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The gemoro often reconciles the argument of a mishnah with other evidence by saying חסורי מיחסרא והכי קתני - there is something missing from the mishnah and this is how you must learn it. See for example Shabbos 37a at the top.

How do we understand this idea of something missing from the mishnah?

Could it mean

(a) “the mishnah is taught in a short form to make it easy to remember and if you examine it, it is obvious that something is lacking” or

(b) the mishnah is actually lacking a bit

or (c) some other explanation?

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(a)sub1, the Gemara has a Mesorah of what was left out; (a)sub2, what was left out was lost, but the Gemara is deducing logically what that must have been; (b)sub1, The Gemara is now adding something that someone had as Mesorah; (b)sub2, the Gemara is deducing logically what the missing piece must have been – Seth J Aug 15 '12 at 14:28

The book Kol Yehudah explains that the Gra held that "chasurei machsara" means that the gemara is saying that it initially appears that the mishnah is missing something, but at a closer look it really is not missing at all.

The Pe'as HaShulchan explains that the Gra held that it means that the gemara was really actually changing the intent of the mishnah, but it was basing it on a different mishnah (i.e. paskening like on tana over another).

Source: http://www.aishdas.org/avodah/vol15/v15n058.shtml#15

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See Shu"t Melamed l'Hoeil 3:61 for more details on the overall concept and the Gra's view in particular. – Curiouser Aug 15 '12 at 15:18

An explanation I heard from my teacher in Yeshiva, Rabbi Sholom Shpalter (he quoted it from somewhere, but I don't remember where):

The Mishna deliberately overly shortened concepts to keep the idea that there is an oral tradition to understanding Torah, and it is not all written down.

That works according to the opinions that the Mishna was written down by Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi and transmitted in writing. According to (I believe) Rashi, that the Mishna was kept oral for several hundred years, it is easily understandable as something that got lost in the attempt to keep it oral over those years.

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