There's a famous line in the Gemara "וכי רבי לא שנאה ר' חייא מנין לו".

It means that if Rebbi didn't teach a concept in a Mishna, Rabbi Chiya can't know it. Let's assume here it means that if it's not in the Mishna it probably isn't a teaching of Rebbi.


Rabbi Chiya was a Talmid of Rebbi. Couldn't Rebbi change his mind after editing the Mishna, or was the Mishna edited right at the end of his life?


2 Answers 2


See the beginning of Hazahav in Bava Metzia 44a מתני ליה רבי לרבי שמעון בריה הזהב קונה את הכסף א'ל רבי שנית לנו בילדותיך הכסף קונה את הזהב ותחזור ותשנה לנו בזקנותיך הזהב קונה את הכסף בילדותיה מאי. סבר ובזקנותיה מאי סבר בילדותיה סבר etc. It is apparent at least that Rabi Yehuda Hannasi last edited the Mishna when he was a old. We also see that he was not against changing his mind.


The Mishnah was compiled around 200 CE. (see Wikipedia)
This date is also given in the books i checked (the Steinsaltz reference guide, Aryeh Carmel's Aiding Talmud Study, ArtScroll's history book).

According to those books, Rebbe ascended to the position of Nasi in around 170 CE. Wikipedia gives his birthday as 135 CE. This would put him at 35 years old taking office, and 65 when he compiled the Mishnah. Again according to Wikipedia, he died at around 217 CE. This would give him another ~15 years to have changed his mind.

However, the Steinsaltz reference guide says he held office from 170-200. This would seem to indicate that he died shortly after completing it.
Aiding Talmud Study indicates that Rebbe's son, Rabban Gamliel III, took office at around 210 CE, between Steinsaltz and Wikipedia.
Wikipedia has a source; the books don't.

So, it depends whose dates you take. He might have had time, or maybe he didn't.

  • "Around 200" might mean 160 or 240 (absent other clues).
    – msh210
    Commented Jan 22, 2015 at 22:36

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