Chevre – It is inevitable that there will be some days when I will need to double up in the course of this seven-and-half year commitment. Today is one of them.
What gets my attention is both the flexibility and the respect that I see discussed in the text.
Regarding the time that one ought to prayer Minchah the Gemara writes: “Now that the halachah has not been stated in accordance with either this master or that master (ie the Rabbis or R’ Yehudah) he who does as this master (ie the Rabbis) and recites Minchah until nightful does correctly, and he who does as this master (ie R’ Yehudah) concluding Minchah by half of Minchah and praying Ma’ariv immediately thereafter, does correctly”.
Then we read a discussion about respecting one’s teachers … including the ideas that we shouldn’t greet or pass by a teacher as we would a an “ordinary” person.
Then we read about an incident between the Nasi, Rabban Gamliel of Yavneh, and the Av Beit Din, R’ Yehoshua, that led to Rabban Gamliel’s being replaced by R’ Elazar ben Azaryah. The bottom line is that Rabban Gamliel of Yavneh disrespected R’ Yehoshoua and for that reason needed to leave his post as Nasi. Disrespect was simply not acceptable. Once R’ Elazar ben Azaryah was installed, many changes took place including a significant expansion of the study hall. R’ Elazar ben Azaryah’s presence opened up the world of discourse to many who had hitherto been excluded such as those who were Jews by choice.
The discourse continues, but we have now been given a deeper look into the institution that supports the discourse itself. I have a feeling that I will begin to get a sense of the personalities of the individual Rabbis over the course of the next next seven-and-a-half years. Who are the lenient ones? And who are the more stringent? And how is it that the record of all these diverse opinions and rulings might provide a model for us today in our commitment to a robust pluralism?