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What's “כי אתא פלוני אמר פלוני”?

The phrase "‫כי אתא [name] אמר [name],‏ [statement]‏‬‬" appears many times in the Bavli. For example, Rosh Hashana 35:1: כי אתא רבין אמר רבי יעקב בר אידי אמר רבי שמעון חסידא לא ...
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“Don't say 'lehavdil' between one Jew and another.”

In today's Parashat Hashavu'a Chat, I used the qualification "lehavdil" (*) to apply to a pun that jokingly and innocuously related the actions of Datan and Aviram to those of a community member here. ...