Pirkei D'Rabbi Eliezer Ch. 2-------פרקי דרבי אליעזר פרק ב

אמר לו, (רבי יוחנן לרבי אליעזר) אמשול לך משל למה הדבר דומה, למעין זה שהוא נובע ומוציא מים, ויש בכוחו להוציא מים יותר ממה שהוא מכניס. כך אתה יכול לומר דברי תורה יותר ממה שקבלו מסיני.

[Translation by Seferia]: (R. Yochanan) said to him (R' Eliezer), I will (also) tell thee a parable. To what is the matter like? To this fountain which is bubbling and sending forth its water, and it is able to effect a discharge more powerful than what it secretes; in like manner you are able to speak words of the Torah in excess of what Moses received at Sinai.

How can this be reconciled with:

Talmud Yerushalmi (Peah 2:4 - page 13a):---תלמוד ירושלמי פרק ב הלכה ד - דף יג עמוד א

ריב"ל אמר... אפי' מה שתלמיד ותיק עתיד להורות לפני רבו כבר נאמר למשה בסיני מה טעם (קוהלת א) יש דבר שיאמר אדם ראה זה חדש הוא וגו' משיבו חבירו ואומר לו כבר היה לעולמים

R, Yehoshua Ben Levi says... Even that which a senior student will lecture in front of his master, was already said to Moshe at Sinai. What is the reason (source) of this? [From the passuk: (Koheles 1:10) Sometimes there is a phenomenon of which one might say say, “Look, this one is new!”— And his friend will respond and say to him "it occurred long since, in ages that went by before":

Summary: In the Pirkei D'Rabbi Eliezer R' Yochanan tells R' Eliezer that he is able to speak words of the Torah in excess of what was received at Sinai. The Yerushalmi says that everything taught by students in foront of their masters was already said to Moshe at Sinai?

Suggested reconciliation:

The words in the Pirkei D'Rabbi Eliezer read: "יותר ממה שקבלו מסיני" more than they received at Sinai, which may be understood to mean that which the B'nei Yisrael learned at Sinai. And the Yerushhalmi says "נאמר למשה בסיני" was said to Moshe at Sinai, so it may not be a contradiction, because Maybe Moshe was taught everything, but not B'nei Yisrael, and R' Eliezer taught that which had not been learned by B'nai Yisrael at Sinai.

But, see Orchos Tzadikim - Ways of the Righteous, Sha'ar Hatorah which cites the Pirkei D'Rabbi Eliezer, and he says "

וכן מצינו ברבי אליעזר הגדול: מתוך שעסק בתורה הרבה, העידו עליו רבותינו זכרונם לברכה שנתגלה לו מה שלא נתגלה למשה מסיני

So we find with R' Eliezer the Great: since he studied much Torah our Rabbis testified that it was revealed to him even that which was not revealed to Moshe at Sainai".

So according to the understanding of The Orchos Tzadikim R' Eliezer taught words of Torah in excess of even what Moshe received at Sinai. Thus we are back to our question of how to reconcile Pirkei D'Rabbi Eliezer with the Yerushalmi.

  • 1
    Is it possible that the two sources simply disagree?
    – Joel K
    Commented May 27, 2018 at 14:48
  • 1
    @JoelK True, that may be possible. Yet, I prefer to seek a reconciliation, rather than confirm that there is an argument. Commented May 27, 2018 at 14:51

1 Answer 1


This is addressed by R. David Luria in his commentary to the statement in Pirkei D'Rabbi Eliezer. He notes that it appears to be contradictory to the statement about all future Torah being already said to Moshe at Sinai. He states that this is resolved with the textual emendation attributed to R. Elija of Vilna, which replaces the words "שקיבלו מסיני" with "שקיבל ממני", in which case R. Yochanan Ben Zakai was referring to himself, not to Moshe.

In your edit you note that the Orchos Tzadikim has a version of the text which clearly states "that was not revealed to Moshe at Sinai", and thus the question remains how the author would address the above contradiction. This too is addressed by R. David Luria, and he suggests that R. Yochanan Ben Zakai was specifically referring to the reasons for the Red Heifer, which is already established by other midrashim as something that was revealed to R. Eliezer and not Moshe.

כגירסא זו נראה שהיה גם כן לפני באל ארחות צדיקים שכתב בשער התורה וז"ל וכן מצאנו לר"א הגדול כו' העיגו עליו רבותיו שנתגלה לו יותר ממה שנתגלו למשה בסיני עכ"ל וי"ל לגירסא זו שנתכוון רבי יוחנן בן זכאי לרמוז על טעמי פרה שלא נתגלו למשה ונתגלו לר"א וכמ"ש ברבה חוקת ובפסיקתא פרה הבאתים לעיל פ"א אות כ"ח ובשם האחד אליעזר ע"ש ובהגהות המיוחסות להגר"א גרס שקיבל ממני ור"ל מן רבי יוחנן בן זכאי נראה שלא הונח לו ז"ל לגרוס יותר ממה שקיבלו מסיני שהרי אמרו בויקרא רבה ר"פ כ"ב וקהלת רבה פ"א ופ"ה שאפילו מה שתלמיד ותיק עתיד לומר לפני רבו כלן נאמרו למשה בסיני שנאמר יש דבר שיאמרו זה חדש הוא כבר היה לעולמים

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