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Many times in shaas we find Amoraim saying כדאמרי אינשי or היינו דאמרי אינשי. Usually its brought as a proof for something said but once in a while it is used as a question והא אמרי אינשי.

Are the baalei shaas quoting anyone in particular? Were these just folk sayings? Should the colloquial expressions really play such an important part in deciding halacha, either to prove or disprove it?

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I once spoke to R' Tzvi Berkowitz about this idea. He explained that this is not a source proof, but a reverse indication. I.e. if people say a certain thing, there is an underlying cause to why it became an accepted and understood assumption, and the point under discussion is a [possible] source of where this common understanding developed from.

The Talmud is not quoting anyone in particular - it is quoting common knowledge. It is not being used as proof or a source, but is being used as an after-the-fact indication of such a thing being true, as it would explain the emergence of said common knowledge.

  • What's the difference between a proof and an indication? That the former is incontrovertible? The Gemara reinterprets Tannaitic statements all the time so it's hard to call them incontrovertible. – Double AA Sep 23 '14 at 18:47
  • @DoubleAA That it was not the authority of the "inshi" that produced the halacha - they are an indication to its existence, not the authority that produced it. סימן ולא סיבה – Y     e     z Sep 23 '14 at 19:15
  • This is the pshat I used to hear in yeshiva and besides the circular logic involved, it doesn't answer how we can bring an amri inshi as a question on a pshat or as an astand alone proof. – user6591 Sep 23 '14 at 20:16
  • @user6591 Why is it circular? It does not rest on any of its conclusions. Why does it not explain how it could be a question? It is an indication to the acceptance of a certain line of logic. – Y     e     z Sep 23 '14 at 20:18
  • Then maybe I'm just not understanding. Are we assuming the source of the logic to be the talmudic Rabbis? Then the fact that its a popular saying shouldn't really matter should it? – user6591 Sep 23 '14 at 20:29
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I've always learned this as "the people say", i.e. folk sayings.

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