Wednesday, January 12, 2011

R Elchonon Wasserman: An Amora had the potential right to disagree with a Tanna

from Daas Torah - translation copyrighted

Rav Elchonon Wasserman (Kovetz Shiurim Bava Basra 170a #633): Rav said that the halacha is neither that of R’ Yehuda nor of R’ Yochanon. The Rashbam said that Rav was considered a Tanna and thus could disagree with other Tanaim. However Tosfos (Kesubos) says that R’ Yochanon disagreed with this halacha and since we have a rule that in a dispute between Rav and R’ Yochacon that we rule in accord with R’ Yochanon that means that Rav is not viewed as a Tanna and thus cannot argue with Tannaim. But this presents a question. How can it be that Rav is disagreeing with the Mishna here? This question I asked my teacher R’ Chaim Brisker and he answered, “That in truth an Amora has the right to disagree with a Tanna. This that we regularly find the Talmud rejecting the views of an Amora by simply showing that a Tanna rejects it – that is because as a general rule an Amora did not disagree with a Tanna. So if the Amora only knew the view of the Tanna we assume he would not disagree with it. However where we see that an Amora explicitly disagrees with a Tanna it is possible that the final halacha is in agreement with the Amora.” : …There is a major innovation proposed by the Ramban (Bava Basra 131a). He says the Talmud brings a refutation to an Amora from a Tanna – only when the words of the Tanna are taught in the Mishna or Braissa – but if it is just quoted by the Talmud it is possible to disagree with the words of the Tanna. We also find this view recorded in the Shita Mekubetes in the name of Rabbeinu Yona, “Even though it is not normal for an Amoraim to disagree with Tannaim – but that is only when the view of the Tanna is found in a Mishna or Braissa.” This appears true from the language of Gittin (42), “This is only a quote of his views and Rava doesn’t agree with it.” Rashi explains that it is a view stated in the Talmud but was not found in a Mishna or Braisa. It would seem that the reason for this distinction is that Mishna and Braissos were redacted and approved by all the Sages of the generation… In contrast a view quoted by the Talmud simply represents view of the Tanna himself. Thus we see that the distinction is not between Tannaim and Amoraim but Mishna and Braissa versus a cited view of a Tanna…

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