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It is worrisome to argue with the Gra about the different meanings of words, particularly after the famous (apocryphal?) story of him ordering lashes for the maskil who asserted to him that gila, rina, ditza, chedva, etcetera, were all complete synonyms.

What is the source of this story?

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1 - The sefer הגאון החסיד מוילנא pg. רל - רלב. brings this story.

2 - According to this sefer, the reason the maskil got lashed by Beis Din, was because he degraded the words of Torah sages. He was disrespectful to the GR"a, but even more so, he made a disrespectful comment about Rashi. enter image description here enter image description here enter image description here enter image description here

  • So it wasn't because he thought certain Hebrew words were synonymous? – Double AA Jun 26 '18 at 12:07
  • According to the story (ad loc.), the "maskil" also disputed the words of the Sages, who wrote that there are TEN different expressions of joy, one of them being "ditza". The "maskil" denied that "ditza" is an expression of joy. – IsraelReader Jun 26 '18 at 17:18
  • @IsraelReader - They way I understood it, it was his comment about Rashi that triggered the lashes. I"ll try to upload a copy soon. – פרי זהב Jun 26 '18 at 17:36
  • You might want to check your source again. I am reading on page 231: הלא רבותינו הקדושים, בעלי המדרש, פירטו עשרה לשונות של שמחה, ובכללם דיצה. ובו ברגע הסיב הגר"א פניו הימנו – IsraelReader Jun 26 '18 at 17:44
  • The story continues with the members of the Beis Din saying to him: האתה זה אשר חרפת וגדפת על חכמי המדרש ועל דברת רבינו – IsraelReader Jun 26 '18 at 17:48

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