Monday, October 08, 2007

Daf Yomi Ketubot 61a: How two pious ones became the sons of Rav Chisda

On Ketubot 61a, a fascinating variant girsa recorded within the text of the gemara:

הנהו תרתין חסידי ואמרי לה רב מרי ורב פנחס בני רב חסדא מר קדים ספי ומר מאחר ספי דקדים ספי אליהו משתעי בהדיה דמאחר ספי לא משתעי אליהו בהדיה

[It was related of] two pious men, and others say of R. Mari and R. Phinehas the sons of R. Hisda, that one of them gave [a share to his waiter] first while the other gave him last. With the one who gave [the waiter his share] first, Elijah conversed; with the one, however, who gave his waiter last, Elijah did not converse.
When I encounter a ואמרי לה, my first thought is to treat it as I treat an ikka deAmrei -- as a variant girsa recorded in the actual text of the gemara. And indeed, if some say that it it Rav Mari and Rav Pinchas the sons of Rav Chisda, then it stands to reason that others -- either people or manuscripts -- did not make this identification explicit.

How does this identification come about? I think the answer is obvious. The base identification shared by the two versions is that these are pious one. However, there are some that say that these are Rav Mari and Rav Pinchas the sons of Rav Chisda. Alternatively, there is a dispute here. That is, some say that it was two pious ones and some say that it was Rav Mari and Rav Pinchas the sons of Rav Chisda. (Indeed, alternate rather than supplementary girsaot are found in other veAmrei lahs, such as one on 60b.)

Regardless, what do these two identifications share? The answer is Chisda. According to the first description, they are תרתין חסידי. According to the second, they are בני רב חסדא, two sons of Rav Chisda.

What I believe happened is that the original text said תרתין חסידי. Rather than interpreting this as "pious ones," someone interpreted this, correctly or incorrectly, as two of the Chisda clan. Then, in a marginal note, he filled in the identity of these two, based on other gemaras. Thus, for example, we have in Kiddushin 32b:
לרב מרי ולרב פנחס בריה דרב חסדא ולא קמו מקמיה
and thus know the names of the two sons of Rav Chisda.

What could compel such an interpretation? Look to context. The immediately preceding story in Ketubot is almost identical:
אבוה בר איהי ומנימין בר איהי חד ספי מכל מינא ומינא וחד ספי מחד מינא מר משתעי אליהו בהדיה ומר לא משתעי אליהו בהדיה
Both Abbuha b. Ihi and Minjamin b. Ihi [shewed consideration for their waiter] the one giving [him a portion] of every kind of dish while the other gave [him a portion] of one kind only. With the former Elijah conversed, with the latter he did not.
Thus, in an almost identical story immediately preceding it, we have two sons of the same personage, Ihi. We would only expect the same in the next story.

And indeed, the interpretation is not all that bad, given the context.

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