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It says in Masechet Megillah

אָמַר רַבָּה בַּר בַּר חָנָה א״ר יוֹחָנָן זוֹ דִּבְרֵי ר״ע סְתִימְתָאָה דְּדָרִישׁ זְמַן זְמַנָּם זמניהם אֲבָל חכ״א אֵין קוֹרִין אוֹתָהּ אֶלָּא בִּזְמַנָּהּ מֵיתִיבִי א״ר יְהוּדָה אֵימָתַי בִּזְמַן שֶׁהַשָּׁנִים כְּתְּיקְנָן וְיִשְׂרָאֵל שְׁרוּיִין עַל אַדְמָתָן אֲבָל בַּזְּמַן הַזֶּה הוֹאִיל וּמִסְתַּכְּלִין בָּהּ אֵין קוֹרִין אוֹתָהּ אֶלָּא בִּזְמַנָּהּ רַבִּי יְהוּדָה אַלִּיבָּא דְּמַאן אִילֵימָא אַלִּיבָּא דר״ע אֲפִילּוּ בַּזְּמַן הַזֶּה אִיתָא לְהַאי תַּקַּנְתָּא אֶלָּא לַאו אַלִּיבָּא דְּרַבָּנַן וּבִזְמַן שֶׁהַשְּׁנַיִם כְּתְּיקְנָן וְיִשְׂרָאֵל שְׁרוּיִין עַל אַדְמָתָן מִיהָא קָרֵינָן תְּיוּבְתָא דְּרִבִּי יוֹחָנָן

Rabbah bar Bar Chanah said that Rabbi Yochanan said: This rule stated in the Mishnah are the words of Rabbi Akiva, the anonymous author, [He's called this because when Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi compiled the Mishnah, and didn't mention the name of an opinion's author, it was usually Rabbi Akiva's opinion.] who interpreted 'time', 'their time', and 'their times'. But the Sages say: The Megillah is only read in its time [the 14th and 15th of Adar]. They raised an objection: Rabbi Yehuda said: When does this rule apply? When the years are properly fixed [when there's a Beis Din that fixes new moons and leap years], and the Jewish people inhabit their Land. But these days [literally: at this time], since people look at it [they count 30 days from Purim to Pesach, since Adar always has 29 days], it's read only in its time. Which opinion is Rabbi Yehuda following? If I say he's speaking according to Rabbi Akiva, this can't be, because according to him the enactment [that the Megillah may be read on the 11th, 12th, or 13th] is even in effect until today. Rather, isn't it that he's speaking according to the Rabbis, and even according to them in any event, we read on the other days when the years are properly fixed and the Jewish people inhabit their Land. This is a refutation of Rabbi Yochanan.

The reason why we reject R' Yehudah's answer is because it doesn't follow R. Akiva or the Chachamim's answer. But why can't R. Yehudah have his own opinion?

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The opinions of the Kadmonim (the earlier) take precedence over those of the Acharonim (the later), because wisdom becomes diluted as time passes - at least, that is the traditional explanation.

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  • How does that fit with the rule that for later Amoraim we pasken like there later one?
    – Chatzkel
    Commented Oct 11, 2021 at 13:00
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    @Chatzkel that rule of hilcheta kebatrai is only from Rava (4th generation) and after. Earlier than that the rule is e.g. ain halacha ketalmid bimkom harav. See here for a description and restrictions. he.wikipedia.org/wiki/… Commented Oct 11, 2021 at 17:17
  • So wisdom stopped getting diluted at that point?
    – Chatzkel
    Commented Oct 11, 2021 at 17:29
  • I don't buy into the explanation of wisdom getting diluted. There are presumably other reasons behind these different klalei horaah at different times. At Rabbi Yehuda's time, it makes sense that he should follow one or the other positions of the prior generation. Commented Oct 11, 2021 at 19:05
  • But Rabbi Yehuda and Rabbi Akiva were both tannas?? Commented Nov 2, 2022 at 21:49
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Your question assumes R' Yehuda's opinion is rejected. If you look again you will see that is not the case. Rather, the gemara is using R' Yehuda's opinion to disprove a historical statement of R' Yochanan. R' Yochanan claimed this Mishna is only according to R'Akiva and not the Chachamim, but since R' Yehuda referred to this ruling, and he cannot have meant R' Akiva's position, he must be referring to the Chachamim.

Now you could ask, maybe he is not referring to anybody's opinion, just stating his own? But there are two reasons why that is not what R' Yehuda's statement sounds like:

First, the use of the word "אימתי/when was this said" implies R' Yehuda is clarifying an existing opinion, not stating a new one.

In addition, as a general rule, there is a difference between אמר ר' פלוני and ר' פלוני אומר. The latter is used to imply that ר' פלוני is disagreeing with the previous statement. Since here the braisa says "אמר ר' יהודה", it implies he is not arguing, just clarifying.

In fact, the Rambam actually does rule like R' Yehuda, so his opinion is not rejected at all.

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