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Why did unresolved disputes begin specifically at this time? Why were there no unresolved disputes before?

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The semicha machlokes was long before –  user2800 Aug 16 '13 at 10:27
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Welcome to Mi Yodeya. Where do we learn that there were none before? You can edit your answer to add more information. Thanks. –  Monica Cellio Aug 16 '13 at 13:07
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Interestingly, the rabbi who gave one of the parsha shiurs that I attended just last night made the same comment that Hillel and Shammai introduced Machlokes to Israel. –  Daniel Aug 16 '13 at 13:49
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Hillel and Shammai were not the first to have Halachic arguments, Yosi ben Yoezer and Yosi ben Yochanan were. see here torahlab.org/images/uploads/Pirkei_Avos_-_Perek_1.pdf –  Menachem Aug 16 '13 at 15:26
    
@Menachem please write where in the document specifically this is found –  tryingToGetProgrammingStraight Aug 16 '13 at 18:52

2 Answers 2

the reason is that until then questions were brought to the sanhedrin, which followed "acharei rabim lehatos", therefore any opinion that didnt win the majority vote was discarded.

however King Herod nullified the sanhedrin. therefore when hillel and shamai had different opinions, even though they followed majority in their own school, they couldn't come together for a global ruling.

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But Beis Hillel was there with him! –  Shmuel Brin Aug 16 '13 at 18:55
    
see Shabbos 14 or so –  Shmuel Brin Aug 16 '13 at 18:56
    
what's your new understanding of the Gemara? –  Shmuel Brin Aug 16 '13 at 18:57

Tosafos ד"ה יוסי in Chagiga Daf ט"ז says that the Machlokes between Beit Shammai and Beit Hillel was caused by students who didn't do enough שימוש by their teachers.

Essentially the students didn't spend enough time studying, possibly out of laziness, as we see Hillel accusing בני בתירא of doing in פסחים on Daf ס"ו.

Hillel and Shammai themselves only argued about 4 issues, as enumerated here.

Before that there was only one unsolved argument that went on for 5 generations; whether one can do Shmicha on a Korban on Yom Tov, as mentioned in Chagiga Daf ט"ז.

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