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Concerning the Source of a Quotation in the Epistle of R. Solomon b. Judah and Studies in "Midrash Shir Hashirim" / למקורה של מובאה באיגרת ר' שלמה בן יהודה ועיונים במדרש שיר-השירים
מ"ב לרנר and M.B. Lerner
Tarbiẕ / תרביץ
כרך נב, חוברת ד (תמוז-אלול תשמ"ג), pp. 581-590
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/23595951
Page Count: 10
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In one of his epistles to R. Abraham b. Sahalan, a prominent communal leader of Egyptian Jewry, the Palestinian Gaon R. Solomon b. Judah (henceforth: RSbJ) quotes a midrashic homily to Jer. 29:1 from an 'unidentified' source (cf. J. Mann, HUCA 3, pp. 269—271, esp. n. 74). It is shown that there are indeed two very close parallels to this homily, and it is therefore most likely that one of them served as the source of RSbJ. However, after a careful study of the various possibilities, the author nevertheless concludes that RSbJ derived this quotation from a compendium of talmudic and midrashic sources (Yalqut), arranged according to the order of the Bible. The compiler of this non-extant compendium probably borrowed his text from the Yerushalmi. Re-examination of a photostat of the original Geniza manuscript (Mosseri Ia, 27) reveals several novel readings, among them the conjunction אבל which is most important for a proper understanding of the Yerushalmi text (PT Ned. 6:13, 40a; Sanhedrin 1:2, 19a). Part two of the article is devoted to a clarification of the sources of the parallel in Midrash Shir Ha-Shirim, ed. Grunhut 1:14. It is shown that the author of this midrash drew upon Midrash Tanhuma and the above-mentioned Yerushalmi text. Special attention is focused on the passage mentioning the praises of a small community of 'sages from the Diaspora in the Land of Israel' (כת קטנה מזקני הגולה שבא"י). The designated expression, which is lacking in the Yerushalmi, seems to represent a text doctored by one of the authorities of the Palestinian Gaonate. This addition was apparently designed to exalt the head of the Palestinian Academy and members of his court of foreign extraction, as a reply to the opposition of local Palestinian scholars. The author suggests that the expression כת קטנה מזקני הגולה echoes one of the contests over the Palestinian Gaonate during the eleventh century. On the other hand, it is also possible that this expression was directed against Jewish leaders in the Diaspora. The usage of a doctored text for 'political' purposes, as evinced by Midrash Shir Ha-Shirim, is heretofore an unrecognized phenomenon in midrashic literature.
Tarbiẕ / תרביץ © 1983 Mandel Institute for Jewish Studies / המכון למדעי היהדות ע"ש מנדל