Often times in analyzing a Mishna the Talmud will say that the Mishna is missing certain information and should read as follows - חסורי מחסרא והכי קתני. The Talmud will then posit the missing information which will allow the Mishna's reading to make sense.

Assuming this type of reading is meant to be taken literally, as some authorities do (see numbers 5, 6), why was the text of the Mishna not emended to follow the reading of the Talmud?

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    "Assuming this type of reading is meant to be taken literally" why assume that? Maybe no one assumes that and that's why no one emmended the text
    – Double AA
    Commented Oct 3, 2017 at 1:52
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    See judaism.stackexchange.com/a/83149/8775 for the various views on what this means. Only according to some does it mean that the text was emended.
    – mevaqesh
    Commented Oct 3, 2017 at 1:56
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    @DoubleAA isn't that the plain meaning of the text? I would argue that the burden of proof is on any other approach Commented Oct 3, 2017 at 2:10
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    Even if it means that they changed the text, that doesn't mean that the text of the Mishna isn't useful. It is useful in learning the gemara in the first place. Furthermore, the yerushalmi doesn't engage in this method on the Mishna, so these changes aren't unanimous, so it a lot of sense to leave the text.
    – mevaqesh
    Commented Oct 3, 2017 at 5:59
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1 Answer 1


Nice question. A few ideas: (1) as you can see from the sources brought in this thread most commentators do not take the phrase to mean literally that the girsa of the mishna needs to be corrected. (2) Even though some commentators do take it that way (e.g., Halichot Olam), we aren't going to mess with the text based on a safek, especially if it's a minority view. (3) Even if the gemara means the mishnah's text is mistaken, the correcting of the mishnah is part of the give and take of the Talmud. Including it is similar to the inclusion of rejected opinions, rejected hava aminas, misunderstood opinions, even other kinds of corrections ("if it was said, it was said like this" or "this is what I meant"). Rashi does sometimes give a heads-up on the Mishnah that the gemara is going to mess with the girsa. Though this third explanation may not explain why we don't make the corrections in printed collections of the Mishnah separate from the Talmud assuming such editions serve an independent, non-talmud-related purpose.

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