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The Gemara (Sanhedrin 21b-22a) records a discussion about the script of Torah scrolls (ashiri or ivri).

Many commentators look at the first opinion in the discussion and wonder if it means that the tablets were also written in ashuri or ivri script. The primary objection to the notion that they were in ivri is because the Gemara in Shabbos 104a says that the ם and ס miraculously floated in place (because all of the letters were engraved all the way through).

Now, Radbaz (responsun 883, addressing our discussion in Sanhedrin) questions the difficulty with saying that the tablets must have been written in ashuri, because the Yerushalmi (supposedly to the same chapter as Shabbos 104a) says that according to the opinion of the one who says the ancient Torahs were written in Ivri, it was the ע which floated in place (because in Ivri it looks like a closed triangle).

Radbaz answers this by saying that the ע of the second tablets floated in place, and was written in Ivri, but not the first. (For a better understanding of the setup to this question, see the Sapirstein Edition of Sanhedrin, page 22a note 22).

The question is:

I heard (from a Rabbi, although I don't know his source) that the second tablets were NOT engraved all the way through! So how could Radbaz say the miracle applied to the ע of the second tablets, if the second tablets has no such miraculous properties?

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The Ayin of Ivri does not look like a closed triangle, it's a circle, like the shape of an eye, or the letter "O" Daleth is the letter that is the closed triangle.

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As for the Rabbi, his opinion cannot be compared to the Rabbis in the Talmud Yerushalmi, because more than likely they were of the opinion that they were engraved all the way through. Or that whatever the miracle is, it is because the Ayin and the Samekh have the same shape, and so the miracle has to do with the shape.

Either way, the Yerushalmi doesn't say that the Samekh or the Ayin floated in place, it just says they were miraculous.

Talmud Yerushalmi Meghillah 10

אמר רבי לוי מאן דאמר לרעץ ניתנה התורה עי"ן מעשה ניסים מאן דאמר אשורי ניתנה התורה סמ"ך מעשה ניסים

Rabbi Lewi stood and said: According to the view that the Torah was given in Hebrew, the ‘Ayin was miraculous. According to the view that the Torah was given in Ashuri the Samekh was miraculous.

If you want more in depth information i've written something with pictures and examples that could make it clear but can't post it here. If you reach out to me i can send you something via e-mail

  • True that the yerushalmi doesn't specifically say that the samech or ayin was all the way through, but isn't it apparent that it was since it clearly says so in shabbos, and the same miraculousness of the samech can be likened to that of the ayin? – bluejayke Aug 19 '15 at 18:02
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    Consider that according to Rabbi Lewi there isn't an accepted opinion as to which script was used. Which means during his time there was a variety in belief about the tablets, or of which was the original script. So what if there were also different beliefs between one Rabbi to another as to whether they were engraved all the way through? Either way, it seems to me like he is using the opinion that they were engraved all the way through to justify his opinion that you can believe either script was the real one, just change the letter for the miracle of the floating letter – Aaron Aug 19 '15 at 18:06

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