difficulty understanding it. The
of the Guemara strive to arrange and explainteachings from distinct academies in a methodic and extensive fashion; however theauthors of this work, the Stammaim, had no choice but to solve their difficulties
, using forced explanations.
bears witness to the fact that we do nothave sources in their primary form. In general, when the explanation given in theGuemara strays away from the peshat, the simple meaning, of the Mishnah, the probability increases that the author did not have the integral sources in front of him.In fact, many classical post-Talmudic commentators, as soon as the Gueonim, havesometimes interpreted the Mishna or the Baraita
differently from the Guemara notonly because of language; besides, it occurs sometimes that an Amora does not knowof a Baraita, baraita la' shemi`a lei (TB Eruvin 19b), or that he knows it only partially.Here is a first example
, T.B. Sanhedrin 42b.We read in the Mishna (firstMishna in the sixth chapter):The place of stoning was outside the court, as it is written [Lev. 24:14]:Bring forth him that cursed outside the camp.The Talmud notices the discrepancy between the statement in the Mishna ("outsidethe court") and the verse ("outside the camp") stated in support of the law.But was the place of stoning just outside the court and not further?The Guemara asks this question because there is a baraita that teaches that the placeof stoning is outside the three camps, that is, outside the city's walls. The Guemarathen tries to demonstrate that the expression "outside the camp" means "outside thethree camps", hence outside the city. Two exegetical arguments (
) are given.In both cases, the Talmud interprets "outside the court" as "far away from the court",stretching all the way to the end of the camp. This seems quite a forcedinterpretation
. David Halivni gives an explanation
that does not step in the plain meaning of the verse nor supersedes that of the Mishna. The Tanna, the teacher of this
included in the Mishna, lived at a time when the court was situated at the gate, at theedge of the town, as in biblical times. Outside the court, therefore, also meant outsidethe town, in one direction. The Tanna refers to this direction, hence the scripturalsupport "outside the camp". Later, as explains David Halivni, the location of the courtchanged.
Teaching of the Tannaim that was not included into Rebbi's Mishna.
This example is exceptional in that it is one of the oldest statements in the whole Mishna. I chose it because it is simple and demonstrates that the
is not arbitrary but to the contrary, is the trace of areconstruction from contradictory and incomplete sources.
At the beginning of the
, the Guemara deduces from the discrepancy between the Mishna andthe Baraita an "additional" teaching: even if the court convenes outside the city, the place of stoningought to be outside the court. But this is already supported by the
of the Mishna in the first place. The two reasons (anonymously) given in the
(the court must not appear as an assemblyof murderers and the condemned must have the possibility of last minute rescue because of the distanceto travel to the place of stoning) do not address the discrepancy itself.
We cannot review here all his demonstration: see
Midrash, Mishnah and Guemara
, HarvardUniversity Press, 1983, pp. 25-27 for a summary and his article, "The location of the Beit Din in theEarly Tannaitic Period", Proceedings of the American Academy for Jewish Research, vol. 29, 1960-61, pp. 181-191 for a complete discussion.