In Parshas Vayechi Yaakov blesses his grandsons, Ephraim and Menasheh with a special blessing. Then Yaakov turns to Yoseph and informs him that he has given Yoseph a double portion by considering his two sons to be tribes equal to the immediate sons of Yaakov. The end of this declaration is an enigmatic phrase where Yaakov says “אֲשֶׁר לָקַחְתִּי מִיַּד הָאֱמֹרִי, בְּחַרְבִּי וּבְקַשְׁתִּי.” – “…which I took out of the hand of the Amorite with my sword and with my bow.”
The Talmud (Bava Basra 123A) asks: Did Yaakov conquer with his sword and his bow?! [...] Rather חרבי (the sword) refers to prayer and קשתי (my bow) refers to בקשה (request from God).
The Torah Temimah explains this statement by connecting the word חרבי to the well known verse in Psalms that is recited every day during morning prayers: “The praises of God are in their throats and the dual edged sword is in their hands.” The Talmud in Brachos says this alludes to prayer. The second part refers to request from God - בקשות – because it is related to prayer. The word קשתי (my bow) is not related to prayer or request, it’s just that since we say חרבי refers to prayer and קשתי sounds like בקשה we interpret it as “request” and when it says ובקשתי it means “with my בקשה”.
According to this, says the Torah Temimah, the correct text in the Talmud should be unlike the way we have it in our version of the Talmud which says “קשתי זו בקשה” it should say “בקשתי זו בקשה”. With this version of the Talmudic text the word being interpreted is בְקַשְׁתִּי which is easier to hear as בקשתי -”with my בקשה”. Saying “קשתי זו בקשה” is weak. The word קשתי has nothing to do with”requests”. However בְקַשְׁתִּי has the exact same letters as בקשתי [bakashati] – my request. Therefore it makes much more sense if the Talmud would say בקשתי זו בקשה. Unfortunately, our Talmud says קשתי זו בקשה. It seems the Torah Temimah would like to change the text of the Talmud to the proper בקשתי זו בקשה.
The Torah Temimah then reports that he later found a manuscript that had it this way. He concludes with”Thank God, for he has led me along the path of Truth”.
I did a little legwork. The Vilna Shas says it the way it’s quoted in the Torah Temimah at first. That is “קשתי זו בקשה”. As the Torah Temimah noted, this is not an ideal version of the text. The Vatican Manuscript has the same text as our Talmud. That’s no help either. However, the French Bibliotheque Manuscript does say “בקשתי זו בקשה”! So we have a winner! I think the Torah Temimah is right. This should be the proper text in the Talmud.
It\’s amazing to see how a careful reading of the Talmud and asking the right questions can validate a discarded manuscript. Interestingly enough, there are two other examples of manuscripts vindicating a proposed textual change in the Talmud according to the Torah Temimah just in Parshas Vayechi.