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In Gittin 56b there is a conversation between Vespasian and R' Yochanan ben Zakkai. Vespasian offers to grant a wish of R' Yochanan's

אלא בעי מינאי מידי דאתן לך

R' Yochanan proceeds to ask for 3 things

אמר ליה תן לי יבנה וחכמיה ושושילתא דרבן גמליאל ואסוותא דמסיין ליה לרבי צדוק

How did R' Yochanan know he could ask for more than 1 thing and why did he stop at 3? I am aware that the gemarah discusses why he didn't ask to abandon the siege, but he could have asked for many other things.

  • If you notice the 3 things all have one thing in common keep the chachamim alive – sam Jul 10 '14 at 4:20
  • he may have felt that that's the most he can ask. Tafasta Meruba Lo Tafasta – Shmuel Brin Jul 10 '14 at 6:01
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Being there, he probably sensed what would be allowed both from the mood of the room and its contemporaneous propriety.

Further, he certainly sensed that it was Hashem who gave him this opportunity, especially when that was why he visited him in the first place. Therefore, he asked for what he thought appropriate, the amount being less important than what was actually requested.

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