Talmud Tips

For the week ending 2 August 2014 / 6 Av 5774

Megillah 23 - 29

by Rabbi Moshe Newman
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“Rabba said it to keep his student Abaye sharp.”

When someone said something contrary to halacha, Rabba made a statement that sounded like praise of what the man said. However, when Abaye objected to this praise based on the teaching in a mishna, our gemara explains that Rabba’s praise was not real. Rabba meant merely to sharpen and test the wisdom of Abaye his student, to make sure he was always alert and sharp to catch anything incorrect (and Rabba’s words were not a false statement if understood in a sarcastic manner).

  • Megillah 25a

“Everything is in the hand of Heaven except for the fear of Heaven.”

This well-known statement on our daf by Rabbi Chanina seems to be contradicted by another similar teaching in the Talmud (Ketubot 30a): “All is in the hand of Heaven except for cold and heat.” There is no contradiction of course. The difference is that our gemara is speaking about “natural traits” of a person, such as his wisdom, wealth and strength. The other statement that puts being cold or hot in the hands of the person is referring to external factors that a person encounters and can choose to avoid or not (Tosefot).

  • Megillah 25a

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