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Treif Maps

At Parshablog R. Josh Waxman mentions a new ḥumrah against using maps. This ḥumrah is from a ḥassidisch school, so there’s no reason to think that this absurdity has gone beyond this school’s walls, and let’s hope that it doesn’t. Josh comments that

I’d just point out that Mizrachi, the famous supercommentator of Rashi, includes maps where appropriate to explain what Rashi means.

There is no need to go to the Mizrachi when you can go to Rashi himself. The problem is that Rashi’s maps didn’t make the cut for most editions of his commentary. This phenomenon is not unknown from other MSS. I remember seeing drawings in a MS of Rabbeinu Yeruḥam and then noticing that in the printed edition there were no drawings, but there were still spaces set aside for them, leaving a blank square spot from time to time.

As for information about Rashi’s maps, see this book chapter by Benjamin Z. Kedar. Mayer I. Gruber has also written about Rashi’s drawings and maps. See: Mayer Gruber, “What Happened to Rashi’s Pictures?,” The Bodleian Record 14.2 (April 1992), 111-124 and Catherine Delano-Smith and Mayer I. Gruber, “Rashi’s Legacy: Maps of the Holy Land,” The Map Collector 59 (Summer 1992), 30-35. Also see footnote 6 here and this article.

2 Responses to “Treif Maps”

  1. 1

    I don’t think it’s correct to refer to this as ḥumrah. As you correctly point out, there is no basis in Jewish teaching for something like this. It’s not being ḥoshesh for an opinion or teaching. It’s obscurantism of exactly the sort that the maskilim were railing against in alarm and disgust in their own time, that the people didn’t know anything about anything and that this was the way the Chassidic rebbes were shepherding them.

  2. 2

    Emes Le-Ya’akov al Ha-Torah, introduction):

    One of the top students in the Slabodka Yeshiva (who later became a famous rosh yeshiva in America) had a student who was very knowledgeable in general studies. This student once asked a question on a Tosafos from the map. This was on the topic (sugya) in Gittin about a narrow strip that protrudes from Akko. The learned student, whose ear was pained by this question, immediately stopped teaching this student. He complained to R. Ya’akov: “How can one learn with someone who asks questions from the map?” R. Ya’akov answered him: “The map must be consistent with the topic. If the topic does not correlate with the map then this a serious question and we must answer it.” R. Ya’akov sat and toiled until he answered all of the questions. This is the power of the truth.




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