According to the gemarah in Horiyot 13b-14a statements made by Rebbi Meir were dubbed 'acherim' and those of Rebbi Natan were changed to 'yeish omrim'. This was done as a punishment for an attempt that these Rabbis made to embarrass the Nasi.

However, two things then happened. 1) Rebbi Natan went and appeased the Nasi (R' Shimon ben Gamliel) and 2) years later when Rebbi was teaching his son R' Shimon the incident came up and R' Shimon persuaded his father to drop the punishment and instead teach that something was taught in the name of Rebbi Meir

I would like to gain a better understanding of this incident

  1. Why do we still have examples of 'yeish omrim' or 'acherim omrim' if the matter was dropped?
  2. Only Rebbi Natan went an appeased the Nasi, if so why was his punishment ever put into effect in the first place?
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    Once the language was taught, then it would not have been changed. The chachamim would teach only in the exact language that their teachers used, It would only be future teachings that would use the names. – sabbahillel May 30 '17 at 17:15
  • If Rabbi Natan is the same person who wrote Avot Derebbi Natan, perhaps, this is why there is a "separate" version. – DanF May 30 '17 at 19:32
  • @sabbahillel But they changed the Mishnah in Shavuos to Mishum R' Meir. Why wouldn't they do that throughout Shas as well? – DonielF May 30 '17 at 19:52
  • see tosfos brachot 47b that not every acherim is r meir. that might be the answer to your first question. see also daf-yomi.com/DYItemDetails.aspx?itemId=9972 – Bach May 30 '17 at 21:30

I am not clear on the question... "Rav Meir" appears in the mishnah often.

The tanna is referenced three ways in the mishnah:

1- Stam mishnah keRav Meir -- a plain (unnamed) mishnah is like Rav Meir. The mishnah project was launched by Rabbi Aqiva. Many mishnayos were composed by his student Rav Meir, and the project was completed by Rav Meir's student, Rav Yehudah haNasi ("Rebbe"). This means that any mishnah that presents a position as settled law, rather than a given tanna's opinion, is in the vast majority of cases, Rav Meir's. (C.f. Sanhedrin 86b)

2- "Rav Meir" appears in the mishnah 208 times, and 248 times in the Tosefta. Another 482 mentions in the two talmuds So, we do indeed call the tana "Rav Meir" quite often!

3- The idiom "Acheirim omerim" ("'Others' say") only appears 5 (!) times in the mishnah, 11 times in the Tosefta, and 79 times in the Talmuds. Far from supplanting mention of "Rav Meir", it is far less used!

Apparently, R' Meir is only called "Acheirim" when the quote is from the period of R' Meir's life when he was relating to Acheir and the provenance of the quote is suspect. Not so much a commentary on R' Meir -- since otherwise his name wouldn't be the mishnah's overwhelming choice (98% of the time), as a commentary on the specific quote. With negative implications about Rabbi Meir as someone capable of bringing questionable statements.

But even though "Acheirim" is used in the minority of cases, it is true that we don't mention Rav Meir's name very often.

Eruvin 13b:

תנא: לא "רבי מאיר" שמו, אלא "רבי נהוראי" שמו. ולמה נקרא שמו "רבי מאיר"? שהוא מאיר עיני חכמים בהלכה. ולא "נהוראי" שמו, אלא "רבי נחמיה" שמו; ואמרי לה: "רבי אלעזר בן ערך" שמו. ולמה נקרא שמו "נהוראי"? שמנהיר עיני חכמים בהלכה.

Translation-commentary by R' Edin Steinzaltz:

It was taught in a baraita: Rabbi Meir was not his name; rather, Rabbi Nehorai was his name. And why was he called by the name Rabbi Meir? It was because he illuminates [meir] the eyes of the Sages in matters of the halakha. And Rabbi Nehorai was not the name of the tanna known by that name; rather, Rabbi Neḥemya was his name, and some say: Rabbi Elazar ben Arakh was his name. And why was he calledby the name Rabbi Nehorai? It is because he enlightens [manhir] the eyes of the Sages in matters of the halakha.

So, "Rabbi Meir" was an honorific, and his real name was either "Rabbi Nehorai" -- which is a pretty close Aramaic equivalent to "Meir". Or that too was an honorific and his real name was Rabbi Nechemiah or Rabbi Elazar ben Arakh.

Rabbi Nehorai: 3 times Rabbi Nechemia: 20 times R' Elazar ben Arakh: 3 times -- all in Avos (2:8-9), no halachic mentions

So, whatever Rav Meir's real name was, the mishnah really doesn't mention it much!

  • I'm surprised you never learned the Tosfos that addresses machlokos between R' Meir and Acheirim. It has nothing to do with Torah learned from Acheir; it's all Torah he taught after this incident. – DonielF Jun 2 '17 at 15:56
  • Before I change my answer -- and you are free to do so -- I am bothered by a nagging memory of a machloqes between R' Meir and R' Nehorai... Any recollection? – Micha Berger Jun 2 '17 at 20:20
  • @DonielF: Oh, and I am flattered that you would think it surprising that there is a Tosafos I didn't recall. I did remember the first half, though, even if I didn't recall where I got the idea from. – Micha Berger Jun 2 '17 at 20:21
  • I read that Gemara in Eiruvin as saying that the Tanna known as R' Meir is actually named Nehorai, and a separate tanna usually named R' Nehorai was called one of the two other names mentioned. – DonielF Jun 2 '17 at 20:33
  • not sure how this answers the questions. this does not seem to address R' Natan at all and there is no s0urce cited for the fact that R' Meir is called Acherim when his statement is related to Acheir/Elisha b. Abuyah – rikitikitembo Jun 4 '17 at 2:50

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