Page 184 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 41

Basic HTML Version

said to have been the work of Hannaniah ben Hezekiah and his
In summary, it may be said that two contradictory trends are
evidenced in the literature of the Oral Law. The works them­
selves were not ascribed to any author or editor. Yet each individ­
ual law or midrash bears the name of its author or transmitter, as
indicated by the statement in the Jerusalem Talmud: “Any teach­
ing that is not ascribed to an authoritative source is no teaching”
ch. 19, law 1).
There are numerous instances of the care that was exercised in
citing authorities, as for example: “Rabina sat and reported this
tradition without mentioning the authority. Said Rab Ashi to
Rabina: we learnt this in the name of R. Ela
There are many talmudic usages in this regard, such as “who
taught it?” “as taught by the Tannaim,” etc. This was done not
merely for purposes of arriving at the law but out of a compelling
desire to determine the name of the authority in question. Later
generations tried to recover from anonymity the names of the
compilers of the various halakhic collections. For example: “R.
Johanan said: an anonymous Mishnah is according to R. Meir; an
anonymous Tosefta, R. Nehemiah; an anonymous Sifra, R.
Judah; an anonymous Sifre, R. Simeon; and all are taught accord­
ing to the views of R. Akiba, for they were his disciples
Students in the houses of study were careful to mention not
only the authority for the halakhah or aggadah, but all the inter­
mediaries who had transmitted the teaching. An example of this
is the following chain of tradition, listing seven different Sages:
“R. Shaman ben Abba said in the name of R. Idi bar Idi bar
Gershom, who said it in the name of Levi ben Perata, who said it in
the name of R. Nahum, who said it in the name of R. Biriam, who
said it in the name of a certain old man whose name was R. Jacob
as follows, those of the Nasi’s house said . . .”
We see that the first three generations of the transmitters are
known by their own names and the names of their fathers.
However, beginning with the fourth generation we have mention
of the names of R. Nahum and R. Biriam without those of their
fathers. The sixth line of transmission is already clothed in mys­