TheChumashwith the commentary of Rabbi Chayim ben Attar entitledOr HaChayimwas printed in Shklov in the year 5545  -with two typographical errors.
In the passage which speaks of thesotah,a woman suspected of adultery, there is a verse that says,v'amrah ha'ishah amen amen-"And the woman shall say, Amen, Amen." In the course of his commentary,the author ofOr HaChayimcites the interpretation of the Sageson this dual oath -that she has not transgressed "by this man or by another man" -and concludes his paraphrase with the wordmei'achar("by another"). In the above-mentioned edition, this word is replaced by the wordmei'asher.
There is a verse which begins,ki yiheyeh evyon-"If there should be a needy man among you...." Expounding on the level ofderush,the author ofOr HaChayimrelates this verse to the yearning ofMashiachto redeem Israel, and concludes with the words,Mashiach Hashem, sh'mo Chayim-"G-d's anointed one: his name is Chayim." In the above-mentioned edition, the last two Hebrew words are omitted.
These two printing errors have a history. In fact, they are connected.
As is well known, the author ofOr HaChayimbelieved that his soul was a spark of the soul ofMashiach,and one of the allusions to this belief which he inserted in his writings is the above mention of his own name. Now the publisher of this edition was a clandestine adherent of the "Enlightenment" movement by the name of Asher. The above allusion to the coming ofMashiachruffled the disbelief of thismaskil,so, while alone in the printing house, he deleted the words,sh'mo Chayim-"his name is Chayim."
An old tradition recounts that the saintly author ofOr HaChayiminGan Edensensed this at once, and decided: "Since this scoundrel has deletedmyname from my book, I will inserthisname there instead!"
Then and there, the letterchesin the above-quoted oath of the wayward woman was miraculously substituted by the lettershin,so that the wordmei'acher("by another man") now readmei'asher...
A very short while later, a woman brought to the Rabbinical Court of Shklov on an adultery charge duly confessed:mei'asher-"...by Asher!"