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Shiur #07: The Aggada of R. Adda b. Abba

  • Rav Dr. Yonatan Feintuch


Happy Chanuka! In honor of the matriarch of our family, Oma Ina,

May you continue to shine your light on us brightly!

From her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren

The Sondheim - Adler and Distenfeld Families.




In Honor of Avital Nehorah’a 1st Birthday, 30 Kislev



Please daven for a refua sheleima for YHE alumnus 
Rav Daniel ben Miriam Chaya Rut

I. Introduction

The next three shiurim will deal with a relatively long Aggada concerning R. Adda b. Abba, which appears in tractate Bava Batra, 22a. The Aggada is found at the end of the Talmudic section relating to the Mishna (20b):

If a man desires to open a shop in a courtyard, his neighbor may prevent him and say: “I cannot sleep through the noise of the people coming and going.” But he may make articles in the courtyard to take out and sell in the market, and his neighbor cannot prevent him and say: “I cannot sleep from the noise of the hammer or of the mill-stones or of the children.”

This Mishna deals with the right of residents of a shared courtyard to prevent one of their members from opening a store in the courtyard, and the absence of the right to protest against various noises in the courtyard, e.g., the noise of producing various items for sale, or the noise of children. The Talmudic passage on this Mishna deals with two general issues: the educational system (connected to the Mishna through mention of "the noise of children") and commercial competition. These two issues are interconnected, because the discussion about education is partly focused on the business aspects of education, and on professional competition of teachers.

The Aggada in question is brought against the background of a discussion about the economic benefits granted to Torah scholars engaged in trade:

As the Master said: Ezra enacted for Israel that spice-sellers should go about from town to town so that the daughters of Israel should be able to obtain finery. This, however, only means that they are at liberty to go from house to house [in the strange town], but not to settle there. If, however, the seller is a Torah student, he may also settle. (22a)

Reference is then made to the following incident:

Just as Rava permitted R. Yoshiya and R. Ovadya to settle, not in accordance with the rule. What is the reason? Since they are Torah scholars, they would be disturbed in their studies [if they had to return to their own town].

A few lines later, and after bringing two additional cases,[1] the Gemara cites the Aggada that is the subject of this shiur.

II. The Aggada

Part I

Section 1

  1. R. Dimi from Nehardea brought a load of figs in a boat.
  2. The Exilarch said to Rava: "Go and see if he is a Torah scholar, and if so, reserve the market for him."
  3. So Rava said to R. Adda b. Abba:[2] "Go and examine his mental capacity [lit., go and smell his vessel]."
  4. The latter accordingly asked [R. Dimi]: "If an elephant swallows a willow basket and passes it out with its excrement, what is [the law]? [Is it still subject to ritual impurity?]"
  5. [R. Dimi] could not give an answer.
  6. [R. Dimi] said to [R. Adda]: "Are you Rava?"
  7. [R.Adda] tapped [R.Dimi] on his shoes
  8. and said: "Between me and Rava there is a great difference, but at any rate I can be your teacher, and so Rava is the teacher of your teacher."
  9. They did not reserve the market for [R. Dimi],
  10. and so his figs were a dead loss.

Section 2

  1. [R. Dimi] came before R. Yosef,
  2. and said to him: "See how they have treated me."
  3. [R. Yosef] said to him: "He who did not delay to avenge the wrong done to the king of Edom will not delay to avenge the wrong done to you.
  4. As it is written: 'Thus says the Lord, For three transgressions of Moav, and for four I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because he burned the bones of the king of Edom into lime' (Amos 2:1)."
  5. [Shortly afterwards] R. Adda b. Abba died.


Part II

  1. R. Yosef said: "It is through me that he has been punished, because I cursed him."
  2. R. Dimi from Nehardea said: "It is through me that he has been punished, because he made me lose my figs."
  3. Abaye said: "It is through me that he has been punished, because he used to say to the students: 'Instead of gnawing bones in the school of Abaye, why do you not eat fat meat in the school of Rava?'”
  4. Rava said: "It is through me that he has been punished, because when he went to the butcher's to buy meat he used to say to the butchers: 'Serve me before the servant of Rava, because I am above him.'"
  5. R. Nachman b. Yitzchak said: "It is through me that he has been punished."

Part III

  1. How was this? R. Nachman b. Yitzchak was the regular preacher [on Shabbat].
  2. Every time before he went to give his discourse, he used to run over it with R. Adda b. Abba; and only then would he go to give his discourse.
  3. One day R. Pappa and R. Huna the son of R. Yehoshua got hold of R. Adda b. Abba because they had not been present at the concluding discourse [of Rava on tractate Bekhorot],
  4. and said to him: "Tell us how Rava discussed the law of animal tithe."
  5. He then gave them a full account of Rava's discourse.
  6. Meanwhile dusk had set in and R. Nachman b. Yitzchak was still waiting for R. Adda b. Abba.
  7. The Rabbis said to R. Nachman b. Yitzchak: "Come, for it is late; why do you still sit, Sir?"
  8. He said: "I am waiting for the bier of R. Adda b. Abba."
  9. Soon after the report came that R. Adda b. Abba was dead.
  10. The most likely opinion is that R. Nachman b. Yitzchak was the cause of his punishment.

III. A Literary Analysis of the Aggada

Dividing up the story

The Aggada before us is comprised of several stories, all of which deal with Babylonian Amoraim of the third to fifth generations. Several stories are integrated into this Aggada, the common denominator being the figure of R. Adda b. Abba. The Aggada as it appears before us was apparently not originally composed as a single unit, as is evident from the fact that it speaks of R. Adda's death in two different instances (lines 15, 29). Rather, it was put together from several independent units, which were woven into a single unit.

The Aggada can be divided into three parts, as we divided it above:

Part I, which can be further divided into two sections:

Lines 1-10: The story of R. Dimi and the figs.

Lines 11-15: R. Dimi's complaint to R. Yosef, and R. Adda's death.[3]

Part II (lines 16-20): Various explanations for the death of R. Adda.

Part III (lines 21-30): The story of R. Adda and R. Nachman bar Yitzchak, which is presented in detail.

This division presents a symmetrical structure: At both ends there is a long story, each of which stands on its own. In the middle stands Part II, a short section of 5 lines. At the center of this structure stands the death of R. Adda, the event that unites the entire Aggada into a single entity. The two long stories at the ends, each of which is comprised of an incident that leads to R. Adda’s death, relate substantively to the middle part, which discusses this death. The editing thus unites the entire Aggada.

Analysis of Part I, Section 1 – The Story of R. Dimi's Dates

This section constitutes an independent unit, despite being only part of the story told in part I. It stands alone in terms of its content, and even its structure attests to this, as we shall see below.

One of the literary devices used in this story is step-by-step dramatic development. An opening that looks like the opening of a simple story with a foreseeable end, leads to a more complicated plot, and concludes with tragic circumstances, including, among other things, the death of a character.

The story opens with Rav Dimi bringing a load of figs in a boat in order to sell them. Against the background of the preceding discussion and incident, execution of the directive of the Exilarch (the political authority) is almost self-evident, a matter of technical procedure: R. Dimi will be tested, he will be granted a benefit, he will succeed in supporting himself from his business in a dignified and efficient manner, and he will be free to engage in his Talmudic studies. But the story ends, surprisingly, in the opposite way: not only does R. Dimi not receive the benefit, but he loses his merchandise. Worst of all, R. Adda, who is ostensibly sent to fill a simple, technical role, dies (in the next section, I, 2).

Further examination of the story indicates that there is no sudden reversal, but rather gradual development. The Exilarch is not a well-developed character in the story. He does not represent a specific figure, but rather the "authorities," whose involvement in the matter under discussion in the Aggada is merely formal. The Exilarch's appeal to Rava seems to be the execution of a routine local procedure: a person who meets a certain criterion (a Torah scholar) is granted a certain economic benefit (the market is reserved for him). In contrast, Rava's appeal to R. Adda differs from the Exilarch's appeal to Rava: Rava does not execute the Exilarch's directive ("Go and see" – yourself) in precisely the same manner as he has received it, but imposes the task upon R. Adda. This detail in itself does not seem very significant, and could have been ignored on the grounds that "a person's agent is like himself." But Rava's directive is also formulated differently from that of the Exilarch, despite the fact that both begin with the word "Go," (pok): the instruction "Examine his mental capacity" is different, at least in formulation, than "See if he is a Torah scholar." Rava's intention is not sufficiently clear. It seems reasonable, however, that in his role as head of the Yeshiva, he has an interest in sizing up any Torah scholar arriving in his city, in addition to the examination imposed upon him by the Exilarch.[4]

In the next stage (lines 4-7) R. Adda meets R. Dimi, and in this dramatic scene, we find the real turning point in the story. For the first time, there is a dialogue between characters (as opposed to the previous series of instructions without responses). R. Adda opens with a strange and unconventional question, the sole purpose of which seems to be to trick R. Dimi![5] If that were not enough, when R. Dimi cannot answer, and mistakenly thinks that it is Rava who is standing before him, R. Adda responds with an aggressive step, tapping R. Dimi on his shoes, and uttering a disparaging statement (line 8).

In the next line, the situation only gets worse, and we learn that "they did not reserve the market for him." At the end of the section, we are further told that not only did they not make it easier for R. Dimi to sell his merchandise, but that he even lost his dates. This is an additional development, for not every merchant who is not granted special assistance suffers a total loss. This development puts the behavior of the townspeople, or at least the behavior of R. Adda, in a more serious light.

It turns out, then, that this short story includes a dramatic process, which, beginning in the third line, gradually worsens. The expectation aroused at the beginning of the story becomes ever more distant. The tension between the beginning and the end of the story raises the question: why do they act in this manner toward R. Dimi, causing him to lose his figs? The answer to this question is pushed off for the most part to the later sections of the Aggada[6] (this is part of the role of Parts II and III). The incongruence between the story’s opening and closing is alluded to in the chiastic structure of the part under discussion:

I1.  Dimi from Nehardea brought a load of figs in a boat. (line 1)

II1. The Exilarch said to Rava: "Go and see if he is a Torah scholar, and if so, reserve the market for him." (line 2)

III. So Rava said to R. Adda b. Abba: "Go and examine his mental capacity." (line 3)

  1. The latter accordingly asked him: "If an elephant swallows a willow basket and passes it out with its excrement, what is [the law]? [Is it still subject to ritual impurity?]" (line 4)

He could not give an answer. (line 5)

[R. Adda] said to him: "Are you Rava?" (line 6)

[The latter] tapped him on his shoes (line 7)

and said: "Between me and Rava there is a great difference, but at any rate I can be your teacher, and so Rava is the teacher of your teacher." (line 8)

II2.  They did not reserve the market for him, (line 9)

I2.   and so his figs were a dead loss. (line 10)

As with any classical chiastic structure,[7] the initial tension is created between I1 and I2:

I1.  Rav Dimi from Nehardea brought a load of figs in a boat.

I2.  and so his figs were a dead loss.

In the present case, II1 and II2 also have a similar role: the Exilarch's issuance of a directive stands in contrast to the lack of its fulfillment:

II1. The Exilarch said to Rava: "Go and see if he is a Torah scholar, and if so, reserve the market for him."

II2.  They did not reserve the market for him.

            In III there is a certain turn. III is not a simple continuation of I and II, since R. Adda is ordered to "examine the mental capacity" of R. Dimi, and not just to check whether he is a Torah scholar. Furthermore, III has no parallel in the structure.[8] IV is the center of the structure.

            The question may now be raised: what is the focus of the story? At first glance it would seem that the focus of the story is the economic benefits granted to Torah scholars in general (which is the subject of the Talmudic passage), and the situation of R. Dimi in particular, which worsens from the beginning of the section until the loss of the figs at the end of the section. However, the chiastic structure focuses our attention on the encounter described in IV, the center of the structure, and an important climax.

            The encounter described in IV consists of four parts: R. Adda's question; R. Dimi's "response" ("He could not give an answer"); R. Dimi's question; and R. Adda's response ("[R. Adda] tapped him on his shoes").[9] Structurally, this is a symmetrical structure, and also a chiasmus: R. Adda opens and concludes this unit. This point might demonstrate R. Adda's dominance and high-handed control of the meeting, and it might even indicate that the tapping on the shoe is a direct and planned result of the opening question. Let us examine these two elements: R. Adda's question and the tapping on the shoe.

An Elephant That Swallows a Willow Basket


            R. Adda asks: "If an elephant swallows a willow basket and passes it out with its excrement, what is [the law]? [Is it still subject to ritual impurity?]" At first glance this is a strange and unconventional question.[10] However, if we examine the Talmudic passage in Menachot 69a, we see that that we are dealing with a question that was in fact discussed in the Beit Midrash.[11] In the passage there, the question is asked by Rami b. Chama, a Sage from Pumbedita. Other Sages from Pumbedita were also known to occupy themselves with such questions,[12] which sharpen the mind, even though they have no practical significance: the Sages of Pumbedita "draw an elephant through the eye of a needle" (Bava Metzia 38b). The elephant, which symbolizes mental acuity, also appears in R. Adda's question. It is possible that our story thus alludes to this metaphor.

            It is possible that the tension between students hailing from different learning centers or from different learning approaches stands behind R. Adda's strange question. R. Dimi, as stated in the story, comes from Nehardea. R. Adda, like his teacher Rava, belongs to Pumbedita, and his question is representative of the sharpness of Pumbedita’s Sages. R. Adda directs his question specifically at R. Dimi, causing him to stumble. R. Adda thus conveys the message that in order to be considered a "Torah scholar" in Pumbedita, one must have the capacity to engage in sophistry like the local scholars. R. Adda disparages R. Dimi, who lacks that capacity.[13]  

If we have correctly interpreted the story's intention, we have the beginning of an explanation as to what moves R. Adda: he is zealously loyal to his teacher, Rava, and this causes him to disparage anyone who does not absolutely belong to his narrow circle (or more broadly to "the sharp scholars of Pumbedita"). The fact that R. Adda's behavior is faulty and inappropriate is evident from the sharp criticism heaped upon him by the greatest Amoraim of the period, later in the Aggada. This attitude toward other Sages seems to be a fault restricted to the disciple, R. Adda, and is not found in his teacher, Rava, whose request "to examine the mental capacity" of R. Dimi does not go beyond the desire to know about him and his potential as a Torah scholar. What is more, later in the Aggada we see Rava's reservations about the arrogant behavior of his disciple, even towards a servant (line 19), to the point that Rava sees these reservations as the cause of his disciple's death.

Tapping On The Shoe

On the plain level, tapping on R. Dimi's shoes appears to be an action that expresses scorn.[14] This phrase appears in two other places in the Babylonian Talmud, Moed Katan 25a and Bava Kama 32b, and reading them is likely to shed light on the phrase in its present context. The passage in Moed Katan speaks of R. Huna's death:

When R. Huna died… R. Abba opened [his funerary address]: "Our Master [said he] was worthy that the Shekhina should abide with him, but [the fact of his being in] Babylonia prevented it." Thereupon R. Nachman, son of R. Chisda raised an objection: "The word of the Lord came expressly [hayo haya] unto Yechezkel the priest, the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans [by the river Chebar]" (Yechezkel 1:3). His father tapped him on the shoe, saying to him: "Have I not told you not to worry everybody [with this point]? What is meant by the [double expression] 'Hayo [haya]'? That it had been [had come] before [he came to Babylonia].”

The tap in this story comes as a response to a question, which in the opinion of the father who does the tapping, has an obvious answer, and should never have been asked. So it seems in the case of R. Adda as well: the tap is an expression of R. Adda's contempt for R. Dimi, and for his having mistakenly identified him as Rava.

More interesting for our purposes is the parallel passage in Bava Kama. The discussion there revolves around a matter relating to unintentional manslaughter:

Rava raised an objection:[15] If an officer of the court inflicted on him an additional [unauthorized] stroke, from which he died, he [the officer] is liable to take refuge on his account… R. Shimi of Nehardea said: [The officer committed the offence as he] made a mistake in [counting] the number [of strokes]. [But] Rava tapped R. Shimi's shoe and said to him: Is it he who is responsible for the counting [of the strokes]? Was it not taught: The senior judge recites [the prescribed verses], the second [to him] conducts the counting [of the strokes], and the third directs each stroke to be administered? Rather, R. Shimi of Nehardea said: It was the judge himself who made the mistake in counting.

In Bava Kama, as well, a person receives a tapping on the shoe from his teacher in the wake of a hasty and incorrect statement. In addition, the story in Bava Kama can be read as a parallel to our story in Bava Batra. R. Shimi "merits" a tap for confusing the roles of superior and inferior, by attributing the counting of the strokes to the officer of the court, rather than to the judge. In the parallel in Bava Batra, it is possible that the tapping is of a similar nature: R. Dimi thinks that R. Adda is Rava, and thus attributes to the disciple the identity of his superior teacher. The comparison to Bava Kama also highlights the difference between the sources. In Bava Kama we are dealing with a teacher (Rava) who tries to teach his disciple (and he even succeeds, as R. Shimi immediately offers a different and better answer). In Bava Batra there is much less justification for the tapping, as R. Dimi is not a student of either Rava or R. Adda, and his error is not related to his studies. This contrast highlights the severity of R. Adda's action, and teaches us about the nature of his sin: improper assumption of authority, out of arrogance and zealotry for his teacher.[16]

To conclude this part of the story, we can say that it focuses on what appears to be a failure of R. Adda, disciple of Rava, who insults the visiting Torah scholar, R. Dimi of Nehardea. An analysis of the story and the parallel sources suggests that the insult is rooted in the differences in methodology and emphases in learning between the different study centers and Sages in Babylonia. Though among the leading Sages, these differences generally lead to disputes for the sake of Heaven, R. Adda arrogantly manipulates the differences, bringing him to insult R. Dimi. This insult costs him his life, as we will see in the next section.

V. Analysis of Part I, Section 2: R. Dimi's Complaint to R. Yosef and the Death of R. Adda

This section consists of a dialogue between R. Dimi, the victim of insult in the previous section, and R. Yosef, before whom R. Dimi came in search of justice. It may not be by chance that R. Dimi comes specifically before R. Yosef. R. Yosef was, indeed, the head of the Yeshiva in Pumbedita. As opposed to his colleague Rava, who was a leading student of R. Yehuda and who continued to develop R. Yehuda’s method of sharpness and sophistry, R. Yosef was characterized by an approach to Torah study known as "Sinai."[17] The fact that R. Dimi comes to R. Yosef supports our hypothesis that the conflict between R. Dimi and R. Adda is rooted, among other things, in a dispute over methodology in Torah study.

R. Yosef, in his response (line 13), promises R. Dimi that God will demand justice for his humiliation, as indeed later happens (line 15: "R. Adda died").[18]

The answer makes use of an exposition of a verse (Amos 2:1), and the significance of the use of this specific verse is not entirely clear in this section of the story: what is the connection between the king of Edom and the king of Moav to our story? So too, it is not clear why R. Yosef chooses this verse in Amos. Are there no other verses in Scripture that warn against various types of verbal abuse? He could simply have chosen the verse in the Torah, in connection with which this Aggada is cited in Midrash ha-Gadol: "You shall not abuse one another" (Vayikra 25:17). What is the connection to the king of Edom?[19]

We will see in the next shiur that an interesting answer to this question may be suggested once we consider this Aggada in its broader context in the Talmudic passage.

(Translated by David Strauss)



[1] These cases relate to "certain basket-sellers" and "certain wool-sellers" who arrive from out of town. The townspeople impose certain limitations upon them in order to give an advantage to the local residents.

[2] Some versions have the name: R. Adda b. Ahava, a well-known Babylonian Amora of the second generation, who therefore does not fit the character in our story, as noted by the Tosafot (ad loc., s.v. amar lei). The story before us is told about R. Adda b. Abba, a student of Rava, and a fourth-generation Babylonian Amora.

[3] Line 15 is a connecting link that belongs to the next section as well, for the explanations there relate directly to R. Adda's death: "It is through me that he has been punished."

[4] This conclusion is supported by a parallel passage in Shabbat 108a:

"Shmuel and Karna were sitting by the bank of the Malka River, and saw the water rising and becoming discolored. Shmuel said to Karna: 'A great man is arriving from the West who suffers from stomach trouble, and the water is rising to give him a welcome; go and examine his mental capacity!' So he went and met Rav. He asked him: 'How do we know that tefillin may be written only on the skin of a clean [edible] animal?' 'Because it is written: "That the Law of the Lord may be in your mouth" (Shemot 13:9), [meaning] of that which is permitted in your mouth.'"

[5] This question is raised in a different passage (Menachot 69a) as a question that requires a full-fledged halakhic discussion. The question as it is formulated here is set aside in Menachot, and in its alternative version: "Where it swallowed twigs and [the twigs when passed out] were made into a willow basket" – remains without a solution there. The Tosafot in our passage (22a, s.v. pil) asks why, in light of the passage in Menachot, did they not reserve a market for R. Dimi? But it is clear that the intention from the outset is to cause R. Dimi to stumble. This is especially evident in light of the comparison to the story in tractate Shabbat cited in the previous note, where, in order to "examine the mental capacity" of a certain scholar, a much simpler question is asked.

[6] In this way a substantive connection between the various sections is created, which turns the separate units into a single unit. The unified unit revolves around understanding R. Adda, his actions, and the reason for his death.

[7] For the role of the different parts in a chiastic structure, see Yonah Fraenkel, "Chiasmus in Talmudic-Aggadic Narrative," in: Chiasmus in Antiquity: Structures, Analyses, Exegesis (ed. John W. Welch), Hildesheim, 1981, pp. 183-197.

[8] Some chiastic structures are complete, while others aren't. See, for example: J. L. Rubenstein, Talmudic Stories: Narrative Art, Composition and Culture, Baltimore-London, 1999, pp. 253-254, and notes 35-37, there.

[9] It is not explicitly stated in the story who taps whom. However, it is more reasonable to assume that the tapper is R. Adda (so explain Rashi and Ritva, ad loc., and I have not found anybody who explains the matter differently), because of the structure which we will immediately present, and because this fits in with his general conduct in the story.

[10] A computer check of the Babylonian Talmud indicates that very few questions are raised about elephants, which were not an ordinary part of the environment, at least in Babylonia (see Shabbat 128b).

[11] It is interesting that in the passage there (68b, immediately after the Mishna), a story is told about a student who insults his teacher's dignity and dies.

[12] As can be seen, for example, in a story recorded in Chullin 110a. In this story, a halakhic disagreement takes place between a student from Pumbedita, Rami b. Tamari, and R. Chisda, in Sura. The disagreement comes against the backdrop of the sharp sophistry of Rami b. Tamari, a disciple of R. Yehuda of Pumbedita, which brings him to do and to justify actions which are not halakhically accepted in Sura. R. Chisda, who tries to rebuke him, is answered sharply, in accordance with the methodology of Pumbedita, until R. Chisda concludes the dialogue with the sentence: "I would show you how sharp I am."

In the generation of Raba and R. Yosef, there arises the question who is to be appointed head of the Yeshiva, depending on the type of study, "Sinai" or "Uprooter of mountains" (Berakhot 64a, and also Horayot 14a). See also the statement of Rava (or, according to the alternate version, of R. Nachman b. Yitzchak) in Chagiga 10a: "Better one grain of pungent pepper than a basketful of pumpkins."

These sources indicate that there were different approaches to study in the different Torah centers, and the story relating to R. Adda might point to a certain tension regarding these different approaches.

See Bava Metzia 38b for other images of the sharp Sages of Pumbedita.

[13] There may also be significance to the specific content of the question, and not only to the sharpness of the question. The situation presented in the question is as follows: the basket is swallowed by the elephant, and passes through its digestive tract, but retains its original form. Therefore, the question arises whether we view it as the same basket as before, in which case it could not contract ritual impurity, or whether we see it as an integral part of the elephant's feces, in which case it loses its original identity as a basket and is now considered a dung vessel which does not contract impurity. If we leave the context of the discussion in Menachot (as, for instance, in our passage), we can reduce the problem to a more general formulation: can something that comes from the outside acclimatize itself (be considered "digested") if it retains something of its original identity?

[14] Rashi explains (s.v. tafach lei be-sandalei): "He tapped him on his shoe with a stick, in a joking manner, as one taps one who is unimportant."

[15] The characters in this section are: Rava, who also plays an important role in our story, and R. Shimi of Nehardea. The relationship between R. Shimi of Nehardea and R. Dimi of Nehardea is apparently accidental (though it should be mentioned that the letters shin and dalet interchange between Hebrew and Aramaic). See with regard to these Sages: A. Heimann, Toledot Tannaim va-Amoraim, Jersalem 5724, pp. 333, 1116.

[16] It turns out, ironically, that R. Adda is the tapper, but his action brings to mind the substance of the error of R. Shimi in Bava Kama. R Shimi improperly attributes the authority of a judge to count strokes to the officer of the court. R. Adda, similarly, is merely an agent who improperly assumes the authority of Rava, and strikes R. Dimi with an improper stroke (and afterwards explicitly assumes a status that nobody bestowed upon him: "But at any rate I can be your teacher"). Only that here, it is not the stroke victim who will die from the additional stroke, but rather the striker. Although we cannot know with certainty that the editor of the story in Bava Batra added the tapping of the shoe based on his familiarity with the story in Bava Kama, the possibility is compelling.

[17] See above, note 12.

[18] Such a situation, in which a Sage causes the death of another Torah scholar as a result of an insult to his honor, which is an insult to the honor of the Torah, is not exceptional in the world of the Amoraim. We see this, for example, the following sources:

Jerusalem Talmud, Shevi'it 6:1, 36c, and its parallels (the death of a student who ruled in the presence of R. Eliezer, his teacher); Shabbat 24a (the story of the old man who was careful about the honor of R. Shimon b. Yochai); Bava Kama 117a (R. Kahana and R. Yochanan); Bava Metzia 84a (R. Yochanan and Reish Lakish).

However, in the case of R. Adda, we are not dealing with a student who insulted his teacher. Perhaps, for this reason we need the second part of the Aggada, where it is clarified that R. Adda insulted other Sages as well, including Rava, his teacher.

[19] The Maharasha (ad loc., s.v. man delo) explains that among the various verses in Amos 1-2, which are all constructed using the same format, specifically this verse is chosen because it is the only verse in which the injustice is done to a single individual (the king of Edom). Therefore, R. Yosef compares the insult of R. Adda to the insult of the king of Edom; all the other verses relate to nations that are injured. Without questioning the correctness of this understanding, we will later propose a different explanation.