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תנא אלף ושבע מאות קלין וחמורין וגזירות שוות ודקדוקי סופרים נשתכחו בימי אבלו של משה: אמר רבי אבהו אעפ"כ החזירן עתניאל בן קנז מתוך פלפולו

One thousand and seven hundred inferences, and verbal analogies, and minutiae of the scribes were forgotten during the days of mourning for Moses. Rabbi Abbahu says: Even so, Othniel, son of Kenaz, restored them through his sharp mind. (Temura 16)

The same Gemmorah brings the principle of "Not in Heaven" - Rabbis can decide based on their own reasoning, i.g. "invent" new Halochos.

When the Heavenly Halacha is known to be completely forgotten (assuming all Halochos were once known), how do we know if a Halacha was invented anew or restored/revealed to its original state?

  • Maybe because once he said them, someone said "oh yeah I remember now, he's right" – Heshy Oct 23 '19 at 11:56
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Pnei Yehoshua to Megillah 3a (in the context of the Gemara saying that the Neviim returned which letters had a separate “open” and “closed” form) explains that they wouldn’t rely on the Neviim; they had to prove that they were correct.

והביאו גם כן ראיות לדבריהם דלאו עלייהו דידהו קא סמכינן אלא על אותן הראיות שהביאו לדבריהם ובכה"ג אשכחן בתמורה באותן הלכות גופייהו שנשתכחו שחזר עתניאל בן קנז והחזירן בפלפולו כנ"ל וק"ל:

They would also bring proofs to their words, such that they didn’t rely on them but rather on those proofs which they brought to their words. Similarly, we find in Temurah regarding those laws which were forgotten and Asniel Ben Kenaz returned, which he returned with his sharpness. So it seems to me, and this is easy to understand.

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  • Thank you, I'm a bit confused here. If they had proofs, it's OK, we don't need to listen to Nevi'im. but how do we know that he "returned" the previously existing Halochos and not create new? After all he had the authority. – Al Berko Oct 23 '19 at 18:06
  • @Al I assume that if they're from proofs then it would be no different than a usual derasha on a passuk; even if it's a brand-new, never-before-seen-in-this-world derasha, we still accept it. (The annoying thing about this Gemara being in Temurah is that almost nobody comments on Kadshim, making it difficult to find hard sources on those types of sugyos. Here I happened to know that a similar sugya appeared in Megillah, and the Pnei Yehoshua explicitly addresses Temurah in the discussion, but you're not always so lucky.) – DonielF Oct 23 '19 at 18:09
  • Wait, my point was often the interpreters present the accepted aposteriori Halacha as "the original" one, הללמ"ס. But apparently it isn't so. In our example, did they have proof that the Halochos Ab"K "returned" were once Moses taught? – Al Berko Oct 23 '19 at 18:25
  • @AlBerko As opposed to his coming up with them? My understanding of the Pnei Yehoshua is that the proofs he brought indicated that they were the correct, original halacha. – DonielF Oct 23 '19 at 18:30
  • I understood that P"Y answer my other question about listening to Nevi'im, saying that they still had proofs. – Al Berko Oct 23 '19 at 18:31

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