In their discussion of Rabbi Meir and his ability to see so many facets of an issue, “Talking Talmud” explore some differences between teaching and law-making. Facility in exploring many facets of an issue and teaching students to consider various perspectives can be an asset for a teacher, for example; endless exploration, however, does not necessarily yield timely and sensible legal decisions. Yardaena Osband and Anne Gordon also discuss how someone who understands learning material quickly and easily is not always the best teacher of that material to others.
…The Talking Talmud conversation — “Eruvin 13: Why Beit Hillel Trumps…” is part of their series of daily discussions in the current Daf Yomi [page/day] reading cycle. The conversation also includes more stories from Eruvin 13 (August 22, 2020 in the Daf Yomi schedule), about about teaching and deciding. (The title of the podcast episode is taken from a famous story about the schools of Hillel and Shammai.)…
Talking Talmud covers many aspects of the phrase “mareh lo panim,” although they do not concentrate on that Hebrew phrase in itself. In their discussion of Rabbi Meir, and this ability of his to see so many facets, they touch on his relationship with Elisha ben Abuya. Elisha ben Abuya, often called Acher [“Other”], is a complicated character in the Talmud who becomes known as a heretic or one who lost his faith. Alone among all their colleagues of the time, Rabbi Meir remains friendly with Acher and continues to learn from him.
Contemplating Rabbi Meir’s relationship to Acher can add some layers in considering possible limitations of facet-exploring in both teaching and law-making.
Image description: Abstracted image of two-pan balance atop two large books with gavel nearby.