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a song of triumph, in which all the women joined
(Ex. XV. 20-21). Miriam and Aaron spoke against
Moses on account of the Cushite woman whom he
had married, whereupon God summoned Moses,
Aaron, and Miriam to the tabernacle of the congre-
gation, reproved her, and punished her with lep-
rosy. She was healed through the prayers of Moses,
l)ut was obliged to remain without the camp of the

Israelites for seven
days, although the
people did not pro-
ceed until she had
returned (Num. xii.).
Miriam died in the
desert at Kadesh,
where she was buried
(Num. XX. 1). In
Micah vi. 4 she is
mentioned, with
Moses and Aaron,
as a leader of the
people.
s. J. Z. L.

In Rabbinical

Literature: Miriam
was born at the time
when the Egyptians
began to embitter the
lives of the Israelites
by imposing arduous
tasks upon them (comp. Ex. i. 14), and for this reason
she was called "Miriam," since the consonants in
tiie word "Miriam" (Dno) may also read " marim "
(:=" bitter"; Cant. R. ii. 11). She was called also
" Puah," and was, like her mother, a midwife (comp.
Ex. i. 15). When only five years of age she was
skilful enough to help her mother (Ex. R. i. 17; see
JocnEBED). She had the courage to tell Pharaoh
that he would be punislied by God for his cruelty
to Israel, and almost lost her life in consequence
(ib.). When her father, Amram, had divorced her
mother as a result of the cruel edict referring to the
exposure of tiie children, she induced him to take
her mother back (ib. ; Sotah 12a), and she sang and
danced on the day of the remarriage of her parents
(Ex. R. i. 23; B. B. 120a). She predicted to her
father tiiat a son would be born to him who would
liberate Israel from the Egyptian yoke. When
Moses was born her father kis.sed her and said,
"Your prophecy, my daughter, is fulfilled." But
when subsequently the child had to be cast away



609



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Mirels
Mishnah



her parents upbraided her and asked what would
now be the outcome of her prophecy. Miriam there-
fore went to the river (Ex. ii. 4) to see how licr
prophecy would be fulfilled (Ex. li. i. 26; Sotah
12b-13a).

Miriam is said to have had also the following

names : Ephrath, Helah, Naarah, Azubali, Jerioth, Zo-

har, Zereth, Ethan, and Aharhel (comp.

Her I Chron. ii. 18, iv. 5-8), which were

Names. given to her on special occasions (Ex.
R. i. 21; Sotah llb-12a). She was
married to Caleb b. Jephunneh, or b. Hezron, to
whom she bore Ilur (comp. I Chron. ii. 18-21).
Then she fell ill (hence her name "Helah") and
was thereupon left by her Imsband (hence the name
" Azubah "). Subsequently she regained her health,
became again like a j'oung woman (hence the name
"Naarah "), and was taken back by her husband
(Ex. R. I.e.). Miriam was the ancestress of King
David, and of Bezaleel, wh(? made the Tabernacle
and its vessels. Bezaleel's wisdom (comp. Ex.
xxxi. 3) is said to have been due to his grandmother
Miriam (Ex. It. xlviii. 6). To have so illustrious a
descendant was Miriam's reward for not obeying
Pliaraoh (comp. Ex. i. 21 ; Ex. R. I.e.). When Miriam
talked against Moses (comp. Num. xii.) she did not
intend to slander him; she wished him to live with
his wife and raise children (Deut. R. vi. 6). But
wlien slie was pimished with leprosy, and had to re-
main without the camp, God honored her by officia-
ting as priest Himself (Zeb. 102a). The Israelites
waited for her seven days (Num. xii. 15; Sotah 9b),
for she had once waited for Moses by tiie river
(Ex. ii. 4).

Miriam is regarded as the savior of Israel (Ex. R.
xxvi. 1). For her sake a marvelous well accompa-
nied the Israelites, a rock from which Avater flowed.
This well disappeared after Miriam's death (Ta'an.
9a). It was subsequently shown in the sea (Shab.
35a). Miriam, like Moses and Aaron, died by a kiss
from God (M. K. 28a), for the angel of death could
not take her; and worms did not touch her body
(B. B. 17a). Another legend says that Miriam,
like Moses and Aaron, died on account of the water
of strife ("me meribah " ; comp. Num. xx. 7-18).
This seems inconsistent, for, according to the Bible
as well as the legends, water became scarce only after
Miriam's death, with the disappearance of the well
(Lev. R. xxxi. 5 and commentaries tid loc).

8. J. Z. L.

MIBKES, SOLOMON ZALMAN BEN JXT-
DAH LOB: Lithuanian Talmudist of the eight-
eenth century; a native of Mir, government of
Minsk. He published at Konigsberg in 1769 his
"Derush," a funeral oration on the death of R.
Abraham, chief rabbi of Frankfort-on-the-Main. In
1771 he was rabbi of Frankfort-on-the-Oder, where
he published in that year his two works: "Shar-
sheret ha-'Abotot." containing novella;, decisions,
and discussions upon Talmudic matters, and "Shul-
han Shelomoh," a compendium of the Shuhian
'Aruk, Orah Hayyim, according to the Aharonim.

Bibliography : Fiirst, Bihl. Jud. ii. 380 ; Zedner, Cat. Hehr.
Books Brit. Mutt. p. 736.

H. R. M. Sel.

VIII.— 39



MIB.B.O!R : An object having a nearly perfect
reflecting surface. In ancient times mirrors were
invariably made of metal; in Egypt, of polished
brass. It is no doubt this kind of mirror to which
reference is made in Ex. xxxviii. 8 and in Job
xxxvii. 18. Reflections might also be seen in still
water (Frov. xxvii. 19). In the enumeration of
women's ornaments in Isa. iii. 23, liand-mirrois seem
to be included; but this is somewhat doubtful. Ref-
erences to mirrors occur in the Apocrypha (Ecclus.
[SirachJ xxii. 11) and in the New Testament (I Cor,
xxxiii. 12).

The Rabbis were acquainted with the use of mir-
rors, sometimes employing metal (Kelim xxx. 2).
On the Sabbath it was not allowai)le to look into a
mirror unless it was fixed on a wall (Shab. 149a). It
would appear that later there was a tendency to
forbid men to view themselves in mirrors, as tliis
was regarded as eiTeniinate (see Lev}-, " Xeuhebr.
Worterb." i. 236). Nevertheless, the members of
Rabbi's family were allowed to do so (Yer. Shab.
vi. 7) because they were "close to the government."

The modern Jews of eastern Europe have a
number of superstitions in regard to mirrors the
exact origin of which it is difficult to trace. Mir-
rors are covered when a person dies. The angel of
death will be seen if one looks into a mirror at such
a time. If a mirror is broken, seven years of poverty
will result; this is a general superstition, and not
confined to Jews. In Galicia it is supposed that if
one puts a mirror in front of a sleeping man witli
a candle between them, the sleeper Avill follow a
person whither the latter wills. If the sleeper strikes
one under these circumstances, the person stricken
will not live more than a year. J.

MI-SHEBERAK. See Sacuifice.

MISHLE SINDABAR. See Sind.\bar.

MISHNAH (construct state, Mishnat) : A noun
formed from the verb "shanah," which has the same
meaning as the Aramaic "matnita," derived from
"teni" or"tena." The verb "shanah," which origi-
nally meant "to repeat," acquired in post-Biblical
Hebrew the special force of " to teach " and " to
learn " that which was not transmitted in writing but
only orally ; the development of connotation being
due to the fact that the retention of teachings handed
down by word of mouth was possible only by fre-
quent recitation.

"Mishnah," the derivative of the verb "shanah,"
means therefore: (1) "instruction," the teaching and
learning of the tradition, the word being used in this
sense in Ab. iii. 7, 8; and (2) in a concrete sense, tlie
content of that instruction, the traditional doctrine as
it was developed down to the beginning of the third
century of the common era. " Mishnah " is fre-
quently used, therefore, to designate the law wliich
was transmitted orally, in contrast to "Mikra, " the
law which is written and read (e.g.. B. M. 33a;
Ber. 5a; Hag. 14a; 'Er. 54b; Kid. 30a; Yer. Hor.
iii. 48c; Pes. iv. 130d; Num. R. xiii. ; and many
other passages); and the term includes also the ha-
lakic midrashim, as well as the Tosefta or explan-
atory additions to the Mishnaii (Kid. 49b; see Ba-
kaita). In this wider sense the word was known
to the Church Fathers, who, however, regarded it as



Mishnah



THE JEWISH ENCYCLOPEDIA



610



the feminine form of "mishneh," analogous to "mik-
neh " and "miknab," and supposed that it signified
"second teaching" (conip. "'Aruk,"s.». n^JK' KTIB'
min?). translating it by devTEpuatc (see the passages
in Scbilrer, "Gesch." 3d ed., i. 113).

The term " mishnah " connotes also (3) the sum
and substance of the teachings of a single tauna
{e.g.. Git. 67a; Yeb. 49b, 50a: "mish-
The nat R. Eliezer b. Ya'akob " = " tlie

Name. teachings of R. Eliezer b. Jacob " ;
comp. Rashi ad loc. ) ; or it may mean
(4) the view of a tanna in regard to some one matter
{e.g. , Men. 18a : " mishnat R. Eliezer " = " the view of
R. Eliezer, " and the expressions " mishnah rishonah "
=:"the earlier view," and "mishnah aharonah " =
" the later view, " Hag. 2a ; Ket. v. 29d ; M. K. iii. 83b).
It may furthermore denote (5) a single tenet {e.g., B.
M. 33b; Hor. 13b; B. K. 94b; Shab. 123b), being in
this sense parallel to the expression Halakaii (on the
difference between the two see Frankel, " Hodegetica
in Mischnam," p. 8). It is used also for (6) any col-
lection of such tenets, being thus applied to the
great Mishnaic collections ("Mishnayot Gedolot") of
R. Akiba, R. Hiyya, R. Hoshaiah, and Bar Kap-
para, in Lam. R., Introduction, and in Cant. R. viii.
2 (comp. Yer. Hor. iii. 48c; Eccl. R. ii.).

Finally the name "Mishnah" is applied particu-
larly to (7) the collection of halakot made by R. Ju-
dah ha-Nasi I. (generally called "Rabbi"), which
constitutes tlie basis of the Talmud, and which, with
many additions and changes, has been transmitted
to the present time. In Palestine this collection was
called also "Halakot," as in Yer. Hor. iii. 48c;
Ber. i. 53c; Lev. R. iii. (comp. Frankel, I.e. p. 8).
The designation " Talmud " is likewise applied to
R. Judah ha-Nasi's Mishnah (Yer. Shab. v. 1, 7b;
Bezah ii. 1, 61b; Yeb. viii. 9a; comp. also Frankel,
I.e. p. 285; O. H. Schorr in "He-Haluz," 1866, p.
42; A. Krochmal in the introduction to "Yerusha-
layim ha-Benuyah," p. 6; Oppenheim, "Zur Gesch.
der Mischna," p. 244).

The " Mishnah of R. Judah," however, is not to be
regarded as a literary product of the third century,
nor R. Judah as its author. It is, on the contrary,
a collection which includes almost the entire mate-
rial of the oral doctrine as developed from the period
of the earliest halakic exegesis down to that of the
fixed and crj'stallized halakot of the early third cen-
tury. Judah ha-Nasi, who was the redactor of this
work, included in his compilation the largest and
most important portion of the earlier collections tliat
he had at hand, and fortunately preserved, for the
most part without change, the traditional teachings
which he took from older sources and collections;
so that it is still possible to distinguish the earlier
from the later portions by their form and mode of
expression.

In order to obtain a correct conception of the

Mishnah, as well as of its value and importance, it

is necessary to consider its relation to

Develop- preceding collections of similar con-

mentofthe tent as well as the general develop-

Mishnali. inent of the oral doctrine from the

earliest mid rash of the Soferim down

to the time when the Halakah received its final form.

According to a reliable tradition, contained in the



Letter of Sherira Gaon (Neubauer, "M. J. C." p. 15)
and confirmed by other sources (Hoffmann, " Die
Erste Mischna," pp. 6-12), the earliest form of dis-
cussion of halakic regulations was the Midrash (see
MiDRASH Halakah); and vestiges of such halakot
may still be found in the Mishnah.

In addition to this form of the Midrash, which
connects the halakic interpretation with the Scrip-
tural passage on which it is based, the independent,
definitive Halakah, apart from Scripture, was nsed
in very early times in certain cases, and collections
of such halakot were compiled (comp. Hoffmann,
I.e. p. 11, note 2). As early as the time of the Sec-
ond Temple the definitive Halakah was used more
frequently than the midrashic form, the change
having begun, according to geonic accounts, as
early as the time of Hillel and Shammai (comp.
Hoffmann, I.e. pp. 12-14). Although it can not be
assumed that a collection of halakot, arranged in
six orders, was undertaken when this change was
made, or that Hillel himself edited a Mishnah, as
Lerner has attempted to show (Berliner's "Maga-
zin," 1886, pp. 1-20), it is probable that the mate-
rial of the Mishnah first began to be collected at tlie
time of the " Zikne Bet Shammai " and " Zikne Bet
Hillel," the elder pupils of Shanunai and Hillel. The
beginnings of the present Mishnah may be found in
this first mishnah collection, which in the completed
text is termed "Mishnah Rishonah" (Sanh. iii. 4;
'Eduy. vii. 2; Git. v. 6; Nazir vi. 1). A large por-
tion of this first Mishnah is still preserved in its
original form, notwithstanding the many changes to
which it was subjected by the Tannaim ; for many
portions can be proved to have been redacted, in the
form which they now bear, at the time of the schools
of Shammai and Hillel, while the Temple was still
standing (comp. Hoffmann; I.e. pp. 15-20; idem,
"Bemerkungen zur Kritik der Mischna," in Ber-
liner's "Magazin," 1881, pp. 170 et seq.).

This first collection of the Mishnah and its separa-
tion from the Midrash were intended, on the one
hand, to reduce the traditional Halakah to a shorter
form, and, on the other, to fix the disputed halakot as
such; of these disputed halakot there were then but
few. The isolation of the Halakah from the Midrash
not only resulted in a shorter and more definite form,
but also removed many differences then existing.
Indeed in many cases the divergency had been merely
one of form, the proof and the derivation from
Script\ire being differently stated for the same hala-
kah by different teachers. This earliest Mishnah was
intended to afford the teachers both a norm for their
decisions and a text-book for their classes and dis-
courses, and thus to preserve the uniformity of teach-
ing. It did not accomplish this purpose entirely,
however; for when the political disorders and the fall
of the Jewish state diverted attention from careful
doctrinal studies, many halakot of the Mishnah were
forgotten, and their wording became a subject of
controversy. Since, moreover, in addition to these
differences each tanna taught the first Mishnah ac-
cording to his own conception of it, the one Mishnah
and the one doctrine developed into many mishnayot
and many doctrines (Sanh. 88b; Sotah 47b). This
multiplication occurred during the period of the
later "Bet Hillel" and "Bet Shammai" (comp. Let-



i



611



THE JEWISH ENCYCLOPEDIA



Mishnah



ter of Sberira Gaon, /.'•. pp. 4, 9; Hoffmann, I.e.
p. 49).

To avert the danger which threatened the uniform-
ity of doctrine, the synod of Jabneh was convened
(Tosef.,'Eduy. 1.1; comp. Letterof SheriraGaon, I.e.
p. 5; Dunner, " Eiuiges iiber Urspruug
The Synod und Bedeutung ciesTraktates Eduyot, "
of Jabneh. in"Monatsschrift," 1811, pp. '61 etseq.),
and under the presidency of Gamaliel
II. and Eleazar b. Azariah it undertook to collect
the ancient halakot, to examine and determine tlieii-
wording, and to discuss and decide their differ-
ences; thus there arose the collection 'Eduyot (Ber.
28a). This compilation, that in its original form
was much larger than the treatise that now beais
its name, included all the halakot which were then
known, whether controverted or not, and was in a
certain sense a revision of the first Mishnah. Even
in the present form of the treatise there are many
" 'eduyot " which are expressly said to have modified
the earlier Mishnah ; and there are many others, not
so characterized, which must likewise be regarded
as modifications of the Mishnah as redacted for the
first time. But neither the first Mishnah nor its
revision, the 'Eduyot collection, was arranged topic-
ally or systematically. It is true, a geonic rcspon-
sum, which was printed in "Slia'are Teshubali,"
No. 187 (Leipsic, 1858) and erroneously ascribed to
Sherira (comp. Harkavy, "Einleitung zu den Te-
schubot Hageonim," pp. x. et se<j.), refers to six
orders of the Mishnah said to date from the time
of Hillel and Shammai, as does also the "Seder
Tanna'im we-Amora'im " (ed. Luzzatto, p. 7), but
this statement, which is probably based on Hag. 14a,
is untrustworthy.

The earliest Mishnah, however, must have been
divided in some way, possibly into treatises, al-
though such a division, if it existed, was certainly
arranged formally and not topically
Divisions like the present tractates and orders.
of Earliest The several halakot were grouped to-
Mishnah. gether by a common introductory
phrase, which served as the connect-
ing-link, as may be inferred from various traces of
this old method of grouping still to be seen in the
Mishnah, especially in the last treatises of the order
Mo'ed. These phrases (comp. Oppenheim, I.e. p.
270) referred for the most part to the similarity or
the contrast between two or more halakot^ More-
over, the name of the author or of the transmitter
was often used as the connecting-link for the vari-
ous halakot, as is evident from the treatise 'Eduyot
in its present form (Dunner, I.e. pp. 6'2-63; A.
Krochmal, in "Hc-Haluz," ii. 81-82).

The 'Eduyot collection, which now became the
basis for the discourses delivered in the .schools, was
the means of preserving the uniformity of teaching;
but, as the mass incorporated in it was difficult to
handle, there was a growing need for a methodical
arrangement. K. Akiba, therefore, undertook a
sifting of this traditional material, and madea mish-
naic collection which he edited systematically by
arranging til e different subjects in different treatises,
and perhaps also by combining the various treatises
into orders. In the present Mishnah this collection
is often mentioned in contradistinction to the first



Mishnah (Sanh. iii. 4, and elsewhere; comp. Frankel,
I.e. p. 210; Hoffmann, I.e. p. 38).

The passage Ab. R. N. xviii. 1 indicates that
Akiba arranged his Mishnah according to topics
(comp. Oppenheim, I.e. pp. 237 et seq.); and a like
inference is to be drawn from the expression " tikken "
(Yer. Shek. v. 1), which does not mean "to correct,"
as A. Krochmal supposed (" Yerushalayim ha-Benu-
yah," pp. 34b-35a), but "to arrange," "to redact."
the same word being applied to the work of Judah
ha-Nasi in the redaction of his Mishnah (Yeb. 641 >).
Similarly the term "sidder," meaning "to arrange."
is applied both to Akiba's work (Tosef., Zab. i. 5)
and to that of R. Judah ha-Nasi (Yer. Pes. iv. 30(1),
tluis justifying the conclusion that Akiba's method
of division and arrangement of the Mishnah Avas
the same as that followed by Judah ha-Nasi. Two
treatises are definitely known to have been included
in their present form in Akiba's Mishnah, in which
they even bore their present names. R. Meir men-
tions the treatise 'Ukzin by name in Hor. 13b; and
R. Jose in like manner names the treatise Kelim
(Kelim, end): both of these tannaim, who antedated
Judah ha-Nasi, undoubtedly designated by these
names the treatises Kelim and 'Ukzin as included
in the Mishnah of their teacher Akiba.

R. Akiba's treatment of the old Mishnah in
editing his own Mishnah collection was entirely
arbitrary. He excluded many of the halakot
contained in the original text; and
Mishnah those which he accepted he endeav-
of ored to foinid upon some text, ex-

R. Akiba. plaining their pliraseology, and tra-
cing their origin, but striving most of
all to present the Halakah in short, clear, and ex-
plicit form (comp. Tosef., Zab. i. 5). Many halakic
sentences which he included called for more de-
tailed explanation. For the sake of brevity, how-
ever, and to aid his pupils in memorizing the Mish-
nah, he omitted the required explanations and made
an additional collection containing the comments to
the Mishnah, thus laying the foundation for the
Tosefta (comp. Letter of Sherira Gaon, I.e. p. 16;
Frankel, I.e. p. 306; Oppenheim, I.e. p. 270).

Akiba's method, which reduced the halakic col-
lections to an orderly system, soon found imitators;
and nearly every tannaitic head of a school, who, in
virtue of his position, had a mishuaic collection,
sooner or later adopted Akiba's method of dividing
and arranging the material. R. MeVr especially fol-
lowed this system, availing liimself of it when the
increasing number of new halakot, discovered and
established by Akiba's pupils, rendered a new
mishnaic collection necessary. In this compilation
he included the larger portion of Akiba's Mishnah,
but also drew upon other existing collections, such
as that of Abba Saul (comp. Lewy, "UeberEinige
Fragmente aus der Mischna des Abba Saul," Berlin,
1876). He likewise incorporated many old halakot
known in the schools but excluded by Akiba. He
frequently cited the opinions of Akiba, without
naming him, as "setam" and therefore authorita-
tive for halakic decisions; but sometimes, when the
opinion of the majority was opposed to Akiba's
view, he designated the former as " sctaTn " and bind-
ing for the rialakah (comp. Oppenheim, I.e. p. 31.5).



\



Hishnah



THE JEWISH ENCYCLOPEDIA



612



R. Meir's collection had a wide circulation, al-
though it was not able to displace the other com-
pilations. As every tanna at the head of a school,
however, had, as stated above, his own mishnaic
collection in which the halakot of preceding teach-
ers as well as their controversies were differently ex-
pounded, the uniformity in teaching which the re-
dactors of the Mishnah had desired and which had
almost been attained was again lost; for there were
as many different teachings as there were Mish-
nah collections. There \yas good ground, there-
fore, for the complaint that the religious world was
thrown into disorder by the teachers who gave hala-
kic decisions according to their own mishnaic collec-
tions (Sotah 22a), since a clear and reliable Halakah
could not be found in any individual compilation
(Shab. 138b, 139a).

To remedy this evil and to restore uniformity of
teaching, Judah ha -Nasi undertook his collection,
arrangement, and redaction of the
R. Judah Mishnah, which work has survived to
ha-Nasi. the present time. He followed his
own method so far as the selection
and presentation of the material were concerned,
but adopted the systems of Akiba and Meir in re-
gard to the division and arrangement. This Mish-
nah was intended to serve practical purposes and to
be an authority in deciding religious and legal ques-
tions. Judah often gives, therefore, the opinion of a
single teacher, where he regards it as the correct one,
in the name of " the sages " (" hakamim ") (Hul. 85a) ;
and in order that the opinion of a single .scholar may
prevail as final, he ignores the fact that this view was
controverted by many others. At times he, with-
out mentioning his name, quotes his own opinion as
" setam," to record it as authoritative (comp. Oppen-
heim. I.e. p. 347, No. 16). Frequently, too, he explains
or limits the earlier Halakah (see Yer. Hor. i. 46a), and
endeavors to find a compromise in the case of dispu-
ted halakot, or he himself decides the cases in which
the halakah is to follow one opinion and in which
the other (comp. Frankel, I.e. pp. 195 et stq.).

In addition to the practical purpose of restoring
and preserving uniformity of halakic doctrine and
of providing for teachers an authority for their de-
cisions, Judah ha-Nasi had another purely theoret-
ical object in view; namely, the preservation of the
teachings of the ancients, except those which he re-
garded as relatively unimportant or which he con-
sidered to have been preserved in some other place in
his collection. This fact explains many peculiarities
of the Mishnah, which were regarded as shortcom-
ings by those who considered it a legal code. The
following are some of these peculiarities: Judah ha-
Nasi quotes the opinion of a single authority even
when invalidated, and he quotes the original view
of a scholar even after such scholar had himself re-
tracted it (Hul. 32b; comp. Oppenheim, I.e. p. 344).
He quotes al.so a given halakah in one passage as
being controverted (" mahloket '") and in another
passage as authoritative ("'setam"), or vice versa;
and he cites contradictory teachings in different
places. All tiiese peculiarities are due to the fact



Online LibraryIsidore SingerThe Jewish encyclopedia : a descriptive record of the history, religion, literature, and customs of the Jewish people from the earliest times to the present day (Volume 8) → online text (page 151 of 169)