|hatam_soferet (hatam_soferet) wrote,|
@ 2006-02-28 10:39 pm UTC
|Entry tags:||ketivat sefer torah, learning, talmud|
It occurred to me last week that it makes perfect sense for Rosh to have made this innovation. Copies of the Talmud were scarce enough anyway - it happens when you have to write everything by hand - but Rosh lived in Germany in the period c. 1250-1300.
In 1239, the Pope decided that the Talmud was a Bad Naughty Book, and issued edicts that all copies of it should be collected and burned. In 1244 in Paris, an absolutely stupendous number of manuscripts - twenty cartloads - were destroyed, and this was repeated on a smaller scale throughout Europe in subsequent decades. Rosh was surely affected by this; the availability of Jewish texts must have decreased drastically, and this is pretty likely to have made any scholar's life rather difficult, not to mention distressing.
Rosh could see that some texts were in danger of being lost forever, and not any old text - the Talmud itself. The Talmud is the central text of rabbinic Judaism; it appears to have more authority than the Bible itself, which contributed to its being banned in the first place. Without the Talmud, the chain of rabbinic tradition would be permanently severed. In this context, one can see why Rosh would place every Jew under the obligation to copy the central texts of Judaism - they were in very real and immediate danger of being lost forever. Rosh chose to prioritise saving the Talmud from obliteration over the biblically-ordained commandment to write a sefer Torah, and given the circumstances, it's hardly surprising.
I should continue and discuss the significance of the mitzvah in our day, but it's bedtime and has been for some time.