This bothers me a lot - the idea of using anonymous "Chachamim" in arguments. I don't understand why is it important or useful to hide their names.

The Mishnah uses it extensively and makes it very difficult to trace Rabbis' opinions. I understand that it started in the Torah as Rashi says: "why didn't the Torah specify their names? To say that every Sanhedrin and its Sages counts".

But the Zkenim of Dor Hamidbar were all secondary to Moses, as opposed to Mishnaic Machlokot.

What is the point of letting the Sages stay anonymous in important Halachic arguments?

  • 5
    I always assumed that it means "almost everyone else". When the Gemara asks מאן חכמים, it tries to identify what other rulings this position to be associated with, but it doesn't mean that that was the only person involved.
    – Heshy
    Sep 25, 2019 at 17:38
  • Weren't there some Sadducees in the Sanhedrin? If so, while their halachic arguments might have been sound at times, the Pharisees who wrote the Talmud did not want to publicize their names -- much like Elisha ben Abuyah whose opinions are frequently credited to a fictional 'Acher'. Sep 25, 2019 at 21:39

1 Answer 1


Saying something in the name of chachamim in general implies that this is the generally accepted opinion that is to be followed, whereas saying it in the name of only one rabbi implies that this is his unique opinion that is not necessarily shared by otheres. See here and in the underlying Gemara.

ד"ה משמיה דרבים וקלסיה וכו' עד ואומר ר"ת דהכי דייק מדקלסיה כי אמר משמיה דרבים וכו'. ר"ל שדבר שהוא הלכתא ראוי לאומרו משמיה דרבים ולא משמיה דיחיד להכי קלסוה כי אמרה משמיה דרבים ולא קלסוה כשאמר משמיה דיחיד:

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