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  • Torah and Jewish Thought
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Different versions of the Torah in Hebrew?


Rabbi Ari Shvat

Tammuz 8, 5774
Are there differences in Torah texts (apart from differences in spelling like how colour which is in UK English is spelled as color in US English which is almost insignificant and trivial)? Are there paraphrases or different versions of Torah texts in the Hebrew or is it that the words in the Hebrew Torah are the exact same words that that God dictated to Moses?
Definitely not. The Torah text is not only word for word but even letter by letter identical in all of the ancient and modern Hebrew Torah scrolls of all of the various Jewish communities, despite the fact that the Yemenite (Asia), Ashkenazic (western) and Sefaradic (far eastern) communities were separated from each other on 3 different continents for almost 2,000 years (with only individual spelling differences that can be counted on two hands, e.g. "daka" (Dvarim 23, 2) being written with a silent heh or a silent aleph at the end). There is no "paraphrasing" whatsoever, and the text is unchanged since dictated to Moses 3,'700 years ago. This is due not only to Divine providence, but also to the ingenious sofrim (literally: "counters") system who's job is to count each and every letter in every scroll, and if even the most minor mistake is found, the scroll is deemed un-kosher and forbidden to read in public until that letter is fixed by an ordained scribe.
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