Sanbatyon River

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  • #611198

    I remember as a school child being told a story (repeated by different teachers year-to-year) of an individual who crossed the Sanbatyon over Shabbos (since that is the only day it doesn’t shoot rocks up) due to some pikuach nefesh situation that allowed chillul Shabbos. I only recall the story vaguely and was wondering if anyone here might know what the story I am referring to is and could share that story.

    I seem to remember that on the other side of the Sanbatyon (which is in Africa?) were some of the ten shvotim that were taken out of Eretz Yisroel before Yerushalayim fell.

    Also there is a common zmiros that is sung every Shabbos that refers to the Sanbatyon. What is that zimor saying about it?

    Btw, once I’m reminiscing (but completely unrelated I think), there is another story I used to hear shortly before Shavuos year after year as a child. There was a debate of some sort between a galach and a Jew where somewhere during the debate something was thrown into the ground… I know this is very vague, but if anyone knows what story I’m referring to and can remind me what the story is, I would be most appreciative.

    #1150195

    Torah613Torah
    Participant

    I’m so confused by the OP.

    #1150196

    WIY
    Member

    kneedeep

    The Sambatyon is a mashal. I also used to think it was real (because I was educated by simpletons) but later on I found out that its a mashal.

    Google Rabbi Mordechai Hochman and The Ten Tribes Beyond the Sambatyon.

    #1150197

    Torah613Torah: How can I clarify for you what I intended to ask?

    WIY: It being real is the standard line of Jewish thought while the idea of it being an analogy is only an alternative explanation. See what Eldad HaDini says about it.

    #1150198

    WIY
    Member

    kneedeep

    Read the article he deals with Eldad HaDani. I dont personally believe it to be real either so that makes him and I. There are many who think Eldad was a fraud.

    #1150199

    WolfishMusings
    Participant

    I remember as a school child being told a story (repeated by different teachers year-to-year) of an individual who crossed the Sanbatyon over Shabbos (since that is the only day it doesn’t shoot rocks up) due to some pikuach nefesh situation that allowed chillul Shabbos.

    I was told this about the author of Akdamus — and that he was not allowed to re-cross, since there was no longer a pickuach-nefesh issue, effectively stranding him on the other side for life.

    Of course, we know who penned Akdamus, so that’s not true.

    For what it’s worth, it’s obviously either (a) allegorical or (b) historically true, but not so today (for whatever reason).

    There is no river in the inhabited world that exhibits this behavior. Furthermore, it is highly unlikely that such a river exists that is (a) undiscovered and (b) large enough to create an impediment against going around.

    The Wolf

    #1150200

    WIY
    Member

    Wolf

    Doesn’t the story go that he penned it before he left?

    #1150201

    Thanks for that comment, WolfishMusings. Actually now that you refreshed some details in my mind, I think that the two stories I referred to in my first and last paragraph of the OP ARE the same story. Can you please relate the entire story as you know it about the author of Akdamus and why he crossed the river? I also seem to now recall he was challenged by a sorcerer.

    Also, who penned the Akdamus and how does that now change the veracity of the story (or at least the veracity of who the protagonist is)?

    #1150202

    WolfishMusings
    Participant

    Thanks for that comment, WolfishMusings. Actually now that you refreshed some details in my mind, I think that the two stories I referred to in my first and last paragraph of the OP ARE the same story. Can you please relate the entire story as you know it about the author of Akdamus and why he crossed the river?

    That’s about all I remember of it.

    Also, who penned the Akdamus and how does that now change the veracity of the story (or at least the veracity of who the protagonist is)?

    R. Meir bar Yitzchak of Orleans. I’m not sure that the identity of the author changes anything. Perhaps I spoke a bit too hastily above.

    Nonetheless, my other points stand.

    The Wolf

    #1150203

    Thanks again for your input.

    Your other point was that it doesn’t currently exist. That seems apparent. Does anyone know of any sources that state that it is (historically) a reality or any alternative Jewish sources that state it is allegorical?

    Eldad HaDini seems to indicate he stood on the bank of the Sambatyon and spoke to the people across it.

    #1150204

    hakohen53
    Participant

    My recollection, too, is that the story dealt with the author of the Akdomus.

    Wolf: Just because they can’t find it today does not mean it doesn’t exist. They are constantly finding the existence of people that they did not previously know existed. Obviously the 10 shevotim exist somewhere too.

    Lastly, I seem to recall that there was a gadol (I believe it may have been the Rambam or the Ramban), about whom it was said that he had a jar of the Sambatyon water in his home that bubbled and churned all week but became calm on Shabbos. Imagine the affect that would have on anyone who may question the existence of a creator that rested on the 7th day!

    #1150205

    hakohen53
    Participant

    By the way, I forgot to mention this before, the reference to the Sambatyon is in the Friday night zemer that begins “Yom Shabbos Kodesh hu”. It is towards the end.

    #1150206

    Yes, that’s it hakohen53. Thank you. What does the zemor say about the Sambatyon?

    #1150207

    HaLeiVi
    Participant

    Rebbe Akiva used it to prove to an Apikores that shabbos has significance. There are wells that have predictable cycles. Perhaps there was such a well upstream that stayed high all week and created strong rapids.

    Anyhow, this is what the Zemer, Yom Shabbos Kodesh Hu, refers to: Sambatyon Hanahar, Shebechol Yom Ratz Venimhar, Yochi’ach Bo Manoch, Tashiv Lemin Asher Sho’el.

    #1150208

    WIY
    Member

    Kneedeep

    Why dont you read the article I mentioned?

    Google Rabbi Mordechai Hochman and The Ten Tribes Beyond the Sambatyon.

    #1150209

    Sam2
    Participant

    WIY: I read that article (or most of it). I don’t know who R’ Hochman is, but what he did to the T’shuvah of R’ Tzemach Gaon is just, well, I’ll let you re-read it and decide for yourself. It’s not P’shat.

    That being said, I don’t think anyone (aside from R’ Tzemach Gaon) ever took Eldad Hadani seriously. He was respected as an Aggadic authority and Talmid Chacham (and therefore quoted by the Rishonim), but I don’t think the vast majority of them actually believed that the travels were real. They were all a Mashal for couching his Aggadah and Halachah.

    #1150210

    Hi Sam2. That you for the input. I would like to make a couple points on your comment. Reference to the Sambatyon river predates Eldad HaDani. He did not bring it to Jewry’s attention. Additionally, his travel narrative was seemingly accepted by the majority of our leaders. Although it is true that the Ibn Ezra and the Maharam of Rothenburg were skeptical, the then Ga’on of Sura, Mar Zemach ben Chaim, vouched for Eldad’s reliability and trustworthiness. Also Rashi, Rabad, and Avrohom ben Rambam cite Eldad HaDani as an unquestioned authority.

    #1150211

    WolfishMusings
    Participant

    Wolf: Just because they can’t find it today does not mean it doesn’t exist. They are constantly finding the existence of people that they did not previously know existed.

    Not really. True, there are uncontacted peoples (such as those on the Andaman Islands of India) who are left alone, but for the most part, there aren’t really any undiscovered people left.

    But my argument wasn’t on the people, but on the river. In order to prevent the Ten Tribes from returning, the river has to be of a certain size (otherwise, you could just go around it). The odds of finding a river of that size (and with such unusual properties) being undiscovered today (with satellite imagery) is exceedingly unlikely.

    Obviously the 10 shevotim exist somewhere too.

    As a group? Why is that so obvious? I think it’s just as obvious to say that they eventually intermarried and were lost, just as were the ancient Edomites, Ammonites, Elamites and all the nations of old. Do you have some theological reason for stating that all twelve tribes must exist? If so, you could just as easily posit that representatives of the other tribes lived in Judah and their descendants still exist today (mixed in with the rest of the modern-day Jewish people).

    The Wolf

    #1150212

    suprone
    Member
    #1150213

    assurnet
    Participant

    This is the way I heard the story – there was a Jewish village somewhere in central Asia I believe and there was an anti-semetic christian priest who was trying to turn the local king against the Jews. He was a ba’al kishuf and was able to kill people by just looking at them so everyone was afraid to confront him. The Jews knew that on the other side of the river were remnants from the lost 10 tribes and figured there would be somebody there who knew how to overcome the black magic so they had to send somebody there to contact them and they gave a psak that he could cross the river on Shabbat as it was pikuach nefesh but he wouldn’t be able to cross back again since it was no longer pikuach nefesh. Since he would permanently be on the other side he gave a get to his wife before leaving.

    #1150214

    assurnet
    Participant

    It’s a whole maiseh but b’kitzur he found a descendant of Moshe Rabbeinu who had shmira against black magic and he also gave a get to his wife and the next Shabbat crossed over to the first side of the river. He was thinking of how he gave up his family to save this Jewish community and was so caught up in the moment while crossing the river he came up with the words to Akdamus. The king arranged a debate between this Jew and the priest and when the priest saw he couldn’t kill him with kishuf he used his kishuf to lift a millstone into the air and keep it floating there. The Jew then somehow grabbed the top of a big tree and pulled it down to the ground without snapping the trunk and asked the priest to hold it for him. When he grabbed it the tree snapped up straight again shooting him into the air and he flew into the millstone which then crashed to the ground landing on top of him and killing him. Thus the yiddin were saved.

    #1150215

    twisted
    Participant

    Story in its modern rendition in Miriam’s Tambourine by Schwartz, Seth Press 1984, listed as “The Black Monk and the Master of the Name.

    #1150216

    lebidik yankel
    Participant

    the medrash and other places in chazal indicate that it means a place literally

    #1150217

    funnybone
    Participant

    You can listen to Rebee Hill’s cd about THE STORY OF AKDAMOS.

    #1150218

    tiawd
    Participant

    I know I’m bringing up an old thread here, but I challenge anyone to find a mekor for this legend that dates back to within a century or so of R’ Meir bar Yitzchak. There are so many strange stories out there involving kishuf-practicing evil priests or other features that are hard to believe and often not historically accurate. If they have a reliable source, that’s one thing, but the fact that the ma’aseh exists in a sefer means absolutely nothing. As was said, I think by the Rambam, if a person wants to lie, they can lie just as well in writing.

    #1150219

    ☕ DaasYochid ☕
    Participant

    Why isn’t the sefer referred to above reliable?

    #1150220

    writersoul
    Member

    Yep, R Meir Sha”tz was one of the foremost Ashkenazic paytanim and the chazzan of Worms, with no known connection to the Ten Tribes, who lived in the middle-end of the 11th century. Real person. Story probably a legend. (R Amnon of Mainz probably didn’t write Unesaneh Tokef, much less under the conditions of the famous story, either, FWIW.)

    #1150221

    writersoul
    Member

    DY: The story is called a “maaseh” given with no source, almost no names, no dates, no geographic location besides a vague “somewhere in Asia” (while R Meir Sha”tz lived in the Rhineland)… and by the looks of it it long postdates the time when the story reportedly took place. (Looking at the title page, apparently by some 800+ years.)

    The problem with these sorts of stories is that when they deal with real people they have to stand up to real historical scrutiny. Just being printed in a sefer isn’t enough. It’s reliable if it cites a reliable source, historically speaking. Dunno who wrote the sefer, so I’m not going to start on questioning whether you can think it’s reliable because this guy wrote it- just looking at it from a historical perspective, it doesn’t wash.

    (Though it was interesting reading- the version I remember from elementary school had a lot less detail.)

    #1150222

    ☕ DaasYochid ☕
    Participant

    WS, the author is a well known gaon whose seforim are accepted. It’s not difficult to research.

    He may simply be retelling a legend or for some other reason is not being literal, but calling him unreliable and the story a lie is out of line.

    #1150223

    writersoul
    Member

    Okay, I did not say that he is unreliable or that he was telling a lie. I was saying why historically speaking, the story as written in the sefer is not historically considered a valid source. You are correct- I should have searched his name to find out more about him. I don’t think he invented anything. I also don’t see him as having portrayed the story as history- having started from the beginning of the intro to Akdamus (page 21), he mentions many actual historical details about R Meir Sha”tz, in a very historically thorough way, to the extent that the addition of the story seems very much like a nice story he heard, not an essential part of his biography. He never makes a claim of the historicity of the story, which is all I was talking about.

    (I’m either getting a minor or second major in Jewish history, which is why I have hangups about things like this. Yes, that only makes it worse that I didn’t look up the mechaber of this sefer.)

    #1150224

    ☕ DaasYochid ☕
    Participant

    Okay, I did not say that he is unreliable or that he was telling a lie.

    Of course not. In my second paragraph, I was just explaining my objection to a previous post (not yours).

    #1150225

    shimen
    Participant

    writersoul

    and what do you call ‘historical’ correct, if barrons and nobel printed it ?

    #1150226

    Joseph
    Participant

    Jewish rabbinic sources are more reliable in what they write in the seforim hakedoshim than modern era historians who attempt to reconstruct history from the scraps of written sources that survived. (And who every couple of decades “discover” new historic sources that overturns their predecessors historic versions of ancient history.)

    #1150227

    writersoul
    Member

    shimen: huh? I’d judge it by the same standards (among others) mentioned above.

    Joe: why do you say that? It’s a fact that more and more information is always discovered, and that new historical theories are always advanced, but they don’t always (or even usually) contradict the previous. A large amount of historical narrative is indeed conjecture and theory. This isn’t narrative- this is directly evidence-based. And, for the record, with people like this, as mentioned in the beginning of the cited book, much of the historical evidence used by scholars does indeed come from CONTEMPORARY sefarim, like Rashi. The mechaber discusses how Rashi mentioned R Meir several times, and uses different details to try to deduce when he lived- historians do the same thing.

    But saying that a story cited in an apocryphal way (as is very obvious when one reads the ENTIRE introduction, or at least pages 21, 22, 25-27) in a sefer 800+ years post-story, based upon a real historical figure in completely ahistorical context, is more accurate than the historical information the very mechaber of the sefer also lists in context which completely contradicts it just because it’s written in a sefer?

    #1150228

    writersoul
    Member

    To put it another way: there is historical knowledge, and then there are the theories that tie the knowledge together into narrative. These theories can change with more evidence or just the same evidence put differently. But here we’re talking about historical evidence itself.

    #1150229

    TRUEBT
    Participant

    TO TIAWD: Why is it so important to find a “reliable source” ? Nothing is going to change as far as Halacha or hashkafa is concerned, so why is it important to you?

    Secondly proving or disproving something that may have existed hundreds of years ago is virtually impossible. The truth is that we will never be able to go to a court of law and provide evidence that would stand up there to prove or to disprove – until Eliyahu Hanavi comes and tells us.

    Let us suppose that I can prove to you that the Sambatyon was part of the Volga in the area of the Caspian depression. Let us suppose that the phenomenon existed during the time of the Khazars and ended some time after they were conquered. The city of Astrakhan could probably be reached in 50 days from Aden on riding camels (80 miles/day). Suppose further that instead of a supernatural phenomenon, this was an irrigation method for creating a barrier that had the purpose of defending from marauding armies for the 6 days when the men were in the fields, but inviting an attack on Shabbos when the men were assembled at home. Then what ? What good would that do you?

    #1150230

    WolfishMusings
    Participant

    Suppose further that instead of a supernatural phenomenon, this was an irrigation method for creating a barrier that had the purpose of defending from marauding armies for the 6 days when the men were in the fields, but inviting an attack on Shabbos when the men were assembled at home. Then what ? What good would that do you?

    The problem with this hypothesis is that the Sambatyon is held up as proof of the concept of Shabbos. Thus, by definition, the fact that it prevented crossing for six days of the week must be a natural or supernatural occurrence. For it to be a man-made occurrence (as the way you describe it) would defeat the entire point.

    The Wolf

    #1150233

    Excellence
    Participant

    Travel diary of R. Ovadia Bartenura has current info on them. The Chida’s diary too.

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