Torahs with different texts

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    Can someone please explain this to me:

    Sefardi and Ashkenazi torahs differ by one letter. In Devarim 23:2, the Ashkenazim have the word “daka” with an aleph and Sefardic torah has it with a hey. The Torahs of Yemenite communities are nine letters different from the Ashkenazi and Sefardi ones.

    Wouldn’t this mean that someone has the wrong text? And furthermore, wouldn’t that invalidate 2 of 3 of these communites’ entire stock of torah scrolls?


    No, although my fifth grade rebbi would have trouble explaining why that is.


    There are actually 10 differences (in spelling others invlove large letters. The example you cite is a different letter while the other nine are malei/chaser differences.

    Furthermore there are several cases where our sifrei Torah differ from the Gemara’s. The gemara makes derashas lehalacha based on chaseiros we dont have (see sanhedrin daf daled keronos and Totafos)

    Within the Hlachic process as long as rules are followed multiple approaches may eb correct. For teimanim following their mesorah, their sifrei Torah are correct for ashkenazim following theirs theirs is correct. And for The Ribono shel olam both are correct.

    Menachem Melamed

    This is something well known by the poskim, and spoken of in the halocha seforim. There are some people who are particular about this issue regarding Pashas Zachor. The fact that sifrei Torah match almost perfectly is a tremendous attestation to the care with which Klal Yisroel guarded the mesorah.


    Funny you ask this question following parshas Trumah, with the famous Rashi on 25:22, ??? ?? ??? ????. Or maybe you had that in mind.


    Actually, I’d invert the OP.It’s pretty impressive that over 2000 years only 9-10 differences have shown up.


    “It’s pretty impressive that over 2000 years only 9-10 differences have shown up.”


    That we had lost the mesorah from Sinai regarding the spellings in the Torah was known by Chazal. See Kiddushin 30a. The real question is why people who know better say otherwise, such as in the introduction to the Artscroll Chumash.

    Nevertheless the fact that there are 9-10 differences today, and more spelling differences with the manuscripts that existed in the time of Chazal and the Rishonim, not to mention the Qumran manuscripts, must not be used as an excuse to be nihilistic and to question the validity — or the Divinity — of the Torah. Not a single one of the spelling discrepancies has any halachic consequence. Nor do the apparent post-Mosaic additions such as the last 7 verses that describe Moshe Rabbeinu’s death, or a few other such examples cited by Ibn Ezra and a few other classic commentators. Every one of the small number of variant spellings, and every one of the few apparent post-Mosaic additions, needs to be treated as the word of our Creator. As in other areas of human inquiry, the simplest explanation here is the best, which is that a few spelling errors slipped in thanks to copying that was 99.9% perfect but not 100% perfect. Only HaShem is perfect and He commanded *us* to write sifrei torah; he didn’t miraculously create them.


    …or a few other such examples cited by Ibn Ezra and a few other classic commentators

    As the Avi Ezer writes, ????? ?? ??? ????.


    Charlie I do agree with your post but I hasten to point out that questioning the divinity of Torah (H”V) does not necessarily make one nihilistic.

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