Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Niddah 8a: Rabbi Elazar, Rabbi Eliezer, and Pedat

Not much to say about this at the moment. I just wanted to mark this daf as important, in the scheme of resolving people and their relationships. There is Rabbi Elazar, Rabbi Eliezer, and Pedat. And it matters who they are here, and that the Pedat in this case is the son, rather than the father, of Rabbi Elazar ben Pedat.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Niddah 14: Rabbi Chiya's brayta: of his youth or old age?

In today's Daf, Niddah 14a - b, the gemara discusses a reversed position of Rabbi Chiyya. The specifics of that position depend on whether a brayta encodes his initial or reversed position. In turn, that depends on when the brayta was authored. This ties in well to our previous discussion of the triple role which Talmudic scholars play, depending on whom they interact with. We can have Rabbi Chiyya as a student (=in his youth), as a colleague (=in his prime), and as a teacher (=in his old age). In each case, he might interact with different people in his scholastic social network.

Let us begin with the plain text of the Talmud.
אתמר בדקה בעד שאינו בדוק לה והניחתו בקופסא ולמחר מצאה עליו דם א"ר יוסף כל ימיו של ר' חייא טימא ולעת זקנתו טיהר
With regard to a similar case, it was stated: If a woman examined herself with a cloth that was not examined by her before its use, and she then placed it in a box without looking at it, and on the following day she found blood on this cloth, the question is whether the blood was on the cloth before the examination and the woman is consequently not impure, or whether the blood is from the examination, and she is impure. Rav Yosef says: All the days of Rabbi Ḥiyya he would deem such a woman impure, but in his old age he would deem her pure.
Thus, Rav Yosef records a reversal of Rabbi Chiyya in this instance, from impure to pure. The setama tries to figure out the extent of this reversal, which makes sense in light of a brayta we will eventually see, in which Rabbi Chiyya argues with Rebbe and says that while she is pure from niddah, she is impure from ketem. The setama records:
איבעיא להו היכי קאמר כל ימיו טימא משום נדה ולעת זקנתו טיהר משום נדה וטימא משום כתם
A dilemma was raised before the Sages with regard to this statement of Rav Yosef: With regard to what type of impurity status is he speaking? Does he mean that all his days Rabbi Ḥiyya would deem the woman definitely impure as a menstruating woman, and therefore any teruma with which she came into contact required burning; and in his old age he would deem her pure from the definite impurity status of a menstruating woman, but would deem her impure as a woman who discovered a stain, which is an uncertain source of impurity? If so, according to his ruling from his old age any teruma she touches is not burned but may not be eaten.
או דלמא כל ימיו טימא משום כתם ולעת זקנתו טיהר מולא כלום
Or perhaps does Rav Yosef mean that all his days Rabbi Ḥiyya would deem the woman impure as a matter of uncertainty due to the stain, and in his old age he would deem her pure from any type of impurity status?
Next, the brayta:
תא שמע דתניא בדקה בעד שאינו בדוק לה והניחתו בקופסא ולמחר מצאה עליו דם רבי אומר טמאה משום נדה ורבי חייא אמר טמאה משום כתם
The Gemara suggests: Come and hear a resolution for this dilemma, as it is taught in a baraita: If a woman examined herself with a cloth that was not examined by her before its use, and she placed it in a box, and on the following day she found blood on this cloth, Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi says: She is definitely impure as a menstruating woman, and Rabbi Ḥiyya says: She is impure as a matter of uncertainty due to the stain.
אמר לו ר' חייא אי אתה מודה שצריכה כגריס ועוד א"ל אבל אמר לו א"כ (אתה) אף אתה עשיתו כתם
Rabbi Ḥiyya said to Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi: Do you not concede that for her to become ritually impure she requires that the size of the blood stain on the cloth be more than the size of a split bean? If the stain is smaller, it is assumed to have been caused by a squashed louse. Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi said to him: Indeed [aval], that is correct. Rabbi Ḥiyya said to him: If so, you too render this blood found on the cloth in the box a stain, which renders one impure as a matter of uncertainty. If you had considered it definitely impure, there would have been no distinction between a small stain and a large one. 
This brayta should be ambiguous, but the setama regards this as definitive in one direction. I skip one clarifying statement of what Rebbe's position is. The gemara then writes:

מאי לאו בזקנותו קאי הא בילדותו טימא משום נדה שמע מינה
The Gemara analyzes this statement of Rabbi Ḥiyya with reference to the dilemma under discussion: What, is it not correct to assume that Rabbi Ḥiyya was in his old age when he disagreed with his teacher, Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi? He would not have done so when he was young. And if he deemed the woman impure as a matter of uncertainty in his old age, it can be inferred that in his youth he would deem her definitely impure as a menstruating woman. The Gemara concludes: Indeed, conclude from here that this is the case.
That is, the brayta was written to record Rabbi Chiyya's position in his old age, after he had reversed himself.

It is unclear what the setama degemara sees in the brayta to conclude that this was recording his position in his old age. Various Rishonim proffer suggestions. Thus, Rashi says that this is because he argues with his teacher:

מאי לאו בזקנותו קאי - מדפליג עליה דרבי רביה:
To try to elaborate, perhaps this means that until he came into his own as an authority, he would have given way to Rebbe. And disagreement shows that he is old. How old would that have to be? At what point did Rabbi Chiyya come to study under Rebbe? Maybe it just means that the attitude he had to assume to argue means that this would be in his old age.

Tosafot say:
מאי לאו בזקנותו. פרש"י מדפליג על רבי ואין נראה דמצינו הרבה תלמידים שחולקים על רבם בילדותם ורשב"ם פירש דרבי חייא תחילה למד בבבל ולעת זקנתו עלה ולמד לפני רבי כדאמרינן (סוכה דף כ.) חזרה ונשתכחה עלו רבי חייא ובניו ויסדוה ועי"ל מדקאמר רבי חייא אף אתה עשיתו כתם ולא קאמר אף אתה רבי ש"מ דבזקנותו היה דהוה תלמיד חבר כדאמר בשילהי מי שמת (ב"ב דף קנח:) בן עזאי תלמיד חבר של רבי עקיבא דאמר ליה (שב אתה ולא קאמר שב מר):
That is, they first cite and disagree with Rashi. After all, we often find students who disagree with their teachers in their youth. And Rashbam explains that Rabbi Chiyya first learned in Bavel. And, in his old age (corresponding to the word זקנתו that Rav Yosef employs) he ascended and learned before Rebbe, referencing Succah 20a. And the wording of אתה vs. אתה רבי implies that he interacted with Rebbe as a chaver, a colleague, rather than a student.

I recall Rabbi Yaakov Elman mentioning work, I think by Christine Hayes, in the interactions of scholars people in the Talmud. Overwhelmingly, they were more deferential to those in preceding generations and more disrespectful to those in the same generation. The consistency of this goes to show that the discussions were a record of a true diachronic discourse, rather than what some people (e.g. those who follow Neusner) assert, that the entire discussion was merely a pious fabrication created at the very close of the period. This idea of Rashbam, looking at the language, seems a similar approach.

Now some analysis of my own.

1) We can harness some further biographical information in analyzing this. Recall that Rav Yosef said that "throughout his days he held X, and in his old age, he held Y (the reverse)."

The brayta encodes not just a dispute between Rebbe and Rabbi Chiyya, but (seemingly) a direct conversation: אמר לו ר' חייא 

In general, I might reserve judgement as to whether these are actual exchanges, or the putting words into the mouth of a figure, to explain his reasoning. The latter would be the equivalent of אמר לך פלוני, X would say to you. When there are many braytot, perhaps conflicting, as to what one said to the other (see an example a few pages back), perhaps it is not that they are recording parts of a longer conversation, or conflicting recollections of a conversation, or even someone lying. Rather, perhaps the intent was to fill in the imagined, or understood details, and people knew the style. It was as if it were an amar lecha Ploni.

Regardless, here, there is a recorded conversation. And certainly as the setama understands it, this was a real conversation between them.

Rebbe lived approximately 135 - 217 CE = 80 years.
Rabbi Chiyya the Great lived approximately 180 - 230 CE = 50 years. 

If we place the dispute of the Rebbe and Rabbi Chiyya at the latest possible point, 217 CE, that means that Rabbi Chiyya would be 37. In Avot, Yehuda ben Tema says:

הוא היה אומר, בן חמש שנים למקרא, בן עשר למשנה, בן שלש עשרה למצות, בן חמש עשרה לתלמוד, בן שמונה עשרה לחופה, בן עשרים לרדוף, בן שלשים לכח, בן ארבעים לבינה, בן חמשים לעצה, בן ששים לזקנה, בן שבעים לשיבה, בן שמונים לגבורה, בן תשעים לשוח, בן מאה כאילו מת ועבר ובטל מן העולם.
True, Rabbi Chiyya would not reach 60, the age of zikna, but at 37, he had not even reached bina! Also, he had 13 years left to his life. Would this really be called zikna? Could we really say "all his days he said X" when he reversed himself at age 37?! And that is assuming the most conservative date for this conversation. It could have taken place much earlier! Unless we interpret Rav Yosef's zikna as being inexact, meaning a later reversal from a long-held position.

2) What is the point in Rav Yosef telling us this? Had he remained silent, we would have have the established brayta (תניא) and known Rabbi Chiyya's position. Rav Yosef's statement has only introduced confusion. Furthermore, Rav Yosef's choice of language would introduce even more confusion:
א"ר יוסף כל ימיו של ר' חייא טימא ולעת זקנתו טיהר
The simplest understanding of these words is a binary difference between (some level of)impurity and total purity.

We should also consider Rav Yosef's role as Sinai, an expert in old traditions. There is the  phenomenon of Tnei Rav Yosef -- see here. "Tnei Rav..." occurs 172 times in Shas, Tnei Rabbi Chiyya 49 times, and Tnei Rav Yosef 46 times (mostly aggadic derashot). So Rav Yosef knows braytot, and other supplemental Tannaitic material, outside of the formal official braytot of Rabbi Chiyya and others.

I think that Rav Yosef is only coming here to help correct a mistake people might make. He knows of the official brayta. People will think that Rabbi Chiyya, while disagreeing with Rebbe, still maintains some level of ritual impurity, namely ketem. 

Therefore, Rav Yosef tells us how to understand this brayta that you will surely encounter. All his days -- including this brayta -- Rabbi Chiyya maintains the law that she is impure. But you wouldn't know this -- because it was a very late retraction, in his old age, and therefore not recorded in any brayta -- but Rabbi Chiyya reversed and said she is entirely pure.

I would therefore respectfully disagree with conclusion of the setama.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Keritut 28: Can Rav have resolved a question on Rav Chisda?

Yesterday, in Daf Yomi, we finished Krisus. There is an interesting emendation there, on Keritot 28a, from Rav to either Rava or Rabba, which appears motivated by scholastic generational concerns.

First, the gemara:

אמר רב חסדא אין הקינין מתפרשות אלא אי בלקיחת בעלים אי בעשיית כהן
§ Rav Ḥisda says: Nests, i. e., pairs of birds, are designated, one as a burnt offering and one as a sin offering, only in the following manner: Either by the owner at the time of purchase or, if the owner did not designate the birds at that stage, by the priest at the time of sacrifice.

Note that Rav Chisda is a 3rd generation Amora. Rav Shimi bar Ashi clarifies Rav Chisda's position, the gemara raises an objection to Rav Chisda based on a brayta. Then:
אמר רב הכי קאמר ומה במקום שלא קידש הגורל בלקיחת בעלים ובעשיית הכהן קידש השם אי בלקיחת בעלים אי בעשיית כהן כאן שיקדש הגורל שלא בלקיחה ושלא בעשייה אינו דין שיקדש השם אי בלקיחה אי בעשייה
Rav said that this is what the baraita is say ing: And if in a place where the drawing of a lot, either by the owner at the time of purchase or by the priest at the time of sacrifice, does not sanctify an animal with a specific designation, and nevertheless a verbal designation of the name, either by the owner at the time of purchase or by the priest at the time of sacrifice, does sanctify it with a specific designation; here, with regard to the two goats, where the drawing of a lot that does not take place at the time of purchase nor at the time of sacrifice sanctifies the animal with a specific designation, is it not logical that verbally designating the name, either at the time of purchase or at the time of sacrifice, should sanctify it with a specific designation?

Koren / Sefaria preserve the reading of Rav. Artscroll follows an emendation to Rava and notes an alternate emendation (Shita Meubettzet) to Rabba. The person who gave the daf yomi shiur explained that this was because Rav here doesn't make sense, since Rav was 1st generation and Rav Chisda was 3rd generation.

Indeed, Hachi Garsinan has these variants:

However, I don't think that Rav is impossible here. Indeed, the graph for Mivami shows that Rav Chisda was a student of Rav. Rav was his rebbe muvhak, and after Rav's death, Rav Chisda studied under Rav Huna.

On the other hand, besides chronological feasibility, there is another dimension to this question. This has to do with roles. In some of our disambiguation algorithms (in progress), we look to categorize people (and disambiguate between several people with the same name), on the basis of coocurrence. And one aspect that jumped out was that the same person really has multiple identities.

For instance, Rav Chisda (who is unambiguous) still has three identities:

1) the young Rav Chisda, interacting with his teachers
2) the middle-aged (? maybe same as above) Rav Chisda, interacting with his colleagues
3) the old Rav Chisda, interacting with his students

Here, Rav Chisda (A3, but also earlier) had a position, which was explained by Rav Shimi bar Ashi, who is the generation after Abaye and Rava. So, Rav Chisda is assuming role #3. The anonymous gemara challenges his position based on a brayta. We would expect Rava, who is A4, to resolve this challenge, much more than Rav Chisda's teacher.


Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Temurah 25b: Rabbi Eleazar protested directly

In Temurah 25b, there is a rather telling exchange. As follows:
מתקיף לה רבא ממאי דטעמא דרבי יוחנן אם שיירו משוייר דלמא היינו טעמא דרבי יוחנן דאדם מתכפר בשבח הקדש

אמר ליה רב המנונא רבי אלעזר תלמידיה דרבי יוחנן ויתיב לקמיה דרבי יוחנן ולא אהדר ליה האי שינויא ואת אמרת טעמא דרבי יוחנן משום דאדם מתכפר בשבח הקדש

That is, on 25a, Rabbi Yochanan (A2) stated a halacha. Rabbi Eleazar ben Pedat (A3) raised an objection, based on an assumed underlying reason for Rabbi Yochanan's halacha. And lots of turbulence happens from there.

Ultimately, Rava (A4) objects that perhaps Rabbi Yochanan's underlying reasoning is different, so that the objection is without basis. Rav Hamnuna II (A3). of the previous generation and contemporary with Rabbi Eleazar ben Pedat, fills in that Rabbi Eleazar ben Pedat (A3) was the student of Rabbi Yochanan (A2), and when he objected, he objected while sitting before Rabbi Yochanan. As such, the underlying reasoning was made manifest, and Rabbi Yochanan's silence in response is evidence that Rabbi Yochanan agreed that this was his reasoning.

This is an excellent example of how knowing who the people are, and how they are related, can make all the difference in understanding the sugya. Luckily, Rav Hamnuna was there to assist.

In terms of the graphs and identities, I am a bit disappointed with the current version in PROD, in this sugya. We guessed wrong as to which Rav Hamnuna this was, and said it was Rav Hamnuna I, who was A2. Based on his interaction with Rava, Rav Hamnuna II, A3, makes a lot more sense. We also should add this explicit teacher / student relation of Rabbi Eleazar ben Pedat - Rabbi Yochanan, which is missing.

But changes are on the horizon!

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Arakin 4: Ambiguous antecedent - to whom did Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai speak?

In today's daf yomi, Arakhin 4, we see the following conversation:

דתנן אמר רבי יהודה העיד בן בוכרי ביבנה כל כהן ששוקל אינו חוטא
 As we learned in a mishna ( Shekalim 1: 4) that Rabbi Yehuda said that ben Bukhri testified before the Sages in Yavne: Any priest who contributes the half- shekel for communal offerings is not considered a sinner, despite the fact that he is not obligated to contribute.
אמר לו רבן יוחנן בן זכאי לא כן אלא כל כהן שאינו שוקל חוטא אלא שהכהנים דורשין מקרא זה לעצמן וכל מנחת כהן כליל תהיה לא תאכל
Rabbi Yehuda added that Rabban Yoḥanan ben Zakkai said to ben Bukhri: That is not the case; rather, any priest who does not contribute his half- shekel is considered a sinner, as they are obligated in this mitzva like all other Jews. But with regard to the priests who do not contribute the half-shekel, in order to excuse themselves from the mitzva they interpret this verse to their ownadvantage:“ And every meal offering of the priest shall be wholly made to smoke; it shall not be eaten” (Leviticus 6:16).

Who is לו in the phrase אמר לו רבן יוחנן בן זכאי? The two possibilities are:

a) Rabbi Yehuda
b) Ben Buchri

Koren, and therefore Sefaria, get this right. The English translation makes it clear that this second statement is a continued speech by Rabbi Yehuda, and that Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai's reaction to is ben Buchri himself.

Artscroll, meanwhile, has it as "Rabban Yoḥanan ben Zakkai said to [Rabbi Yehuda]." This seems unlikely.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Arakhin 2b: Who does Yochanan ben Dahavai cite?

Today, in Daf Yomi, we started Arakhin. In the beginning of Arakhin, the Stam goes through various Mishnayot, asking each time the purpose of the inclusive language of HaKol. On Arakhin 2b, we encounter the following:

לאיתויי סומא באחת מעיניו ודלא כי האי תנא
The Gemara answers: It serves to add one who is blind in one of his eyes, and teaches that he is obligated to appear in the Temple, whereas one who is entirely blind is exempt. The Gemara notes: And this ruling is not in accordance with the opinion of this tanna, Rabbi Yehuda.
דתניא יוחנן בן דהבאי אומר משום רבי יהודה סומא באחת מעיניו פטור מן הראייה שנאמר יראה יראה כדרך שבא לראות כך בא ליראות מה לראות בשתי עיניו אף ליראות בשתי עיניו
As it is taught in a baraita that Yoḥanan ben Dahavai says in the name of Rabbi Yehuda: One who is blind in one of his eyes is exempt from the mitzva of appearance, as it is stated:“ Three times in the year all your males shall appear [yera’eh] before the Lord God” (Exodus 23:17). According to the way in which the verse is written, without vocalization, it can be read as yireh, meaning: Shall see, instead of yera’eh, meaning:Shall appear. This teaches that in the same manner that one comes to see, so he comes to appear, i. e., to be seen: Just as the usual way to see is with both of one’s eyes, so too, the obligation to appear applies only to one who comes with the sight of both his eyes. This is one possible explanation for what is added by the general statement of the mishna in Ḥagiga 2a, according to Ravina.

According to the highlighting, Yochanan ben Dahavai is a 4th generation Tanna. Rabbi Yehuda, who without patronymic refers to Rabbi Yehuda bar Ilai, is a 5th generation Tanna. Is seems strange for the former to cite the latter.

Meanwhile, Rabbi Yochanan ben Dahavai, at least according to my biographical data (e.g. Who's Who In The Talmud), is a student of Yehuda ben Tema, a 4th generation Tanna:

If so, the easiest to do would be to add the patronymic "ben Tema", and to assume that the absence is due to scribal error akin to dittography. Repeatedly in the sections above, certain positions were taken to be not that of Rabbi Yehuda, and there, the reference was to Rabbi Yehuda beRabbi Ilai. It is understandable, then, for the "ben Tema" to be accidentally dropped here.

Looking at the parallel text in Sanhedrin 2a, it appears that they do have Ben Tema:

דתניא יוחנן בן דהבאי אומר משום רבי יהודה בן תימא הסומא בא' מעיניו פטור מן הראיה שנא' יראה יראה כדרך שבא לראות כך בא ליראות מה לראות בשתי עיניו אף ליראות בשתי עיניו

It is difficult to say that occurrences in Chagiga, Arakhin, in Yerushalmi, and in the source Tosefta that they are citing all made the same error. Maybe it is just OK to leave out the patronymic, and people would have understood based on context which Rabbi Yehuda was intended; and only Sanhedrin added it.

This, of course, operates under the assumption that my biographical data is correct.

Now, looking at Toledot Tannaim vaAmoraim, volume 2, page 547, I see that he has a discussion:

He mentions that, though in our printed texts in Arakhin we lack it, the patronymic ben Tama does appear in Dikdukei Soferim.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Was Rabbi Yaakov the grandson of Acher?

Yesterday we finished mashechet Chullin in Daf Yomi, and there (Chullin 142a), Rav Yosef asserts that the Tanna Rabbi Yaakov was the grandson of Acher, that is, Elisha ben Avuya,

As background, while the Mishna (Rabbi Meir) implies that Biblical verses discussing reward of long life for fulfilling precepts were meant literally, about life in this world, a brayta has Rabbi Yaakov explaining this as referring to reward in the world-to-come. According to the Munich manuscript and various Vatican manuscripts, as well as Rashi, the gemara ends there. But there is a haavara -- a transferred sugya -- from a gemara in Kiddushin 39b.

There, we see an incident of one who was sent by his father to send away the mother bird and died while descending. Thus, the verse cannot be taken literally. The gemara proceeds to suggest that this was an actual, rather than theoretical incident. After a long discussion, the gemara in Chullin ends:

אמר רב יוסף אלמלא דרשיה אחר להאי קרא כרבי יעקב בר ברתיה לא חטא מאי חזא איכא דאמרי כי האי מעשה חזא ואיכא דאמרי לישנא דרבי חוצפית המתורגמן חזא דהוה מוטלת באשפה אמר פה שהפיק מרגליות ילחוך עפר והוא לא ידע למען ייטב לך בעולם שכלו טוב ולמען יאריכון ימיך בעולם שכולו ארוך:
Rav Yosef said: Had Aḥer, literally Other, the appellation of the former Sage Elisha ben Avuya, interpreted homiletically this aforementioned verse: “That it may go well with you” (Deuteronomy 5:16), as referring to the World-to-Come, as did Rabbi Ya’akov, the son of his daughter, he would not have sinned. The Gemara asks: What did Aḥer see that led him to heresy? Some say that he saw an incident like this one witnessed by Rabbi Ya’akov, and some say that he saw the tongue of Rabbi Ḥutzpit the disseminator, which was cast in a garbage dump after he was executed by the government. Aḥer said: Will a mouth that produced pearls of wisdom lick the dust? But he did not know that the phrase “that it may be well with you” means in the world where all is well, and that the phrase “that your days may be long” is referring to the world that is entirely long.
This is a great illustration of the motivating factor behind Mi Vami. Elisha ben Avuya became an apostate because of a specific incident, either the same (sort of) incident discussed earlier, or a similar one.

If so, perhaps we can understand that this personal history was what drove Rabbi Yaakov to his interpretation. As a grandson of Elisha ben Avuya, yet a religious man, he could not take the verse at its surface sense and yet could not dismiss Divine reward and punishment. He grappled with it and arrived at this interpretation.

However, I would point out that Rav Hyman in Toldot Tannaim veAmoraim dismisses this relationship. He writes:

That is, he asks where Rav Yosef got this biographical information, since there is no other reference to it in the Talmud. He dismisses the idea that this could have been a received tradition. More compellingly, he points out an incident in masechet Chagiga, where Rabbi Yehuda HaNasiwas approached by Acher's daughter, asking to be provided for. Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi expresses surprise that there are descendants of Acher out and about. Yet, Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi was a student of Rabbi Yaakov, so why would he be surprised. Rav Hyman points out that a parallel Yerushalmi omits the words bar bartei, "the son of the daughter of". He concludes that this was a girsological error, and really the text read bar Karshay, which is the patronymic of Rabbi Yaakov.

If so, the familial / scholastic relationship has no bearing on the developed positions in this sugya.

Niddah 8a: Rabbi Elazar, Rabbi Eliezer, and Pedat

Not much to say about this at the moment. I just wanted to mark this daf as important, in the scheme of resolving people and their relation...