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Steinsaltz

it would not be sacrificed. Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi’s son said to him: Who are these Sages whose water we drink but whose names we do not mention? Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi said to him: They are people who sought to abolish your honor and the honor of your father’s house.

His son said to him, citing the verse: “Their love as well as their hatred and their envy is long ago perished” (Ecclesiastes 9:6): That was long ago and they have already died. Therefore, there is no harm in mentioning their names. Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi said to him: But it is also stated: “The enemy are come to an end; the wasted places are forever” (Psalms 9:7). Although the enemies died, the desolation that they created remains. Therefore, although they are dead, their names should not be mentioned. Rabban Shimon said to his father: These matters apply in a case where their actions were effective. In the case of these Sages, their actions were not effective. Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi then taught him: The Sages said in the name of Rabbi Meir: If it was considered a substitute, it would not be sacrificed. Rava said: Even Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi, who is humble, taught: The Sages said in the name of Rabbi Meir. But he did not say directly: Rabbi Meir said.

§ Rabbi Yoḥanan said: Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel and the Rabbis disagreed with regard to this matter. One said: Sinai, i.e., one who is extremely knowledgeable, is preferable; and one said: One who uproots mountains, i.e., one who is extremely incisive, is preferable.

The Gemara relates that this is not merely a theoretical dispute; rather, at one point it had practical ramifications. Rav Yosef was Sinai; Rabba was one who uproots mountains. They sent a message from Babylonia to there, Eretz Yisrael: Which takes precedence? They sent in response: Sinai is preferable, as the Master said: Everyone requires the owner of the wheat, i.e., one who is expert in the sources. And even so, Rav Yosef did not accept upon himself the appointment of head of the yeshiva. Rabba reigned for twenty-two years, and then Rav Yosef reigned. The Gemara relates that in all those years that Rabba presided, Rav Yosef did not even call a bloodletter to his home. Rav Yosef did not assume even the slightest air of authority, in deference to Rabba, and would go to seek out the bloodletter rather than expecting that the bloodletter would accommodate him.

The Gemara relates: Abaye, Rava, Rabbi Zeira, and Rabba bar Mattana were sitting and studying in a group and were in need of a head for their group. They said: Let anyone who will say a matter that is not refuted be the head. Everyone’s statements were refuted, and the statement of Abaye was not refuted. Rabba saw that Abaye raised his head, i.e., he noticed that his statement was not refuted. Rabba said to him: Naḥmani, calling Abaye by his name rather than by his nickname, begin and say your lecture.

A dilemma was raised before the Sages: Between Rabbi Zeira and Rabba bar Rav Mattana, which of them is preferable? Rabbi Zeira is incisive and raises pertinent difficulties, and Rabba bar Rav Mattana is moderate and not so incisive, but ultimately he draws the appropriate conclusions. What is the conclusion? Which is preferable? The Gemara concludes: The dilemma shall stand unresolved.

Talmud - Bavli - The William Davidson digital edition of the Koren No=C3=A9 Talmud
with commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz Even-Israel (CC-BY-NC 4.0)
אדם סלומון
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