Monday, March 02, 2009

Who wrote Megilas Esther?

At first glance the answer seems obvious, Mordechai as it says in the Megilla. In fact Rashi comments on the pasuk, ויכתוב מרדכי - that Mordechai wrote the Megilla as we have it. However, the Gemara in Bava Basra seems to contradict this. The Gemara there details who wrote each one of the 24 sefarim of Tanach. The Gemara says that the Anshei Knesset Hagedola wrote: Yechezkel, Trei Asar, Daniel, and Esther. Rashi explains that all of these happened in chutz laaretz and לא נתנה נבואה ליכתב בחוץ לארץ. Therefore the אנשי כנסת הגדולה wrote them later in Israel.

So who wrote Megilas Esther? Mordechai or the אנשי כנסת הגדולה? In truth, Mordechai was a member of the אנשי כנסת הגדולה however that doesn't help us for 2 reasons:

1. The אנשי כנסת הגדולה did not yet exist at the time of Purim, it was only created after the second beis hamikdash was built
2. Mordechai wrote the Megilla in Shushan and as Rashi explained נבואה cannot be written outside of Israel and the reason why the אנשי כנסת הגדולה wrote these seforim is specifically because the events occured in chu"l and they needed to be written in Israel.

The Brisker Rav has a fascinating answer. The Rambam in Hilchos Megilla leaves out certain dinim (עיבוד לשמה, the way to write the 10 sons of Haman, etc.). On the other hand, the Megilla has other dinim that are the same as a sefer torah. The Brisker Rav explains that there are 2 dinim of Megilla.

1. Megilla as a sefer/letter that was written by Mordechai right after Purim. This did not have the status of being part of Tanach. At that time the Chachamim created a chiyuv to read that sefer that Mordechai wrote
2. Megilla as part of Tanach.

Based on this he explains why the Rambam left out certain dinim and included certain dinim.

What comes out is that according to the Brisker Rav, Megillas Esther was written twice. The first time, in Shushan by Mordechai, it was not part of Tanach and had no kedusha. However, this is the sefer that we are chayav to read on Purim. Later in Israel the Anshei Knesset Hagedola rewrote the sefer and included it as part of Tanach.

What does it mean that the אנשי כנסת הגדולה wrote the sefer in Israel . The simple understanding of the Gemara in Bava Basra is that they actually rewrote the whole sefer ברוח הקדש as Rashi explicitly writes that they wrote the seforim in Israel. What is amazing is that the אנשי כנסת הגדולה wrote ברוח הקדש the exact same thing word for word as what Mordechai wrote in Shushan. The chiyuv to read the Megilla is what Mordechai wrote in Shushan and we only have 1 version.

To summarize, according to the Brisker Rav Megillas Esther was written twice. Firt it was written right after the events in Shushan by Moredechai. This sefer is what we are commanded to read on Purim. Years later, the אנשי כנסת הגדולה convened and rewrote the sefer ברוח הקדש and made it part of Tanach.

9 comments:

Critically Observant Jew said...

Could it be that the megilla that Mordechai wrote is the complete version found in the Christian Bible?

bluke said...

I have no idea what you mean? Do the Christians have a different version then us?

SpaceFalcon2001 said...

The Greek versions have 6 extra chapters that were definitely not present in the Hebrew, basically making the text more about G-d, religiosity, and prayers. The exrtra chapters were almost certainly written around 170ish BCE, possibly by an assymilated Jew. In general it also tried to make the text connect more with Greeks, I.e. He is Haman the Macedonian.

רפאל said...

Anshei Knesset HaGedolah wrote all of Yechezkel? Who needs Yechezel, then? The final redaction took place in Eretz Yisrael, after the return from Bavel. Same thing with the Megilah. Same thing with the Torah.

bluke said...

Except that in the case of the Megilla as I wrote in the post Rashi comments on the pasuk, ויכתוב מרדכי - that Mordechai wrote the Megilla as we have it.

Regarding Yechezkel, Nevua is given to be said over. Yechezkel said over the nevuos when he got them but the Anshei Knesses Hagedola wrote them down later.

רפאל said...

It could very well be that people had very good memories and wrote things down from that memory. That does not change authorship, though.

Look at what it says about Torah. Ezra received it in Aramaic, but that approach was cancelled. Instead, only the script was changed. One text was composed out of various sources (Masechet Sofrim). In my view it is obvious. Chazal hint at final redaction, but do not want to say it outright.

abiebaby said...

רפאל" said...

It could very well be that people had very good memories and wrote things down from that memory. That does not change authorship, though.

Look at what it says about Torah. Ezra received it in Aramaic, but that approach was cancelled. Instead, only the script was changed. One text was composed out of various sources (Masechet Sofrim). In my view it is obvious. Chazal hint at final redaction, but do not want to say it outright."

Is the above a denial of Torah Misinai?

SpaceFalcon2001 said...

abiebaby, not nessicarily, although it is a denial of the rambam principle that the Torah we have today is the same as misinai. I don't agree with that conclusion, but there are some serious issues mentioned in the Gemara that give such an impression. I.e. A story in the gemara when the Jews came back to israel, the found 3 Torahs, 1 with alephs in places, 1 with heys, and 1 with a mix and they went by the majority. Why would this be an issue at all that they didn't know which was right if they had any Torah with them in bavel? Just devils advocate, but this is just one example of many that disagree with rambam, and we're relying on the hope that ruach hakodesh kept us on track, but that's just emunah.

רפאל said...

According to the Pshat of the Gemara, Ezra only changed the script of Torah, the "font". Why then does this same Gemara stress that Ezra was worthy to receive the Torah? Changing fonts requires such authority? Read between the lines.