Can archaeology be used to determine the proper halacha or mesorah in certain cases? For instance, what if we found a Sefer Torah from the times of Moshe Rabbeinu and it differed from our mesorah. Would we be able to change our Sifrei Torah to match the finding?

On one hand, it would be a Sefer Torah from the times of Moshe Rabbeinu. On the other hand, would we be able to accurately tell whether the scroll was ever kosher? (Maybe it was buried because it was passul).

I think we might have had a question similar or exactly like this on this site already. If someone could find it that would be great.

This question could also be used to answer the great techeiles debate, if you get what I mean.

Related: If a Mesorah for letter pronunciation is rediscovered, would we have to change our pronunciations? and Using archaeological findings for determining weights and measurements

  • 1
    One case of use of archaeology in the rishonim is brought in a footnote here: they found a tefillin buried in the tomb of Yechezkel and used it as a proof to Rashi's opinion
    – b a
    Jan 10, 2019 at 10:05
  • 2
    The Gemara says explicitly that they found the dead Jews in the desert not decomposed and they wanted to check their Tzitzit to see if Beit Hillel or Beit Shammai was right. It's in an Aggadata, but it's basically exactly your case.
    – Double AA
    Jan 10, 2019 at 10:15
  • 2
    "would we be able to accurately tell whether the scroll was ever kosher? (Maybe it was buried because it was passul)." That just depends on the circumstances, no? That's not the interesting question. This question here is confusing two things: interpreting archaeological evidence and using archaeological evidence.
    – Double AA
    Jan 10, 2019 at 10:16
  • 1
    R Avraham ben Harambam in responsum 91 seems to say we would correct our Torahs based on the Torah in the Azara. And regarding Tekhelet, Maharil writes that we can find it again based on the listed signs, if that counts as archaeology
    – Double AA
    Jan 10, 2019 at 10:56
  • 2
    Consider the idea that according to the Torah, certain items are going to be returned to us via the archeological process, like the staff of Aharon, the Aron Kodesh (which contains the Luchot and possibly an actual sefer Torah written by Moshe), the container of manna and the klal (container of the ashes of the red heifer made by Moshe Rabbeinu). On the most simplistic level, actually having these physical objects will very likely clarify details of halacha and/or mesorah. Jan 10, 2019 at 14:18


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