One of the most fascinating pages of the Talmud. This daf deals with the overthrow of Rabban Gamliel, the head of the bet midrash, and the appointment of R’ Elazar ben Azaria in his place. Famously from the Haggadah the new head of the academy grows a white beard overnight and has the appearance of a 70 year old.
The debate on the page is one that continues to this day. Should Torah learning be only for the elite (as per R’ Gamliel) or open to all (R’ Elazar ben Azaria)? The Talmud seems to be in favour of the later as we are told that on that day the academy was overflowing with students like never before and that there was no halachic question which went unanswered that day. Interestingly, at the end of the story R’ Gamliel is reinstated – he had served his punishment for humiliating R’ Yehoshua and it seems that the ideal status quo is left in place.
Continuing the theme of Jewish education the daf tries to answer what things we should, or should not treat our children.
ומנעו בניכם מן ההגיון, והושיבום בין ברכי תלמידי חכמים
“Prevent your children from logic [when studying the verses that tend them towards heresy (ge’onim),] and place [your children, while they are still young,] between the knees of Torah scholars?”
In an interesting note the Koren Talmud tells us:
“Many explanations were suggested for this phrase. According to Rashi*, it means that one should prevent his children from studying Bible in general. Some say that it refers specifically to when the children merely study the Bible without understanding it. For this reason, they should be seated at the knee of a Torah scholar who will teach them the meaning of the text (HaKotev). Others explained that one should prevent children from studying the philosophical discipline of logic (Rav Hai Gaon). Yet others held that it means that one should prevent them from studying the Bible in a way that is not in accordance with the interpretation of the Sages (Arukh).”
* Shlomo Yitzhaki (Hebrew: רבי שלמה יצחקי), or in Latin Salomon Isaacides, and today generally known by the acronym Rashi (Hebrew:רש”י, RAbbi SHlomo Itzhaki; February 22, 1040 – July 13, 1105), was a medieval French rabbi and long highly esteemed as a major contribution Ashkenazi Jewry gave to Torah study. He is famed as the author of a comprehensive commentary on the Talmud, as well as a comprehensive commentary on the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible). He is considered the “father” of all commentaries that followed on the Talmud (i.e., the Baalei Tosafot) and the Tanakh (i.e., Ramban, Ibn Ezra, Ohr HaChaim, et al.).