Sunday, October 28, 2018

Menachot 79: Once again, ruling like one’s father

A few thoughts on today’s daf (Menachot 79a).

First, we have two accounts of the dispute between Rabbi Eliezer ben Hyrcanus and Rabbi Yehoshua ben Chananiah, both 3rd generation Tannaim. One account of the dispute was from Rabbi Meir, and the other was from Rabbi Yehuda. These were both fifth generation Tannaim, looking back two generations at a (fuzzily?) known dispute:

It is quite strange to me that Rabbi Yehuda records an elaborate back-and-forth between Rabbi Yehoshua and Rabbi Eliezer about their respective reasonings. This would be no fuzzily known dispute, but a rather clear, definite tradition. It seems far more likely that Rabbi Meir and Rabbi Yehuda were fuzzy about, and therefore argued, about what that 3rd generation dispute was about, either baal mum or piggul chutz limekomo. If so, it would be Rabbi Yehuda (or else the setam of the berayta) filling in the respective arguments, based on assumed reasoning. If so, Rabbi Eliezer’s “silence” at the end should not necessarily be taken as a retraction, as the gemara takes it.

Next, according to the first lashon of the gemara, it seems extremely strange to have Rava (or perhaps Rabba, depending on girsa), retract, since Rabbi Eliezer retracted. What in the world?! The brayta predated Rabba and Rava, and if they truly based themselves on the aforementioned authorities, Rava should never have taken the position in the first place. Surely he knew about the retraction!

Next, it is interesting how the girsa is changed, flipping Rabba and Rava. Presumably this is so that the earlier authority, Rabba, should be listed first. See the Rosh’s position about changing Rava to Rabba if he is listed prior to Abaye.

Finally, this seems to be a trend I am noticing more in Menachot than elsewhere in Shas. Once again, the gemara assumes that Rabbi Eleazar beRabbi Shimon would hold like his father.

ורבי אלעזר ברבי שמעון סבר לה כוותיה דאבוה דאמר כל העומד לזרוק כזרוק דמי

And then the gemara asks whether Rabbi Shimon really holds position X, under the assumption that the son’s taking this position commits the father. I will keep an eye for it in other masechtot, to see if it is advanced elsewhere.

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