רשב"ם הוא ללא ספק אחד מפרשני המקרא החדשניים ביותר בימי הביניים, ופירושו לתורה כולל יותר פשט לכל פסוק מאשר כל פרשן אחר. למרות זאת, ואולי כתוצאה מכך, פירושי רשב"ם למקרא לא השיגו אפילו קרוב לפופולריות הרבה של פירושיו של סבו רש"י, בניגוד לפירוש רש"י לתורה, שהיה אחד מהספרים העבריים הראשונים שהודפסו (1470 לערך), ואשר מאות כתבי יד שלו שרדו כיום, פירוש רשב"ם הודפס לראשונה רק ב־17052 מכתב היד היחיד ששרד (כ"י ברסלאו 103), שגורלו נשאר בלתי ידוע מאז שנשדד במהלך השואה.
אפילו כתב יד יחיד זה (לפני שנאבד) היה חסר כמעט עשרים וארבעה פרקים. כתב היד נחתך בשני צדדיו ולכן היה חסר את פירוש רשב"ם על בראשית א'-י"ז וגם מדברים ל"ג:ד' עד סוף התורה, וגם היה חסר את פירוש רשב"ם לפרשת פנחס (במדבר כ"ה:י' – ל':ב'). למרבה המזל, פירוש רשב"ם על שניים מפרקים אלו שרד בשני כתבי יד אחרים. פירושו לבראשית א' (עד אמצע הפסוק האחרון של הפרק) מצורף לסוף של כ"י מינכן 5,3 ופירושו לדברים ל"ד נוסף לסוף פירוש רש"י על התורה בכ"י אוקספורד Opp. 34.4 אך, כל אחד מאלו כולל רק דף אחד, ושאר החלקים החסרים כוללים בערך עשרה אחוזים מהפירוש השלם.
There are several sources which can be utilized in attempting to reconstruct the lost sections of Rashbam:
- כתבי רשב"ם עצמו – In the extant portion of Rashbam's Torah commentary and in his other works, he sometimes discusses verses from the missing chapters or notes that these chapters contained an explanation of a certain topic. D. Rosin's critical edition of Rashbam's commentary (1882) collected many of these cases, and some new ones are added here.
- ציטוטים ביד אחרים – Rosin also began the work of gathering the citations of the missing sections of Rashbam's commentary found in various Tosafist compilations. The collection here adds to this pool from additional manuscripts and printed works.5
- חזקוני – Many scholars have noted that a significant portion of Chizkuni is taken from Rashbam.6 The corollary of this is that Chizkuni can also serve as a valuable source for reconstructing the missing parts of Rashbam's commentary. I. Kislev7 provides some good examples, and the reconstructed text presented here offers additional ones.
- MSS Munich 252 and Oxford Marsh 2258 – Our recent analysis of these manuscripts indicates that they contain a treasure trove of material from Rashbam in almost verbatim form. The next section will elaborate on this.
כ"י אוקספורד מארש 225 ומינכן 252
The Munich 252 and Oxford Marsh 225 manuscripts constitute two textual witnesses of a Tosafist compilation which moves back and forth between peshat exegesis and Midrashic interpretations.9 This feature is characteristic of most later Tosafist collections. However, this particular compilation is unique in that its peshat portion incorporates massive amounts of Rashbam.
A statistical analysis of Bereshit 18-22 (Parashat Vayera, or the first full Parashah on which Rashbam's commentary is extant) reveals that a full 60% of the peshat interpretations in the Munich 252 – Oxford Marsh 225 compilation derive from Rashbam and that they generally preserve Rashbam's own language with only minimal modifications. The extent of Rashbam's impact on the content of this compilation can readily be seen from the Rashbam – Munich 252 Comparison Table which juxtaposes the relevant sections of these manuscripts with the printed edition of Rashbam. The linguistic similarity is also highlighted by a Three Way Comparison Table which compares its degree of fidelity to Rashbam's words with that of Chizkuni.10 The full text of MS Munich 252 on Parashat Vayera with the identified sources for each lemma is available here.11
In addition to the three-fifths of the peshat interpretations which are derived from Rashbam, approximately one-fifth is taken from R. Yosef Bekhor Shor.12 The extent of Rashbam's influence also does not end at Bereshit 22. A study of the rest of these manuscripts is currently underway, and preliminary analysis shows a similar pattern of heavy use of Rashbam through Shemot 24.13
These findings indicate that the texts of the Munich and Oxford manuscripts are of significant value for a number of different purposes:
- Reconstructing missing Rashbam – They constitute what may be the single most important source for reconstructing the missing portion of Rashbam on Bereshit 1-17, as once one eliminates the R"Y Bekhor Shor layer, the vast majority of what remains is likely from Rashbam.
- Improving our text of Rashbam – They provide a valuable and accurate textual witness for the rest of Rashbam's commentary, enabling a proper evaluation of the now lost Breslau MS and facilitating the filling in of some of its lacunae.14
- Improving our text of R"Y Bekhor Shor – They serve as an additional textual witness for the commentary of R"Y Bekhor Shor which was also published from a lone manuscript, and are relevant for the question of the provenance of the הגהות found in the commentary.15
- Historical – They provide evidence for and shed light on the use of the commentaries of both Rashbam and R"Y Bekhor Shor in later time periods.
There are difficulties, however, which need to be surmounted before using Munich 252 – Oxford Marsh 225 or any of the above sources for reconstructing the missing sections of Rashbam.
- Rashbam's other works – Passages from Rashbam's own works which refer to interpretations in the missing chapters provide references but not the actual missing text.
- Citations by others – These citations of Rashbam rarely preserve his original formulations, and very often are significant abridgments of his interpretations. In addition, it is not always clear if a citation in the name of "ר' שמואל" or "ר"ש" refers to Rashbam or to someone else.
- Chizkuni – Chizkuni never identifies Rashbam as his source, and he also abridges and modifies his sources.
- MSS Munich 252 and Oxford Marsh 225 – While the statistics indicate that the majority of the peshat interpretations in these manuscripts are likely from Rashbam, it is only on rare occasions that these manuscripts explicitly identify Rashbam as their source.
To overcome these challenges, the reconstructed text of Rashbam on Bereshit 1-17 presented here employs a combination of methods whenever possible, and the critical apparatus under each individual interpretation details the various factors supporting its identification as from Rashbam. The following are some of the general principles utilized in distilling potential Rashbam material from MS Munich 252 and Chizkuni:
- References and citations – When an interpretation found in MS Munich 252 matches what Rashbam himself references or what is cited in his name by others, this material can almost definitely be attributed to Rashbam. There is a slightly lesser degree of certitude when the content is found in Chizkuni.
- Distinctive content or language – When the content or language of an interpretation found in MS Munich 252 is distinctive to Rashbam,16 there is a strong probability that it should be attributed to Rashbam. Here, too, there is a slightly lesser probability when the content is found in Chizkuni.
- Ibn Ezra's Long Commentary – R. Merdler17 demonstrated that Ibn Ezra in his Long Commentary on Bereshit is responding to Rashbam's Sefer HaDayyakot. There are also a number of cases in which Ibn Ezra may be responding to or influenced by Rashbam's Torah commentary18 which can be viewed at this Rashbam – Ibn Ezra Table. The presence of this factor may also raise the likelihood of a particular interpretation being from Rashbam.
- Clustering – There is a phenomenon of clustering in MS Munich 252 and some other manuscripts in which streaks of several interpretations in a row all come from the same source. In some cases, this factor can add to the chances that a particular interpretation is from Rashbam.
It should be noted that, by its very nature, the labor of reconstruction is often limited to degrees of probability. Thus, we have divided the reconstructed interpretations of Rashbam into the categories of כמעט וודאי (almost definite) and סביר (probable). These two categories can be accessed by selecting either or both of the check boxes at the top of the Reconstructed Rashbam page. A third group of interpretations, which likely contains much additional material from Rashbam, but for which more evidence is necessary before making an identification, can be viewed on the separate Possible Candidates page.
פולמוס השבת וצינזור פירוש רשב"ם
Rashbam's interpretations of Bereshit 1:4-8 appear to say that, in the Days of Creation, the day preceded the night, and each new day began only at dawn. As a result, some have concluded from here that Rashbam maintained a similar position regarding the 6th and 7th days of Creation and that he thought that the Shabbat of Creation began only at dawn. Indeed, many scholars have assumed that Ibn Ezra's famous Iggeret HaShabbat was written to combat this position of Rashbam and to prevent anyone from entertaining the notion that the Shabbat of Creation began only at sunrise.19 Moreover, some publishing houses have even gone so far as to censor Rashbam's comments on these verses, contending that these "heretical" interpretations were interpolated by someone other than Rashbam.20 New evidence, though, from MS Munich 252 illuminates Rashbam's position and dispels these concerns.
The Munich 5 manuscript which is the source of Rashbam's commentary on Bereshit 1 breaks off after the first few words of his interpretation of 1:31, the very verse which apparently contained Rashbam's position on when Shabbat begins:
ויהי ערב ויהי בקר – אז נגמר יום הששי והתחילה...
As a result, Rashbam's stance on whether the Shabbat of Creation began at night or during the day has remained unknown until now.21 However, the Munich 252 manuscript provides us with the continuation of Rashbam's long lost interpretation and makes an invaluable contribution to understanding Rashbam's position. Fitting like a glove, it begins with the first few words ("אז נגמר יום הששי והתחילה") already known from MS Munich 5,22 and it then brings the missing portion of Rashbam's interpretation:23
ויהי ערב ויהי בקר יום הששי – אז נגמר יום הששי והתחילה מנוחה בשבת בערב שפסקה המלאכה, כדכתו' זכור את יום השבת לקדשו, כי ששת ימים עשה י"י וכו'. לכך נכתב בששי מה שלא כתוב בחמשה ימים.
This passage makes it abundantly clear that Rashbam himself did not believe that Shabbat of Creation began only on the morning of the seventh day. Rather, Rashbam explicitly states that it began already on the previous evening (at sunset of the sixth day), or as soon as Hashem ceased His creative activity ("בערב שפסקה המלאכה"). Thus, this passage alone suffices to remove any objections to Rashbam's interpretations, as even according to the prevalent assumption that Rashbam did maintain that the five earlier nights of creation belonged to the days which preceded them, this would have no bearing on the starting point of Shabbat, as the system changed upon the completion of the sixth day of Creation.
Moreover, it is possible that a closer reading of all of Rashbam's relevant comments can facilitate a more comprehensive and precise understanding of Rashbam's position:
- According to Rashbam 1:1,24 the entire purpose of the story of Creation was to show that there were six days of Creation and thereby serve as the supporting backdrop for the reason given for the commandment of Shabbat in the Decalogue: "כִּי שֵׁשֶׁת יָמִים עָשָׂה י"י אֶת הַשָּׁמַיִם וְאֶת הָאָרֶץ אֶת הַיָּם וְאֶת כׇּל אֲשֶׁר בָּם וַיָּנַח בַּיּוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי".
- Regarding the phrase of "וַיְהִי עֶרֶב וַיְהִי בֹקֶר", Rashbam 1:5 notes that "עֶרֶב" and "בֹקֶר" do not have the same connotation as the terms "לָיְלָה" and "יוֹם", and thus cannot refer to night and day. Furthermore, in 1:4, Rashbam points out that the first day could not have begun with the night, as the period of darkness before the creation of light was indistinguishable from the pre-creation chaotic state.25 Consequently, in the verses of 1:4-5, light and day are always mentioned before darkness and night.26
- Building on the previous two points, Rashbam in 1:5 and 1:8 emphasizes that the purpose of telling us "וַיְהִי עֶרֶב וַיְהִי בֹקֶר" was merely to show how the six days were discrete units (as stated in the Decalogue),27 separated from each other by the intervening nights (i.e. the periods of "עֶרֶב" through "בֹקֶר"). According to Rashbam, the phrase cannot be coming to tell us that a 24 hour day is composed of an "עֶרֶב" and "בֹקֶר",28 as "עֶרֶב" and "בֹקֶר" are the bookends of only the twelve hours of nighttime, and they do not combine to form a 24 hour period.
- Thus, according to Rashbam, the six days of Creation enumerated in Bereshit 1 ("יוֹם אֶחָד", "יוֹם שֵׁנִי", etc.) and referred to in the Decalogue ("כִּי שֵׁשֶׁת יָמִים") refer exclusively to the six twelve hour periods of daylight, as it was only during the daytime that Hashem performed creative labor. The function of the intervening periods of darkness was merely to break up the process so that there would be six discrete periods of creation rather than one continuous process. Whether these first five nights are attached to the days which preceded them or followed them is not at all the point Rashbam is trying to make; as in his opinion, their only function in the story of Creation was to serve as interludes.
- On this backdrop, as soon as the sixth day was complete and there was no longer any further creation, the six days of creation were over29 and Shabbat began immediately, as Rashbam says in 1:31 above.30
- רשב"ם וראב"ע – Reconstructing Rashbam on Bereshit 1–17 has the potential to enhance our understanding of the relationship between Rashbam and Ibn Ezra. As noted above,31 it appears likely that Ibn Ezra had (or was at least aware of) Rashbam's commentary when he wrote his Long Commentary on Bereshit.32 Until now, though, study of the points of contact have been limited by the fact that Ibn Ezra's Long Commentary exists precisely on the chapters (Bereshit 1–17) which were missing from Rashbam's commentary.33 The accumulation of more material from Rashbam on these chapters will enable a sharper analysis.
- רשב"ם בפרובנס – Citations of Rashbam's Torah commentary from the medieval era are found almost exclusively in Tosafist literature.34 Recently, though, Y. Tzeitkin35 noted that two citations of Rashbam are found in a 14th century Provencal work, raising the possibility that Rashbam's commentary (or at least some of his interpretations) may have had wider dissemination than previously known. The concentration of Rashbam material in Munich 252 and Oxford Marsh 225 adds to this issue, as the marginal glosses in the Oxford manuscript were written by a student of ר' פראט מימון מלוניל36 which would likely place also this use of Rashbam (albeit in mediated form) in 14th century Provence.
- Rashbam and Ramban – While it is difficult to prove direct influence of Rashbam's commentary on Ramban, there are some likely or possible Rashbam interpretations in Munich 252 and Chizkuni which find parallels in Ramban's commentary. Further examination will be required to see if Rashbam's interpretations may have been transmitted to Ramban through the filter of Tosafist collections or Chizkuni.37
תודות ורשימת כתבי יד
We express our appreciation to the following libraries for granting us permission to publish the texts found in their manuscripts:
- מינכן 5, 50, 252 – Bayerische Stadtbibliothek
- Oxford Marsh 225 (Neubauer 284), Oppenheimer 31 (Neubauer 271/1,2,8), 34 (Neubauer 186), 225 (Neubauer 970/4), Opp. Add. Qu. 127 (Neubauer 2343/1)
- London - British Library Add. 22092 – © The British Library Board
- וינה 23 (Cod. Hebr. 220) – Oesterreichische Nationalbibliothek
לבסוף, אנו אסירי תודה לצוות המכון לתצלומי כתבי יד עבריים בספרייה הלאומית על עזרתם הנדיבה.