Throughout the Talmud* there are launch-pad stories of sages being asked by their students and even their peers to teach them something they've never been taught before or else something that was taught to them by an even greater sage.

My question is, was this a (relatively) short-lived trend during the period of the Talmud; were these stories made up to serve as launch-pads for the series of Halachoth that follow; or has this been a tradition throughout history (or at least periods of history)?

In short, are there writings of rabbis throughout history responding to similar questions?

*(For an example of the latter: Bab. Shab. 138b)

  • 1
    Rabbi Schwab (in Rav Schwab on Prayer in the commentary to Adon Olam) quotes Rabbi Shim'on Sofer (son of the Chasam Sofer) as asking Rabbi Shlomoh Zalman Breuer to relate a piece of Torah from his father-in-law, Rabbi Shimshon Refa'el Hirsch. That's the only thing I can think of off the top of my head.
    – b a
    Feb 21, 2013 at 4:59
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    That's the most names I've ever seen in that amount of words. Feb 21, 2013 at 5:20
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    – Seth J
    Feb 21, 2013 at 13:17
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    @HachamGabriel תנא קמא סבר: פטור, ורבי יהודה סבר: חייב. אמר רב הונא בר חיננא אמר רב חייא בר רב: הלכה כרבי יהודה שאמר משום רבי אלעזר בן עזריה. אמר ליה רב חייא בר אבין: שפיר קאמרת, דאמר שמואל וכו. (B'rachos 30a, regarding the obligation for an individual to recite Mussaf). I assume someone can find better examples in shas. :)
    – Fred
    Feb 21, 2013 at 18:17

1 Answer 1


I don't think there is an proper answer but this is what I think. Talmud = Oral law and as such it was forbidden to even write it down or compile it with laws and traditions being handed down from teacher to student . Therefore it makes sense that in the Talmud you find this type of structure since that was the primary way of gaining knowledge and accessing earlier traditions.

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