כ״ד בכסלו ה׳תשע״ט (December 2, 2018)

Hullin 5a-b: Rabban Gamliel and His Court

As we learned above (see daf 3) Abaye understands the Mishna as teaching that sheḥita – ritual slaughter – performed by a Kuti is valid. According to him, the Mishna 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 sheḥita 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 that sheḥita 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 Second Temple period.
  2. Rabban Gamliel of Yavne headed the academy in Yavne after the passing of Rabbi Yoḥanan ben Zakkai. His contemporaries were Rabbi Eliezer and Rabbi Yehoshua.
  3. Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi’s eldest son was also known as Rabban Gamliel.

We have a good deal of information about Rabban Gamliel of Yavne in the Mishna, Gemara and Midrashim, but few of the teachings of Rabban Gamliel the son of Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi survived (some appear in Massekhet 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 Yavne or the son of Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi. Rashi believes that it was the latter, perhaps because he thinks it unlikely that the Mishna, which was edited and prepared by Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi, would leave a clear impression that Kutim were reliable if Rabban Gamliel of Yavne, Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi’s grandfather, had already ruled otherwise. Nevertheless, Tosafot and the Ramban argue that it was the court of Rabban Gamliel of Yavne which made this ruling.