The Mishnah Understood in Light of the Scrolls: The Example of the Fetus
David Weiss-Halivni

To ascertain a connection between the Mishnah, for instance, and the Scrolls it is not enough to point to similarities, that the same topic is being discussed in both sources, whether they agree or not. They may have arisen independently and their agreement or disagreement can very well be accidental. It does, however, indicate, as the late Morton Smith noticed soon after the Scrolls appeared, that the obsession with the minutiae of Halacha was not the sole possession of the Rabbis. Centuries before them a similar zeal was practice and enshrined. The Rabbis continued that tradition, but that is still far from proving that their discussion is a direct descendendent of the Scrolls. It could still be independent and accidental. To prove that one has to show that the formulation of the Mishnah is taken from them and that could be done only if the language of the Mishnah, as we have it, is difficult and the difficulty is removed when the language of the Mishnah is restored to the context of the Scrolls. That context is different than the mishneh's context but the formulation of the Mishnah fits the Scroll's context and not it's own. The law indeed changed, but the phrasing remained the same.

The lecture analyses three Mishnot (Sukkah 1,1 and Chulin 4,3,4), argues that the language there is difficult and tries to obviate the difficulty by restoring the formulation to the a context similar to that of the Scrolls. The Scrolls utilized are Temple Scroll, vol. ii, p. 179: pp. 222-3: M. M. B. (Qimron edition), p. 157.