Lo Tehanem and Censorship
There is another aspect of the prohibition of Lo Tehanem that I would like to write about. For some background see this previous post. Not surprisingly, as with many topics addressing the relationship between Jews and non-Jews, the texts that discuss this issue have an interesting textual history. I want to illustrate this by examining the halakhah as it was codified in R. Jacob b. Asher’s Tur and a comment upon it by Rabbi Joel Sirkes, in his commentary the Bayit Ḥadash (Baḥ).
The following is from the Tur, ed. Evigsberg, 1540, Ḥoshen Mishpat, 249.
The relevant lines reads
It is forbidden to give a free gift to an idol worshipper, but it is permitted to give it to a resident alien (ger toshav) since we are commanded to save his life.
The same version with one small difference can be found in the Venice (1595) edition.
Things start to get interesting in the Krakow (1631) edition. Notice the substitution of goy, non-Jew, for idol worshipper.
It is forbidden to give a free gift to an goy, but it is permitted to give it to a resident alien (ger toshav) since we are commanded to save his life.
This was also the first edition of the Tur that included the R. Sirkes’s commentary, the Baḥ. The section of his commentary that I am interested in describes the censorship of texts that mention non-Jews.
In my humble opinion, since the authorities are strict if non-Jews are mentioned dishonorably in our texts, therefore they removed the word “goy” and wrote in its place “idol worshipper,” but the most reliable version of our master’s books (i.e. the Tur), is that it is forbidden to give a free gift to a non-Jew (goy) as it is in the first chapter of Tractate Avodah Zarah.
The Baḥ was of the opinion that the original version of the Tur was
It is forbidden to give a free gift to an goy (non-Jew), but it is permitted to give it to a resident alien (ger toshav) since we are commanded to save his life.
The Baḥ’s intuition may very well have been correct. In the Feivi de Shoko (?)  edition of the Tur the word is goy and not idol worshipper, although in the 1490 Soncino edition the word is idol worshipper. (I apologize for being unable to bring images of these texts, but the JNUL Digitized Books doesn’t work so well with a Mac.) One would have the check the many MSS of the Tur to see which was the original reading, although my hunch is that it was “goy” and not “idol worshipper.”
What happened to the comment of the Baḥ is possibly more interesting. This comment is still found in the Frankfurt am Main edition (1714).
But it is missing from the Krakow (1861) edition.
Luckily, the Tur ha-Shalem edition has returned this comment to the Baḥ, although I wonder why they chose “idol worshipper” in the Tur and not “goy.”