Monday, November 20, 2006

Abayei and Rava

Why is Abayei always mentioned before Rava in sugyos where they're both mentioned?

My theory is that it's because Abayei was, according to Encylopedia L'Chachmei HaTalmud V'HaGeonim, 34 years older than Rava. A similar reason could also be invoked for Rav and Shmuel, if I recall.

Alternatively, it could be because we virtually always follow Rava (except for the cases of Yae"l Kaga"m), and hence the gemara follows the precedent set by Beis Shammai and Beis Hillel (if this is the case, the reason given by the gemara that Beis Hillel were anv'sanim would be more of a d'rash).

My chavrusa suggested that it could be because Abayei was on a higher level than Rava, and supported this contention by a sugya (Ta'anis 21b) that said that Abayei received a greeting from heaven once a week, while Rava did only on Erev Yom Kippur.

I would be interested to see how these ideas can be applied to other frequent sparring pairs, such as Rabbah and Rav Yosef, Rav Sheishes and Rav Nachman, and R' Pappa and R' Huna b'rei deR' Yehoshua.



At 11/21/2006 9:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your friend is on the mark.

See the book Patterns in Rashi from Yisrael Herczeg. The machlokes Beis Shamai-Beis Hillel is the same as the machlokes between Abaye and Rava, as well as the machlokes between Rav and Shmuel. If you take it further back, it is the two kingships of Yosef and Yehuda.

Now that you know this, learn shas again and you will see wonders.
Example: When Abaye and Rava are asked where G-d is, Rava points to the ceiling, while Abaye points to the sky outside.
Beis Shamai holds that the heavens were created first, whereas Beis Hillel holds the Earth was created first.
Rav holds "ilaa gvar" while Shmuel holds "Tataa gvar". There are literally thousands of examples.

At 11/21/2006 9:44 AM, Blogger Josh said...

Thanks for the recommendation.

At 12/06/2006 11:35 PM, Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der ┼íteg) said...

could it be alphabetical order? ;-)

At 12/06/2006 11:53 PM, Blogger Josh said...


To provide an additional data point that my chavrusa and I came across this week, Rav Pappa seems to be mentioned before R' Huna bd"R Yehoshua (Shabbos 136a, as well as Kiddushin 32b and Brachos 22b). I don't know who was older, but my recollection is that the klal is that we usually follow R' Pappa over RHbdR"Y, providing an argument against my second suggestion, although I don't have a good Brachos handy to look at k'lalei haShas to confirm this.


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