A critical edition of an ancient or medieval Hebrew text attempts to reproduce the text of the best surviving manuscript together with a critical apparatus. Such an edition supplies important variant readings from other old witnesses to the particular ancient or medieval composition.1 Abraham Berliner twice attempted to produce such an edition of Rashi's Commentary on the Pentateuch. However, the number of old manuscripts extant was too great for Berliner to control them.2 Isaac Maarsen attempted to produce a critical edition of Rashi's Commentary on Psalms. However, his edition3 suffers from the fact that Maarsen did not accurately copy out either the manuscript he chose as the basis for his edition or the variants cited in his critical apparatus.4 Typical is Maarsen's substitution of the abbreviation wĕkû for the manuscripts' wĕgô. Both abbreviations, many readers will recall, are the functional equivalent of our ellipsis dots at the end of an abbreviated quotation. Many readers will also recall that ancient and medieval Rabbinic texts employ the former abbreviation when the quotation is from a Rabbinic text and the latter abbreviation only when the citation is from a biblical text. This distinction, found in the sixty odd medieval mss. of Rashi's Commentary on Psalms, which I was priveleged to examine either in the original or in the microfilm copies in the Institute for Microfilms of Hebrew Manuscripts at the Jewish National and University Library at the Givat Ram Campus of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, is not reflected in Maarsen's edition.
Another classical example of Maarsen's unfaithfulness to the task of correctly copying out Oxford Bodleian, Ms. Opp. 34, which was
1 Classical examples include Saul Lieberman, The Tosefta (5 vols.; New York:
Jewish Theological Seminary of America, 1955–1988); Bernard Mandelbaum, Pesikta
deRav Kahana (2d ed.; 2 vols.; New York: Jewish Theological Seminary of America,
1987); Louis Finkelstein, Sifra on Leviticus (4 vols.; New York: Jewish Theological
Seminary of America, 1983–1991).
2 Abraham Berliner, Raschi: Der Kommentar des Salomo b. Isak über den Pentateuch
(2d ed.; Frankfurt am Main: J. Kaufmann, 1905), pp. xv, 454.
3 Isaac Maarsen, Parshandatha, Part III: Psalms (Jerusalem: Central Press, 1936)
4 Jehudah Fries-Horeb, Review of Parshandatha, by Isaac Maarsen, in Kirjath
Sepher 14 (1937–38), pp. 444–447.