Sunday, December 16, 2018

Rav Asi vs. Rabbi Assi

In today’s daf (Chullin 19a) it becomes imperative to know the generational information of Rav Asi.



Rav Huna is a 2nd generation Amora of Bavel, and Rav Asi is a 1st generation Amora from Bavel, the leader of the city of Hutzal and a colleague of Rav. As is shown by the color highlighting above. As Tosafot remark on the page:

 אמר רב הונא אמר רב אסי. היינו רב אסי חברו של רב כהנא שהיו גדולים דלסבריה דרב לא היו צריכין אבל רבי אסי לאו היינו רב אסי דקטן מרב הונא היה כדאמרי' בהניזקין (גיטין נט:) רבי אמי ורבי אסי כהני חשיבי דארעא דישראל מיכף כייפי ליה לרב הונא: 

That is, we must distinguish between Rav Asi and Rabbi Asi. For Rabbi Asi is a third-generation Amora of Eretz Yisrael, and we would not have Rav Huna (2nd generation) citing him. And Rav Asi is not dependent upon Rav.

This is all very relevant because this page of gemara contains three statements from Rav Huna. First, there is a sugya in which Rav Huna cites Rav Asi - the lishna kamma. Then, there is an alternate sugya in which Rav Huna cites Rav Ashi - the lishna acharina. Then, there is a sugya in which Rav Huna, citing Rav, argues with Rav Yehuda, citing Rav.

There is an immediately apparent contradiction between the first Rav Huna (citing Rav Asi) and the third Rav Huna (citing Rav). According to the former, a certain argument between the Sages and Rabbi Yosei son of Rabbi Yehuda concerns where one slaughtered the first two thirds appropriately, in the proper location, and only committed hagrama - slaughter outside of bound in the last third. But hagrama in the first third and then proper slaughter in the last two thirds would be invalid according to everyone. Yet, according to the third Rav Huna (citing Rav), if one committed hagrama in the first third, proper slaughter in the second third, and hagrama in the last third, it would be valid. This is an obvious contradiction.

Tosafot note this and explain that it is not a concern:

 הגרים שליש ושחט שליש כו' רב הונא אמר רב כשרה. והא דפסיל רב הונא לעיל הגרים שליש ושחט שני שליש התם משמיה דרב אסי והכא משמיה דרב: 

By way of explanation, the first statement of Rav Huna, which declares it invalid, is citing Rav Asi, while the third statement of Rav Huna, which declares it valid, it citing Rav. Rav and Rav Asi can argue with one another.

I believe that this apparent contradiction between Rav Huna #1 and Rav Huna #3 explains the introduction of the lishna acharina, the variant version of Rav Huna, that is Rav Huna #2.
What happens in the lishna kamma is that Rav Huna (A2) says X, his colleague-student Rav Chisda (A3) objects and suggests Y. Rav Yosef (A3) objects to Rav Chisda, his student Abaye (A4) objects, and Rav Yosef responds conclusively. What happens in the lishna batra is that the original position and reason of Rav Huna disappears, and he instead says what Rav Chisda suggested. And then every other Amora shifts one over in their role and argument, and Abaye (the last) disappears.

I think someone spotted the contradiction between Rav Huna #1 and Rav Huna #3, and so harmonized it by introducing Rav Huna #2 which is more consistent. I don’t think Rav Huna #2 and #3 are entirely consistent, in that they may differ in their reasoning and therefore application in certain cases. Under the principle of lectio difficilior, the rule of the apparently “difficult” reading being original, it is the lishna kamma which is original.

See the Rosh who cites this sugya and brings down the second version as Rav Huna’s statement, without attributing it explicitly to Rav Huna citing Rav Ashi. Also, in terms of how people rule, most Rishonim apparently rule like Rav Yehuda citing Rav, except for Rashi who holds like Rav Huna citing Rav, except for Rashba who holds like the lishna kamma of Rav Huna citing Rav Ashi. A salient proof of the Rashba’s position is that the gemara on the next daf says that something is in accordance with Rav Huna citing Rav Asi. And that is Rav Huna #1, rather than Rav Huna #2. And that the setama degemara bothers to say this is evidence that one should rule like him.

Whether or not that is actually so, I think that this gemara on Chullin 20a serves as a useful checksum - that the setama had Rav Huna #1, rather than Rav Huna #2. This is additional proof that Rav Huna #1 is the original.

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