English, Ruminations

Crib Sheet

Pg. 128 of Ginzberg

Ah, finals… In Israel, the period bears multiple names- “bein hasemesterim“, “hufsha“, “tekufat hamivkhanim“, none of which seem to fully own up to the fact that the average BA student has four weeks to complete coursework for around eight classes or so.

But enough complaining. This testing period has had me reading quite a lot of secondary literature on the Yerushalmi, a Talmud which I believe has received relatively little attention here on The Talmud Blog. One of the phenomena that I’ve been taken by over the past couple of months is that of the gerashim in Palestinian corpora. E.S. Rosenthal’s pioneering essay on the Vatican 30 manuscript of Genesis Rabbah in the 1958 Agnon festchrift (immediately followed by a classic Leah Goldberg poem) paved the way for the study of this form of referencing parallel sections found in many rabbinic works from the land of Israel. Even though I’ve been interested in this phenomena for a while now, only now while studying for my test on the Yerushalmi did the thought occur to me that this method of referencing parallel passages might be a function of the transmission of the work in the form of a codex as opposed to on a scroll. That is, if those who first placed the gerashim in the text of say, the Yerushalmi, were familiar with the text in a written as opposed to oral form, then it seems likely that they were familiar with it on a codex. Placing keywords to reference other passages doesn’t help so much in the case of scrolls, whereas with a codex one would be able to just turn the page to the passage referenced.

Alternatively, maybe those responsible for the gerashim worked in a setting based on the simultaneous use of written and oral transmission of the reciter of the text. Perhaps the work was meant to be read from a written source- be it a scroll or a codex- and then completed from memory at the points in which the gerashim were embedded into the text.