A photo offset copy of all issues of this journal was produced by a Mechon L' Zichron Yotzei Poland (or something to that effect). I plan on placing copies of all the articles by R' Dovid Tzvi Hoffmann Zt"l from hat journal in a future post.

Friday, July 25, 2008

R' Chaim Ozer in English - Some letters relating to Hatzoloh

Some new letters from R' Chaim Ozer (including one in English) have been placed online. (See also the letters published by Marc Shapiro in HaMayaan).

The following letter was published as a photo in an article (See here - the online edition doesn't have the photos of the letters) about R' Chaim Yisroel Eiss Z"L:

To put the letter into context, R' Chaim Yisroel was one of the founding members of the Mizrachi (He apparently had a box full of correspondance with various Mizrachi Gedolim such as R' Reines and R' Mohilever. I do not know where those letters are today (if they still exist.)) He became disillusioned with the Mizrachi when "cultural issues" were raised at one of the Zionist conferences and he went on to become a militant Agudist. You can read about more of his activities in various articles here.

In the original letter (which I have seen), R' Eiss had complained that the Mizrachi leaders such as R' Herzog were being involved with corresponding with him about it first. To which R' Chaim Ozer responded -

."ע"ד מה שכתב הרב ר' מאיר קרליץ שי' בארה"ק ... . מובן כי הישיבות פנו להרב הרצוג אודות סרטיפיקטים ודעתם שיש לו השפעה בענין זה וגם אני כתבתי אליו ולהאגודה כמה פעמים ,באשר במקום של פקו"נ אין מדקדקים על פוליטיקה

Prof. Marc Shapiro explains (I thank him for allowing me to post this) that:

"The letter of R. Chaim Ozer is obviously written with an eye as to who is the recipient, because RCO also engaged in Torah correspondence with R. Herzog (and many other non-Agudists). the letter is probably referring to why he is engaged in political type activities with R. Herzog (which also involved the Mizrachi once removed). "

and also:

"I think the main point of the letter is not that RCO is explaining why he did what HE did, he is giving mussar to Eiss, that when it comes to pikuach nefesh, one doesn't concern oneself with politics. The Agudah, especially the German Agudah, we much too separatist for people like R. Chaim Ozer. That is what this letter is about."

(NB: See the letter of R' Chaim Ozer published in Sefer HaZikaron for the Seridei Eish for R' Chaim Ozer's stance on R' Hirsch's Austritt policy.)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Postscript: Mendelssohn's disciple

The Beis Halevi records the following interpretation:

שנה באבות (ה:כג), "מה בין תלמידיו של אברהם אבינו לתלמידיו של בלעם הרשע?" ושאלו המפרשים, מדוע לא כתוב, "מה בין אברהם לבלעם?" אלא, שבלעם עצמו יכול להיות נביא גדול, אולי אפי' גדול כמשה. ביוצר השיטה קשה להבחין לפעמים מהותו, אך בתלמידים כבר רואים מי הרב שלהם.

Some have thought that the following explanation ought to apply to Mendelssohn. Even if in his life he appeared to be an observant Jew, one can judge waht sort of person he really was by looking at his disciples (Most notably the notorious David Friedlander. Interestingly, Graetz refers to as Mendelssohn's Ape (Popular History V. 5) which presumably means to say that he lacked a real understanding into his mentors philosophy.)

This explanation has two difficulties. As Lion of Zion comments, the term disciple is not entirely correct, "most of his so-called disciples matured independently of his tutelage and some spent minimal time in berlin altogether."

The second is that if one is going to blame Mendelssohn for David Friedlanders tergiversation ;) then one would have to blame the Noda B' Yehuda for Aaron Choriner's actions, which is quite plainly ridiculous.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Evil or Enigma - The Jewish Observer on Rambaman

In the Jewish Observer of December, 1986, there appeared an article entitled "The Enigma of Moses Mendelssohn", which discussed the life and beliefs of the father of the Enlightenment. The article, which was highly critical of Mendelssohn, particularly because he failed to follow the advice and decisions of Torah scholars, noted however that although most of his children and grandchildren converted to other religions, he personally was an observant Jew all his life.

This article caused such an "outcry", that in the next issue of that periodical, the Chairman of the Board of the Observer printed a "mea culpa", apologizing for the article's positive mention of Mendelssohn, whose name is generally anathema in Orthodox circles. In addition, the Observer printed the comments of the Novominsker Rav castigating Mendelssohn; these comments, it noted, were expressed at the specific request of the Moetzes Gedolei Hatorah of Agudath Israel. (From here.)

The following is a photo of the response in question. I would also note a similar response of the Novominsker Rebbe to the book HaGaon (printed in Yeshurun). Examples of the way in which complications of the present can affect our understanding of the past.

R' Perlow's distinction between R' Hirsch and Mendelssohn is somewhat hard to understand. First of all, R' Hirsch himself was also "culturally a throughbred German" who "glorifed in Enlightment" and "Secular" values. (See the quotation in S. Leiman - Rabbinic Response to Modernity. R' {erlow served as a Dayan for the Washington Heights community and is I am sure well aware of R' Hirsch's position. ). Nor do I quite understand where in his many writings Mendelssohn advocates a "schizophrenia" of values. Admittedly, R' Hirsch does speak against the example that Mendelssohn set as - a fully believing Jew and also the "German Socrates" (See Yitzchok Breuer's Moriah 134-137) but this is not to say that this was Mendelssohn's ideal Yisroel-Mentsch. The differences between R' Hirsch and Mendelssohn is more likely to be attributed to the different times they lived in then to anything else.

Nor, does the claim that Mendlessohn's observance was merely a "circumscribed aspect of his being". Does the following statement:
ואני מעיד עלי שמים וארץ, והנני נשבע לך באל האמת בוראי ובוראך, כאשר השבעתני אתה בקדמתך, שלא אחליף ולא אמיר דתי כל עוד נשמה באפי ורוח אלהי בקרבי
(from his letter to Lavater) anything less then a very sincere affirmation of the centrality of his Judaism to life.
As far as his refernce to the "judgement of Gedolei Yisroel" - I believe M. Hildesheimer in his various articles on the attitude of the Gedolei Yisroel towards Mendelssohn has provided ample proof that their position was hardly as monolithic as R' Perlow contends.

As for the issue of the conversion of Mendlessohn't children. The matter is quite simple, and in fact follows an easily recognizable pattern. Mendelssohn died at the relatively young age of fifty six. His oldest son Joseph was 16 at the time. It is hardly to be wondered that his children growing up in a difficulty period of history without their fathers guidance should lose their connection to Judaism. It is significant that Mendelssohn's oldest children who had the benefit of their father's guidance did remain Jewish. (A similar pattern can be observed in the Chazzan Yossele Rosenblatt who, like Mendelssohn, died young and whose older children remained observant whereas the younger children did not. The same pattern can be seen in other families as well. Interestingly, the chldren of Mendelssohn's colleague - Naftali Hertz Wessely who followed a somehwat similar path - did remain Jewish and observant. I am personally acquainted with a direct descendant of R' Naftali who continues the tradition of his illustrious ancestor.)

I would venture to say that it was Mendelssohn's untimely death more then anything else that caused the failure of his movement. Without the guidance of their mentor at a crucial period, his disciples had not the ability to continue in his path leading to the collapse of the movement.

As the Trains Left For Auschwitz, Where Was God?

Prof. Halivni (himself a Holocaust survivor) has devoted a new book to this topic. Alan Nadler reviews the book here.

Perhaps the following quote would not be inappropriate:

Indeed the Book of Job avowedly only answers mystery with mystery. Job is comforted with riddles; but he is comforted. Herein is indeed a type, in the sense of a prophecy, of things speaking with authority. For when he who doubts can only say 'I do not understand,' it is true that he who knows can only reply or repeat 'You do not understand.' And under that rebuke there is always a sudden hope in the heart; and the sense of something that would be worth understanding.

G. K. Chesterton - The Everlasting Man


The riddles of God are more satisfying than the solutions of man

Saturday, July 19, 2008

R' Yaakov Emden on the Ibn Ezra

The first and last pieces are from the Yaavetz' hagahot to Teshuvos HaRambam printed in Sinai (85) by A. Bick-Shauli. (Although Bick's work is unreliable, it certainly is not fraudulent as Goldstein claims in his discussion in Zoharei Yaavetz in Ohr Yisroel. Every example Goldstein quotes is simply carelessness and nothing more.)

The middle piece is taken from Hagahot Yaavetz to Sefer Me'or Einayim -Kovetz Tiferes Mordechai V. 3 (My thanks to Andy for lending me his copy of the sefer). Hence the reference to הבלי סודותיו.

N.B. Has anyone heard of a 3rd part of Mitpachat Soferim discussing R. Emden's "thesis" that the Moreh Nevuchim wasn't written by the Rambam (He discusses this a bit in part 2 but promises to deal with it at length later.)

Friday, July 18, 2008

An ecumenical sentiment

Quoted from John Donne's sermon, preached in 1640 at the Funeral of Sir William Cokayne, Knight and Alderman of London (from "Sermons", #80):

When we consider with a religious seriousnesse the manifold weaknesses of the strongest devotions in time of Prayer, it is a sad consideration. I throw my selfe downe in my Chamber, and I call in, and invite God, and his Angels thither, and when they are there, I neglect God and his Angels, for the noise of a Flie, for the ratling of a Coach, for the whining of a doore, I talke on, in the same posture of praying; Eyes lifted up; knees bowed downe; as though I prayed to God; and, if God, or his Angels should aske me, when I thought last of God in that prayer, I cannot tell: Sometimes I finde that I had forgot what I was about, but when I began to forget it, I cannot tell. A memory of yesterdays pleasures, a feare of to morrows dangers. A straw under my knee, a noise in mine eare, a light in mine eye,. an any thing, a nothing, a fancy, a Chimera in my braine, troubles me in my prayer. So certainly is there nothing, nothing in spirituall things, perfect in this world.

Cf. the following Yerushalmi:

R. Hiyya said, “I never concentrated during prayer in all my days! Once I wanted to concentrate, but I thought about who will meet the king first: the Arkafta [a Persian high official] or the Exilarch [the head of the Jewish community in Persia]?”Shemuel said, “I count clouds [or “flocks of birds”] [during prayer].”Rabbi Bun bar Hiyya said, “I count the layers of stones in the wall [while I pray].”Rabbi Matnaya said, “I am grateful to my head, because it bows by itself when I read ‘Modim’!”[Yerushalmi Berakhot, end of 2:4 ]

(N.B. R' Chaim Kanievsky's explanation (one of those question and answer books) is that their minds were so concentrated on their learning that they had trouble focusing during davening.)

Prof. S. Friedman's Mevo L' Talmud Aruch

Prof. Friedman has added many new articles to his site. Most notably, he included the introduction to his groundbreaking work, Talmud Aruch on Ch. 6 Bava Metzia. The large amount of effort that Prof. Freedman has placed into both writing and disseminating his work is very impressive and a true exemplar of the Talmudic dictum, להגדיל תורה ולהאדירו (Chullin end of Ch. 3). A brief review of Prof. Firedman's work can be found here.

I hope to write up a more complete discussion of Prof. Firedman's work, the new Mesivta Gemaros, and a general discussion of the merits or demerits of academic versus traditional scholarship some day when I'm less rushed and more awake.

For the moment, I want to thank Prof. Friedman for making available his work to those of use who do not have easy access to a full academic library. He is one of the greatest Marbitzei Torah of our generation and I wish his enterprise much success.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

העתקה משו"ת שכר יהוסף קנז בענין קטניות ודיון בדבריו

I have already written in the past about HaGaon Harav Yosef Zechariah Stern who like the later Yosef (Chacham Ovadiah) had a complete knowledge of the entire Torah, even until the most obscure of the Achronim. Despite my tremendous admiration for this great Gaon I could not hold back from saying a few words concerning the following attack that he levels against one who was still greater then he, HaGaon R' Yaakov Emden. I have already cited in the previous post a paragraph in which R' Stern writes against the Yaavetz. The following paragraph is an even sharper critique.

In this first paragraph he refers to "some writings (of Yaavetz) on practice and critical issues that the mind recoils from". The ad hominem nature of the attack makes this a difficult criticism to respond to. Certainly, the Yaavetz is extremely original and independant in Mor U' Ketziah as in all his writings but I can't understand why this should be found objectionable, since all of his positions are backed up with considerable proof. I also find it hard to understand how R' Stern who clearly was very much familiar of with the writings of the critical scholars (as his Tahaluchei haAggados attests) should suddenly find the critical writings of the Yaavetz objectionable.

In the second paragraph he accuses Yaavetz of formulating his position on Kitniyos simply in order to avoid having to receive a hechser from R' Yonosan Eibischutz (Note the point he raises that the Yaavetz is referring specifically to R' Yonosan in his statement about "excessive Chumros".) Its actually technically possible to find out if Yaavetz wrote this particular statement in his youth before the fight with R' Yonosan or later on, since in the Shachter edition, the editor writes that the Yaavetz's handwriting was small and clear in his youth and became larger and more unclear as he became older (for obvious reasons). But the argument as a whole doesn't hold any water. Here is a citation from Mor U' Ketziah 453:

The novel position of the Chacham Tzvi clearly originated during "his stay in Salonika (1676–78?) and Belgrade (1679), [where] he adopted Sephardi customs and manners and, despite his Ashkenazi origin, assumed the title "ḥakham," the Sephardi title for a rabbi, and also the name "Ashkenazi.". The Yaavetz who revered his father above all else (see Megillat Sefer) clearly inherited this view. To say as R' Yosef Zecharya does that this position was formulated to avoid having to get R' Yonosan's Hecsher is simply (B'Mechilas Kvodo) ridiculous.

On the issue of Yaavtez's strongly worded polemical statements, it would be well to take note of his statement in the Hashmota to Mor U' Ketziah 1 that in many cases he uses the language of Melitzah causing a very sharp sentence that don't really mirror his true feelings.

For more on Yaavetz's position on Kitniyos - see Maharatz Chajes's Minchas Kanaos No. 6, and Maamer Mordechai no. 32 cited in Sharei Teshuva no. 453 (couretsy of the Mahadir of the new ShuT Chcham Tzvi)

(Side note: I highly recommend Prof. Shachter's History and memory of self : the autobiography of Rabbi Jacob Emden - Jewish History and Jewish Memory which clarifies the motives behind the writing of Megillat Sefer.)

See also the Introduction to the new edition of Ishim V' Shittos (2007) wherein they write that R' Zevin went to the Chafetz Chaim to get a heter for kitniyos in a year when there was a lack of food. The CC gave it but refused to have it placed in writing.

I'd also like to provide another interesting citation from the same Teshuva in Zecher Yosef:

On the right side is the position of the Besamim Rosh (R' Saul Berlin who was the Yaavetz's great-nephew. On him I highly recommend the very insightful article of Talya Fishman, "Forging Jewish memory : "Besamim Rosh" and the invention of pre-emancipation Jewish culture - Jewish History and Jewish Memory (1998) 70-88") that the minhag of Kitniyos is actually a Karaite custom and R' Yosef Zecharia's refutation. On the left is Shir's position from which one can see how highly he was thought of by R' Stern.

R' Yosef Zecharia Stern on why he accepts the truth from whoever says it

From ShuT Zecher Yosef Siman 53:

On the comment in the parentheses I shall have more to say soon, for the moment see R' Reuvein Margolies's pamphlet "Sibas Hisnagdus R' Yaakov Emden L' R' Yehonasan Eibischutz" (and I presume Scholem's counterattack Lekket Margolies is also relevant.)

This post is modeled after this one (Imitation being the sincerest form of flattery,etc.)

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Gospels and the Pharisees

Biblicalia has posted Part 6 of a very interesting series of "The Gospels and the Pharisees". In this installment he discusses "how the gospel evidence regarding the Pharisees has been, intentionally or unintentionally, misunderstood throughout the ages."

Abraham Geiger would be very pleased.

N.B. A slightly related recent discovery - here.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Is handshaking a Torah violation?

See also the articles on "Minhag America" by Marc Shapiro for a similar exchange.

כי הזכרון וההבנה הם שתי הפכים כידוע

[Despite some reservations, I decided to post the following. The source is ShuT Av B'Chochma and it concerns the novel interpretation of the author that would allow Chalitzah to be performed through a Shliach. Apparently, the author was very insulted by the sharp dismissal of his chiddush by the Rogatchover so he penned the following sharp response. The issue must be understood within that context. I hope that in posting this I have not denigrated the honour of the Rogatchover whom I admire very much but I thought that the response in and of itself was not without interest. For biographical details on the author R' Yudelovich see here]

A note on H. Soloveitchik's Halacha, Heremenutics, and Martyrdom..

In this article, Prof. Soloveitchik attempts to demonstrate external influence in the Halachic thought of the Tosafists. He does this by pointing out that the Halachic basis cited in favor of suicide in the face of conversion is remarkably weak, proving that "the conclusion arrived at by the thinker is so atypical that unless something impinged, consciously or unconsciously,upon his thought he could never have arrived at the conclusion that he did."

His hasagot on the reasoning of the Tosafists is as follows:

1. It's remarkably unusual for the aggadot to be cited as a normative source.

2. The inferences drawn by the Tosafists from aggadic material are systematically and grossly flawed, in that the stories cited are not cases in which a choice was given to "transgress or be killed",etc.

I believe neither of these hasagot are serious for the following reason. The term יהרוג of יעבור ואל יהרוג is somewhat ambiguous (as Soloveitchik points out regarding יעבור at the end of Part 2 of his article) - the words "he should be killed" can refer either to 1. allowing oneself to be killed or, 2. Suicide. The problem facing the Tosafists was as follows: Is suicide also included within the rubric of the term יהרוג or only murder?

To solve what is basically a question of terminology, there is no reason that the aggadot shouldn't be used (somewhat akin to the giluy milsa (See Ritva Kiddushin 2a and Birurei Hamidos V. 2 Chapter 3) which is merely cited as a lexicographical proof as opposed to the Gezeirah Shaveh which is an actual source.) In this case the fact that in a general manner (even if the specifics don't always match) we see in several aggadot that suicide is an option, is enough of a proof that יהרג refers to suicide.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Cryptic anti-christian polemic

1- In the notes of the Mesorah - העלמה ג' וסימניהון בלשון ארמי - עולימתא דנפקת מיתקריא אמא וילדת בר וביאורם נמצא בסדר היום

That is - the word העלמה can be found three times throughout T'nach. This is a sentence created by stringing together words from all three Pesukim. Roughly translated as - The girl "went out" (Targum translates זונה as נפקת ברא) was called "Mother" (reference to the Virgin Mary) and gave birth to a son.

This is a rather ingenious bit of polemic on the part of the Tiberian Masoretes (and one of the few bits of biographical information that we have on them). Living in 7th century Roman Palestine they must have heard the הנה העלמה הרה speech in the course of their "Seder Hayom" -(referring to the debates the Christians would raise on this subject?) and they took this opportunity to voice their own opinions on the "immaculate conception". Source: Igrot Shir.

2. Sefer Ha-Tishby - s.v. יתוש

In the notes of R' Yeshaya Pick Berlin [1] we have the following comment:

אם תזוח דעתו עליו אומרים יתוש קדמך (סנהדרין לח

to which the copyist adds:

והבן זאת שבא לתרץ כמו שהק' בשרש זקק וחרף

as is explained in the notes there. The entry for Yitush precedes the entry for Yeshu even though alphabetically Yeshu comes first. The "hint" is obvious.

This is interesting in light of Bachur's supposed conversion to Christianity - here, and his close friendship with a Cardinal - here (that comment was removed in many editions as noted in the Mazuz edition).

3. Daat has a good many original polemical documemts online - here. My personal favourite is the אל תהי כאבותיך. This is what Graetz has to say about it (History of the Jews V. 4, Ch. VI):

In the entire history of Judeo-Christian controversy no such stinging satire had been produced on the Jewish side as that now issued by the physician, astronomer, historical student, and grammarian Profiat Duran. During the bloody persecution of 1391 in Catalonia, Profiat Duran, otherwise Isaac ben Moses, or, as he called himself in his works, Efodi (Ephodaeus), had been forced to simulate conversion to Christianity. He was joined by his friend David Bonet Buen Giorno. Both resolved at a convenient opportunity to abandon their hated mask and emigrate to Palestine, where they could freely acknowledge Judaism. Their affairs being arranged, Profiat Duran traveled to a seaport town in the south of France, and there awaited his friend. The latter, in the meantime, was sought out by or came across the Jew-hating apostate, Solomon Paul de Santa Maria, and was prevailed upon to remain a Christian.

What was Profiat Duran's astonishment when he received a letter announcing, with much exultant vaporing, the definite acknowledgment of Christianity by En Bonet, who exhorted him also to remain in the pale of his adopted faith. The letter contained an enthusiastic panegyric of Paul de Santa Maria, who had been taken into the favor of the king of Castile. Profiat Duran could not remain silent.

In reply, he inflicted punishment on his friend, and more particularly on the proselytizing Paul, in an epistle characterized by the keenest irony, which has not yet lost its sting. It pretends to assent to everything advanced by Bonet, and to confirm him in his resolve to remain a Christian, " Be not ye like your fathers" (Altehi ka-Abothecha) is the refrain throughout, and so artfully is this admonition employed that Christians used it (under the title Alteca Boteca) as an apology for Christianity. Whilst thus pretending to criticise the errors of the older faith, Profiat Duran dwells on the Christian dogmas, naively describing them in their most reprehensible form. He concentrates on the weaknesses of Christianity the full light of reason, Scriptural teaching and philosophic deduction, apparently with no desire to change his friend's intention.

A portion of the satire is directed against the Jew-hater Paul de Santa Maria, upon whom Bonet had bestowed unstinted praise. "Thou art of opinion that he may succeed in becoming pope, but thou dost not inform me whether he will go to Rome, or remain at Avignon " — a cutting reference to the papal schism distracting the church. " Thou extollest him for havingr made efforts to free Jewish women and children from the obligation of wearing the Jew badge. Take the glad tidings to the women and children. For myself, I have been told that he preached mischief against the Jews, and that the cardinal of Pampeluna was compelled to order him to be silent. Thou art of opinion that he, thy teacher, will soon receive the miter or a cardinal's hat. Rejoice, for then thou also must acquire honors, and wilt become a priest or a Levite."

Towards the end Profiat Duran changes irony into a tone of seriousness : he prays his former friend not to bear as a Christian the name of his respected father who, had he been alive, would sooner have had no son than one faithless to his religion. As it is, his soul in Paradise will bewail the faithlessness of his son. This satirical epistle was circulated as a pamphlet. Its author sent copies not only to his former friend, but also to the physician of the king of Castile, the chief rabbi, Don Meir Alguades. So telling was the effect produced, that the clergy, as soon as they dis- covered its satirical character, made it the subject of judicial inquiry, and committed it to the flames.

[1] The notes were recently discovered and published in the edition of מכון הרב מצליח. The edition contatins the notes of R' Meir Mazuz as well as loads of other stuff (the letters of the Pri Megadim, Shlomo Buiber's Toledot R' Elyah Bachur,etc. Ironically, the Bedatz wouldn't give a Haskamah on the edition containing the notes R' Shlomo Shick refuting Tishby's position on the date of the nekkudot becausd (from here):

יצויין שבראש הספר כתבו שקיבלו הסכמה מהבד"צ של העדה החרדית, "אלא שמאחר וביקשו מאתנו שלא להדפיס הסכמתם הנזכרת עם "קונטרס תורה שלימה" הנדפס כאן בסוף הספר (עמוד רצה), מחמת שמחבר הספר "תורה שלימה" התנגד מעט לדרכי הרבנים החרדים באירופה לפני כמאה שנה (עיין בסוף הספר עמוד שח בהערה), לכן לא הדפסנו כאן את הסכמתם כדמותה בצלמה. ומ"מ הם עצמם אמרו לנו שקונטרס זה חשוב ויפה מאד, וכדאי להדפיסו בקונטרס נפרד, אלא שכך דרכם שלא לתת הסכמות לספרים שהובא בהם דברי חכמים שלא לרוחם".

(i.e. he belongesd to the status-quo (non-secessionist) Orthodox) indirectly supporting Ha-Bachur's position.

An interesting source on the dating of the nekkudot issue is in the (I think Dan missed this in his article in Hakirah) is the Kuntres Pekuot HaSadeh no. 4 printed in the back of V. 9 of Sdei Chemed. ואכ"מ

[I am looking for a Kovetz Beis Halevi V. 3 which should contain R' Pick's hagahot to Mitpachat Sefroim, also a Kovetz Tiferes Mordechai V. 3 which contain the Yaavetz's hagahot to Me'or Einayim. If anyone's got them please leave a comment.]
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