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REFLECTIONS ON PIRKEI OVOS 2(8 & 9)

Rabbi Yochanon ben Zakkai sums up his talmidim:

רַבִּי אֱלִיעֶזֶר בֶּן הוֹרְקְנוֹס, בּוֹר סוּד שֶׁאֵינוֹ מְאַבֵּד טִפָּה

וְרַבִּי אֶלְעָזָר בֶּן עֲרָךְ, מַעְיָן הַמִּתְגַּבֵּר

and then comments on their teaching 2(9)

אָמַר לָהֶם, רוֹאֶה אֲנִי אֶת דִּבְרֵי אֶלְעָזָר בֶּן עֲרָךְ⁠ מִדִּבְרֵיכֶם, שֶׁבִּכְלָל דְּבָרָיו דִּבְרֵיכֶם

The advantage of Elozor ben Aruch's teaching is that it includes all the others.

That sounds more like בּוֹר סוּד than מַעְיָן הַמִּתְגַּבֵּר to me?

I imagine that a מַעְיָן הַמִּתְגַּבֵּר continuously produces new material. The characteristic of the בּוֹר סוּד is that it collects what is there already and doesn't let any escape.

Elozor ben Aruch's teaching includes all that the others said; so he should be the בּוֹר סוּד

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Elozor ben Aruch's teaching includes all that the others said; so he should be the בּוֹר סוּד

This statement is the source of your misunderstanding. A בּוֹר סוּד is one who regurgitates without adding new material. A מַעְיָן הַמִּתְגַּבֵּר does not just regurgitate, but is innovative. It may be true that Rabbi Elazar ben Arach was able to incorporate all the other teachings, however, he did so by creating his own, original formulation. He was able to take teachings, and on is own, distill them into something new that incorporated all of them.

In other words, a בּוֹר סוּד might have just repeated all the other opinions. Only a מַעְיָן הַמִּתְגַּבֵּר could find a new way of expressing the essence of what everyone else was saying.

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