Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Arakhin 2b: Who does Yochanan ben Dahavai cite?

Today, in Daf Yomi, we started Arakhin. In the beginning of Arakhin, the Stam goes through various Mishnayot, asking each time the purpose of the inclusive language of HaKol. On Arakhin 2b, we encounter the following:

לאיתויי סומא באחת מעיניו ודלא כי האי תנא
The Gemara answers: It serves to add one who is blind in one of his eyes, and teaches that he is obligated to appear in the Temple, whereas one who is entirely blind is exempt. The Gemara notes: And this ruling is not in accordance with the opinion of this tanna, Rabbi Yehuda.
דתניא יוחנן בן דהבאי אומר משום רבי יהודה סומא באחת מעיניו פטור מן הראייה שנאמר יראה יראה כדרך שבא לראות כך בא ליראות מה לראות בשתי עיניו אף ליראות בשתי עיניו
As it is taught in a baraita that Yoḥanan ben Dahavai says in the name of Rabbi Yehuda: One who is blind in one of his eyes is exempt from the mitzva of appearance, as it is stated:“ Three times in the year all your males shall appear [yera’eh] before the Lord God” (Exodus 23:17). According to the way in which the verse is written, without vocalization, it can be read as yireh, meaning: Shall see, instead of yera’eh, meaning:Shall appear. This teaches that in the same manner that one comes to see, so he comes to appear, i. e., to be seen: Just as the usual way to see is with both of one’s eyes, so too, the obligation to appear applies only to one who comes with the sight of both his eyes. This is one possible explanation for what is added by the general statement of the mishna in Ḥagiga 2a, according to Ravina.

According to the highlighting, Yochanan ben Dahavai is a 4th generation Tanna. Rabbi Yehuda, who without patronymic refers to Rabbi Yehuda bar Ilai, is a 5th generation Tanna. Is seems strange for the former to cite the latter.

Meanwhile, Rabbi Yochanan ben Dahavai, at least according to my biographical data (e.g. Who's Who In The Talmud), is a student of Yehuda ben Tema, a 4th generation Tanna:

If so, the easiest to do would be to add the patronymic "ben Tema", and to assume that the absence is due to scribal error akin to dittography. Repeatedly in the sections above, certain positions were taken to be not that of Rabbi Yehuda, and there, the reference was to Rabbi Yehuda beRabbi Ilai. It is understandable, then, for the "ben Tema" to be accidentally dropped here.

Looking at the parallel text in Sanhedrin 2a, it appears that they do have Ben Tema:

דתניא יוחנן בן דהבאי אומר משום רבי יהודה בן תימא הסומא בא' מעיניו פטור מן הראיה שנא' יראה יראה כדרך שבא לראות כך בא ליראות מה לראות בשתי עיניו אף ליראות בשתי עיניו

It is difficult to say that occurrences in Chagiga, Arakhin, in Yerushalmi, and in the source Tosefta that they are citing all made the same error. Maybe it is just OK to leave out the patronymic, and people would have understood based on context which Rabbi Yehuda was intended; and only Sanhedrin added it.

This, of course, operates under the assumption that my biographical data is correct.

Now, looking at Toledot Tannaim vaAmoraim, volume 2, page 547, I see that he has a discussion:

He mentions that, though in our printed texts in Arakhin we lack it, the patronymic ben Tama does appear in Dikdukei Soferim.

Sunday, June 02, 2019

Bechorot 46: In defense of Shmuel

The Mishna:

On the point of whether the live head of a nefel which was then retracted prior to the twin's birth effectively is poter (either "exempts" his brother, or consider: effects a peter rechem -- each has the same effect). The Mishna states that it would.

However, the language of the Tosefta strongly suggests otherwise: Tosefta perek 6:

That is, it just says שיצא but does not specify the head. Indeed only for the viable nine-month infant who died is the head mentioned. And then, we see rosho verubo mentioned in the general rule. This Tosefta would be like Shmuel, in the gemara, who is "refuted" by the Mishna.

I think that because of this, the Minchat Bikurim emends the text of the Tosefta, so that it would match the Mishna.

Here is the start of the Gemara:

However, I personally believe that it is difficult to refute Shmuel based on the Mishna, as the setama degemara eventually concludes. He is a first generation Amora, just like Rav (who sometimes is a Tanna who can effectively argue). He surely knows the text of the Mishna. He is arguing with it. And it turns out, there is a brayta that supports him!

If so, I don't think we need to reinterpret the Mishna as the gemara first attempts. If we do, I am somewhat convinced by the reinterpretation - that the focus in the reisha was on the aspect of bechor lanachala rather than on the peter rechem, and the author of the Mishna tried too hard to set up a minimal pair, of a contrasting case, because the main focus was the law in the seifa, where a live head would not only not be a bechor lanachala but even not for peter rechem. That some other distant Mishna states that novelty explicitly or implicitly does not mean, to me, that the gemara is right that the novelty is no longer necessary, and so the kvetch is unnecessary, which means we cannot reinterpret the Mishna. I don't accept the tanina, which I am not sure is even so regularly applied. Rather, it shows that the "novelty" is indeed something that is true, that holds in general. And so the Tanna's focus was similarly on this law, and in this focus ended up loosening the precision of the reisha. Indeed, I suspect that the Tosefta, and its language, is an earlier form of the gemara in reinterpreting the Mishna. (Thus for example the emphasis on rosho verubo.)

But even if we do say the Mishna is against Shmuel, we have a brayta that supports him. This is no refutation.


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