The well-known amora Shmuel was one of the central rabbinic figures in the first generation of Babylonian amoraim. He is known as a sage familiar with Persian culture who brought about the transformation of tannaitic law in Babylonia. This article examines his halakhic methodology by analyzing one of the most significant collections of halakhic rulings found in the Babylonian and Palestinian Talmuds: the more than 130 sources in which Shmuel issues a ruling based on a tannaitic source. These sources employ the literary formula “Shmuel said: Hilkheta.” This analysis reveals important findings about the application of tannaitic law in Babylonia and about Shmuel’s unique Babylonian approach which emerges from these rulings. By analyzing the methodological characteristics that underlie Shmuel's halakhic rulings we can offer a systematic and comprehensive explanation of his rulings, as well as of his disputes with other sages, especially in light of the apodictic phrasing of these rulings. This study contributes to clarification of the important question of the reliability of amoraic statements in the Babylonian Talmud, demonstrating that the study of specific amoraim and their rulings can offer a significant contribution to scholarly exegesis of the Babylonian Talmud.
Wednesday, April 09, 2014
JSIJ: Cohen, "'Shmuel said: Hilkheta'"
JEWISH STUDIES, AN INTERNET JOURNAL, has published a new article pertinent to ancient Judaism: Barak S. Cohen, "Shmuel Said: Hilkheta": The Halakhic Rulings of Shmuel in the Two Talmudim (pfd file). The article is in Hebrew. English abstract: