Rashbam's approach to Rashi's commentary on the Torah is characterized by contrasts: originality and continuity, independence and dependence, open admiration and flagrant aggression. Scholars have clarified various aspects of this complex stance, yet their analyses do not provide a comprehensive explanation for it. This article argues that Rashbam's approach to Rashi's commentary is not based on methodological principles alone, but also includes an emotional element that is in part unconscious. To analyze these complex emotional elements of the text, the article uses a theoretical model that demonstrates that the ambivalence reflected in the text is not unusual, and in fact can be found in relationships between other writers— “the anxiety of influence,” as formulated by Harold Bloom. This conclusion sheds new light on Rashbam's commentary, including several of its more well-known passages.
1. Rashbam's father, Rabbi Meir, married Yocheved, Rashi's daughter; for information about the life of Rashbam and the dates of his birth and death see Rosin, David, R. Samuel B. Mëir als Schrifterklärer (Breslau: Jungfer, 1880), 6, 9; Urbach, Ephraim Elimelech, Ba‘ale ha-tosafot: Toldotehem, ḥiburehem, shitatam, 5th ed. (Jerusalem: Mosad Bialik, 1986), 46 ; Japhet, Sara and Salters, Robert, Perush Rabbi Shmuel ben Meir (Rashbam) le-Kohelet (Jerusalem: Magnes, 1985), 11‒12 ; Lockshin, Meir Isaac (Martin), Perush ha-Torah le-Rabbenu Shmuel ben Meir (Jerusalem: Horeb, 2009), 1‒3 . According to Norman Golb, Rashbam died a short time before 1171: Golb, Norman, Toldot ha-yehudim ba-‘ir Rouen bi-yeme ha-benayim (Tel Aviv: Dvir, 1976), 62 . However, Aptowitzer, Victor, Sefer Raviah (Bnei Berak: Sifre Yahadut, 1984), 411 , and Ta-Shma, Israel Moshe, Rabbi Zarḥiah Ha-Levi ba‘al ha-ma'or u-bene ḥugo (Jerusalem: Mosad Harav Kook, 1992), 8‒9 n. 16, bring the year of his birth forward to 1070–80 and in keeping with this, Ta-Shma brings the year of his death forward to 1145–50. (ibid., 42, and in note 32 he challenges Golb's position, which fixes a later year for Rashbam's death). For the approximate date for the compilation of Rashbam's commentary to the Torah, see below.
2. Lockshin, Perush, 30.
3. For a definition of the peshat method and its exegetical principles, see below.
4. As Lockshin, Perush, emphasizes, in the vast majority of the cases in which Rashbam notes that his interpretation is according to the peshat, he is disagreeing with Rashi. This phenomenon is apparent in Rashbam's commentaries to other books of the Bible, although Rashbam's approach to Rashi in these books is systematic, and thus does not raise the same questions as his approach to Rashi in his commentary to the Torah. See Japhet and Salters, Rashbam le-Kohelet, 50–51; Japhet, Sara, Perush Rabbi Shmuel ben Meir (Rashbam) le-sefer ’Iyov (Jerusalem: Magnes, 2000), 78–95 ; Japhet, , Perush Rabbi Shmuel ben Meir (Rashbam) le-Shir ha-shirim (Jerusalem: World Union of Jewish Studies, 2008), 63–65, 112–13, and see below.
5. Rashbam is not the only commentator on the Bible to use caustic or offensive language in reference to other commentators, cf. Simon, Uriel, “Ibn Ezra's Harsh Language and Biting Humor: Real Denunciation or Hispanic Mannerism?,” in Abraham Ibn Ezra y Su Tiempo, ed. Esteban, Fernando Díaz (Madrid: Asociación Española de Orientalistas, 1990), 325–34. Rashbam is unique in that his abrasive comments appear strange against the background of his overall connection to Rashi's commentary.
6. Biblical citations follow NJPS.
7. Rashi: “Mi-teref—from that of which I suspected you at ‘Joseph has surely been torn to bits,’ ‘An evil beast devoured him’ [Genesis 37:33], this is Judah who is compared to a lion” (cf. Bereshit Rabbah 98:7 [ed. Theodor-Albeck, 1258]); Rashbam: “Mi-teref—From prey, my son, you arise: ‘You, Judah, my son, after you arise from preying on the nations and you crouch and lie down in your city, no enemy shall come to frighten you or make you get up out of your place.’ This is the true plain meaning of the text; beni readdresses Judah.”
8. The meaning of Rashbam's commentary is that the connection of the verse to the sale of Joseph is based on the reading of the words mi-teref beni as a construct form, “the devouring of my son Joseph”; however, under the word mi-teref there is a cantillation note (tipḥah) signaling a stop, and on this basis Rashbam concludes that the word beni refers to Judah.
9. See for example, Elazar Touitou, who asserted that “Rashi knew the punctuation determined by the cantillation and Rashbam would not have directed criticism toward his grandfather on this point”; Touitou, , Ha-peshatot ha-mitḥadshim be-khol yom: ‘Iyyunim be-perusho shel Rashbam la-Torah (Ramat Gan: Bar-Ilan University Press, 2003), 59 . It is clear that Rashi knew the cantillation well but, like the rabbis of the Talmud and other commentators, sometimes chose to ignore it. Cf. Kogut, Simcha, Ha-mikra’ ben te‘amim le-parshanut (Jerusalem: Magnes, 1994), 148–90. Touitou (ibid., and following him, Lockshin, Perush, 154) noted that in several manuscripts of Rashi's commentary, the word from the verse cited at the beginning of the commentary (ha-dibbur ha-matḥil [lemma]) is mi-teref and not mi-teref beni (see also Touitou, Elazar, “‘Al gilgule ha-nosaḥ shel perush Rashi la-Torah,” Tarbiz 56 : 228–29) and concluded from this that Rashi connected Jacob's words to Judah, to the sale of Joseph, on the basis of the word mi-teref alone; in other words, he did not ignore the cantillation. As we know, the function of the words cited at the opening a commentary is to provide a reference within the text and thus an exact correspondence between the words cited and the body of the commentary itself is not necessary (cf. Japhet and Salters, Rashbam le-Kohelet, 44–48). In any case, it is not possible to answer the question of which version Rashbam worked with, the more common version, mi-teref beni, or the less common mi-teref, or whether, like Touitou, Rashbam thought that this difference is significant.
10. Rashi: “There is much joy and gladness for me, because my son Joseph still lives” (Onkelos: “Great to me is the joy! Joseph my son is yet alive”); Rashbam: “I have had enough heart-stopping through disbelief. Rather my son Joseph is certainly still alive.”
11. Sokolow, Moshe, “Ha-peshatot ha-mitḥadshim: Keta‘im ḥadashim mi-perush ha-Torah le-Rashbam,” ‘Alei Sefer 11 (1984): 78 n. 41.
12. Rashbam's comments on Genesis 49:16; Exodus 2:2, 6; 19:23; and Deuteronomy 32:10 relate to Rashi (and cf. Lockshin, Perush, 159 n. 77, 173 n. 41, 174 n. 57, 245 n. 96, 511 n. 29) and not to Ibn Ezra or Lekaḥ tov.
13. In this case, Rashbam may also be hinting (perhaps primarily) at Christian exegesis, see Touitou, Ha-peshatot, 175 n. 159; Lockshin, Perush, 326 n. 48; this is not the only time in which Rashbam challenges a proposed solution current among Christians and also familiar from Rashi's commentary. Compare in particular his commentary to Genesis 49:10. We may surmise that Rashbam assumed that his readers knew both Rashi's commentary and current Christian exegesis, and therefore, that his criticism was meant to convey an especially strong message—pointing to the similarity between Rashi's commentary and Christian exegesis.
14. This structure is repeated several times in the context of disagreement with commentaries of scholars other than Rashi; regarding Abraham Ibn Ezra: “those who interpret […] is also folly [hevel]” (Deuteronomy 15:18). Regarding a commentary whose authorship is unclear: “he who interprets […] is offering a foolish [shtut] interpretation” (Exodus 33:14).
15. This is exceptional; where Rashbam mentions Rashi explicitly, he does so in a positive way, and wherever he presents a view different from Rashi's, he does not mention him by name.
16. This passage was published first by Sokolow (“Ha-peshatot,” 77–78), who concluded that at least part of it was a summary of Rashbam's Torah commentary. For arguments against this theory, see Jacobs, Jonathan, “’Eynam derekh ’ereẓ le-fi ḥokhmat divre bene ’adam ’o ke-perush ha-pasuk: ‘Ekronot parshanut ha-peshat ‘al-pi Rashbam,” in Rashi u-bet midrasho, ed. Cohen, Avinoam (Ramat Gan: Bar-Ilan University Press, 2013), 66–71 (Jacobs argues that the passage is Rashbam's response to a query from a student.)
17. This is similar to several of the modern commentaries and translations.
18. For the difficulties in translating the term peshat into English, see Japhet, Sara, “The Pendulum of Exegetical Methodology: From the Peshat to the Derash and Back,” in Midrash Unbound: Transformations and Innovations, ed. Fishbane, Michael and Weinberg, Joanna (Oxford: Littman Library of Jewish Civilization, 2013), 249–50.
19. Cf. Grossman, Avraham, Ḥakhme Ẓarfat ha-rishonim: Korotehem, darkam be-hanhagat ha-ẓibur, yeẓiratam ha-ruḥanit (Jerusalem: Magnes, 2001), 194 .
20. As noted by several scholars, we must distinguish between the specific corpus—e.g., the corpus known as rabbinic midrash—and the methodological nature of the statements included in the corpus, which could be based on various exegetical categories; see Japhet, Sara, Dor dor u-parshanav: ’Asufat meḥkarim be-parshanut ha-mikra’ (Jerusalem: Mosad Bialik, 2008), 170–88, and for relevant statements, see Viezel, Eran, “The Secret of the Popularity of Rashi's Commentary on Torah,” Review of Rabbinic Judaism 17 (2014): 213 n. 31.
21. This can be seen clearly from the following words of Ibn Ezra: “Rav Shlomo z“l […] was under the impression that this is the way of peshat, in his writings one will find only one peshat out of a thousand”; idem, Safah berurah, ed. Gonzalez, Enriques Ruiz and Sáenz-Badillos, Ángel (Córdoba: Ediciones el Almendro, 2004), 4*. On Ibn Ezra's own, different approach, see below.
22. Intensive research has been devoted specifically to this statement. See primarily: Kamin, Sara, Rashi: Peshuto shel mikra’ u-midrasho shel mikra’ (Jerusalem: Magnes, 1986), 62–77 , and for a summary of this issue, see Grossman, Ḥakhme Ẓarfat, 193–201.
23. Touitou, Ha-peshatot, 71; this does not mean that Rashbam entirely understood the difference between a homily that settles the verse (‘aggadah meyashevet) and one that does not. It is sufficient that he understood that Rashi based a significant part of his commentary on midrashim.
24. See Leibowitz, Nechama, Lilmod u-lelamed Tanakh: ’Asufat ma'amarim (Jerusalem: Elinar, 1995), 117 .
25. From the beginning of his commentary to the weekly portion Mishpatim.
26. In his commentary to Genesis 37:2, Rashbam wrote: “Due to their piety, the earliest scholars tended to devote their time to midrashic explanations, which are the essence of Torah.” In my opinion, his reference here is to the commentators of the Middle Ages, foremost among them Rashi, and not to the talmudic rabbis; thus it is clear from this sentence that he was aware that Rashi did not intend to interpret only in the peshat method. It is important to note that in Rashbam's language the word ha-rishonim (the earliest scholars) can refer both to the commentators of his period and to the rabbis of the talmudic period; compare in particular the following examples from his commentary: “interpretations of earlier scholars” (Genesis 1:1); “those who preceded me [ha-rishonim mi-meni] did not understand” (Exodus 3:11), and see Touitou, Ha-peshatot, 69–70, 102–3.
27. Cf. Kamin, Rashi, 268, and see Cohen, Mordechai Z., “Hirhurim ‘al ḥeker ha-munaḥ peshuto shel mikra’ be-teḥilat ha-me'ah ha-‘esrim ve-'aḥat,” in “Le-yashev peshuto shel mikra’”: ’Asufat meḥkarim be-parshanut ha-mikra’, ed. Japhet, Sara and Viezel, Eran (Jerusalem: Mosad Bialik, 2011), 5–58 .
28. It is clear that this rule does not apply to one who rejects the exegetical status of the derash method. See below with regard to Ibn Ezra.
29. Such is the criterion for choosing midrashim, ‘aggadah meyashevet, set by Rashi. Kamin, Rashi, esp. 209–62; and most recently Viezel, “Secret,” 211–17.
30. See Japhet, Rashbam le-Shir Ha-shirim, 86–87.
31. Rashbam's methodological awareness and his fine distinction between the peshat and derash methods are emphasized in all of the research. His methodological statements have received intense scrutiny. See for example, Touitou, Ha-peshatot, 98–109. Unlike Rashbam, Ibn Ezra rejected the exegetical validity of the derash method. He held that the aim of rabbinic homilies was to instruct the reader and preserve content that was included in the oral tradition, not to interpret the Bible. Simon, Uriel and Cohen, Josef, R. Abraham Ibn Ezra: Yesod mora’ ve-sod Torah (Jerusalem: Bar-Ilan University Press, 2007), 40–41 ; Viezel, Eran, “ Ha-te‘amim ’elohiyim ve-ha-milot shel Moshe: Hashkafato shel R. Avraham ibn Ezra bi-she'elat ḥelko shel Moshe bi-khtivat ha-Torah, mekoroteha u-maskanoteha,” Tarbiz 80 (2012): 407 . While Rashbam and Rashi posited separate levels of meaning for the biblical text (peshat and derash) in which neither detracted from the other, Ibn Ezra posited one single point of truth (cf. “If truth be compared to the central point of a circle” in his introduction to the Torah). At greater length, and on the intellectual-cultural influence at the root of this difference, see Kamin, Sara, “Affinities between Jewish and Christian Exegesis in Twelfth-Century Northern France,” in Proceedings of the Ninth World Congress of Jewish Studies (Jerusalem: World Congress of Jewish Studies, 1988), 141–55; Cohen, Mordechai Z., “Makor sefaradi ’efshari li-tefisat peshuto shel mikra’ ’eẓel Rashi,” in Rashi: Demuto ve-yeẓirato, ed. Japhet, Sara and Grossman, Avraham (Jerusalem: Zalman Shazar, 2008), 358–66.
32. Rashi: “Ascending first, and afterwards descending. The angels who escorted him in the Land do not go out of the Land, so they ascended to the sky, and the angels of outside the Land descended to escort him”; cf. “Those angels who escort a man in ‘Ereẓ Yisra'el do not escort him outside the Land. Thus ‘ascending’ refers to those who had escorted him in the Land, while ‘descending’ refers to those who were to escort him outside the Land” (Bereshit Rabbah 68:12 [ed. Theodor-Albeck, 789]).
33. Cf. Rashi's comments on Genesis 41:6; Leviticus 26:36.
34. Cf. Japhet, Dor dor, 159–60.
35. The fact that in a midrash this verse is connected to Samson (e.g. B. Sotah 10a; Bereshit Rabbah 97 [ed. Theodor-Albeck, 1222]) does not help in this case. It is not clear if Rashi was influenced here by the midrash (his language reflects dependence on Targum Onkelos, not the midrash) and as we have seen above, the source of the commentary does not necessarily indicate the exegetical methodology.
36. Lockshin, Perush, 159 n. 80.
37. Cf. JPS: “Jacob arrived safe in the city of Shechem.” See Jubilees 30:1, which reflects both possible meanings of the word: “He went up safely [be-shalom] to Shalem, which is on the east side of Shechem”; VanderKam, James C., The Book of Jubilees (Louvain: Peeters, 1989), 190 .
38. For a similar deductive method applied to a different matter see Kamin, Rashi, 265. Sarah Japhet points out that in his commentary to Job, Rashbam disagrees only with Rashi's peshat commentaries and not his commentaries according to the derash method (Japhet, Rashbam le-'Iyov, 94). This is a very important point, indicating a development in Rashbam's commentary; this is not the only development revealed by a comparison of his commentary on the Torah to his commentaries to other books of the Bible; cf. Japhet, , Rashbam le-Shir ha-shirim, 63, 85–86 .
39. Cf. also Rashbam's comment on Numbers 34:2, “My grandfather, our teacher, explained [this text] and drew [maps of] the boundaries. Still I will explain in brief.”
40. Compare: “The commentary [of Rashbam] is an independent and unique work. It was not written as a ‘continuation’ or ‘completion’ or ‘reaction’ to the commentary of Rashi. His commentary was an independent work known for its uniqueness in methodology, in content and in outlook”; Japhet, Rashbam le-Shir ha-shirim, 65. These words, clarifying the relationship between Rashbam's and Rashi's commentaries to Song of Songs, are true also with regard to the relationship between their commentaries to the Torah. See Japhet, Rashbam le-'Iyov, 78.
41. In the manuscript seen by David Rosin there was a space of three words in which he added “u-me-yituram ’o me-shinui” (“from superfluous expressions or variations in the language”) according to Rashbam's commentary to Genesis 1:1. Rosin, David, Perush ha-Rashbam ha-shalem ‘al ha-Torah (Breslau: Schottlaender, 1881), 144 .
42. Cf. Ecclesiastes 7:18: “It is best that you grasp the one without letting go of the other, for one who fears God will do his duty by both.” Itamar Kislev has argued that this statement is the continuation of the introductory statement at the beginning of Leviticus and is not Rashbam's summary of his commentary on the book of Exodus, as indicated in the printed editions of the commentary; Kislev, , “Ve-'asher sam libo li-devar yoẓrenu: Ha-heged ha-metodologi shel Rashbam bi-teḥilat perusho le-sefer Vayikra’ u-terumato le-havanat yaḥaso shel Rashbam le-perusho shel Rashi,” Tarbiz 73 (2004): 225–31. His explanation appears to be correct.
43. See Liber, Maurice, Rashi, trans. Szold, Adele (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1945), 120, 124–25. As is known, Rashi occasionally even interpreted contrary to the Halakhah (Jewish law); see, e.g. Poznański, Samuel, Kommentar zu Ezechiel und den XII kleinen Propheten (Warschau: Druck von H. Eppelberg, 1913), xvi.
44. Approximately 30 percent of Rashbam's commentary! Lockshin, Perush, 32. So, for example, from a comparison of their commentaries to Genesis, chapters 1 and chapters 18–36, there are approximately 100 overlapping commentaries; Aharon Carmel, “Ha-perushim ha-ḥofefim: ‘Iyyun ba-yaḥas she-ben perushei Rashi ve-Rashbam la-Torah” (Master's thesis, Bar-Ilan University, 2008), 9. (It must be noted that Carmel defines “overlapping commentaries” broadly and with flexibility.) This phenomenon has sparked a controversy among scholars. Some argue that Rashbam copied Rashi's commentaries into his commentary (word for word or with slight changes), while others argue that the source of the overlapping commentaries is Rashbam, and over time scribes added them to Rashi's commentary. Compare, among others, the explanations of the following scholars: Rosin, Perush ha-Rashbam, xxviii–xxix; Touitou, Ha-peshatot, 229; Japhet, Rashbam le-'Iyov, 80; Lockshin, Perush, 33; Sabato, Mordechai, “Perush Rashbam la-Torah,” Maḥanayim 3 (1992): 123 . Recently, Carmel (“Ha-perushim ha-ḥofefim”) devoted research specifically to the phenomenon of the overlapping commentaries and concluded, based on dozens of examples, that most of the overlapping commentaries do not entirely overlap—rather, Rashbam copied them from Rashi's commentary while adapting and improving them.
45. These later difficulties are solved if we accept the theory that the source of all the identical commentaries is Rashbam's commentary, and anonymous scribes added them to Rashi's commentary. In my opinion, we may surmise that over time passages were added to Rashi's commentary from Rashbam's commentary, but I find it difficult to accept that this is the only explanation for all of the identical commentaries. As I will explain below, Rashbam wrote his commentary to the Torah about seventy years after Rashi wrote his, and by that point there were already tens (if not hundreds!) of manuscripts of Rashi's commentary. Therefore, we can expect to find in the chain of extant manuscripts very clear signs of this systematic activity of additions from Rashbam's commentary, similar to the nine examples Touitou gave. (Touitou has noted that he has a few other examples [Ha-peshatot, 237]; however there are many dozens of identical, or very similar, commentaries, in which no sign of scribal tampering was left on the manuscript.)
46. Among the scholars of the previous generation this theory is most identified with Greenberg, Moshe, Parshanut ha-mikra’ ha-yehudit: Pirke mavo’ (Jerusalem: Mosad Bialik, 1983), 77 ; Greenberg, , “Ha-yaḥas ben perush Rashi le-perush Rashbam la-Torah,” in Sefer Isaac ’Aryeh Seeligmann, ed. Zakovitch, Yair and Rofé, Alexander (Jerusalem: E. Rubinstein's, 1983), 559–67.
47. Lifshitz, Eliezer Meir, Rashi: R. Shlomo Isaaci (Jerusalem: Mosad Harav Kook, 1966), 109 , wrote: “Apparently he wrote his commentary note by note to himself and perhaps in the margins of a copy of Rashi's commentary, as a kind of completion of the commentary.” This theory is an elaboration of the idea (no longer accepted) that commentators wrote their commentaries in the margins of the biblical text and not as separate works. With regard to Rashi and Rashbam, see Berliner, Abraham, Raschi der Kommentar des Salomo B. Isak über den Pentateuch (Frankfurt: J. Kauffmann, 1905), x, xvi; Rosin, R. Samuel, 91; Rosin, Perush ha-Rashbam, xxxv. Recently, Liss, Hanna, Creating Fictional Worlds: Peshat-Exegesis and Narrativity in Rashbam's Commentary on the Torah (Leiden: Brill, 2011), especially 35–45, has connected Rashbam's commentary to the glossae of the twelfth century; in a certain way this theory challenges the concept of the cohesion and integrity of Rashbam's commentary.
48. Touitou, Ha-peshatot, 70–74; Sabato, “Perush,” 112; Kislev, “Ve-'asher,” 232–36; Lockshin, Perush, 32.
49. See above for Rashbam's commentary on Genesis 45:28, 49:9.
50. For example, Melamed, Ezra Zion, Mefarshe ha-mikra’ (Jerusalem: Magnes, 1978), 486 , calls these comments by Rashbam “the language of adolescence” and thus hints that they are not really serious. On this line of thought, see also Liss, Creating Fictional, 202. David Rosin, Perush ha-Rashbam, xxviii, emphasizes that “it did not occur to Rashbam to lower the prestige of Rashi's commentary or to remove it from the heart of his readers.” Similarly, Ne'eman, Pinchas, Rashi mefaresh ha-Torah (Jerusalem: Masada, 1946), 198 , emphasizes that these comments by Rashbam “clearly did not come from a position of contempt [toward Rashi], heaven forbid!” Avinery, Isaac, Hekhal Rashi (Jerusalem: Mosad Harav Kook, 1979), 1:31: “[Rashbam] would disagree a little with the words of his grandfather and argue with him about the need for interpreting more according to the peshat and less according to the derash.” Cf. Azulai, Ḥayim Yosef David (Ḥida), Shem ha-gedolim (Jerusalem: Ra'am, 1994), s.v. “Rashbam,” 200.
51. E.g. Lockshin, Perush, 32.
52. E.g., Rosin, “R. Samuel,” 68–71; Poznański, “Kommentar zu Ezechiel,” xlvi–xliv; Melamed, “Mefarshe ha-mikra’,” 484–87; Morris Bernard Berger, “The Torah Commentary of Rabbi Samuel Ben Meir” (PhD diss., Harvard University, 1982), 195–208; Grossman, Avraham, “The School of Literal Jewish Exegesis in Northern France,” ed. Sæbø, Magne, Hebrew Bible, Old Testament: The History of Its Interpretation, vol. 1 (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 2000), 2:359–60.
53. Systematic methodology is the line of thought characteristic of modern research, whereas the medieval sages did not always feel obligated to remain absolutely faithful to a specific methodology; see Gurevich, Aron Iakovlevich, Categories of Medieval Culture, trans. Campbell, George L. (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1985), 10‒11 .
54. Japhet and Salters, Rashbam le-Kohelet, 50 n. 176.
55. Touitou, Ha-peshatot, 68.
56. Carmel, “Ha-perushim,” 8.
57. Kislev, “Ve-'asher,” 233.
58. Lockshin, Perush, 32.
59. My conclusions here relate to the scholarly intuitions of those researching the texts and not to the theoretical aspect of hermeneutics in its various branches; therefore, when I claim that scholars usually refrain from using extratextual data unless they are identifiable historically, I do not argue for the possibility of complete neutrality on the part of the scholar, as it was acceptable to claim before Hans-Georg Gadamer's Wahrheit und Methode. For this naïve approach, see for example Bell, Clive, Art (London: Chatto and Windus, 1914), 27: “To appreciate a work of art we need bring with us nothing from life, no knowledge of its ideas and affairs, no familiarity with its emotions.”
60. E.g. Grossman, Ḥakhme Ẓarfat, 477–80; Lockshin, Perush, 532, s.v. “pulmus ’anti-noẓri.”
61. Cf. Kant, Immanuel, Critique of Pure Reason, trans. and ed. Guyer, Paul and Wood, Allen W. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), 396, §370: “When we compare the thoughts that an author expresses about a subject, in ordinary speech as well as in writings, it is not at all unusual to find that we understand him even better than he understood himself, since he may not have determined his concept sufficiently and hence sometimes spoke, or even thought, contrary to his own intention.”
62. Cf. Carr, Edward Hallett, What Is History? (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1987), 42–43 : “Everyone knows today that human beings do not always, or perhaps even habitually, act from motives of which they are fully conscious or which they are willing to avow; and to exclude insight into unconscious or unavowed motives is surely a way of going about one's work with one eye willfully shut. This is, however, what, according to some people, historians ought to do.”
63. Bloom, Harold, The Anxiety of Influence: A Theory of Poetry (New York: Oxford University Press, 1973). For a biographic-scholarly examination of Harold Bloom's research and its intellectual sources, see the recently published book by Heys, Alistair, The Anatomy of Bloom: Harold Bloom and the Study of Influence and Anxiety (London: Bloomsbury, 2014). The works of Bloom have also received much attention in the field of Judaic studies; among others see the following (published just after his book and more recently): Ozick, Cynthia, “Judaism and Harold Bloom,” Commentary 67 (1979): 43–51 ; Siegumfeldt, Inge-Birgitte, “From Misprision to Travesty: Harold Bloom's Use of Rabbinic Sources,” Nordisk Judaistik 24 (2003): 167–85. I am using the general term “oedipal” despite Bloom's explicit objection; see the introduction to the second edition of Influence (New York: Oxford University, 1997), “Preface: The Anguish of Contamination,” xxii, and see also Bloom, , Poetry of Repression: Revisionism from Blake to Stevens (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1976), 52, and cf. Strachey, James, ed., The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud (London: Hogarth, 1959), 9:235–42.
64. This is clear from the subtitle of the book. Bloom continued to discuss the influences between artists in his later works, including his three following books, which in a way can be seen as continuations and revisions of Influence; Bloom, , A Map of Misreading (New York: Oxford University Press, 1975); Kabbalah and Criticism (New York: Seabury, 1975); “Poetry and Repression.”
65. Thus, among other things, he utilizes the model brilliantly to clarify the connection of Jacques Lacan to Freud (Bloom, Influence, 67) or Pascal's relationship to Montaigne (Ibid., 56); see also his article “Freud and the Sublime: A Catastrophe Theory of Creativity,” in Agon: Towards a Theory of Revisionism (New York: Oxford University Press, 1982), 91–118 .
66. While to some extent, in Influence Bloom limited his model to writers from the Enlightenment and later, beginning from his book A Map of Misreading he turned it into a permanent and necessary model; this change is emphasized especially in the introduction that Bloom added to the expanded second edition of Influence.
67. So too, among others, the connections between Bloom himself and his precursors; see Heys, “The Anatomy of Bloom.”
68. I am not aware of any references to Bloom's model in research on medieval exegesis. There is no consensus among scholars on the efficacy of the model in describing the connection between rabbinic literature and the Bible; cf. Stern, David, Midrash and Theory: Ancient Jewish Exegesis and Contemporary Literary Studies (Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1996), 37; Levinson, Joshua, Ha-sipur she-lo supar: ’Amanut ha-sipur ha-mikra'i ha-murḥav be-midrashe ḥazal (Jerusalem: Magnes, 2005), 2, 30, 218.
69. “Misreading” is not unique to the act of reading alone, rather the reference is to the process of revision and rewriting of the earlier work. There is no negative connotation to the act.
70. Bloom, Influence, 10.
71. Cf. the introduction to the second edition of Influence, xxiii: “‘Influence’ is a metaphor, one that implicates a matrix of relationships—imagistic, temporal, spiritual, psychological—all of them ultimately defensive in their nature.”
72. Bloom, Influence, 11.
73. Bloom named these techniques (“revisionary ratios”), as follows: Clinamen: the ephebe reads the works of the precursor in a way that appropriates (“misreading”) and repudiates (“misprision”) it. Tessera: the ephebe completes the work of the precursor, adopts his terminology, and uses them in a different, supposedly more accurate, way. Kenosis: the ephebe weakens himself and thus apparently cuts himself off from the influence of the precursor. Daemonization: the ephebe adopts a certain characteristic from the precursor but does not identify the source of the characteristic with the precursor, and so weakens him. Askesis: The ephebe detracts from his achievements and abilities in order to distinguish himself from the precursor. Indirectly, he also weakens the precursor. Apophrades: the ephebe appears as the one who wrote the characteristic work of the precursor. Among the six methods outlined by Bloom there are distinct points of overlap, and his discussions include dozens of quotations and examples appropriate to more than one method. Because I am discussing only one relationship (Rashbam's relation to Rashi's commentary on the Torah) the texts I refer to are limited in their scope, and preserving Bloom's original order of discussion would cause needless repetition and encumber the flow of argument. For the sake of clarity, the material is discussed here in one unit, rather than along the rigid division into six distinct methods.
74. E.g. “A corrective movement […] which implies that the precursor poem [i.e. Rashi's commentary or methodology] went accurately up to a certain point, but then should have swerved, precisely in the direction that the new poem [i.e. Rashbam's commentary or methodology] moves,” Bloom, Influence, 14.
75. Cf. e.g., Lockshin, Perush, 105 n. 18.
76. Compare Ibn Ezra's strong words regarding Rashbam's suggestion that the word “day” in the story of creation begins with the rising of the sun. Rashbam on Genesis 1:4–5, 8, 14, 31, and Ibn Ezra, “Letter of the Shabbath,” in Friedländer, Michael, “Ibn Ezra in England,” in Transactions of the Jewish Historical Society of England 2 (1894–95): 63 . Or Joseph Bechor-Shor's harsh words on Numbers 12:6–9 concerning Rashbam's commentary to Exodus 13:9—“because, according to the peshat, there is no reference to tefillin in the verse.” For a cynical abuse of this commentary in the period of the Enlightenment, see Ish-Shalom, Meir, “Tefillin shel Rashbam,” Beth Talmud 3 (1882): 223–24.
77. In other words, the linguistic understanding improves, the sensitivity to literary issues sharpens and so forth. On the “principle of relativity” of the peshat method see e.g., Simon, Uriel, Bakesh shalom ve-radfehu: She'elot ha-sha‘ah be-'or ha-mikra’—ha-mikra be-'or she'elot ha-sha‘ah (Tel Aviv: Yedioth Aharonoth, 2002), 41; Japhet, Rashbam le-'Iyov, 95–98; Japhet, Rashbam le-Shir ha-shirim, 86–87.
78. Several scholars called attention to this phenomenon, e.g. Lockshin, Perush, 30; Lockshin demonstrates it in dozens of places throughout his commentary on Rashbam's commentary.
79. Bloom, Influence, 14: “A poet antithetically completes his precursor by […] retain[ing] its terms but to mean them in another sense, as though the precursor had failed to go far enough.”
80. Kamin, Rashi, 267.
81. Kamin, Rashi, 266–69; Gelles, Benjamin J., Peshat and Derash in the Exegesis of Rashi (Leiden: Brill, 1981), 123–24. Rashi's terminological spontaneity is considered a sign of incohesive exegetical methodology. Compare: “The absence of terminology indicates the incoherence of the exegetical discernment” (Kamin, Rashi, 157) and “The groping and unsystematic nature of Rashi's methodological endeavours has a parallel in the lack of a fully fledged, uniform and unequivocal terminology” (Gelles, Peshat and Derash, 117). On the fundamental difficulties in this hasty conclusion, see Touitou, Elazar, “Gishot shonot be-ḥeker parshanut ha-mikra’ shel Rashi,” Tarbiz 56 (1987): 442–43.
82. Bloom, Influence, 15: “The later poet opens himself to what he believes to be a power in the parent-poem that does not belong to the parent proper, but to a range of being just beyond that precursor. He does this, in his poem, by so stationing its relation to the parent-poem as to generalize away the uniqueness of the earlier work.”
83. Several scholars have gathered the sources and discussed them in detail. See particularly Kamin, Rashi, 23–56; Ahrend, Moshe M., “Le-berur ha-musag peshuto sellamiqra ,” in Ha-mikra’ bi-re'i mefarshav: Sefer zikaron la-Sarah Kamin, ed. Japhet, Sara (Jerusalem: Magnes, 1994), 237–44; and see Halivni, David Weiss, Peshat and Derash: Plain and Applied Meaning in Rabbinic Exegesis (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991), 52–88 .
84. Also B. Yevamot 11b, 24a, and see B. Ketubbot 38b.
85. This anachronistic perception is familiar from other biblical commentators who also posited that the talmudic rabbis knew how to interpret the simple meaning of the text but preferred to interpret according to the derash; regarding Ibn Ezra, see Simon and Cohen, Yesod mora’, 40–41. At the heart of Ibn Ezra's declarations lie considerations different from Rashbam's, which cannot be discussed within the framework of this paper.
86. As we saw above, the word ha-rishonim (“the earliest scholars”) in Rashbam's commentary to Genesis 37:2 apparently refers to Rashi and his contemporaries (or perhaps Rashi alone) and not the rabbis of the talmudic period. But even if the reference is to the early rabbis, this does not contradict my position. Rather, it follows that the principles of peshat and its importance were known to the rabbis, although they refrained from intensive use of the peshat, believing that the derash is the “the ‘ikar of Torah,” regardless of whether the meaning of the word ‘ikar is “essence” or “true.” See the recent publication, Jacobs, Jonathan, “Peshutam shel mikra'ot,” Shnaton: An Annual for Biblical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies 22 (2013): 270–71. For earlier discussions see the bibliography in Itamar Kislev, “Ha-shimush shel Rashbam be-perusho la-Torah be-divre ḥazal: Galuy ve-samuy,” in Japhet and Viezel, “Le-yashev,” 163.
87. Compare, for example, Kamin, Rashi, 264: “The phrase ‘a verse never departs from its plain meaning’ […], which is marginal in the Gemara, turns into a central concept in the usage of Rashi, and in this his great importance is reflected.”
88. Bloom, Influence, 14, 90, 109.
89. Several scholars used Rashbam's words to understand his fundamental and theological approach to the peshat method; see e.g., Kislev, “Ve-'asher,” 235–36; Lockshin, Perush, 33; Cohen, “Hirhurim,” 32; and see also Simon, Uriel, “The Religious Significance of the Peshat ,” Tradition 23 (1988): 41–63 . We can assume that also in this case the fundamental theological aspects scholars emphasize are accompanied by an emotional element.
90. Sometimes the damage to the precursor is worse, Bloom, Influence, 91: “The ephebe takes care to fall soft, while the precursor falls hard.”
91. “He admitted to me that, if only he had had the time, he would have written new [revised] commentaries …” (Rashbam on Genesis 37:2).
92. “Rabbi Solomon, my mother's father […] set out [natan lev] to explain the plain meaning of Scripture” (Rashbam on Genesis 37:2).
93. Rashbam mentions several commentators and commentaries by name, among them Rashi, Joseph Kara, Midrash lekaḥ tov by Tuviah ben Eliezer, the Maḥberet of Menachem ben Saruk, and the responsa of Dunash ben Labrat, but scholars have pointed out commentators and other works that were known to him, among them Ibn Ezra's short commentary to the Torah and Midrash sekhel tov (on the last two see below).
94. Or, alternatively, he knew Rashi's commentary by heart, which means that its influence on him was very deep.
95. The best example of this is the attitude of the members of the Kimḥi family to each other's commentaries: Rabbi Joseph Kimḥi was the father and teacher of Rabbi Moshe Kimḥi, who was the brother and teacher of Rabbi David Kimḥi; see Talmage, Frank, Perushim le-sefer Mishle le-bet Kimḥi (Jerusalem: Magnes, 1990), 14–15 . Nonetheless, a comparison between the commentaries of Moshe Kimḥi and Joseph Kimḥi, and a comparison between the commentaries of David Kimḥi and Moshe Kimḥi do not reveal a connection as close as Rashbam's connection to Rashi's commentary. The matter is different with regard to David Kimḥi's connection to his grandfather, Joseph Kimḥi, and this subject warrants research in its own right. For now see, Melamed, “Mefarshe ha-mikra’,” 743–49, and compare Bloom's statement of principle that “influence cannot be willed” (Influence, 11).
96. Following William Blake; see Foster, Damon Samuel, A Blake Dictionary: The Ideas and Symbols of William Blake (Providence: Brown University Press, 1965), 93–94 .
97. Bloom, Influence, 24: “Tharmas is a poet's or any man's power of realization, even as the Covering Cherub is the power that blocks realization,” and ibid., 35–39.
98. It would appear that Rabbi Meir died between the years 1130–40; cf. Viezel, Eran, Ha-perush ha-meyuḥas le-Rashi le-sefer Divre Ha-yamim (Jerusalem: Magnes, 2010), 321 .
99. Midrash sekhel tov was written in 1139; cf. Midrash sekhel tov on Exodus 12:42, ed. Shlomo Buber (Berlin: Itskovsky, 1900), 144–45: “[It has been] from the creation of the world, four thousand and eight hundred and ninety nine years (4899=1139) until now, when I, Menachem son of Rabbi Shlomo, am writing this composition, which I have called Sekhel tov [“a good mind”].” With regard to its influence on Rashbam's commentary see, Martin I. Lockshin, “Zikat perush ha-Rashbam la-Torah ’el midrash Sekhel tov,” Proceeding of the Eleventh World Congress of Jewish Studies (1994),” 135–42. Ibn Ezra composed his “short” commentary in Italy between the years 1141–45, see Sela, Shlomo and Freudenthal, Gad, “Abraham Ibn Ezra's Scholarly Writings: A Chronological Listing,” 'Aleph 6 (2006): 18, 27–28 , and regarding the influence of Ibn Ezra's commentary on Rashbam's commentary, see in particular Kislev, Itamar, “Ha-peshatot ha-mitḥadeshim be-khol yom: perusho ha-kaẓar shel Rabi Abraham Ibn Ezra la-Torah ke-makor le-Rashbam be-perusho la-Torah,” Tarbiz 79 (2011): 413–38.
100. The “long commentary” written in Provence in 1153, approximately. See Sela and Freudenthal, “Abraham Ibn Ezra's Scholarly Writings,” 21, 44, and see also Kislev, Itamar, “The Relationship between the Pentateuch Commentaries Composed by R. Abraham Ibn Ezra in France and the Significance of this Relationship for the Bibliographical Chronology of the Commentator,” Journal of Jewish Studies 60 (2009): 282–89. Kislev distinguishes between “the other version” that Ibn Ezra wrote on Genesis and “the long commentary” that he wrote on Exodus. On the question of the influence of Rashbam's commentary on Ibn Ezra's, see Kislev, , “Ha-zikah bein perushehem shel Ra'ba’ ve-Rashbam: Sugiyat markive ha-ketoret,” Tarbiz 78 (2009): 61–80 .
101. For the approximate timeframe when Rashi wrote his Torah commentary, see Gelles, Peshat and Derash, 138–43.
102. Gelles (Peshat and Derash, 143) dates this conversation to the first years of the twelfth century, that is, close to Rashi's death. However, this conversation tells us that Rashbam studied exegetical issues with Rashi and it is not obvious evidence of Rashbam's intention to write a commentary.
103. Eynde, Damien van den, Essai sur la succession et la date des écrits de Hugues de Saint-Victor (Rome: Pontificium Athenaeum Antonianum, 1960), 40–45, 91, 207, 214; Smalley, Beryl, “An Early Twelfth-Century Commentator on the Literal Sense of Leviticus,” Recherches de theologie ancienne et medievale 35 (1969): 82 . Rivka Basch, “Sensus Litteralis—Peshuto shel Miqra: A Comparative Examination of Jewish and Christian Interpretations from the Twelve Century” (Master's thesis, Baltimore Hebrew University, 2003); Montse Leyra, “The Victorine Exegesis on the Pentateuch and the Former Prophets: The Sources of the In Hebreo Interpretations in the Light of Its Parallels with the Peshat School of Northern France and Other Jewish Sources” (PhD diss., Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 2011), 269–95. On the connection between Rashbam's and Hugh's commentaries on Exodus 1:15, 3:22, 4:10, see also Smalley, Beryl, The Study of the Bible in the Middle Ages (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1978), 104–5; Limor, Ora, Ben yehudim le-noẓrim (Tel Aviv: Open University Press, 1997), 4:39–40; Merchavia, Chen Melech, Ha-Talmud be-re'i ha-naẓrut (Jerusalem: Mosad Bialik, 1970), 158–59; Signer, Michael A., “ Peshat, Sensus Litteralis, and Sequential Narrative: Jewish Exegesis and the School of St. Victor in the Twelfth Century,” in The Frank Talmage Memorial Volume, ed. Walfish, Barry (Haifa: Haifa University Press, 1993), 1:203–16; Touitou, Ha-peshatot, 31, 122. On Hugh's interest in Jewish exegesis see: Awerbuch, Marianne, Christlich-jüdische Begegnung im Zeitalter der Frühscholastik (München: C. Kaiser, 1980), 215–30; Moore, Rebecca, Jews and Christians in the Life and Thought of Hugh of St. Victor (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1998), esp. chapters 4–8. On Rashbam's connection to Christian scholars, see e.g. Touitou, Ha-peshatot, 34–45; 164–76.
104. Smalley, Study of the Bible, 104–5. On lines of similarity between Rashbam's exegetical method, as he formulated it in his methodological statements, and the exegetical model that Hugh of Saint-Victor presented in his important methodological work Didascalicon de studio legendi, see Viezel, Eran, “Da‘ato shel Rashbam bi-she'elat ḥelko shel Mosheh bi-khetivat ha-Torah,” Shnaton: An Annual for Biblical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies 22 (2013): 185 . In my opinion, this general similarity strengthens the possibility that the two men knew each other.
105. In a certain way it is fitting to apply the rule formulated by Bloom with regard to Freud, also an especially “strong” creator, to Rashi's commentary: “There is no ‘true’ or ‘correct’ reading of Freud because Freud is so strong a writer that he contains every available mode of interpretation,” Bloom, Agon, 92. This rule can serve as a point of departure for assessing the way Rashi's commentary has been understood by his many admirers and commentators (supercommentators) throughout history, who have ascribed to him esoteric meanings that cannot be understood from the written text.
106. See above, section 2.
107. Cf. Bloom, Influence, 11: “Some of the fathers […] are composite figures.”
108. Bloom, Influence, esp. 141, 147.
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