Skip to main content

Full text of "[untitled] The Jewish Quarterly Review, (1895-10-01), pages 179-184"

See other formats


Early Journal Content on JSTOR, Free to Anyone in the World 

This article is one of nearly 500,000 scholarly works digitized and made freely available to everyone in 
the world byJSTOR. 

Known as the Early Journal Content, this set of works include research articles, news, letters, and other 
writings published in more than 200 of the oldest leading academic journals. The works date from the 
mid-seventeenth to the early twentieth centuries. 

We encourage people to read and share the Early Journal Content openly and to tell others that this 
resource exists. People may post this content online or redistribute in any way for non-commercial 

Read more about Early Journal Content at 
journal-content . 

JSTOR is a digital library of academic journals, books, and primary source objects. JSTOR helps people 
discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content through a powerful research and teaching 
platform, and preserves this content for future generations. JSTOR is part of ITHAKA, a not-for-profit 
organization that also includes Ithaka S+R and Portico. For more information about JSTOR, please 


collection of Mldrashim on the five scrolls with his usual excellent 
method and notes. May he completely recover his health, which 
is sometimes failing, and thus be enabled to continue editing 


Midrash Suta. Hagadische Ahhandlungen iiher Schir ha-Schirim, 
Ruth, Echah und Koheleth, nebst Jalkut zum Buche Echah. Von 
Salomon Bubeb. (Berlin, 1894. pp. 172, 8vo.) 

The Committee of the Mekize Nirdamim must have been in great 
straits for matter to edit when it agreed to include among the publi- 
cations for this year the Midrash Suta, by Herr Buber. The readers 
of this Review are probably acquainted with Herr Buber's redaction 
of various Midrashic pieces, and they feel themselves under great 
obligation to him, especially for his edition of the Pesikta d'R. Eahana. 

Herr Buber's work, however, has shown signs of an evident haste, 
the effects of which students could not fail to observe. Those who read, 
for instance, the reviews, by specialists, of Herr Buber's editions of 
the Midrash Tanchuma, the Midrash Mayan Ganim, and the Midrash 
Agadoth, need no further details. But the most marked effects of 
this haste are seen in this Midrash Suta, which has just now appeared 
under the auspices of the Mekize Nirdamim. As the Midrash Suta 
includes also the D'T'ti'n TK' mJN, the text of which, with a part of 
the notes, appeared in Volumes VI and VII of the Jewish Quaeteely 
Review, it need scarcely be said that there is something of a priority 
controversy between Herr Buber and the writer of these lines. 
However, priority questions are tedious, and might perhaps lead to 
pei-sonalities in which the writer does not care to indulge. SuflBce 
it to say that Herr Buber, in his haste, did his work in a careless way, 
every page of his edition betraying the superficial method with 
which he approached his work. 

First, as to his introduction. Students who are acquainted with 
Herr Buber's introductions, know what delight he takes in carrying 
them to almost unconscionable and unbearable length. Now if 
there ever was a work at whose editing the enumeration of the 
authorities who knew or made use of it was imperative, it was 
this Midrashim Collection, especially the Agadath Shir Ha-Shirim ; 
for, not only was the world quite ignorant of its existence for 
centuries, but the only complete copy in which the text has come 
down to us, is in a most corrupt state. Every quotation made 
from it by the earlier authorities is therefore not onlj' important 

N 3 


on account of its bibliographical value, but also, because it might 
prove helpful towards emending the text. But just when every 
philological and bibliographical consideration required it, Herr 
Buber chose to be short. Of all the authorities who quoted the 
Agadatb Shir Ha-Shirim, he knows only a paltry half-dozen. 

The use made of this Mid rash by R. Tobyah b. Eliezer, the author 
of the 31U np? , the Paitan, R. Solomon ben Jehudah, and the com- 
mentators of the Piyutim, Rashi, R. Moses Tako, the anonymous 
author of O'^NnmSI CN^n '•DinS R. Eliezer of Worms, R, Simon 
Duran and the author of the TWMtX B^^D, has altogether escaped 
Herr Buber. In addition, Herr Buber, who also possesses a copy of 
the Talkut Machiri on the Psalms, must also know that this MS. 
contains many passages which are only to be found in our Midrash ; 
but he makes no mention of this fact. With regard to the commentary 
on Canticles, by R. Moses ben Tabun, Herr Buber shows, by his remarks 
on p. X, that he never read it properly ; otherwise he would have 
known that this commentary contains, besides the one whose acquain- 
tance he evidently made through Herr Epstein, a goodly number of 
quotations from N^l 'S V3 which are only to be found in the 
Chasitha and in our text. That Herr Buber in his description of the 
MS. omits to state the fact of the writer's having published the text 
of Midrash Shir Ha-Shirim in this Review, as well as that of the 
Seder 01am Suta in the Monatsschrift, is perfectly conceivable, since 
any allusion to these publications and to the writer's name would 
have amounted to a virtual confession of a lack of originality, which 
was clearly Herr Buber's earnest desire to evade. But is there any 
reason why Herr Buber did not mention Zunz, who was the first to 
refer to this MS. in his GoUesdienstUche VortrUge (p. 277, note i, 
2nd ed.) ? Again, why did he not mention poor Brull ? All the 
learning displayed in par. 13, p. xvii, is directly copied from 
Brull's JahrbiicJier, VI, 100, and VII, 278, without acknowledging the 
source. Nor did Herr Buber refer to Ozar Nechmad, 1, 10, where it 
is clear that Reggio was in the possession of a MS. which, among 
other pieces, contained also the Midrash Ruth in another version, 
niTTIX D''JB . What is even worse, he omitted to refer to and make 
use of the Bodleian MS., No. 152 ; a MS. of the importance of which 
Herr Buber speaks in the Mabo to his edition of the Tanchuma, 
p. 71 b, note 7. 

And how did Herr Buber deal with the text ? To enumerate all 
his oversights would require a treatise ; to amend them, it would be 
necessary to reproduce here all the Corrections and Notes to the 
Midrash Shir Ha-Shirim, contained in the July number of the Jewish 
Quarterly Review, which has just appeared, as well as those 


which are still in the Press. A few specimens, therefore, must satisfy 
the reader. 

In the first place, it is necessary to remark that Herr Buber did 
tiot give a faithful copy of the text he proposes to edit. It is true, 
as has been said above, that our text is in a deplorable state. But 
the recognized rule in such cases is to leave the text intact and 
indicate the emendations, either by means of brackets, or by giving' 
them in the notes. I adopted the latter alternative as the only 
possible way of furnishing students with an exact copy of the original 
MS., without the slightest deviation from the only complete text of 
the Midrash Suta yet found. For this reason, naturally enough, 
there will be found occasional divergences between the text published 
in this Review (Jewish Quaeteely) and that contained in the 
Midrash Suta of Herr Buber. But that is solely due to the fact that 
Herr Buber took most unpardonable liberties vnth the text. Thus 
Herr Buber has quite altered the orthography of the MS. without 
drawing the least attention to the fact. Our MS. having been 
executed in France, the scribe writes in the usual way of the 
Ashkenasim— always plena, as inD''D, nS''y, 1^''N, ''3''E', }N3''0, n^^nn, 
rf'in. Herr Buber substitutes the modern orthography, thus de- 
stroying the original character of the MS. for the student. Our 
copyist also writes V^^7 for which Herr Buber gives JjaETI?. In 
other places — to the number of about fifty — Herr Buber omits or 
adds words without indicating it. P. 7, 1. 14, after 1J3p'' both the 
MS. and the Machiri have the words [VV niDE' li^N, but Herr Buber 
omits them. P. 8, 1. 14, after Dimi |Un the MS. has the words CISJ 
r\2''pr\ 7&, which are all the more important as they indicate that 
all the proofs from the Bible accompanying the various groups of the 
seventy names are later additions, but the words are omitted by Herr 
Buber. On P. 9, 1. 9, after the word n^JlJ Herr Buber leaves out 
a whole Derasha, ^m "V^ , , , ^"rwif N"n, occupying in the MS. about 
four lines (ed. Schechter, 11. 203-206). P. 13, 1. 5, after QTI'^fn, the 
Derasha of DE'N-i3 . . . rfm N"T occurs (ed. S. U. 338-340) 
which is guaranteed also by Yalknt Shimoni, but is omitted by 
Herr Buber, On p. 38, par. 3, there is, after the word D''3D3, 
a blank in the MS. which is followed by the words DO'lJ? 1JQ3 
Qi3B>1{j>3 njlD pD^n nony. Herr Buber found it convenient not 
to indicate the blank by the customary dots and also omitted the 
Hebrew words just given. Of course these words are important, 
showing as they do that some Derasha on this part of the verse 
is missing— and this Derasha is actually to be found in MS. 621, 
But on p. 36, par. 9, Herr Buber introduces, after the word 3?3, 
a blank which is not to be found in the MS. This Buber-made blank 



is filled in the MS. by the words HDOC? DDn DD . Of course these 
words have no meaning, but they suggest something like IJJDt? D7S "*D 
as P nearly has it. Again, on p. 27, Herr Buber omitted a whole 
Derasha, consisting of four lines from TIJI'' up to DTlPKH (ed. S. 
11. 889-892), without giving any reason for it or in any way 
indicating that he is the author of the lacuna. To hide his oifence, 
he leaves out the words X"T at the beginning of par. 14 before "TUV 
as well as eight lines later, before ''13113. 

Secondly. Can Herr Buber explain why he did not make use of 
MS. 626, Codex de Eossi, which I quote in my Corrections and Notes 
as E ? This MS. contains fragments which, as will be seen from my 
quotations, cover about two-thirds of the whole Agadath Shir 
Ha-Shirim. These not only offer innumerable better readings, but 
also contain many Derashoth omitted by the neglectful copyist of 
MS. 541. What excuse can Herr Buber offer for this carelessness? 
He cannot even plead ignorance, for he refers to this identical MS. 
in his Introduction to the Midrash Mishle, p. 14 b, under '3 T" yro, 
where he says dni ^"1! V B'mD fD 0''yil3p OnoNO 4 Pp IJ/ i fJT |D 
V"n V tyTTD3 U'lJa^ Nin ^K'N» OnnX ti'Vm'O. Did Herr Buber 
write these words or not ? 

Thirdly. Brevity is not the soul of Herr Buber, and students know 
how fond he is of giving references, even when he could easily rely 
on the Masorath Hammidrash. But in our text he was exceptionally 
short and hasty, to the incalculable damage of his work. 

Here are a few instances : — 

Page 4. We have the passage n'ohvh njriD . . . {/'n V N"t. 
Herr Buber in his notes 17 and 18 refers to Aboth and Yadayim, 
which, of course, " every school-boy knows." But the real parallel 
to the whole sentence is Midrash Mishle, ch. I,— a book edited by 
Herr Buber himself ! — at the beginning. 

Page 9. The passage commencing nnty p n"t IDS and finishing 
D?13D nn?D3 Herr Buber, in note 34, refers to Chasitha, which, as 
he himself confesses, has a totally different version. The only place 
where a version similar to ours is to be found is the Midrash Agadoth 
(p. 170 b), edited by Herr Buber himself! 

Ihid. We have the passage of the two angel-songs to which 
Herr Buber gives no reference whatever, whilst an exact parallel 
is to be found in Tosephta Sota, VI, Cr. B. T. Sota, 30 b. 

Page 10. With regard to the nan ?J) npiK'3 Eashi and the Lekach 
Tob ought to have been mentioned. 

Page II. Here we have the strange Derashoth of Npin '~\ ; Hera 
Buber refers only to the Yalkut. Passing by his neglecting 
MSS. we can certainly not overlook his omitting to refer to the 


n^B'N'' 'l pis in Jellinek's Beth Hammidrash, V, pp. 113 and 113. The 
parallel to this latter is the more important on account of its 
showing the close affinity of the Agadath Shir Ha-Shirim with that 
class of Messianic Midrashim or Apocalypses to which the '"1 p^S 
rT'B'N'' belongs. 

Page 14. We have the Derashoth on D^Dian DN mCM 'JIDt?. The 
passage is, on account of its enumerating the various eras known to 
the redactor, of great historical importance, but is unfortunately 
very corrupt. All that Herr Buber has to say of it is that it " requires 
explanation," but without feeling any call to supply it. But why 
did not Herr Buber, at least, look up the partial parallels in 
Mechilta, 61 a and b, and Seder 01am, ch. XXX, and Chasitha to the 
same verse, which prove greatly helpful towards correcting the text ? 

Page 18, note 96. Herr Buber refers to Peah, I, 11. Of course 
one knows this Mishnah, but the real parallel is Aboth d'R. Nathan, 
chap. XL, where the words D''"13T ^J!a^N occur. 

Page 20. '131 pninK) mSO nE>1J?n jriJV 'l. Herr Buber has nothing 
to say about it, though parallels to these passages are to be found in 
Aboth, III, 7 and IV, 9, and Sabbath, 151b. But he ought at least to 
have remembered his own Mabo of the Tanchuma, p. 63 b, where 
the real parallel is to be found. The importance of this parallel 
consists in the fact that it suggests to us the source of this whole 
long Zedakah Midrash, extending over nearly seven pages (16-23), 
which is, as may be seen in my Corrections and Notes, the WHD?*. 

Page 25. Herr Buber reads 3t3D 17, which is nonsense, but the MS. 
has DUD, which ought to be corrected into D31ND. 

Page 26. vB'CJ nD7 N"T. Herr Buber omits to give a parallel to 
Chasitha, yet it would seem that he should have given some sign to 
his readers that he had not forgotten his own edition of the Pesikta 
d'K. Kahana (p. loi b), a reference to which is the more instructive, 
since it shows the way in which our redactor employed the old 
Midrashim. R. Tobijah b. Eleazar uses here our text. 

Page 27. Q''bw liij Itns. Herr Buber is silent. But he oughtat 
least to have thought of the Midrash Mishle (c. XIX) also edited by 
himself, which oifers the only real parallel to the passage. Of course 
we must read nrTiD? nOIDI instead of nD''''l21. Herr Buber shows 
a lack of acquaintance with the works edited by himself, which is 
strange and surprising. 

P. 32, verse 14. Herr Buber reads ''"ilN for 3N''?nN, but the latter 
is guaranteed by the Paitan R. Judah b. Menachem, who (in a MS.) has : 

nae'i' pmin naNijoa ne'iN D':njn on ^N^vai as'i'nN cia-ai m: 

p. 36. The Derasha concerning p'i>^^ is given by Rashi in the 


name of Midrash Shir Ha-Shirim ; but Herr Buber does not mention 
this important fact. 

The reader is assured that the list of Herr Ruber's sins of com- 
mission and omission in the single Agadath Shir Ha-Shirim could 
be easily trebled, not to speak of the other Midrashim contained in 
the MS. But the reviewer fears to trespass too much on the space 
of this periodical.