The Gemara (Berachos 61b) tells us, that Rabbah claimed to be a Beinoni, to which Abaye responded that if he were to be a Beinoni, then everyone else would be less than that (G-d forbid) - but does that prove that Rabbah must be a Tzadik (as the Alter Rebbe indicates in the first chapter of Tanya), or is Abaye merely commenting on Rabba’s statement, and not disproving it (and if so, how does the Alter Rebbe know that Rabbah was mistaken)?

  • This would be classified as Aggadeta, which shouldn't be taken literally or acted upon.
    – ElonMusk
    Nov 14, 2023 at 1:26
  • 1
    Note that the Tanya's point stands regardless. The fact that he would think himself a Beinoni suggests that he meant something other than half meritorious. The Rebbe suggests that לא שביק מר חיי might have only been quoted to prove that the correct version is not Rava but Rabbah, whose "mouth never ceased studying."
    – shmosel
    Nov 14, 2023 at 2:08
  • Also interesting to note that there are versions in which Rabbah doubles down, and the Rebbe suggests that 'וכו hints to the continuation: אמר רבה ידע אינש בנפשי' אי צדיק הוא. Yet the Alter Rebbe seems to take it as a given that Rabbah was mistaken.
    – shmosel
    Nov 14, 2023 at 3:03
  • Welcome to MiYodeya and thanks for this first question. Great to have you learn with us!
    – mbloch
    Nov 14, 2023 at 3:58
  • It might come down to a matter of opinion. See this post about the Alter Rebbe's self-evaluation contrasted with Rabbah's.
    – shmosel
    Dec 6, 2023 at 0:48

1 Answer 1


I cannot speak for Abaye and I don't know the commentators on that, but I can give you a sketch of a Breslev reading of that Gemara. No, just the opposite. Abaye by his statement does not prove that Rabbah is a Tzaddik. Rather Abaye is saying on the contrary he should see his lowliness before H"Y's greatness, find his good points within him nevertheless, thus transforming himself by judging himself to the scale of merit (L. Moharan #282), and rely on His grace and chesed.

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