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- Insults in the gemarah 3 answers
I encountered an interesting sugya today (Bava Qama 102b), in which we are told that, "in the west", the rabbonim laughed at the interpretation of Rabbi Yohanan. Presumably, this is a reference to Rabbi Yohanan bar Nafcha, who headed the academy in Tiberius.
In the Aramaic:
מחכו עלה במערבא לר' יוחנן אליבא דר' יהודה
In the translation of the Koren edition, this reads as follows:
The Gemara notes that they laughed at it in the West, Eretz Yisrael, at the explanation of Rabbi Yohanan, who said that according to the opinion of Rabbi Yehuda, a deviation by an agent from the terms of his assignment does not result in the acquisition of the item for the agent himself.
What follows is a short back-and-forth as various rabbonim attempt to make sense of Rabbi Yohanan's opinion, but I am struck by the image of their laughing at him. Really? One of the greatest sages of his generation, a student of Rabbi and the teacher of so many other scholars - including some of the ones who are named within this sugya. What does it mean to suggest that they laughed at him? How is that not disrespectful?