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AN EXPLANATION OF ABOT VI. 3 

In the issue of The Jewish Quarterly Review for January, 1920, 
vol. X, pp. i99ff.), Dr. Joseph H. Hertz suggests a very interesting 
emendation of Abot VI. 3. He reads D^znjt? in place of 
C"!?"] N^ and therefore translates the Baraita as follows : ' He 
who learns from his fellow a single chapter, a single verse, 
a single expression, or even a single letter ought to pay him 
honour, for so we find with David, King of Israel, who learnt 
nothing from Ahitophel but merely conversed with him and yet 
regarded him as his master, his guide, and his familiar friend; 
as it is said : But it was thou, a man, mine equal, my guide and 
my familiar friend (Ps. 55. 14). Now, is it not an argument 
from minor to major ? If David, the King of Israel, who learnt 
nothing from Ahitophel but merely conversed with him, regarded 
him as his master, guide, and familiar friend, how much more 
ought one who does learn from his fellow a chapter, rule, verse, 
expression, or even a single letter to pay him honour?' The 
purpose of the emendation, as Dr. Hertz points out, is to give 
force to the "iDm ?p which otherwise is decidedly lame, in view 
of the fact that two words or expressions are undoubtedly more 
than one. 

It has been my privilege in connexion with certain studies in 
Abot, in which I have recently been engaged, to examine several 
old editions and manuscripts in the library of the Jewish Theo- 
logical Seminary containing the Baraita min fop, and I am 
convinced that the emendation is not necessary to save the force 
of the syllogism, if the proper reading be reconstituted according 
to the manuscripts. The words ni"iN nn and nriK mx are not 
well authenticated. Out of the sixteen editions and manuscripts 
on my list, I find that six omit "inK "0"t, four omit nriN niK, and 
two omit them both. These latter are a French prayer-book 

83 G a 



84 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW 

and a copy of the Machzor Vitry, both dating from the thirteenth 
century. The dubiousness of these readings, evidenced by all 
the manuscripts, and their omission from the two very valuable 
texts just mentioned make it very likely that they did not form 
part of the original Baraita. A careful scrutiny of the printed 
text of Kalla, to which Dr. Hertz makes reference, will lead to 
the same conclusion. Not only is ins ~DT omitted, but the 
reading nnN 1TIN I^SNI triN "m 1^381 gives the impression that 
the second 1^2N1 introduces a later addition to the original 
statement. 

According to the best textual evidence, the Baraita reads as 
follows : imb yti "inx pica ik nnx nai>n in ins pis nano Tobn 
w xbx ^snTiNO mb ab^ bti-tw iro ina mc pv .1133 u 
.Ttdi iai/N 'ansa &\:» nmi w lai^i m ikbtti na^a ernan 
n^n ^arvriKB no^ t6t? ^-ie» ^d in nci ncm bp nnan k^ii 
nai»n ik in* p-ia nano nc6n iai^i m inw na^a nnan •w 
.■una 13 arui> -p-ivs? noa-i nea nnx ^v inx pioa l^as in nns, and 
since ' two words ' or ' expressions ' may be less than a whole 
Scriptural verse, the IDril bp remains in force. 

Dr. Hertz is of course correct in assuming that the verse 
immediately following that quoted in our Baraita is required to 
explain the allusion. Raba in Kalla and most of the com- 
mentaries take for granted that the teachings of Ahitophel are 
summed up in the two phrases IID pTlDJ VIIT and OWN rV33 
WQ ~\bm respectively. Now these two expressions taken 
together constitute no less than one whole passage and therefore 
it may well be puzzling that the peculiarly emphatic form 
n3^>3 anzi W b6x, as Dr. Hertz points out, should be used. 

As a matter of fact, the Baraita was not guided by the 
division into verses now current, and it is very likely that the 
word 1E>N did not introduce a new passage (see verse 20 in 
the same Psalm). If we assume this to be the case, we see 
at once that the two expressions which sum up the teachings of 
Ahitophel constitute together considerably less than one whole 
passage, and the emphatic form nai>3 Dnan W would therefore 
not be unjustified. 



EXPLANATION OF ABOT VI. 3 — KOHN 85 

A careful examination of the manuscript reading, quoted 
above, shows that , V^. ,, p is not among the titles which David 
is said to have applied to Ahitophel. It is possible that, for 
purposes of the homily, our Baraita read , y' , J!l?1 instead of '^'Ol 
which would make the relation of the proof-text to the Baraita 
much clearer. The passage could then be freely rendered as 
follows : ' Thou, a man mine equal, my guide and he who teaches 
me, that we should take sweet counsel together and that we should 
walk to the house of God with the throng.' 

If there is no real need for accepting the proposed emenda- 
tion, interesting and suggestive as it undoubtedly is', we need not 
of course assume an exceptional ' process of transmission ' in the 
case of our Baraita, an assumption to which we would otherwise 
be compelled. 

Jacob Kohn. 
New York.