Friday, April 05, 2013

Interesting Fact 3: Rabbi Akiva Appears in Almost Every Tractate of Mishna

[For interesting facts 1 and 2 about Rabbi Akiva just follow the links]

According to Zecharia Frankl, in Darkei HaMishna (p.111, footnote 9) , statements of Rabbi Akiva appear in approximately 260 mishnayot. In fact, there are very few masechtot of mishna which do not contain statements from Rabbi Akiva:

לר"ע באו הלכות במשנה כמעט בכל מסכתא ומסכתא. ואלה המסכתות אשר יפקד בהן ר"ע במשנה: דמאי, מגילה, חגיגה, ערכין, מדות, קנים (ובענין מס' תמיד עי' יומא פ"ב מ"ג) אבל נמצאו לו גם למס' אלה חוץ ממס' ערכין מדות קנים מאמרים בתוספתא וכו'. עיי' תוספתא דמאי פ"ד מ"ה או באו לו מאמרים בענינים אלה בשאר מקומות.

Apparently the only tractates of mishna which do not contain statements of Rabbi Akiva are Demai, Megila, Chagiga, Erechin, Midot and Kinim.

And even though his name does not appear in those tractates of mishna, it does appear in the Tosefta of those masechtot, or we have statements of his in other tractates which are relevant to those tractates. The only tractates on which he did not comment explicitly are Erechin, Midot and Kinim.

Out of 63 masechtot of mishna Rabbi Akiva appears in 57 of them!

In addition, Rabbi Akiva is known as the anonymous voice of the Oral Torah. Rashi brings two opinions, though he has difficulty with the second one.

Look at Rashi on Megillah 2a

סתימתאה. הרבה סתם משנה סתם ר' שהן דברי ר' עקיבא וי"מ סתימתאה כל הסתומין תלמידיו היו כדאמר בסנהדרין (דף פו.) סתם משנה ר"מ סתם תוספתא ר' נחמיה סתם ספרא רבי יהודה וכולהו סתימתאי אליבא דר' עקיבא אך קשה בעיני לפרש כן שמצינו בכמה מקומות בשם ר"א בר' יוסי סתימתאי רבי מנחם בר רבי יוסי סתימתאי לקמן בפרק בני העיר (דף כו. )

Rebbi [Yehuda HaNasi] wrote many anonymous mishnayot according to the opinion of Rabbi Akiva.
Some explain that the word 'anonymous' refers to the fact that all the 'anonymous' voices were from his students, as it says in Sanhedrin (86a): "An anonymous mishna is [according to the opinion of] Rabbi Meir. An anonymous Tosefta is [according to the opnion of] Rabbi Nechemia. An anonymous Sifra is [the opinion of] Rabbi Yehuda. And all of them are according to the opinion of Rabbi Akiva [their teacher].

Look at the continuation of Rashi for his difficulty with this explanation. Nevertheless, the fact reamins that it was his students who voiced the anonymous voice of the major works of Torah she-baal Peh.

Not bad for someone who only began learning aleph, bet at the age of 40!

1 comment:

  1. Well, R' Aqiva started the mishnah project, which gained steam under his talmid R' Meir, and was finally completed by R' Meir's talmid, R' Yehudah haNasi.

    Meanwhile, another talmid, R' Nechemiah, was working on his version of the project, which was completed by his talmid, R' Chiya bar Abba and R' Hoshia (R' Chiya's talmid).

    It is no coincidence that
    דאמר רבי יוחנן:
    סתם מתניתין רבי מאיר,
    סתם תוספתא רבי נחמיה,
    סתם ספרא רבי יהודה,
    סתם ספרי רבי שמעון,
    !וכולהו אליבא דרבי עקיבא"
    (Sanhedrin 86a)

    Rebbe's default voice is that of his rebbe, and similarly, when R' Chiya picked up the mishnayos not compiled by Rebbe that he felt better reflected what ought to be the halakhah, his default voice is that of his rebbe.

    Both implementing R' Aqiva's idea of reorganizing the medrashei halakhah by topic. As for the meta-issue of what this did to the machloqes about how derashah works, my take is at Aspaqlaria: Medrashei Halakhah.