Who authored the different mishnaic sources that appear in the Gemara? This question plays an important role in the discussion that appears on today’s daf.
The Mishna (85b) teaches that someone who kidnaps a person and sells him will be liable for the death penalty of ḥenek (choking), based on the passage in Sefer Devarim (24:7). What if the kidnapper sells the person to his father? The Gemara quotes a baraita – taken from the Midrash Halakha of the Sifrei on Sefer Devarim – that rules that even if the kidnapped person is sold to his father or his brother or another relative, still the kidnapper is liable to receive the death penalty.
When this baraita was presented before Rav Sheshet he objected to this ruling based on a teaching of Rabbi Shimon who understood the Torah’s emphasis that the person was kidnapped me-eḥav – from among his brothers – to mean that the death penalty would only be meted out if he is removed from his family, which is not the case if he is sold to his father or his brother. Based on Rabbi Shimon’s teaching the Gemara concludes that the baraita must be rewritten to state that if the kidnapper sold the victim to a member of his family, the kidnapper will no longer be liable to receive capital punishment.
In response to this conclusion, the question is raised that perhaps Rabbi Shimon and the author of the baraita disagree on this point. The Gemara explains that the baraita must have been authored by Rabbi Shimon, since Rabbi Yoḥanan taught that in general an unattributed Mishna is in accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Meir; an unattributed baraita in the Tosefta is in accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Neḥemya; an unattributed baraita in the Sifra (the halakhic midrash on Vayikra) is in accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Yehuda; and an unattributed baraita in the Sifrei is in accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Shimon. And all of them follow the opinion of Rabbi Akiva, as these were his disciples.
Although the final editing of all of these sources was not done by the people mentioned by name – for example, we know that Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi was the editor of the Mishna – nevertheless, the final editor chose the version of each of these works that was authored by these people rather than other available versions of the oral traditions.