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the Rambam in the introduction to Mishne Torah counts 40 generations from Moshe Rabeinu to Rav Ashi (compiler of the talmud) in the transmission of the oral law and lists the names of these sages.

Are these 40 continuous generations? (i.e. one sage transmitting to another) If no, how big are the gaps between them?

excerpt from there

Thus, there were forty generations from Rav Ashi back to Moses, our teacher, of blessed memory. They were: 1) Rav Ashi [received the tradition] from Ravva. 2) Ravva [received the tradition] from Rabbah.....

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    Your quote speaks of one receiving the tradition for the last. Why might you assume that the chain of transition listed, included gaps? – mevaqesh Jan 5 '17 at 6:53
  • @mevaqesh long time span. or without that maybe these are just major figures along the way – ray Jan 5 '17 at 7:01
  • @mevaqesh also i believe you wrote me in a previous comment somewhere that we dont know the chain of the tradition – ray Jan 5 '17 at 7:13
  • They all say ראובן קבל משמעון; that one received from the other. This is fairly explicit. What more evidence do you want? – mevaqesh Jan 5 '17 at 7:14
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    Note in the beginning that Achiya is listed as getting from Moshe (!), and it's not entirely clear who is in between Yehoshua and Eli (that's hundreds of years). Plus he puts Shimon haTzaddik as the year after Ezra which is potentially problematic depending how you interpret Nechemiah 12:10 and the various other chronological issues there. The point is Rambam's list assumes certain Midrashim and exegetical points which need not be uniformly accepted let alone accepted literally. So it's hard to take it as a definitive historical list. – Double AA Jan 5 '17 at 14:48

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