Page 90 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 36

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
8 2
they place on a par with Greek mythology . . . to bu ild a wall
around the Oral T o rah which they brazenly defy, calling its
proponents men of ignorance, distorters of Scriptures, etc. . . .
I therefore immediately began working on a series of com-
mentaries on TaNaKH . . . an elucidation of my methodology
is found in the introduction to Isaiah and the manifesto pub-
lished in 1848 . . . as far as their attitude toward the Oral
To rah is concerned, this work should provide an adequate
answer proving conclusively tha t rabbinic deductions are rooted
in the Sinai revelation contentwise, as well as linguistically . . .
On the basis of grammatical rules of the Hebrew language, no
other interpretation (of W ritten Torah) is possible . . .”
Malbim’s commentaries postulate three basic principles: 1. No
synonyms are repeated anywhere in the Pentateuch or Prophets;
2. Every expression in a given text has an essential meaning cor-
responding to the rules of the language; 3. Every statement in
the TaNaKH conveys a sublime thought; hence all metaphors
as words of God are replete with profound wisdom. Further-
more, the sages of the Talmud were aware of fixed rules of
Hebrew grammar and rules of logic, and used them to explain
the W ritten Torah. These rules, consisting of 248 on stylistic
usage and of 365 on verbs and synonyms, Malbim carefully
lists and substantiates with appropriate textual references in
Ayyele t ha-Shahar,
his preface to
Ha-Torah ve-ha-Mitzvah.
Parenthetically, one may assume that more than a coincidence
is indicated by his use of the numbers 248 and 365, which
respectively parallel the affirmative and negative commandments.
Malbim’s Bible commentaries represent a magnificent struc-
ture. They reflect the au tho r’s expertness in Rabbinics, Hebrew
linguistics, philosophy, literary analysis, etc. T he discerning
student is impressed by his keen understanding of historic
processes, scientific methodology and other features of Western
culture. Last, bu t not least, these commentaries attest to Or-
thodoxy’s intellectual vigor in the three spheres in which Re-
form registered appreciable gains, namely exegesis, scientific
study of the Hebrew language and exposition of the Bible’s
literal meaning. Whether they were to any extent instrumental
in stemming the rising tide of Reform is doubtful, judging
by the ensuing events in their au tho r’s career.