Many Tosfos contain questions about what Rashi says, followed by them giving their own answer.

But how can we honestly say something is a "machlokes Rashi vs Tosfos" when Rashi doesn't get a chance to defend his shit"a or respond to any of Tosfos's questions?

Conceptually it doesn't seem accurate to call this a machlokes like we would by Abaye & Rava, ie contemporaries who go back and forth with each other.

  • 3
    Why should Rashi's lack of response make it not a machlokes? – Alex Jan 14 '19 at 20:24
  • @Alex because we see it all the time in the gemara where we think there's a machlokes, but one of the parties says hacha b'mai askinan and give x usage case- thus there really isn't a machlokes. – alicht Jan 14 '19 at 20:26
  • Good question about the majority of machlokets after the Gemara – kouty Jan 14 '19 at 20:34
  • @alicht So you're asking how we know that we (and Tosafos) are not misunderstanding Rashi's position, and maybe really Rashi agrees with what Tosafos is saying? – Alex Jan 14 '19 at 20:50
  • @kouty agreed- although primarily by Rishonim in my opinion. As the entire chain moves on into Acharonim said Achronim are dealing with a much larger body of work, and the mesorah “baton” that has been passed from for l’dor has a lot more shitot and diff applications (ie I’m not as bothered by a machlokes The Rav vs R’ Herschel Schachter) – alicht Jan 14 '19 at 21:03

I think the reason is simple than you might think - that's a problem in translation.

When someone says "מחלוקת פלוני עם אלמוני" that should not translate as
"a dispute between X and Y" but as
"X disagrees with Y".
In Hebrew, it simply means "פלוני חולק על אלמוני".

As anyone can disagree with any of the ancestors like saying "אני חולק על רמב"ם", anyone can be in מחלוקת with anyone in time-space.

  • While I agree with the usage, do you know of a place in Chazal or Mefarshim where the term is actually used in this sense, across time? One place where the term is used that pops out at me is the Mishnah in Avos about מחלוקת לשם שמים, but the arguments there were between contemporaries. – DonielF Jan 15 '19 at 14:12
  • @DonielF +1. That's the original term and that's how it is used in contemporary Hebrew. But then it was borrowed by the Gemmorah to a much wider term that allows for a מחלוקת between Rabbis at different ages and places that could not possibly meet. – Al Berko Jan 15 '19 at 14:41

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