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The Talmud (Shabbat 22a) records the following:

איתמר רב אמר אין מדליקין מנר לנר ושמואל אמר מדליקין רב אמר אין מתירין ציצית מבגד לבגד ושמואל אמר מתירין מבגד לבגד רב אמר אין הלכה כרבי שמעון בגרירה ושמואל אמר הלכה כרבי שמעון בגרירה אמר אביי כל מילי דמר עביד כרב לבר מהני תלת דעביד כשמואל מדליקין מנר לנר ומתירין מבגד לבגד והלכה כרבי שמעון בגרירה דתניא רבי שמעון אומר גורר אדם מטה כסא וספסל ובלבד שלא יתכוין לעשות חריץ

It was stated: Rab said: One must not light from lamp to lamp; but Samuel maintained, You may light from lamp to lamp. Rab said: Fringes may not be detached from one garment for [insertion in] another, but Samuel ruled, Fringes may be detached from garment to garment. Rab said, The halachah is not as R. Simeon in respect to dragging; but Samuel maintained, The halachah is as R. Simeon in respect to dragging. Abaye said: In all matters the Master [Rabbah] acted in accordance with Rab, except in these three, where he did as Samuel: [viz.,] one may light from lamp to lamp; one can detach [the fringes] from one garment for [insertion in] another; and the halachah is as R. Simeon in respect to dragging. For it was taught: R. Simeon said: One may drag a bed, seat, or bench, provided that he does not intend to make a rut.

(Soncino translation)

Rashi there adds in the following explanation:

ומשום דהילכתא כרב באיסורי בכוליה הש"ס בר מהני תלת נקטינהו גבי הדדי

And because the law accords with Rav in ritual matters in the entire Talmud except for these three cases, [the Talmud] took them together.

However, the Talmud elsewhere (Bechorot 49a) states a different exception to this rule:

ואע"ג דקיימא לן דכל היכא דפליגי רב ושמואל הלכתא כרב באיסורי וכשמואל בדיני הכא הלכתא כוותיה דשמואל

And although we have an established rule that wherever Rab and Samuel differ in ritual law the ruling adopted is that of Rab and in civil cases the ruling adopted is that of Samuel, here, however, the ruling adopted is that of Samuel.

(Soncino translation)

תנא קמיה דרב יהודה הפודה את בנו בתוך שלשים יום בנו פדוי אמר ליה שמואל אמר אין בנו פדוי ואת אמרת בנו פדוי ואע"ג דקיימא לן כרב באיסורי וכשמואל בדיני הכא הלכתא כותיה דשמואל

A Tanna recited in the presence of Rab Judah: If one redeems his son within thirty days [of its birth] the son is considered redeemed. He said to him: But did not Samuel rule that the son is not redeemed, and you say that the son is considered redeemed? — Read: ‘The son is not redeemed’. And although we have an established rule that the ruling adopted is that of Rab in ritual matters and is like Samuel, in civil matters, here, however, the decision is in accordance with the ruling of Samuel.

(Soncino translation)

Here, in a span of just a few lines the, the stama d'gemara explicitly states twice that the law accords with Rav in ritual matters except in the case of redeeming a firstborn son within 30 days, where the law accords with Samuel.1

How can this be reconciled? Are we forced to say that these passages are imprecise (i.e. they may both agree that there might be four exceptions to the rule)? Are they in fact disputing each other? Has this question been addressed anywhere?


1. I am aware that Rambam (Hilchot Bikurim 11:18), followed by Tur (Y.D. 305) and Shulchan Aruch (Y.D. 305:13), actually rules in accordance with Rav in the case in Bechorot. The principle commentaries there by R. Joseph Karo and R. David Ibn Zimra both express astonishment at this clear flouting of the Talmudic ruling, and they are forced to posit different textual variants that Rambam may have had in that Talmudic passage. An answer to my question here might argue that Rashi too had a variant text.

  • +1 Nice. I would assume the resolution has to do with the chazaka idea where Rav and Shmuel argue by nezikin and nida and the Rosh (although contradicting himself in masechos bava kamma and nida) lays down a rule that when their argument pertains to both tort laws and ritual laws, whatever subject the main discussion revolves around in shas, we rule like that Rabbi even in the secondary subject, even though it is against the general ruling. – user6591 Apr 6 '20 at 0:02
  • I don't like the translation of "issurei". There is no indication that we hold like Rav on rituals (most of Orakh Chaim) as much as deciding when things are off limits (Even haEzer, the first 2/3 of Yoreh Dei'ah). And that may address the pidyon haben case, which is neither choshein mishpat nor determining an issur. – Micha Berger Apr 6 '20 at 17:25
  • So, in Bekhoros, it's a different kind of except. The case in Bekhoros may be outside the rules. So, the rules only have one violation. And as for pidyon haben, you might have thought that this is issurei and thus like Rav, but know that it's outside that rule altogether. – Micha Berger Apr 6 '20 at 17:35

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