17 January 2004

An addition to next year's haggadah

In yet another demonstration that all wisdom is already found in the Talmud, it turns out that optimality theory, which is apparently a hot new development that has all of the phonologists talking, is already present in the Talmud's discussion of Passover sacrifices.
''What we have here," Hillel began, "is a simple case of constraint conflict:''

(1) SAB: You shall do no work on the Sabbath.

(2) PASS: You must offer the Passover sacrifice.

''Conflict of this type is quite general,'' he went on. ''For example, the Tamid offering (TAM) is performed twice daily, including on the Sabbath, and so outranks the Sabbath; if PASS outranks TAM, then, by transitivity of strict domination, PASS >> TAM >> SAB.''

Hillel then drew the diagram in (3):

(3) Input: Passover falls on a Sabbath ...

No comments: