Monday, May 16, 2011

Who's Trying to Break the Covenant: Persians or Romans?

This week's Perasha contains the quintessential verse of our survival:

 וְאַף-גַּם-זֹאת בִּהְיוֹתָם בְּאֶרֶץ אֹיְבֵיהֶם, לֹא-מְאַסְתִּים וְלֹא-גְעַלְתִּים לְכַלֹּתָם--לְהָפֵר בְּרִיתִי, אִתָּם:  כִּי אֲנִי יְהוָה, אֱלֹהֵיהֶם.
And yet for all that, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not reject them, neither will I abhor them, to destroy them utterly, and to break My covenant with them; for I am the LORD their God.

 The gemara Megilla 11a brings Shemuel's opening statements on Megillat Esther in addition to a Beraita:

ושמואל אמר (ויקרא כו, מד) לא מאסתים ולא געלתים לכלותם לא מאסתים בימי יוונים ולא געלתים בימי נבוכדנצר לכלותם בימי המן להפר בריתי אתם בימי פרסיים כי אני ה' אלהיהם בימי גוג ומגוג במתניתא תנא לא מאסתים בימי כשדים שהעמדתי להם דניאל חנניה מישאל ועזריה ולא געלתים בימי יוונים שהעמדתי להם שמעון הצדיק וחשמונאי ובניו ומתתיה כה"ג לכלותם בימי המן שהעמדתי להם מרדכי ואסתר להפר בריתי אתם בימי פרסיים שהעמדתי להם של בית רבי וחכמי דורות כי אני ה' אלהיהם לעתיד לבוא שאין כל אומה ולשון יכולה לשלוט בהם

Soncino translation (from
Samuel quoted: I did not reject them, neither did I abhor them to destroy them utterly. ‘I did not reject them’ in the days of the Greeks; ‘neither did I abhor them’ — in the days of Nebuchadnezzar; ‘to destroy them utterly’ — in the days of Haman; ‘and to break my covenant with them’ — in the days of the Persians; ‘for I am the Lord their God’ — in the days of Gog and Magog. In a Baraitha It was taught: ‘I have not rejected them’ — in the days of the Chaldeans, when I raised up for them Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah; ‘neither did I abhor them’ — in the days of the Greeks, when I raised up for them Simeon the Righteous and Hasmonai and his sons, and Mattathias the High Priest; ‘to destroy them utterly’ — in the days of Haman, when I raised up for them Mordecai and Esther; ‘to break my covenant with them’ — in the days of the Persians, when I raised up for them the members of the house of Rabbi and the Sages of the various generations. ‘For I am the Lord their God’ — in the time to come, when no nation or people will be able to subject them.
The word פרסיים in this case would refer to the Persians during the Sassanid Empire as the house of Ribbi (Ribbi Yehuda Hanasi) is mentioned.

However, the עין יעקב's girsa changes both words פרסיים to ארמיים.  And we know that ארמיים is just a euphemism for אדומיים - to avoid the censor.

Also, Snunit has in both places:
להפר בריתי אתם בימי <פרסיים> {רומיים}
which indicates that both girsa'ot have been used.

The Soncino's footnote also notes the variant girsa.

I may be wrong, but it appears to me that using פרסיים here was also to avoid the censor, and either רומיים or אדומים was the original girsa. However, Hashem, Who knows the future, knew at the time of the censoring that using פרסיים would be accurate as we are currently "בימי פרסיים" - in the days of the Persians, who are, as its current leaders say, trying to cause Hashem's covenant with us to be nullified.  Just listen to Ahmedinejad and the Ayatollah themselves.  This is why all these years, פרסיים was used.

This could also be an approach for why פרס is used here too.

One could add to this that the אדומיים are attempting to cause us a spiritual annihilation at the same time that the Persians are attempting a physical one.  Nevertheless, Hashem allowed us a land of Israel where we could set up Yeshivot to stem the tide of our spiritual downfall.  Therefore, nowadays, both girsa'ot are correct.


At Thu May 19, 07:30:00 AM 2011, Anonymous Neshama said...

I couldn't follow this at first. Near the end, maybe it means "Peres" and not Paras, he's in cullusion with the UN-holy papa.


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