Sunday, April 18, 2010

A Moshiach Story

His Name is Chayim

The Chumash with the commentary of Rabbi Chayim ben Attar entitled Or HaChayim was printed in Shklov in the year 5545 [1745] - with two typographical errors.
  1. In the passage which speaks of the sotah, 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 of Or HaChayim cites the interpretation of the Sages on this dual oath - that she has not transgressed "by this man or by another man" - and concludes his paraphrase with the word mei'achar ("by another"). In the above-mentioned edition, this word is replaced by the wordmei'asher.
  2. There is a verse which begins, ki yiheyeh evyon - "If there should be a needy man among you...." Expounding on the level of derush, the author of Or HaChayim relates this verse to the yearning ofMashiach to 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 of Or HaChayim believed that his soul was a spark of the soul of Mashiach, 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 of Mashiach ruffled the disbelief of this maskil, 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 of Or HaChayim in Gan Eden sensed this at once, and decided: "Since this scoundrel has deleted my name from my book, I will insert his name there instead!"
Then and there, the letter ches in the above-quoted oath of the wayward woman was miraculously substituted by the letter shin, so that the word mei'acher ("by another man") now read mei'asher...
A very short while later, a woman brought to the Rabbinical Court of Shklov on an adultery charge duly confessed: mei'asher - " Asher!"
Transmitted by oral tradition

source : From Exile to Redemption - Volume 2

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