In Kesubos 2b there is a discussion in which an answer is introduced with the phrase פשיט רב אחאי – R. Achai answered.

There is a discussion in Tosafos as to the identity of R. Achai. Rashbam claims that this is R. Achai Gaon, the author of the Sheiltos, and because he lived after all the amoraim he always has a different lashon such as פריך רב אחאי or פשיט רב אחאי.

Rabbeinu Tam rejects the view of Rashbam, and offers a different reason for the unique lashon of R. Achai. Tosafos asserts that every amora had their own unique lashon so the fact that R. Achai also had a unique lashon does not indicate that he was not a regular amora. Rabbeinu Tam provides three examples of leshonos unique to specific amoraim 1) מגדף בה ר' אבהו (3 תהי בה ר' יוחנן (2 לייט עלה אביי.

The question is: is all this talk about unique leshonos actually true?

There are in fact 9 places in the Talmud where a step is introduced with פריך and in all 9 cases the person doing the פריך is R. Achai/Acha. (Yevamos 24a, Yevamos 46a, Kesubos 47a, Kiddushin 13a, Shavuos 41b, Zevachim 102b, Chullin 65b, Bechoros 6a, Niddah 33a.)

However, פשיט is only used once in reference to R. Achai (our case under discussion), while it is used on several occasions for other amoraim (though granted not in the precise format of פשיט רב פלוני).

While תהי בה is indeed used for R. Yochanan more often than for other amoraim (Kesubos 107b, Kiddushin 55b, Bava Kamma 112b, Bava Basra 39a, Bechoros 42b,) it is still used for a whole bunch of amoraim, such as R. Zera (Berachos 38b), Reish Lakish (Zevachim 13b), R. Elazar (Eruvin 66a, Bava Kamma 76b), such that it is a bit of a stretch to call it R. Yochanan's unique lashon. In fact, in the parallel passage in Tosafos HaRosh one of the examples given of a unique lashon is תהי בה ר' זירא!

Similarly, the term מגדף בה is used most often for R. Abahu (Shabbos 62b, Sanhedrin 3b, Sanhedrin 40b, Zevachim 12a) but it is also used for R. Yirmiyah (Avodah Zarah 35a) and R. Chanina (Avodah Zarah 43a).

Similarly, the term לייט עלה is used primarily for Abbaye (Berachos 29a, Shabbos 120b, Pesachim 104a, Taanis 29b, Moed Katan 12b, Kiddushin 33b) but it is also used for Rav (Shabbos 120b). If we include other variations (such as לייט אמאן) we can include several others as well (e.g. R. Yehoshua Ben Levi, R. Chisda).

While it is possible that Rabbeinu Tam meant not that these leshonos were unique to these amoraim, but that these amoraim always used these leshonos, it would still be a stretch because each of these amoraim only use their specific lashon a few times in the entire Talmud (aside from פריך רב אחאי/אחא which is used 9 times).

Furthermore, the lashon of Rabbeinu Tam וכל אמורא היה תופס לשונו implies that each amora chose his unique word. However, the unique words in question are all verbs describing actions taken by the amoraim. Therefore the amoraim were not using these words themselves; rather, the redactors of the Talmud chose to use certain words to describe the actions of certain amoraim.

If we grant that it was the redactors that chose the unique words we have another problem: if, in accordance with the theory of Rabbeinu Tam, these unique words were used deliberately for specific amoraim, why did the redactors sabotage their goal by also using the same words for other amoraim once in a while?

(I have not found any subsequent sources that deal with this issue.)

  • 1
    Not sure if it's relevant but Rav Achai doesn't always say פריך or פשיט, see Kesubos 10a where he says משני – robev Feb 18 '18 at 20:22
  • @robev It is relevant, especially for my fourth-to-last paragraph. And there is another example in Bechoros 5a. However, I did not flesh out this aspect because I did not want to have to judge whether each case is really a qualifying example of the same type of question/answer discussed by Tosafos. – Alex Feb 18 '18 at 20:33
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    +1; interesting and well-asked. Re "While it is possible that Tosafos meant not that these leshonos were unique to these amoraim, but that these amoraim always used these leshonos, it would still be a stretch because each of these amoraim only use their specific lashon a few times in the entire Talmud": So maybe it means the language is used for that rabbi more than for others? But that's much weaker than your question. – msh210 Feb 18 '18 at 21:59
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    "Is Tosefos correct" is still a funny way to phrase the question. Someone here should come along and tell you Tosefos is wrong? Someone could tell you that others disagree with Tosefos, or explain to you how Tosefos may respond to your issues, but it just seems presumptuous to call Tosefos "incorrect," whether or not they are Torah MiSinai. cc @IbberChochem – Y     e     z Feb 19 '18 at 4:43

(I am prepared for all of the downvotes this might get me...)

In my understanding of Rabbeinu Tam, this is a non-issue. Rabbeinu Tam rejects Rashbam's opinion because Rav Ashi answers Rav Achai in Kesubos. Finished.

Once that is the case, Rabbeinu Tam must come up with some explanation as to why Rav Achai always appears using the terms of Parich/Pashit. To this, Rabbeinu Tam notes that it is common among some Amoraim that they often appear "linked" to a particular wording (regardless of whether or not this was by their design or by the design of whatever redactors had added), such as לייט עלה, מגדף בה, etc. It's not that Rabbeinu Tam is stating a rule that particular Leshonos are unique to an Amora, but rather, Rabbeinu Tam is simply providing a framework within which having an Amora (i.e. Rav Achai) use the same Lashon (i.e. Parich) many of the times that he appears in Talmud Bavli is not a big problem that needs to be explained.

Note that due to to the number of other places in Shas (thank you Robev for Kesubos 10a!, see also Chulin 59b, Bechoros 5a) where Rav Achai is mentioned or speaks without "Parich" or "Pashit", I believe that Rashbam must hold that that there was also an Amora named Rav Achai, whereas for Rabbeinu Tam, this is just like any of the Amoraim mentioned above.

Therefore, Rabbeinu Tam is correct in this assertion. This is also why it is inconsequential that Tosfos HaRosh change an Amora, and that exceptions appear for all of these.

Edit: I found this discussed here (Sefer Lev Shomea by Chaim Hakohen of Tripoli). He quotes Zvi Hirsch Chajes to Nazir 51b, who says that Rabbeinu Tam clearly did not intend to note that these Leshonos were unique to a particular Amora, but simply that a specific Amora often "used" one in particular. Hopefully this helps support my case.

Edit 2: This also seems to be what Rabbeinu Tam is saying, based on the wording of Tosfos Harosh there (thanks Alex!), who makes it seem much lighter, and no "rule" of "Amora Tofes Leshono":

ומצינו באמוראין שהיה לשונם משונה זה מזה תהי בה ר' זירא מגדף בה ר' אבהו

  • Why would you expect downvotes for this answer? It definitely has value, though I'm not sure it quite cuts to the heart of my question. Put simply, Rashbam's explanation fits perfectly. There is nowhere in Shas where the specific form of "Parich/Pashit Rabbi So-and-So" is used except where the So-and-So is R. Achai. And this form is used for R. Achai in a significant number of places (in fact almost every time he asks/answers). This phenomenon is beautifully explained by noting that the redactors <cont. – Alex Feb 19 '18 at 17:57
  • >cont. were deliberately distinguishing R. Achai because he was not an amora. Rabbeinu Tam's explanation ignores the fact that the lashon for R. Achai is so much more signifcant (quantity used) than the leshonos for other amoraim, ignores the fact that there are only a few examples of other amoraim using specific leshonos, ignores the fact that multiple amoraim use the same distinct lashon, and ignores the fact that there doesn't seem to be any reason for the distinct <cont. – Alex Feb 19 '18 at 17:58
  • >cont. leshonos of those amoraim. If anything, I would probably say that the few times the leshonos of מגדף, לייט, and תהי are used would indicate something specific to the context. These terms are stronger terms than regular terms used for amoraic discussion, and probably indicate that there was something especially intense in the situation at hand. Contrast this with the terms פשיט and פריך which do not seem to connote any sort of mood, and therefore are much better explained by the theory that they are used deliberately to distinguish a non-amora from amoraim. – Alex Feb 19 '18 at 17:58
  • @Alex I would expect downvotes because it technically "ignores" the question. Rashbam's explanation is pretty solid, as you note, but not ironclad, because he still must admit that there was a Rav Achai who was an Amora, or else admit that many of the times Rav Achai appears is without his Parich/Pashit designation. He also has to explain how it seems that Rav Ashi is answering him here. Also, see Doros Harishonim for another interesting proof of Rashbam's Shitah, based on the wording of Parich vs. Meshani in a Sugiyah in Kiddushin... (link in next comment) – רבות מחשבות Feb 19 '18 at 18:06
  • @Alex: books.google.ca/… – רבות מחשבות Feb 19 '18 at 18:06

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