This Doesn’t Fit Charedi Hashkafa: Rabbis’ Pens Slip Too…

A Slip of the Pen

Not every mistake is the printer’s fault. Some carry the author’s “handwriting” on them.

The Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 180:1 says one should not remove the tablecloth and bread until after Benching.

Magen Avraham en site says as follows —

 (אין להסיר), דהברכה אינה שורה אלא כשיש שם דבר כענין אלישע ושונמית.

“This is because blessing does not rest except where there is something, as seen by Elisha and the Shunamis”.

Now if you examine the account of Elisha seemingly referred to by the Magen Avraham, you will notice it happened with the wife of Obadiah, not the Shunamite women. A wife of Elisha’s deceased student was in debt, and he performed a miracle by filling borrowed vessels with oil. The point being, had no oil been present, to begin with, the miracle could never have occurred. Refer to Kings B, beginning of Chapter 4.

The story with Shunamis happens immediately afterward, in which Elisha revives a different women’s dead son (Kings B 4:8-37).

It seems like the Magen Avraham harmlessly confused the two stories.

But the Pri Megadim (ad. loc.) held otherwise. After raising the above problem, he surmises the Magen Avraham’s intention is as follows:

By saying “Elisha”, the Magen Avraham indeed refers to the story with the oil. By saying “and the Shunamis” he means to quote the source for the second law in the Shulchan Aruch; the one saying one should leave over some of the food as a sign of blessing. See, there was a third anecdote at the end of the chapter (ibidem 42-44), in which it mentions leaving over some leftovers of the food. This happened after the Shunamis story.

His theory seems quite forced and doesn’t fit the actual language used by our edition of the Magen Avraham. Besides, if that was the intent, wouldn’t that require the Magen Avraham to put the “the Shunamis” phrase under new heading and numbering?

We apparently have ourselves a “Slip of the Pen”(Lapsus Calami in Latin).

One of my Rabbis once told me he saw an older print of the Meiri’s commentary on the following Mishna in Pesachim (49a) —

ההולך לשחוט את פסחו ולמול את בנו כו’

Rabbi Menachem Meiri’s version, however, stated: “One who goes to slaughter his son and circumcise his Paschal Lamb”…!

The above is almost certainly not a printer’s error because a printer’s thought processes do not contribute to that kind of switch.

Here’s an example of a more complicated lookalike of an L.C. found in the Mishna Berurah 54:9:

יש ליזהר כשלומדים משניות יאמרו בסוף הלימוד המאמר דר’ חנניא בן עקשיא וכדומה כדי שיהיו יוכלו (יכולים) לומר עי”ז אח”כ הקדיש דרבנן

“One ought to be meticulous when learning Mishanyos to quote the remark of Rabbi Chananya son of Akashia or the like so that they are they may be (permitted to) thereby say the Rabbi’s Kaddish afterward”.

What happened here is pretty obvious. Rabbi Yisrael Meir Kagan (known as the Chafetz Chaim) wavered between “they are permitted” and “they may”. His editorial indecision combined with a lack of proofreading led to both his ideas being memorialized…

Nevertheless, newer editions of the Mishna Berurah simply note a correction at the foot of the page. Zero explanation of the typo’s “Anatomy” is given. Nor do they bother presenting any proof or explanation for their own rendering. Go figure. I detected many other incidents just like it in the Mishna Berurah. Are certain editors more prone to the (real or imaginary) “Hashakafa” aspects of considering such things? No Halacha is being altered (yet)!

The applied lesson for editors is clear.

Not every mistake really happened at the printer, and noticing [and fixing] them requires an open mind.

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