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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Horayoth

Folio 14a

it would not have been sacrificed.1  The latter said to him: Who are those whose waters we drink but whose names we do not mention? Rabbi answered him: These are men who wished to uproot your dignity and the dignity of your father's house. His son said to him: As well their love, as their hatred and their envy is long ago perished!2  Rabbi said to him, The enemy has disappeared; the swords3  are forever.4  The other said to him: This applies only to the case where their actions were successful; in the case of these Rabbis, however, their actions were not successful. Subsequently he repeated his lesson [as follows]: It was said in the name of R. Meir that if it had been an exchanged beast it would not have been sacrificed.

Raba said: Even Rabbi who was unassuming used the ex pression,5  'it was said in the name of R. Meir', and did not say 'R. Meir said'.

R. Johanan said: [On the following point] there is a difference of opinion between R. Simeon b. Gamaliel and the Rabbis. One view is6  that a well-read scholar7  is superior [to the keen dialectician] and the other view is6  that the keen dialectician8  is superior. R. Joseph was a well-read scholar; Rabbah was a keen dialectician. An enquiry was sent up to Palestine:9  Who of these should take precedence? They sent them word in reply: 'A well-read scholar is to take precedence'; for the Master said, 'All are dependent on the owner of the wheat'.10  R. Joseph, nevertheless, did not accept office. Rabbah was head11  for twenty-two years and only after this period did R. Joseph take up the office.12  Throughout the years of Rabbah's rectorship. Rab Joseph did not call to his house even a cupper.13

Abaye, Raba, R. Zera and Rabbah b. Mattena once sat studying together and felt the need to appoint a head.14  They agreed15  that whosoever would make a statement which could not be refuted shall become head. The statements of all of them were refuted, but that of Abaye was not. When Raba16  saw that Abaye held up his head, he called out to him: 'Nahmani,17  begin and say something'. The question was asked: Between R. Zera and Rabbah son of R. Mattena which is the superior? R. Zera was keen-witted but undecided18  while Rabbah son of R. Mattena was slow but able to arrive at conclusions.19  Now, what is the answer? — This must remain undecided.20

Original footnotes renumbered.
  1. V. Bek. 60a.
  2. Eccl. IX, 6.
  3. [H], pl. of [H] 'sword'. Others, 'waste places'.
  4. Ps. IX, 7.
  5. Lit., 'taught'.
  6. Lit., 'one said'.
  7. A sinai. A scholar well versed in the Law communicated from Mount Sinai.
  8. Lit., 'he who uproots mountains'.
  9. Lit., 'thither.'
  10. The scholar who is well read and who is, consequently, able to give reliable decisions based on trustworthy tradition.
  11. Lit., 'reigned' [as head of the school of Pumbeditha].
  12. [Because he was told by astrologers that he would reign only two years (v. Ber. 64a). Rabbah was head 309 - 330, and R. Joseph who succeeded him died in 333, v. Graetz, Geschichte IV, pp. 322ff. Funk, Die Juden in Babylonien, I, p. 26, suggests that there may be a deeper reason for R. Joseph's reluctance. He felt that the keen dialectical method of the Pumbeditha School (cf. Sanh, 17b) needed for its direction a man with greater dialectical powers than he possessed.]
  13. R. Joseph, in his modesty, avoided all superior airs and called on the cupper instead of summoning him to his house.
  14. [To the school of Pumbeditha after the death of R. Joseph.]
  15. Lit., 'said.'
  16. So Bomberg ed. Cur. edd.: 'Rabbah.' [D.S. a.l. n. 90, gives preference to the reading 'Rabbah' who, as Abaye's teacher, had to give him permission to expound. In this case, the 'head' they felt in need of would be, not for the school of Pumbeditha, but for the purpose of taking charge of that particular course: v. Tosaf. Asheri.]
  17. Abaye's nickname. Nahmani was the name of the father of Rabbah in whose house Abaye received his education as well as his upbringing.
  18. [H] 'raises difficulties.'
  19. [H] 'coming to conclusions.'
  20. Heb, teku, v. Glos.
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