Monday, May 02, 2005

In all your דרכים, know Him

On today's דף, Berakhoth 63a, we find the following passage in the Vilna edition:

דרש בר קפרא איזוהי פרשה קטנה שכל גופי תורה תלויין בה בכל דרכיך דעהו והוא יְיַשֵּׁר ארחותיך אמר רבא אפילו לדבר עבירה
Bar Qappara darshened [homilized?]: What small scriptural passage has all the essential points of Torah hang on it? Know him in all your דרכים, and he will straighten your path. Rava said: Even in a matter of sin.

We find a little asterisk next to this statement, which leads us to a marginal note in the מסורת הש"ס. This note is in square brackets, which means, I believe, that it is from R. Akiva Eiger. (If I am wrong, please correct me.) This note reads as follows:
אמר רב פפא היינו דאמרי אינשי גנבא אפום מחתרתא רחמנא קרי כך הוא הנוסח בע"י

Rav Pappa said: this accords with the adage that people say: a burglar about to break into [a house] calls upon God. This is the reading in the ע"י.

(I assume that ע"י stands for עין יעקב.)

A few years ago, I heard an unmemorable שיעור on the thought of Rav Kook, in which this passage was cited. The speaker pointed out that this statement, which the marginal note attributes to Rav Pappa, disagrees with Rashi's comment on Rava's statement. Rashi writes:

בכל דרכיך אפילו לדבר עבירה דעהו תן לב אם צורך מצוה הוא כגון אליהו בהר הכרמל עבור עָלֶיהָ
In all your דרכים, even to commit a transgression, know him: think about it. If it is for the purpose of a mitzvah, like Eiliyyahu on Mt. Carmel, commit the transgression.

Rashi's interpretation (which is shared by the ריטב"א) applies Rava's statement only to a very special case of transgression, a transgression that is performed for the purpose of upholding mitzvah/Torah/Jewish religion. (On Mt. Carmel, אליהו offered a sacrifice on a בָּמָה, even though it was now forbidden to offer sacrifices on בָּמוֹת. He was doing this in order to perform the קדוש השם of showing that הקדוש ברוך הוא, unlike the בעל, would consume the sacrifice.) In no way are these Rishonim giving credit to a burglar or burglaress who calls upon God to bless his or her endeavor. Apparently, these Rishonim had the text that is printed in the inside of the Vilna Gemara, without the comment about the burglar.

I decided to do some manuscript work on this passage. I found that the only full manuscripts that the Lieberman database had for tractate Berakhoth were Oxford 366, Paris 371, and a Florence manuscript. The Florence manuscript is missing everything from 60a onwards, so this left only two MSS with our page. These are the readings that they had:

ברכות סג ע"א פריז 671
דרש בר קפרא אי זו פרשה קטנה שכל גופי התורה תלויין בה שנ' בכל דרכיך דעהו והוא יישר אורחותיך ואמ' רבא לא נצרכה אלא לדבר עבירה ואמ' רב היינו דאמרי אינשי גנבא על פום איגרא רחמנ' קרי
ברכות סג ע"א אוקספורד 366
דרש בר קפרא אי זו היא פרשה קטנה שכל גופי תורה תלויין בה שנא' בכל דרכיך דעהו והוא יישר אורחותיך אמ' רבא לא נצרכה אלא לדבר עבירה ואמ' רבה הינו דאמרי אינשי גנבא על פום דאיגרא רחמנא קרי
Both MSS contain the additional statement; both read איגרא (loft or roof), rather than מחתרתא; and neither attributes the statement to Rav Pappa.
For some reason, the Lieberman database does not include MS Munich 95 among its witnesses to tractate Berakhoth; therefore, I needed to check the facsimile of the manuscript (which is almost unreadable). I came up with this:
ברכות סג ע"א מינכן 95
דרש בר קפרא איזהו פרשה קטנה שכל גופי תלויין בה שנ' בכל דרכיך דעהו והו' יישר ארחותיך תנו רבנן אפ' לדברי עבירה
(the word that I have transcribed as גופי might also be read as גופו)
So MS Munich, like רש"י and ריטב"א, does not know of the additional statement.
So the question remains open: does the tradition recognize any potential in the religious feelings and words of a criminal, or does it condone only sinful behavior that is performed לְשֵׁם מִצְוָה? This depends on a difference of girsa in the Bavli, and on the particular perspective that we wish to take at the particular time. (Yes, NB, our desires and perspectives do count for something in religion, especially in issues of אַגַּדְתָּא.)


At Thursday, 09 November, 2006, Anonymous Moshe Genuth said...

i was googling the gemara and came up with your post. thanks for the research.
you went into Rav Kook (I assume the shi'ur was from Ein Aya) but didn't finish what you heard in that shi'ur.
Also, you may want to check out Rabbi Ginsburgh's long treatise on this gemara titled "bechol drachecha da'eihu," it appears in his book Teshuvat Hashanah. If you want i can look for an e-version of it and email it to you. We will b"H be teaching it tomorrow in our beit midrash.

Moshe Genuth
The Toronto Ba'al Shem Tov Center


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