Page 185 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 41

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GEVARYAHU /HEBREW AUTHORSHIP
179
tery — “in the name of a certain old man whose name was R.
Jacob.” When we arrive at the seventh link in the chain we come
across a collective source — “those of the Nasi’s house said.”
The chains of transmission from generation to generation are
of the utmost importance. The rule was set down that at least the
names of the first and last transmitters of a halakhah or aggadah
had to be mentioned, but it was permitted to skip over the inter­
mediate ones. “Whenever a tradition is transmitted through three
men, the first and the last names are mentioned, whilst the middle
name is not mentioned”
(Nazir
56b; cf. also Jer . Tal.
Shabbat
6b).
Or to quote another source: “Whosoever hears a tradition from
its author should regard it as though the author of the tradition
stands before him (Jer. Tal.
Shabbat,
ch. 1, law 2, 6b). This implies
that when the name of the Sage is mentioned after his death he
partakes of eternal life. It is considered a great privilege to be
mentioned by name in the house of study. We find even the fol­
lowing request made of R. Oshaiah by one of the common people:
“If I tell you a good thing, will you repeat it in public in my name?”
(Bereshit Rabbah,
ch. 78).
The importance of ascribing authorship is seen from the state­
ment that “whosoever reports a thing in the name of him who said
it brings deliverance into the world”
(Avot
6). And conversely,
whosoever does not mention the name of him that said something
is considered a robber. “R. Abin bar Abba said in the name of R.
Johanan: whosoever does not report a thing in the name of him
that said it, Scripture says of him, ‘Do not rob the wretched
because he is wretched’”
(Yalkut Mishle).
What is evident from our
sources is that every scholar who innovated a halakhic or aggadic
teaching is considered the possessor of a spiritual heritage to
which his name is constantly linked during oral study.
The “spiritual heritage” of the talmudic Sages is all encom­
passing. Each teacher is deserving of credit. Not only the original
author, but the transmitters of the tradition are remembered for
good. Every innovation in halakhah and aggadah and anyone
who had toiled to collect the halakhot or midrashim is recalled.
And each name is scrupulously handed down from generation to
generation through careful repetition of the chain of tradition.
In the course of time, when the Oral Law was committed to
writing, it was recorded as a reconstruction of the method of oral
study, with emphasis on the continuous dialogue of the Sages: so
and so said; so and so replied. In this manner there was preserved