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A Different Mishnah – Part II


So I have spent some more time on the comparative studies in the textual variants between the Mishnah in Talmud Bavli and Talmud Yerushalmi, and there is even more to it than just textual variances.

I talked with my teacher in Classical Jewish Texts, Professor Paul Mandel, about the subject, and he confirmed that it indeed was an interesting and discussed subject, at least in the academic world. He is going to compile some literature on the subject, when the time allows him, but already now has he given me some more material, which gives more than just textual variances. He provided me with a copy of an older version of the Talmud Bavli, where the Mishnah has some interesting changes. Unfortunately I have left the copy at home, so I can’t say which version it is now, but I will add the information when I come home.

Anyway. When we read the Mishnah in Talmud Bavli (the first mishnah in B’rachot), then it is introduced with the question; “from when do recite the Shma’ in the evenings?” The word for “evenings” is ‘aravin (ערבין), but in the copied version I got the word is ‘aravit (ערבית), which is the evening prayer itself. A small detail, but nevertheless an interesting differences. This mean that the question changes from “From when do we recite the Shma’ in the evenings,” to “from when do we recite the Shma’ in the evening prayer?” The topic suddenly changes from being a general question about a time in the evenings, to become a question of the time of elements of the liturgy.

Another, and – as far as I would think – more interesting difference, appear later in the Mishnah, during the account of Rabban Gamliel and his sons. In the last part, after they have told him that they still haven’t recited the Shma’, R. Gamliel – in both Bavli and Yerushalmi – tells them that if the dawn still hasn’t begun to rise, then they are still obligated to recite the Shma’. BUT, in the version I received from Professor Mandel, the word for “obliged” is changed with another word. In the two versions I have used so far, which can be found in most Talmuds today, I believe, the word is Hayyavin (חייבין), but in the copy the word is Mutarin (מותרין), which means “allowed” not “obliged”. The difference being that Hayyavin definitely demands the sons (and the rest of us, who don’t make it before midnight) to recite it, as long as it is before the rise of dawn, but Mutarin only allows us to do it, it does not demand us to do it, so far as we already have passed midnight. It might seem as a small detail, but in the realm of Halachah it is of great importance.

I have more to add, but one thing at a time, this seems to be enough for now. Within the coming days I will add more findings to the subject, so stay tuned(!)

Take care and have a wonderful week.


I found these two examples on various manuscripts, the first from the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale in Firenze, the second from Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris.

The first one, from Firenze, has the Hayyavin, which is the third word in the ninth line, from left. The second, from Paris, has the Mutarin, which is the eight word in the fourth line. I am unfortunately not sure how old the two manuscripts are, but I will try to find out for the next post on the subject.

1 Comment

  1. […] in the two Talmuds. I have dealt with this issue in some earlier posts, which you can read here, here and here. This might have been caused by the Mishnah being transferred orally in the Land of Israel […]

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