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Tales about Rabban Gamaliel in the Mishna and Tosefta / סיפורי רבן גמליאל במשנה ובתוספתא
בן ציון וחולדר and Ben Zion Wacholder
Proceedings of the World Congress of Jewish Studies / דברי הקונגרס העולמי למדעי היהדות
Vol. ד, VOLUME I / כרך א (תשכ"ה / 1965), pp. 143-144
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/23514474
Page Count: 2
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This paper proposes to show that Rabbi Judah Ha-Nasi, the editor of the Mishna, made use of a collection of tales and stories whose hero was Rabban Gamaliel II of Javne (Jamnia). The very first paragraph of the Mishna Berakhot opens with a tale about Rabban Gamaliel and his sons. (Unless otherwise stated, the reference in Tannaitic texts is always to Rabban Gamaliel II, who flourished circa 80-115 C.E.) Mishna Berakhot II, 5-7, records three stories about him, of which only one deals with the legal problem at hand. The other two tales were part of the source from which the digression was taken. This evidently was the same source from which Tosefta Yom Tov, II, 12-16, has extracted five tales concerning Rabban Gamaliel. The hypothesis that a collection of stories about Rabban Gamaliel was used by Judah Ha-Nasi gains some confirmation from a statistical analysis of the tales recorded in the Mishna and Tosefta. In the Order Zera'im, 18 stories are recorded, 7 of which deal with Rabban Gamaliel; in Mo'ed, 33 stories, 13 of Rabban Gamaliel. In the Tosefta, too, the number of tales about Rabban Gamaliel exceed by far any other Tanna, though not in the same proportion as in the Mishna. Is it possible then to deduce that Rabbi Judah Ha-Nasi, the editor of the Mishna, deliberately intended to build up the prestige of the Nasi? But not only the Mishna, but also the Tosefta as well as the other Tannaitic records all contain a disproportionate number of stories about Rabban Gamaliel. The reason may be either because these texts follow the lead of the Mishna or that they also made use of the same collection of Rabban Gamaliel's tales. From the contents of the stories, scattered throughout the Tannaitic texts, it is possible to get a glimpse into the nature of the patriarchal collection of tales. These tales related to every aspect of the Nasi's life, including the most intimate. Some of them dealt with the Nasi's family or slaves. It is evident that the practices and customs preserved in the Mishna and Tosefta were recorded by professional scribes, whose names are occasionally given.
Proceedings of the World Congress of Jewish Studies / דברי הקונגרס העולמי למדעי היהדות © 1965 World Union of Jewish Studies / האיגוד העולמי למדעי היהדות