New York – DAF: Did the Amoraim Know Every Posuk in Tanach?

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    tnchNew York – Our Gemorah (Bava Basra 113a) discusses the issue of removing a family inheritance from the family. The Gemorah questions how a certain Braisah knew to understand the verse to apply it to a prohibition on the husband and not to the son. The Gemorah answers that the word “yidbeku” indicates that it applies to a marriage situation. The Gemorah then points out that both verses have the term “yidbeku” and the proof is dismissed.

    Tosfos (Tarvaihu) points out that there are times when they are not Bakiyim – fluent in the verses in Tanach and he cites a proof from Bava Kamma 55a where an Amorah is asked why it does not state “Tov” in regard to the first version of the Ten Commandments. The Rabbi responds, “Before you ask me that, ask me first if I am fluent in what it says in the Ten Commandments.”

    The words of the Tosfos, understood simply, are rather shocking, to say the least. Is it conceivable that those in the Gemorah were unaware of basic words in Chumash?

    One of the Meforshim explains that the intent is not that they were not Bakiyim (fluent)– rather they were not medakdekim (careful in wordings). He cites a proof in that the term “at times” is incorrect when using the word “fluent.” Either one is fluent or one is not fluent – it is not subject to at times.

    Perhaps another explanation is that Tosfos may not be referring to Amoraim at all. Perhaps Tosfos is referring to an occasional Makshan or Tartzan in the Gemorah, and the quote of the Amorah is imputed rather than a direct quote of what the Amorah actually said in response to a question. We often find that the Gemorah has imputed quotes such as what the Amorah might have responded to a certain question rather than what he actually did respond with.

    Great Roshei Yeshiva have differentiated the obligation of a Yeshiva student in explaining a Gemorah’s hava Amina between a quote of an Amorah and a hava Aminah of a Makshan. Often there is no need to delve excessively in a hava aminah of a makshen, but one must always do so when it is a quote of an Amorah. Granted, sometimes it is difficult to tell when it is a makshana and when it is an actual quote, but the premise is something that is well known.

    By the same token, we can perhaps explain Tosfos’ words only in application to an occasional makshan and not to the Amoraim. How then do we deal with the quote of the Aseres HaDibros from Bava Kama? One would have to answer that it is illustrative rather than a lack of knowledge on the AMorah’s part. Indeed, Rav Yaakov Kaminetsky zatzal in his “Emes L’Yaakov” deals with this in Parsha V’Eschanan. There he writes that the intent of the Amorah was that he did not know which exact words were actually said at Matan Torah as opposed to written on the Luchos. He explains that the account both in Yisro and V’Eschanan are a mixture of what was written in the dibros and what was recited aloud – neither of them being uniquely one or the other.

    This edition of VINDAF VIEWS has been sponsored for the refuah Shliemah of Rachel Bas Turan ..

    Sponsorships of the Daf l’ilui nishmas are also available. For further information please email [email protected]


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