In this week’s Daf Yomi reading, in Zevachim 48a, the Gemara introduced a concept that helps to illuminate the worldview of the rabbis. A certain teaching, we read, “is dear to the tanna”: he has a special attachment to a particular point of law. And the reason is that this point is “derived through interpretation”: that is, it is not stated explicitly in the Torah, but has to be worked out by the rabbis themselves. Evidently, the rabbis had a particular fondness for laws that they had to figure out on their own, and liked to teach such laws first, because they were “dear.” I found this a moving idea, since it shows how the rabbis invested their feelings (and their egos) in what might seem like an abstract or technical process of legal reasoning. A tanna who solved a problem must have felt a certain pride of ownership in it, the way a mathematician might feel about an especially difficult proof.Earlier Daf Yomi columns are noted here and links.
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