Monday, July 17, 2017

Praising those with whom you disagree (Bava Basra 176)

Today we finish Bava Batra. The Mishna (on the previous page) recorded a dispute, in a practical case, between Rabbi Yishmael and Shimon ben Nanas. After Ben Nanas presented his argument, Rabbi Yishmael praised Ben Nanas to the heavens:

To become a Chacham, one should study monetary laws. It is the greatest field in Torah; To learn monetary laws, one should study under Ben Nanas.

With such high praise, one might think that Rabbi Yishmael retracted. However, the gemara reports (via Rabba bar bar Chana) that not only did Rabbi Yishmael still hold firm in his position, the halacha is like him. And it turns out that even in the case of promise of repayment to save the borrower from choking, which was the comparison Ben Nanas offered, and which Rabbi Yishmael praised -- even there, Rabbi Yishmael disagrees, and the halacha is like Rabbi Yishmael.

This is a nice way to end a masechta, and is fitting for the three weeks. We can learn from Rabbi Yishmael's example. Even when we believe someone's halachic positions are wrong, we can still be polite to them, and even praise their character or thought process. All the while, holding true to what we believe is the correct halacha. And such niceness does not mean that we will lose the day.


Some thoughts about Rav Papa, especially after seeing the Rif and the Rosh. We saw on the previous daf that the Amoraim of Bavel were all aligned to say that Shibud is not Biblical, while all the Amoraim of Eretz Yisrael were aligned to say that it was Biblical. And when, for a moment, it seemed that a statement of Rabba indicated the opposite, the gemara explained that he was explaining it according to what the Amoraim of Eretz Yisrael held.

Then, we have Rav Pappa. He is the fifth generation, is thus Batrai, the halacha is like him, and he employs the word hilchesa. With whom does he align? Like Ulla that it is Biblical, or like Rabba that it is Rabbinic? The text of Rav Pappa in our gemara appears in the chart below, on the left hand side.

He stakes out a practical position regarding inheritors and purchasers, and the words he uses for each match exactly to what the gemara offers ("mai taama") to explain Rabba. And he is an Amora of Bavel. So it makes sense to place him as Shibud being Rabbinic. That is why a reason needs to be given to collect from the inheritors, of not closing the door before borrowers. If it were Biblical, then there would be no need to give a justification.

But the gemara in Kiddushin 13b has a different version of Rav Pappa, where his reason for inheritors is that Shibuda deOraysa, is Biblical! 

Rif and Rosh harmonize, and say it is not a dispute. Rather, Shibud is Biblical, but the reason the Rabbis didn't nullify it (as they did by purchasers, in the sefa) is the reason given, of not shutting the door before borrowers. This works. And there is a general trend of harmonizing sources to arrive at a globally optimal explanation.

There is a different derech halimud (IIRC popular in Spain before the expulsion) in which we identify the primary sugya where something is discussed and follow that. And look to a locally optimal explanation. And reasoning or interpretations from elsewhere, where it is brought it, are left there as interpretations brought to make things work.

In Kiddushin 13b, it definitely is a haavara, a transfer. The gemara introduces it that they hold (and are teaching here) that Shibud is Biblical, and then asks that they have taught this already once. Then it goes on to cite the foreign sugya, and ends with a slightly different version of Rav Pappa.

אלמא קסבר שיעבודא הוה דאורייתא והא פליגי בה חדא זימנא דרב ושמואל דאמרי תרוייהו מלוה על פה אינה גובה מן היורשין ולא מן הלקוחות ור' יוחנן ור"ל דאמרי תרוייהו מלוה על פה גובה בין מן היורשין בין מן הלקוחות צריכא דאי איתמר בהא בהך קאמר שמואל משום דלא מלוה כתובה בתורה היא אבל בהך אימא מודה להו לרבי יוחנן ולר"ל ואי אשמעינן בהא בהא קאמר ר' יוחנן דמלוה כתובה בתורה ככתובה בשטר דמיא אבל בהך אימא מודה ליה לשמואל צריכא אמר רב פפא הילכתא מלוה על פה גובה מן היורשין ואינו גובה מן הלקוחות גובה מן היורשין שיעבודא דאורייתא ואינו גובה מן הלקוחות דלית ליה קלא:

Also of interest is Tosafot there, who ask that Rav Pappa is different in Kiddushin and Bava Batra. But Tosafot's version of Bava Batra is different from ours:

Tosafot, Kiddushin 13b

Namely, they have explicitly in the sefa of Rav Pappa that Shibud is not Biblical. This is a quote from Tosafot, not an explanation by Tosafot. And they harmonize, but that is not our interest.

I would suggest further that, as in the case of Rabba, the primary statement by Rabba is positional, what to do in each case, as stated always in Hebrew. And the explanation (with mai taama for Rabba and bald for Rav Pappa) is the explanation by a setama, and that can be be more fluid across texts.

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