The Gemmorah sets a rule - while saying a Halachah one should mention its [original] source (Megillah 16a):

"אמר רבי אלעזר א"ר חנינא כל האומר דבר בשם אומרו מביא גאולה לעולם שנאמר ותאמר אסתר למלך בשם מרדכי"

And Rabbi Elazar further said that Rabbi Ḥanina said: Whoever reports a saying in the name of he who said it brings redemption to the world.

The Halachot in the Mishnah and the Talmud are said in the name of the Tannayim and the Amorayim themselves (the end of the 2nd Temple), but not their ancestors.

Rambam in his Introduction to the Mishnah says that every Rabbi wrote the Halachot he heard from others to himself in his own collection, but, seemingly, everyone had to include the originator according to the Halachah above.

So, if there was a clear lineage of the Oral Torah tradition, why the Sages never mention their own sources, and it appears as if they "invented" the Halachot themselves?

  • There may be a simple answer to this. Sometimes you don't know who originated an adage, halacha, or other idea.
    – DanF
    Aug 22, 2018 at 13:20
  • 1
    This question is only a question because of your added word "original". You've provided no support for that addition. -1. I recommend you edit in such support.
    – msh210
    Aug 24, 2018 at 9:10
  • @msh210 I don't follow. What are you suggesting? Say we have a Machlokes of R"E and R"Y (R"H 10b) about the creation of the world - the G. brings their names, but who were the originators of the two schools?
    – Al Berko
    Aug 25, 2018 at 19:02

1 Answer 1


Rambam addresses this in his letter to R. Pinchas the Judge:

Shu"t HaRambam (Machon Yerushalayim) 2:538

דרך רבינו הקדוש תפשתי גם הוא עשה זו מלפני שכל סתם שאמר בלא שם אדם כלם דברי חכמים אחרים הם ואותן החכמים האחרים לא מדעתן אמרו אלא מפי אחרים ואחרים מאחרים עד משה רבינו וכשם שלא הקפידו התנאים והאמוראים על שמות כל החכמים שמימות משה עד ימיהם שאין לדבר סוף כך לא נקפידו אנו על שמותם אם הוזכרו או לא הוזכרו

The way of Rabbeinu Hakadosh I have grasped. He too did this before me – anything anonymous that he said without the name of a person is all the words of other scholars. And those other scholars did not say this from their own minds; rather, from the mouths of others and others from others until Moses our teacher. And just like the tannaim and amoraim were not careful about the names of all the scholars from the days of Moses until their days, because there would be no end to the matter, we also are not careful about their names whether they are mentioned or not.

As you can see from the words that I bolded, it was simply impractical to quote everyone.

  • 1
    This answer does not explain why the Talmudic teaching in Megillah 16a was uttered at all. Mar 12, 2019 at 19:37
  • @MauriceMizrahi Why it was uttered and why people didn't follow it are two distinct things.
    – Alex
    Mar 12, 2019 at 19:39
  • Thank you,according to this explanation the Sages themselves didn't feel obligated to the Gemmorah's ruling in Megillah.
    – Al Berko
    Aug 27, 2019 at 9:53

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