In written Hebrew, there are no vowels. Rather, there is an oral tradition how to pronounce the words, and at times, the same spelling can have different pronunciation (for example, Chelev - Fat and Chalav - Milk).
However, at times, certain letters can double as vowels, (such as a Yud
in Tamim ). Sometimes they're present and sometimes they're not, and while the word's meaning doesn't change if the Yud
is there or not, there is a tradition of which words should be "full" and which shouldn't.
Rabbi Meir said that not only was he was privy to this tradition, he was extra careful...
למיחש לזבוב דדילמא אתי
ויתיב אתגיה דדלי"ת ומחיק ליה
ומשוי ליה רי"ש
of a fly landing on the back of the
Which could change the meaning of the word drastically, such as if the letter Daled
in Shema ("Hashem Echad"
is one) would turn into a Reish ("Hashem
Acher" - Hashem
is another G - d Forbid).
דבר אחד יש לי שאני
מטיל לתוך הדיו
Through this extra ingredient which I place into the ink called Kankantum.
So even if a fly would land there and erase the little tab in the back of the Daled,
one would see that it was erased and not the original.
However, the Gemara
still wants to clarify this story:
taught in a
אמר רבי מאיר
Rabbi Meir said:
כשהייתי למד תורה אצל
הייתי מטיל קנקנתום לתוך הדיו ולא אמר לי דבר
"When I learned Torah
with Rabbi Yishmael, I would put Kankantum
into my ink, and he never told me
כשבאתי אצל ר"ע
when I came to
Rabbi Akiva, he forbade
We have a contradiction
The first Braisa
says that Rabbi Meir first learned with Rabbi Akiva and then moved to learn with Rabbi Yishmael, while the second Braisa
says that Rabbi Meir first learned with Rabbi Yishmael and then moved to learn with Rabbi Akiva.
There is also contradiction regarding
The first Braisa
says that Rabbi Akiva permitted Kankantum
and Rabbi Yishmael didn't, while the second Braisa
says that Rabbi Yishmael permitted Kankantum
and Rabbi Akiva didn't.
will try resolving the two contradictions: