Post: In a five-part article debunking allegations that the Zohar is of late authorship, Rabbi Moshe Miller writes, as part of one debunking:
An examination of these sources reveals that none other than Scholem and Tishby were either ignorant of basic sources… or attempted to deliberately mislead their readers.This seems to be a common theme. The academics say X, but they were either lying or else are a bunch of amaratzim, because it is so, so clear that there are explicit contradictory sources.
In this post, I consider the claim about Rabbi Abba the Tanna. Rabbi Miller writes:
In Tishby's words, "the prominent called Rabbi Abba, who is one of the leading figures in the group, is otherwise completely unknown. The earliest figure who could possibly be identified with Rabbi Abba is the famous amora , whose name was ." Strange indeed that Rabbi Abba is mentioned in chap. 1; Tosefta Sanhedrin,chap. 8; Tosefta Chulin chap. 6. (The Tosefta are beraitot slightly less authoritative then Mishna and are from the same era). In addition, Rabbi Abba's name appears scores of times in Midrash Rabba.The Midrash Rabba reference is perhaps easiest to reply to. Midrash Rabba is from the Amoraim of Eretz Yisrael, not from the Tannaim! So who cares that Rabbi Abba's name appears scores of times? This would be the famous Amora Rav, or else some other Palestinian Amora.
That Rabbi Miller could put this forth as a serious argument demonstrates that he is, to quote somebody from just above,
either ignorant of basic sources… or attempted to deliberately mislead [his] readers.I think it is the former rather than the latter.
In terms of the fact that there is a Rabbi Abba in the Tosefta, let us examine just the first source that Rabbi Miller cites, the Tosefta Beitza chapter 1. The Tosefta he refers to is:
א,ד ר' יוסי אומר כוי [אין] שוחטין אותו ביו"ט מפני שהוא ספק ואם שחטו אין מכסין את דמו [א"ר יוסי] ומה מילה שודאה דוחה [את השבת] אין ספיקה דוחה את יו"ט כסוי הדם שאין ודאו דוחה [את השבת] אינו דין [שלא יהא ספיקו] דוחה [את] יו"ט אמרו לו [שופרות שבגבולין יוכיחו שאין ודאן דוחה את השבת וספיקן] דוחה [את] יו"ט [הן יוכיחו לכסוי הדם שאע"פ שאין ודאו דוחה את השבת שיהא ספיקו דוחה את יו"ט] השיב ר"א [בנו של ר"א] הקפר [מה למילה שאין ספיקה דוחה את יו"ט שאין ודאה דוחה את לילי יום טוב תאמר בכסוי הדם שודאו דוחה את לילי יו"ט הואיל וודאו דוחה את לילי יום טוב דין הוא שיהא ספיקו דוחה את] יו"ט אמר רבי אבא זה אחד מן הדברים [שהיה] רבי חייא [אומר] אין לי תשובה והשיב ר"א.The quote from Rabbi Abba is right at the end. "Rabbi Abba said: This is one of the things which Rabbi Chiyya said there was no answer, and Rabbi Eleazer answered him.
Rabbe Eliezer Hakappar was from the last generation of Tannaim. His son, Rabbi Eliezer, is quasi-Tanna, I suppose. Rabbi Chiyya, who is mentioned, is the redactor of the braytot, and Rav (=Abba Arika) studied under him. Let us look how this Rabbi Abba appears:אמר רבי אבא זה אחד מן הדברים [שהיה] רבי חייא [אומר] אין לי תשובה והשיב ר"א."
This Rabbi Abba is testifying about something that happened in conversation with Rabbi Chiya, that Rabbi Eliezer answered him on this point. It certainly stands to reason that this is the student of Rabbi Chiya, who is precisely Rav! Why does he appear in Tosefta? Because he was a student of the rabbi who compiled it, and so his ideas were inserted into it.
After all, don't we say "Rav Tanna hu upalig"?!
And this Rabbi Abba is too distant from Rashbi.
I came to this conclusion independently, but subsequently I looked, and found in the Wikipedia article about Rav (that is, Abba Aricha):
"He is called Rabbi Abba only in the tannaitic literature (for instance, Tosefta, Beitzah 1:7), where a number of his sayings are preserved. He occupies a middle position between the Tannaim and the Amoraim, and is accorded the right, rarely conceded to one who is only an 'amora, of disputing the opinion of a tanna (Bava Batra 42a and elsewhere)."If so, the author of this article is simply extremely ignorant about the subject matter; or got one-sided arguments from a separate source and didn't bother to investigate; or else he is deliberately trying to mislead.
Actually, my sense from a number of erroneous arguments this author makes (which I'll discuss in posts to come) is that he is a Bar Ilan scholar. That is, he got a Bar Ilan CD and so is able to search over much of Rabbinic literature, but either doesn't understand or doesn't bother to understand what these sources say. Thus, he searched for Rabbi Abba, found all these occurrences, and jumped to conclusions.
I am unimpressed.