The Gemara relates that Rabbi Yitzhak bar Yehudah was a regular student of Rami bar Hama, but then he moved to study under the direction of Rav Sheshet. One day Rami bar Hama met his former student and said to him “The nobleman has taken us
by the hand, and his scent has come into the hand! Because you have gone to Rav Sheshet, you are like Rav Sheshet!?” This colloquial expression meant to ask whether he believed – as do many people – that being in the company of a great person confers some level of greatness on him as well.
By way of explaining his choice to switch teachers, Rabbi Yitzhak bar Yehudah explained that when he asked a question of Rami bar Hama, invariably he would receive a logical explanation, and when he found that a Mishnah contradicted the explanation, he was left confused. When he asked Rav Sheshet, however, Rav Sheshet would quote a Mishnaic ruling, so even if a contradictory Mishnah was presented challenging that teaching, at least he could be certain that this was no worse than a simple disagreement between tanna’im.
The Gemara continues by telling that Rami bar Hama then asked Rabbi Yitzhak to challenge him with a question, and Rabbi Yitzhak asked him about the halakhah of the Mishnah that required cleaning the blood off of vessels in the Temple. Rami bar Hama responded with a logical explanation of a ruling, which was ultimately contradicted by a Mishnaic statement.
Rami bar Hama was a fourth generation Babylonian amora, who was a close student of Rav Hisda. He was well known for his sharp, logical mind; occasionally we find that his sharp intellect caused him to miss basic errors in his conclusions. Rav Sheshet was one of the great amoraim in Babylonia in the third generation of amoraim. He studied with Rav Hunaand was so well versed in the oral traditions of the baraitot that he was referred to as “Sinai” – the center of Torahknowledge. Many of the students who chose to study with him did so because they could be certain that all of his teachings were based on the solid traditions of early sources.