כ״ט בסיון ה׳תשע״א (July 1, 2011)

Hullin 5a-b – Identifying Rabban Gamliel and his court

As we learned above (see daf, or page 3) Abayye understands the Mishnah as teaching that shehitah – ritual slaughter – performed by a Kuti is valid. According to him, the Mishnah follows the opinion that accepted the conversion of the Kutim, even though they did not keep all of the mitzvot that were not clearly stated in the Torah. Since shehitah was one of the commandments that they did accept, they can be relied upon.

 

On today’s daf we learn that Rabban Gamliel and his court voted about the trustworthiness of the Kutim and decided thatshehitah performed by a Kuti is forbidden.

 

Who were “Rabban Gamliel and his court”?

 

There were three separate leaders during the Rabbinic period who were known as “Rabban Gamliel.”

 

  1. Rabban Gamliel the Elder was the grandson of Hillel the Elder. He was the during the Temple period.
  2. Rabban Gamliel of Yavneh headed the academy in Yavneh after the passing of Rabbi Yohanan ben Zakkai. His contemporaries were Rabbi Eliezer and Rabbi Yehoshua.
  3. Rabbi Yehudah haNasi’s eldest son was also known as Rabban Gamliel.

 

We have a good deal of information about Rabban Gamliel of Yavneh in the Mishnah, Gemara and Midrashim, but few of the teachings of Rabban Gamliel the son of Rabbi Yehudah haNasi survived (some appear in Masechet Avot). From the little that remains, it appears that he largely carried on the legacy of his father. He probably held the position of nasi only a short time.

 

The rishonim differ regarding the identity of the Rabban Gamliel of our Gemara, whether it was Rabban Gamliel of Yavneh or the son of Rabbi Yehudah haNasi. Rashi believes that it was the latter, perhaps because he thinks it unlikely that the Mishnah, which was edited and prepared by Rabbi Yehudah haNasi, would leave a clear impression that Kutimwere reliable if Rabban Gamliel of Yavneh, Rabbi Yehudah haNasi’s grandfather, had already ruled otherwise. Nevertheless, Tosafot and the Ramban argue that it was the court of Rabban Gamliel of Yavneh which made this ruling.