[Avodah] Abaye and Rava

Micha Berger micha at aishdas.org
Wed Apr 17 06:21:08 PDT 2024

On Tue, Apr 16, 2024 at 08:51:58PM -- 0400, Joel Rich via Avodah wrote:
> The gemara in chulin (105b) has a series of cases where abaye originally
> had a rationalist reason for certain practices (eg handwashing) and Raba
> corrected (?) him and gave an esoteric reason. While there's discussion of
> the individual cases in the commentaries, I didn't see any overarching
> discussion of Abaye's original approach (why?) or his (possible) acceptance
> of Raba's approach. Any citations or thoughts?

If you had checked the Matmonim source sheets I shared the last times
you asked about a shitah difference between Abayei and Rava, I think
you would have found that this fits R AY Kook's explanation quite closely.

Here's the gemara, Berkhos 48a that RAYK is working with:
    Abayei and Rava, [when they were children,] were seated
    before Rabbah[, Abayei's biological uncle and adoptive father,
    Rava's rebbe].
    Rabbah said to them: "To whom does one recite blessings?"
    They said to him: "To the All-Merciful."
    "And where does the All-Merciful reside?"
    Rava pointed to the ceiling.
    Abaye went outside and pointed toward the heaven.
    Rabbah said to them: "You will both become Sages. It is as people
    would [often] say: 'A cucumber can be recognized from [when it is
    still] blossoming.'"

R Kook (Ayin AYa"H, Berashos ad loc 7:27, pg 216) took this gemara as
more than just a glipse into these two central amoraim as children in
Rabbah's classroon. The comment:
     Rava pointed to the ceiling: Because his tendency was towards the
     diligence of the Torah and the demand for all truth in their limited
     details and in this he came to know his own blessed...

     Abayei, however, aspired to the expansion of knowledge in the
     inner recognition that rises above all limits. His inner nature
     pushed him to express the feelings of his soul about "where does
     the All-Merciful reside?" through "[going] outside and point[ing]
     toward the heaven", toward the endlessness of the universe.

I took this to mean that Rava was more pragmatic, and looked at halakhah
focusing on how people, where we are now, can ascend. Whereas Abayei was
more idealistic, and expected halakhah to pay more attention to helping
us define what it is we are to ascend to.

R David Lapin, who gave the shiur that on the podcast and made the source
sheet, mentions that a sefer called "Davar Qatan" by R Ze'ev Frank, has
a section titled "Yesodos Machlokasam Abayei veRava" that takes RAYK's
idea to 428 (!) machloqesin.

RDL has another shiur where he explains in what ways YaA"L KaGa"M break
this usual pattern to explan why we hold like Abayei in those 6 cases.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger                 There's only one corner of the universe
http://www.aishdas.org/asp   you can be certain of improving,
Author: Widen Your Tent      and that's your own self.
- https://amzn.to/2JRxnDF    	    - Aldous Huxley

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