Makkot 15a begins by asking: Why did Rabbi Yohanan say something and then claim he did not say it? I don't understand the Gemara's answer to that question. Can anybody explain it to me?

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    What don't you understand about the answer? Is there a word you know you don't understand? Which? Is the translation you think you see doesn't fit in the logical flow of the text? If so tell us what do you think you see and which flow element it doesn't fit with and why. Currently it's hard to know what the issue is to be able to help you.
    – Double AA
    Commented Feb 13, 2019 at 21:23
  • @ Double AA -- Please remove the question (I can't do it) or go back to the wording I originally used. As I said (it was deleted), Daniel's answer is all I needed. Case closed. Commented Feb 14, 2019 at 4:07
  • One suggestion: if you found someone's answer helpful, you should upvote it (the up arrow on the left of the question)
    – mbloch
    Commented Feb 14, 2019 at 4:43
  • But I clicked on the check mark to indicate he answered my question. Commented Feb 14, 2019 at 5:34

2 Answers 2


Rabbi Yohanan originally made a statement that if anybody violates any negative commandment which is preceded by a positive commandment (לאו שקדמו עשה), everybody agrees that he would receive lashes as punishment.

Later on, he retracts this statement and the gemara asks why. The reason he retracts the statement is because of a difficulty. There is a beraisa that states that a non-kohein who divorces the woman he raped (the negative commandment is not to divorce her and the positive commandment that precedes it is the commandment to marry her) does not receive lashes. Rather, he is forced to re-marry the woman. This contradicts Rabbi Yohanan's original statement.

  • But why did he claim he did not say it? That was the Gemara's question. Commented Feb 13, 2019 at 19:59
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    @MauriceMizrahi No it wasn't. The gemara asked "אלא מאי טעמא קא הדר ביה". It doesn't ask why he claimed he never said it.
    – Daniel
    Commented Feb 13, 2019 at 20:15

See Ritba who paraphrased the comment of Rashi in a very clear way.

אמרו לו אמרת פירש"י ז"ל אמרו לו לר׳ יוחנן אמרת להא דאמר תלמידך משמך? וא"ל ר׳ יוחנן לא ואמר רבה האלהים אמרה אלא שחוזר בו ולא היה צריך לחזור בו

They asked Rabbi Yochanan: "You said it?", regarding the rule that his student reported in his name. He answered: "No!". Rabba explained that when they asked him, it was after that Rabbi Yochanan changed his mind, i.e. he answered that he doesn't hold this rule is true. And Rabba explained that there was two steps in Rabbi Yochanan's opinion and they asked at the time of the second step. Further Rabba said that Rabbi Yochanan was not right when he changed his mind, because there are several proofs that his first mind was right. Rabbi Yochanan didn't say "I never said this".

The students when they asked Rabbi Yochanan, didn't know that there were two steps, so, their question was obviously of the type "Is it what you are teaching?". It was not an investigation.

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