The mishna Keilim 9:2 records a disagreement between Beit Hillel and Beit Shammai, and then records that Beit Hillel retracted their opinion and agreed with Beit Shammai.

‮חבית שהיא מלאה משקין טהורין, ומניקית בתוכה--מוקפת צמיד פתיל, ונתונה באוהל המת--בית שמאי אומרין, החבית והמשקין טהורין, ומניקית טמאה; בית הלל אומרין, אף מניקית טהורה. חזרו בית הלל להורות כדברי בית שמאי.

A jar that was full of clean liquids, with a siphon in it, and it had a tightly fitting cover and was in a tent in which there was a corpse: Bet Shammai says: both the jar and the liquids are clean but the siphon is unclean. And Bet Hillel says: the siphon also is clean. Bet Hillel changed their mind and ruled in agreement with Bet Shammai.

[Hebrew from Mechon Mamre, English from Sefaria]

Why was Beit Hillel's original opinion included here? Why not just include Beit Shammai's opinion (perhaps anonymously)? A similar question can be asked for Ohalot/Ahilot 5:3–4, where the same occurs.

Note that this also occurs in several other places: Yevamot 15:2–3, Gittin 4:5, Eduyot 1:12–14, that I know of. However, in these additional cases, there is a discussion between Beit Hillel/Shammai that precedes the retraction, and hence it's understandable why Beit Hillel's original point of view was included. I admit that some discussion of the Keilim/Ohalot cases are included in Eduyot, but the question remains of why they're taught in such a manner in Keilim/Ohalot.

  • 1
    Even "worse" than mentioning a retraction is mentioning two parties who don't argue and never did in the first place, only because you'd think they might. For example Chagiga 2:2 "הלל ומנחם לא נחלקו".
    – msh210
    Commented Jun 3, 2019 at 22:50

1 Answer 1


It's explained in Eduyot 1:4:

וְלָמָּה מַזְכִּירִין אֶת דִּבְרֵי שַׁמַּאי וְהִלֵּל לְבַטָּלָה,
לְלַמֵּד לַדּוֹרוֹת הַבָּאִים שֶׁלֹּא יְהֵא אָדָם עוֹמֵד עַל דְּבָרָיו,
שֶׁהֲרֵי אֲבוֹת הָעוֹלָם לֹא עָמְדוּ עַל דִּבְרֵיהֶם:

Why are the opinions of Hillel and Shammai recorded [only] to be nullified? To teach the generations that one should not be insistent in his/her opinions, for the fathers of the world were not insistent in their opinions.

  • 4
    We don't see that Hillel or Shammai retract their opinions in the preceding mishnahs. That mishnah could be read as Rambam reads it, that the later Sages don't necessarily agree with Hillel's or Shammai's opinions. But you got me looking at Eduyot 1:6 and Tosfot Yom Tov on Eduyot 1:12, who quotes Rambam's introduction to the mishna. Those might be better support (IMO) for what you're trying to say.
    – magicker72
    Commented Jun 3, 2019 at 21:53

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