[bm 33b: We begin four lines from the bottom of bm 33b. Very often, aggadic material is introduced towards the end of a chapter. This is true in the case of ours as well.]

The rabbis taught [in a b'raita]: Those who study Mikra [i.e., the Written Torah] gain a measure [of credit], but it is not a measure [i.e., it is good, but not great]. Those who study Mishna [i.e, the laws, but without the explanations and analyses] gain a measure. Those who study Gemara [i.e., the explanations and analyses of the laws presented in the Mishna] -- there is no greater measure than this. But one should always run to [study] Mishna more than Gemara.

But this is self-contradictory: You said: Gemara --there is no greater measure than this. And then you said: But one should always run to [study] Mishna more than Gemara.

R. Yohanan said: The first statement [praising the study of Gemara] was taught during the days of Rabbi [redactor of the Mishna].

[Rashi explains this at some length: "With the proliferation of the students of Shammai and Hillel, who lived three [actually closer to six] generations before him, disputes on the [Oral] Torah increased until it became two Torahs. In consequence of the y oke of the [Roman] government and the edicts that were continually being imposed on them, they couldn't attend to settling the points that were in dispute until the time of Rabbi, whom The Holy One Blessed He caused to find favor in the eyes of Antonininu s, King of Rome, as is related in Av. Zar. (10B), so that they were relieved of their tribulations and he was able to convene all of the scholars of Israel. {The Midrash relates that Rabbi and Antoninus, variously identified as either Marcus Aurelius Anto ninus and Lucius Septimus Severus, were close friends.} Until his day, the tractates were not organized, but any student who had heard something from one greater than he would repeat it, specifying: `I heard this halakhah fron so-and-so'. When they were c onvened and each reported what he had heard, they considered the reasons behind the different opinions and decided which of them merits adoption. They organized the tractates: matters involving damages separately, matters involving levirate marriage separ ately, matters involving Temple service separately. He (Rabbi) also deleted attributions in the Mishnah to opinions with which he agreed, leaving them unattributed so that halakhah would be established accordingly. This is why it was said that there is no greater measure than Gemara."]

When everyone abandoned the study of Mishna and followed the study of Gemara, he [Rabbi] changed his position, and taught that one should run to [study] Mishna more than Gemara.

[Rashi: "Because he was afraid that the (text of the) mishnah would be forgotten, the identity of the rabbis (cited) would be confused, and instead of `obligation' they might say `not obligated' and instead of `allowed' they might say `forbidden'."]

What verse did Rabbi use [to support his first statement about the primacy of Gemara]? He followed R. Yehuda b. R. Ilai: What is the meaning of [Is 58:1] "Tell My nation their transgression, and the House of Jacob their sins." [Why use two phrases?] "Tell My nation their transgression" refers to Torah scholars whose inadvertent transgressions are regarded as if they were willful sins. "And the House of Jacob their sins" refers to the common people, whose willful sins are considered to be inadvertent trans gressions.

As we learned in a mishna (Avot 4:16): R. Yehuda said - Be careful in the study of talmud [i.e., Gemara], for a misinterpretation of talmud is like a willful sin.

[Rashi: The misinterpretation would have been avoided if the speaker had asked his teacher's advice.]


[The next section cites the verse (Is 66:5) "Hear the word of G-d, ye who tremble at His word: Your brethren that hate you, that cast you out for My name's sake have said, 'Let the Lord be glorified, that we may gaze upon your joy', But they shall be asha med."]

R. Yehuda b. Ilai said: "Hear the word of G-d, ye who tremble at His word" -- these are the Torah scholars.

"Your brethren" -- these are those who study Mikra (Written Torah).

"that hate you" -- these are those who study Mishna.

"that cast you out" -- these are the common people.

[The verse relates that Jews in the second, third and fourth categoties will say 'Because of me G-d will be honored,' and implies that they are wrong. If so ...] you might say that they are beyond hope and have nothing to look forward to? [No, because the verse continues] "that we may gaze upon your joy" [The plural _we_ indicates that all of us will participate in the joy.].

In order that you should not say that "Israel will be ashamed" -- the verse says: "and they [not _we_] will be ashamed". Idolaters will be ashamed, but Israel will rejoice.

[We have now come to the end of Chapter 2, in the middle of page 33b.]

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