Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Conservative gedolim stories

I found the following somewhere online:
There's an amazing story about Shaul Lieberman, which made his reputation. He took a really corrupt and incomprehensible section of the Jerusalem Talmud and reconstructed it by suggesting some 30 radical changes (e.g. the opinions of authorities X and Y are reversed, this word "not" should be deleted, the phrase Z should be inserted here, section 3 should precede section 1 etc.). All the difficulties were resolved, and it made perfect sense and had continuity with what came before and after. It was a tour-de-force and widely admired, but considered extremely speculative. Many years later, an old manuscript was discovered which had all 30 of his changes.
For all I know this is true. For all I know. But it certainly seems like this is a wildly exaggerated version of what might have occurred, if it did at all. I mean, thirty changes?

Its striking because this is exactly parallel to the type of "feats of the mind" gedolim stories routinely traded and recounted in the oilam ha-yeshiva.

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