Posted by: gruvenreuven | September 17, 2008

Ancient version of Linkedin?

I came across this little Gemara gem in my Daf Yomi studies yesterday. Daf Yomi is a daily cyclic reading of the Talmud in which a page is read each day. At this pace, one completes the entire work of the Talmud in seven and a half years. Now keep in mind, a page is not as we would know it today. Translated, with commentary, a page is the equivalent of roughly 10 pages of text. At a superficial level a page can be studied in as little as 45-60minutes. At depth, a page could take days to scratch the surface.

That being said, I thought I would like to share this little gem with you as I found it quite interesting. In the Gemara, Rabbi Issi ben Judah lists and praises his colleagues. Rabbi Issi ben Judah lived in Hutzal Babyloania, but went to Israel to study. He is of the 5th Generation Tanna (165-200 ce)

What struck me as funny, was this reads like an ancient version of Rabbi Issi ben Judah provides his recommendation feedback.

This selection of Gemara comes from Meschta (tractate) Gittin, page 67a. The bold text is a translation of the Gemara. The Italic text is commentary from the 11th century torah commentator Rashi (Rabbi Shlomo Yitzhak)


Issi ben Judah would enumerate merits of the various Sages.

R’ Meir he said, was wise and a scribe.

R’ Judah was wise when he chose [to speak carefully.]

R’ Tarfon was a pile of nuts.
(Rashi explains this to mean that if you had a pile of nuts and removed a nut from the bottom, all the nuts on the pile would fall in. In that vain, when a student questioned R’ Tarfon he would cite proofs from scripture, Midrash Mishnah, Halacha & Aggada and all his learning would come together)

R’ Ishmael was a well-stocked shop.
(In other words Rashi likens R’ Ishmael to a shop full of all types of goods. When a shop is well stocked, the shopkeeper never keeps his customers waiting. So too R’ Ishmael was always prepared to teach)

R’ Akiba was a storehouse with compartments.

(Rashi explains this to mean that under Biblical law, various portions of the harvest in Eretz Yisroel must be set aside for the poor. R’ Akiba is compared to a pauper who collects his share of the harvest, then goes home and sorts the produce he collected by kind. So to did R’ Akiba with his Studies. When he became a sage, we would separate his studies according to subject then taught each subject separately.)

R’ Johanan ben Nuri was a spiced Peddler’s basket
(Rashi explains this to mean that just as a Peddler would come to town with a basket of a variety of spices, so did R’ Johanan ben Nuri have answers prepared for questions concerning Scripture, Gemara, Misrash & Aggada).

R’ Eleazar ben Azariah was an individual’s basket of spices.
(So Rashi goes on to explain that an individual’s basket is similar to a peddler’s basket except for one difference. Since the Peddler is in Business, he keeps more in stock.)

The teachings of R’ Eliezer ben Jacob the Elder were measured but pure.
(Rashi interprets this to mean he taught less then his colleagues, but his halachah rulings were in accordance with all this teachings)

R. Jose always had his reasons.

R. Simeon used to grind much and let out little.
A Tanna explained this to mean that he used to forget little, and what he let go from his mind was only the bran.  So too said R’ Simeon to his disciples: My sons, learn my rules, since my rules are the cream of the cream of R’ Akiba’s.

(in other words Rashi explains this to mean that he culled his teachings from the best of R’ Akiba’s teachings)



  1. When you mentioned this on Twitter I wondered what you were talking about, but this is brilliant 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: