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Oldest Torah Proves Alter Rebbe Correct

The world’s oldest known complete Sefer Torah, which was discovered about six months ago, confirms that the Alter Rebbe was correct regarding the spelling of the words ‘Petzua Daka’ – ending ‘daka’ with an Aleph rather than a Hey.

From the Jewish Press:

A complete, 13th century (circa 1270) Ashkenazi Torah scroll, one of the oldest in the world, was discovered in the US about six months ago and sold at auction by Sotheby’s in New York on December 22, now resolved an old controversy over the correct spelling of a word in Deuteronomy 23:2, Matzav Haruach reported.

The common tradition regarding the verse, “No one who has been emasculated by crushing or cutting may enter the assembly of the Lord,” holds that the Hebrew word “Daka” is spelled with the letter Heh in the end, while the Yeminte Torahs and the Torah text approved by the “Alter Rebbe,” Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, founder of the Chabad movement, spell it with the letter Alef in the end. And so does this 750-year-old manuscript.

The age of the scroll was determined by North Carolina State University physicist Dr. Hong Wand, using carbon-14 in a particle accelerator. Dr. Yossi Peretz, head of the Hebrew language specialty at Orot Israel College, was asked to analyze and verify the ancient scroll, and last week lectured on his findings at the College’s 16th annual Colloquium at its Elkana campus.

Click here to continue reading at the Jewish Press.


  • carbon-14

    I thought carbon dating is unreliable for estimating age in the many letters of the rebbe.

    • Citizen Berel

      You have to read the reasoning.

      If memory serves, the methodological fault lies in the assumption that the current dynamics and rates of change remain constant from the present time through the very instance that the world came into being given that there is no scientific (or logical) reason to make that assumption and much reason to reject that assumption, given the believed (by the cosmologists) state of the universe at its inception.

      Further, the Rebbe questions what logically could be drawn from the dating, even if the assumptions and the methodology were valid, given that there is no scientific reason to assume the universe came into being in seminal state as opposed to a fully developed state.

      None of this preludes using this type of method to gauge timeframes that are relatively recent, where the underlying assumptions are pretty reasonable.

  • What proof?

    How does this prove anything? All this proves is that there is a Sefer Torah from that era which spells it with an Alef. How do you know that there weren’t any other sifrei Torah in that era that spelled it with a hey.

  • Milhouse

    The Alter Rebbe has nothing to do with it.

    The common tradition […] holds that the Hebrew word “Daka” is spelled with the letter Heh in the end,

    This is utter nonsense. The Sefardi tradition says that. It’s very well known and completely uncontroversial that the Ashkenazi tradition has an alef. The Alter Rebbe did not innovate anything in this regard.

    That doesn’t tell us anything about which tradition is correct.

    • Citizen Berel

      We don’t, no one was losing sleep over this and no one leaped out of the chair fist pumping because of this glorious find. It’s just media.

  • Appreciated one

    Thank you for posting this….

    I know there are many who read CHI
    however understand (based on the headline & the other comments) we do not need a Torah from the 13th century to validate the words of the Alte Rebbe and subsequently the words od the Rebbe, nevertheless good to know of this,

    Thank you again for posting


    • appreciated one

      exactly didnt write a source but yeah in Hayom Yom and spoke about it by Farbrengans a few times

  • to # 4

    check the references in the Hayom yom-7 Elul & you will see something quoted from the Alter Rebbe’s brother, which you were not aware of

    • Milhouse

      Of course I was aware of this. The question is what your wild imagination has done with it. The Alter Rebbe didn’t say anything unexpected. He simply instructed a sofer to follow the well-established tradition, and not to change it just because the Sefardim have a different tradition.

      That doesn’t make it somehow “his” alef. On the contrary, if he had said to switch to a hei, and fix all the sifrei torah that had alefs (as a certain famous non-chassidic rabbi of the last century did), that would have been an innovation, and it would have been “his” hei.

  • The real deal

    Argue as much as you want…
    The most original Jews to this very day are the Yemeni Jews. They still read the Torah the way it was read during the first Bet Hamikdash.

    • Milhouse

      And if you want to use their sifrei torah, you will have to make eight changes to ours, including one that affects pronunciation (vayhi becomes vayihyu).

    • The real deal

      MIlhouse. This is not a rumor that was brought up in the last century. Many Jews over many generations know the isolation of the Jews of Yemen and the fact that they remained there and settled even before the destruction of the first Bet Hamikdash. Based on their tribes, some of them can trace their ancestry to Yehuda, Levi and Binyamin… They even denied Ezra in his request for return to Eretz Yisrael, maintaining traditions from the first Bet Hamikdash.
      Don’t get all offended, it is what it is.

  • am haratzus

    whether written with a hei or written with a alef it is compleaty kosher, and there is not even a safek. for if it was a safek, we would not be able to make a bracha. for making a bracha levatala is a issur deorasah (brachos 33a on the bottom), and the rule is sfeika deorasah lechumra.
    and eilu veilu divrei elokim (eiruvin 13b) chaim.

    • To #16

      You are absolutely wrong. Yes, if we were to regard it as a Safek, we would not recite a Beracha on it, because Safek Berachos Lekula, but the reality is that we do not believe it is a Safek; we believe that it must be written with an Alef. Similarly, the Sefardim do not regard it as a Safek at all; yes, if they were to regard it as a Safek, they would not recite a Beracha on it, but the reality is they do not believe it is a Safek; they believe it must be written with a Hei.
      So to put it in simple terms: just because it is a Machlokes, that does not mean it is a Safek; they are very different things.

  • How wonderful

    But did I need the devoted editor of chi to tell me this really what’s the doubt has the alter rebbe ever been wrong